Should Web Services Come Out of the “Marketing/Advertising Budget” for a Business? |

The aspect of web services is fairly new to business, so the question of where it should be placed within a company’s budget can be confusing. To begin with, web services can mean different things depending on the person. One manager may consider their web design as part of web services, while another executive does not. For most companies, web services will include the design, development, content, applications, and any other items associated with Internet marketing, such as social media.Therefore, when you are considering where to put web services in your budget, you should consider everything associated with the Internet as included in the definition. Most people would assume that these costs should be included with all other information technology expenses. Although this isn’t wrong, it automatically places web services in an area that is not considered a critical part of the business by most companies. Replacing a computer is rarely as high a priority as promoting a new product. However, lumping web services into the information technology side of a budget is a huge mistake.Smart companies realize that web services are a great marketing tool that can be used to advertise your business, services, and products to a variety of potential customers. A custom website design is only the beginning. Businesses should understand that web development must go beyond the corporate website. Of course, you want a great web design that will target customers in your area, but to truly achieve growth you must incorporate all aspects of the Internet. Your custom website design should be used as a hub for all other Internet ventures. For instance, blogs and the use of social media are great ways to advertise new products or services. These tools can also be used to grow a loyal customer base. All of these techniques will deliberately draw people to your website.Businesses are learning that advertising dollars are more effective when they are applied to online marketing. Television and radio ads are no longer generating the revenue they once did. This isn’t surprising, since must consumers now use DVR’s so they can fast forward past commercials or listen to their iPod rather than the car radio. Smart executives know that if you want to increase revenues, you must go where the consumer is. Today, the consumer is on social media sites, like YouTube and Facebook. He or she is using search engines on a daily basis and accessing data on smartphones. In order to gain customers, you must utilize the technologies available that are capturing the consumer’s attention.So should web services be included as part of your marketing/advertising budget? Absolutely; there is no other place that it should be. In fact, if you are not using web services to market your business, no matter what your website looks like, you are not making the most of it. Web development is more than just creating a web design for the boutique up the street. It must include the use of social media and everything else the Internet has to offer.

10 Bullet Point Options for Bootstrapping Your Small Business or Consumer Product Opportunity |

Almost every small or micro-business, entrepreneur or inventor faces a harsh financial reality when starting out. They have little or no access to venture capital, financing or grant money. The funding source that is realistically available to them is family, friends and their own ability to bootstrap their business.Bootstrapping a business is not glamorous, but it is the most useful, and practical method to grow a new business or product that is available to any driven entrepreneur. This is the technique I utilized to start my first business many years ago. If the strategy is successfully executed it can quickly lead to doors opening to investors and funding options.Every Consumer Product Development and Marketing Consulting firm reviews hundreds of new business and product concepts every year. Only a tiny fraction has full funding out of the gate. The vast majority spend a great deal of time and energy seeking investment tranches which will never develop. I am always amazed that they do not bootstrap their ideas in order to gain early sales traction.The following are 10 Bullet Point Option tips that can be utilized to Bootstrap a new business or self-employment opportunity. They can be adapted and customized to fit a vast array of circumstances, consumer products and services.• 1. Turn your hobby or passion into a business. If you love to bake, or sew, for instance, customize products for local church events, fund raisers, special events (retirements, jubilees, weddings, etc.).• 2. Bring the product or service to the client/consumer. People are busy. Offer convenience and a quality product or service delivered to the client’s place of work or home. A man with a pick-up truck, a tool box and a ladder is a potential successful small businessman.• 3. Support each successful step forward with free, local Publicity. Use a PR template and circulate the releases to local media, weekly papers, social groups and churches. This is FREE!• 4. Use local fairs, home shows, festivals and civic events to sell and showcase your products. A woman we worked with started in this manner selling her line of organic Bath, Body Care and Aromatherapy products. Within 30 months her line was carried by a regional department store.• 5. Mall kiosks are an amazing, affordable vehicle to expose and leverage sales of your Consumer Product or Business Service. We have seen clients start by offering a line of Gift items on one cart, expand to more and then jump into traditional retail distribution.• 6. Personalize products: In a world of impersonal mass production, people enjoy goods or services that offer intimacy, uniqueness. A past client built a wonderful income by creating personalized Baby and Infant items like bags, blankets, sleepers, etc.• 7. Sample, sample, sample! If your product is good, and you believe in the item and yourself, demonstrate and sample relentlessly. A couple we consulted for were passionate about their Gourmet Sauces and Marinades. They built their business by attending every art and foodie event possible and constantly sampling their products while generating sales with value packs and on-site sale coupons.• 8. Pre-sell. This is a technique we use every year to launch under-funded clients. Build prototypes or production quality samples, fully packaged and take orders before you build expensive inventory. Big box retailers have the ability to buy on the local level and love to do so, if you offer a well-conceived prototype for them to review.• 9. Make yourself the “authority” on the space you want to enter. Properly managed social media, publicity, small print advertorials and compelling web-sites are only a few tools available to create stronger bona-fides.• 10. Network, Network, Network! Every person you know or meet is a potential client for a good or service you might be able to produce. Brand yourself and your product and professionally let others know about your business, and ask about theirs.Businesses have been Bootstrapped in Cosmetics, Fragrance, Toys, Oral Care, Fashion, Jewelry, Juvenile Products, Hardware, Gifts, Foods and Drinks, Sporting Goods, Pet Products and many more categories. A number of these businesses were able to gain sales traction and leverage into traditional retail distribution. Consider this technique as the realistic and practical way to be the tortoise and win success Geoff Ficke

Blogging For Business – Why Your Business Needs To Be Blogging |

You may have heard stories of teenagers making a shed load of money from a blog and retiring at 19 to travel the world, or of new Mums starting blogs in their spare time to share parental advice who then go on to land guest spots on prime time TV shows and feature in popular magazines. But what you don’t hear about is the millions of small business owners across the globe who are currently using the Internet to market their business, service or trade online, gain more traffic, secure more leads and engage with current customers.In this modern age every business not only needs to be online with a website, but they need to be consistently adding interesting and relevant content to that site on a regular basis, which is also known as blogging.My business has a website, why isn’t that good enough?If your business is still using a traditional ‘brochure’ style website with no blog functionality, then I’m afraid you are missing the boat my friend. Search engines are increasingly favouring sites with fresh content and reward sites that update regularly. Your stale old brochure doesn’t contain any new content for the search engines to offer potential visitors and that means you get no search engine traffic.Take the following for example:Johnsons carpet cleaning website doesn’t have a blog, just a homepage with some information about the service they offer and the company contact details. The site functions OK as an online business card, a place to direct people to go for some more information but the site was built 2 years ago and there are only 3 pages.Jamesons carpet cleaning website does have a blog as part of their website and they publish a new post every week. Sometimes they write about the types of service they offer, the methods they use to clean carpets, tips and advice for homeowners to keep their carpet clean or feature reviews of cleaning products they use on a regular basis. At any time there is an information packed (and keyword rich) article less than a week old on the site.Now, when someone searches for carpet cleaning service, which website do you think the search engine would see as most relevant to serve up to the user?Regular content is a must for you to get traffic to your website.As you get visitors to your website by whatever means, regular fresh content will also give the visitors a reason to bother coming back ever again. Interesting and useful content gives them a reason to share your website with others, which could lead to viral marketing. Isn’t it expensive to keep updating my website?You need a website design for your business that has a blog built in, built on what is known as a content management system (CMS). This will enable you to have a gorgeous website with all your photos and contact details on the home page just like your brochure site, but most importantly a CMS like WordPress enables you to easily and quickly post new content to the blog section without the need to call in a web-designer each time.WordPress is probably the most popular CMS at the moment… and for good reason, its simple to create new content in the easy editor (its just like writing a word document) and you can publish new content to your site at the push of a button. Can I just use a blog service like Blogspot or a Tumblr?Well you could, but then you would have to send people to something like – which doesn’t look too professional does it?Some of those free blog platforms do have a feature which enables you to use your own domain name, but you are still using a 3rd party service you don’t control, its possible they could pull the service or change the rules at anytime and all your hard work is gone.If you already have a website but it doesn’t have blog functionality, you could use one of these free services and link off to it in your header navigation. But it wont benefit you much in search rankings as all the juicy content is not on your domain. It would be better in the long run if you converted your site to a WordPress installation so that your website becomes the authority in the search engines. I don’t have time to keep writing articles for a blog – I’m trying to run my business!You don’t have to keep writing articles!Good meaty articles should feature in your website content but not every post on your blog needs to be an article, you can post your latest offers, videos of you working, photos, copies of your latest sales literature, the list is endless.You can outsource article writing for your business blog. Outsourcing article writing is easy, by signing up with a service such as or you can find English speaking writers and hire them to produce high quality articles on any topic for about $5-$10 (3-7) – I used a great article writer from Odesk for my first business website and I still employ her now for writing tasks on various websites. As an added bonus the articles you have written for you can also be used offline in your flyers, adverts and brochures.