Archive for Sales

PR for small companies too?

Posted in Business start up, Marketing with tags , , , on September 4, 2010 by virtualcitypa

Size really doesn’t matter when it comes to PR. Any size company can benefit from publicity, but the practice is commonly misunderstood in the business arena. Most entrepreneurs think of it as something that only large corporations have a budget for and don’t realise the power of publicity and what it can do for a business to blow it through the roof.

Marsha Friedman of Event Management Services, says that when a story is written in a newspaper or magazine, it lends credibility to you and your company’s products and services beyond anything you could attain with advertising. And, it provides immediate positioning of you as a recognised expert in your field.

Give away information that people normally would pay you for and submit it to daily and weekly newspapers as well as other newsletters in your area.

You may think that giving away valuable advice will hurt you by tipping off your competition, but it is quite the contrary. It will establish you as someone who is a specialist on the subject and you will find that people will start to seek you out for business. People will be more likely to hire you if the media is writing about you or quoting you as an authority.

“Anything written is perceived to be true,” she advises, “therefore articles you’ve written that get published or articles with quotes from you, give you immediate positioning as the “go-to guy” in your field.”

A few different ways to approach the print medium are:

1) Write a “tips” or “how to” article – this is one of the best ways to get free publicity in newspapers and magazines. Offer lots of valuable advice and make sure it’s written well enough for a publication to run it without having to make any edits. Be sure to include your credentials and other boastful information to support your position as an expert – but be careful not to make the article a promotional piece. Editors are looking for content that will be informative to their readers, not a brag piece about you or your company.

2) Write an “opinion letter” – take a stand on a controversial issue or comment on an issue in the news and sent it to the Editor of your local paper – or to the Opinion Editor at other newspapers around the country. Don’t forget to put your credentials at the bottom of the letter so you get the recognition of being a published expert.

3) Create photo opportunities – local newspapers are always looking for interesting photos and images. Create a local event – a fundraiser, an art show, a local or national contest, etc. Then make sure to invite the local press to attend. But even if they don’t show up, get them a photo and press release right away while it’s still news!

4) Recycle your print coverage – turn one media hit into multiple hits by sending a reprint of a weekly newspaper story about you or your company to an editor at a daily newspaper, along with a pitch letter offering an angle different from the angle the weekly pursued. Send articles in trade publications to editors anywhere. Post articles on your website.

Marsha Friedman is the CEO of Event Management Services, Inc., (www.event-management.com) a leading US publicity firm.

Karla Jo Helms is the Vice President Public Relations for PostcardMania, (http://www.PostcardMania.com) named one of the fastest growing privately-owned companies by Inc Magazine
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Price setting

Posted in Business start up, Finance with tags , , , on August 21, 2010 by virtualcitypa

Finding the right balance of offering a service at a price that is right for you and the customer is not always easy to find when you are just getting started. However, over time, an equilibrium will be reached where you realise your niche where clients are either happy to pay a nominal premium for a quality service or otherwise.

smallbusiness.co.uk has some useful hints to review whilst you are setting your strategy:

1. Analyse the position your product holds in the market.

Are your target customers those who are looking for reliability? Has your product already achieved an established image in the eyes of the market? Do buyers view it as good quality, prompt service, stylish, say?

2. Analyse your product.

Are you planning modifications or alterations which could alter its reputation or relative position in the marketplace?

3. Analyse the competition.

How do their products rate against yours? What is the relative price structure in the market?

4. Decide your pricing strategy.

Where in the price range are you going to pitch your price? Is it going to be average for the market, 5% less than the average, 5% above the average or a premium price, 25% above the average?

5. Choose some specific prices.

Estimate volume of sales, profit margin and costs to forecast the level of profits for each price.

6. Choose your price.

7. Are you be able to test market the price in a small area of your market?

This would allow you to gauge customer reactions.

http://www.smallbusiness.co.uk/channels/sales-and-marketing/finding-customers/guides-and-tips/20707/guide-to-setting-prices.thtml

Differentiate or Die in a Downturn

Posted in Business start up, Marketing with tags , , , , on August 13, 2010 by virtualcitypa

Differentiate your businessWhen money gets tighter, people get pickier. Which means, if want to continue to not only survive, but thrive, you’re going to need to dig a bit more deeply into the differentiation well and publicly showcase why you are the woman, man or business that people should be handing their money over to.

Perfect example. Walking down the block looking for a place to grab lunch with my wife on a weekday, we passed 7 or 8 restaurants and every single one was close to being empty. Then we poked our heads into the local pub. We’d never been there before. And, it was packed.

Not because people were drinking their troubles away. They were all sitting and eating. And, 75% were moms in their 30s and 40s. Whaaa?

It wasn’t long until we figured out what was going on. This little pub had figured out a way to shine, while all the restaurants around them stumbled. Along with their standard menu, we were each given a long, 6 inch wide piece of paper and a red pen.

On the paper were about 50 different options for chopped salad mix-ins. We each sat choosing our salad items and, a few minutes later, two giant finely-chopped salads arrived at our table. We dove in, couldn’t finish either and reveled about how we never about this hidden salad gem before. But, clearly others had.

Since then, this little grill has become our go-to place for taking out, ordering in and the occasional dinner with friends, family style.

Because … they get it.

People are looking for value more than at any other time in decades. And, if you can’t strongly differentiate yourself, you and your business become fungible … replaceable … interchangeable.

And, that’s an awful place to be in a down economy.

So, how will you differentiate and showcase your unique value in 2009?

* * * * *

Jonathan Fields, hedge-fund lawyer turned lifestyle entrepreneurAbout the Author: Jonathan Fields is a former hedge-fund lawyer turned serial lifestyle entrepreneur, copywriter, Internet and direct marketer, speaker and writer. You can find him blogging on entrepreneurship and lifestyles at Awake At The Wheel, crafting high-impact copy for clients at Vibe Creative or training people to become entrepreneurs and career renegades at Career Renegade. His next book, also called Career Renegade, is due out from Random House/Broadway Books In January 2009.

Negotiation tips for everyday use..

Posted in Business start up, Management / Leadership with tags , , on August 8, 2010 by virtualcitypa

In everyday life we all need to negotiate when dealing with others. How can we make a win:win for both parties..

  • Goals: what do you want to get out of the negotiation? What do you think the other person wants?
  • Trades: What do you and the other person have that you can trade? What do you each have that the other wants? What are you each comfortable giving away?
  • Alternatives: if you don’t reach agreement with the other person, what alternatives do you have? Are these good or bad? How much does it matter if you do not reach agreement? Does failure to reach an agreement cut you out of future opportunities? And what alternatives might the other person have?
  • Relationships: what is the history of the relationship? Could or should this history impact the negotiation? Will there be any hidden issues that may influence the negotiation? How will you handle these?
  • Expected outcomes: what outcome will people be expecting from this negotiation? What has the outcome been in the past, and what precedents have been set?
  • The consequences: what are the consequences for you of winning or losing this negotiation? What are the consequences for the other person?
  • Power: who has what power in the relationship? Who controls resources? Who stands to lose the most if agreement isn’t reached? What power does the other person have to deliver what you hope for?
  • Possible solutions: based on all of the considerations, what possible compromises might there be?

Style is critical…

For a negotiation to be ‘win-win’, both parties should feel positive about the negotiation once it’s over.

http://www.mindtools.com/CommSkll/NegotiationSkills.htm

Google Adwords – get more traffic

Posted in Business start up, Marketing with tags , , on August 5, 2010 by virtualcitypa

If you’re new to Google Adwords, these are keyword-based, sponsored ads which appear as the top two listings, or down the right-hand side of a Google Results page. Google charges the advertiser a fee (ranging from 5 cents, to tens of $) each time someone clicks on the ad.

In Adwords, you are permitted one line for the headline, not to exceed twenty-five characters, and two lines for copy, not to exceed thirty-five characters. That is all! This takes into account spaces that count as a character. To many, short means simple, correct? Not true! A writer will tell you that it’s much harder to write short content compared to wordier, long content. In short content, every word must make a strong impact. This compact writing will create better search and traffic results.

Google Adwords space has little room for garbage. A well-written Google Adwords is approved faster by Google. Plus, Google ads that are written with purpose have better click-through rates and better responsive visitors. Astonishing how 3 lines of about 70 characters has such power!

A tight Google AdWords ad asks the reader to perform some task. Concentrating on optimizing your keywords and phrases is important. Also, understanding why you selected those words is equally important.

Engineering an effective Google Adwords isn’t going to happen overnight, so below are some useful tips:

1. Start with what you most want your visitors to grasp. Put that into in copy that holds meaning for your target audience in a language that is understood by them. Use the following tips to trim your copy.

2. Copy moves the reader to click-through. Use power words, benefits or attention-grabbers. Start with two columns. In the first column, list a feature. Then, in the next column, list a benefit of the feature.

3. State only true claims. These claims can be showstoppers but leave out “free” if a condition is involved. Google guidelines must be followed (https://adwords.google.com/select/guidelines.html).

4. Don’t skirt around what your customers want. The power of the Internet allows your customers to look for you and they want something specific. Announce loud and clear that you’re there by using a headline that’s precise.

5. Keywords should be split-tested for their power on Results in Google Search. Plus, test several versions of your Adword on Google and change an ad that’s not performing well. Even by changing one word, your click-through ratio can sky rocket. Google will drop ads that perform very poorly.

6. Square brackets around keywords and customizing headlines are some programming tricks for an Adwords. Any keyword matches from a search will be highlighted in the Google ad if you bracket the keyword. A dynamic headline is customized to change according to searches. For instance, by using “Keyword:” in brackets in the headline followed by difference search terms, those terms will be displayed as the headline. An example is [Keyword: Writing Effective Google Adwords].

7. Cut out unnecessary words like a, an, in, on, it, of, etc.

8. Boast what makes you stand out or unique. Can you offer something for a percentage less or better than competitors?

9. Get rid of freebie seekers by putting the deals or discount at the end of the ad.

10. Emotion, energy and response come from power words and call-to-action. Use only words and statements that match your product or service. Sample power words include discover, these, and enhance.

Tight writing comes from identifying exactly what you want your customer to do with the information you provide. Not only will your click-through rate improve but also your self-monitored conversion ratio should improve when you make AdWords work in your favor.

Riki Trafford is the manager of Direct MO Marketing Inc which offers low cost keyword-targetted web traffic. For comments and questions visit his web site: http://www.1dmom.com/

Need a Translation? Top Tips for Buying Language Services

Posted in Translation with tags , , , on August 4, 2010 by virtualcitypa

Using a translation agency is a must when you are planning to do business outside the UK.

Choose your agency wisely and your project will become efficient, cost-effective and your translation will get the attention it deserves. 

Choose unwisely it most likely will be detrimental to your business.

Preparing for translation!

  • The better you plan your project, the more painless the process will be.
  • Be aware how long the original text took to create and this will be a good indicator of the translation time. 
  • Your document should be clear and precise as spelling errors can lead to translation problems. 
  • Send the document to the translation company by email and ask them to give you a quotation.  This means that you will get a price more quickly, and your prices will be more accurate than if you ask over the phone. 
  • Make sure that you check whether the service includes proofreading and a format check.  Some agencies charge extra for these services. 
  • Ask if you can discuss your project with the person who may be managing it, so that you can see if you feel comfortable with them.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask if the agency offers any reassurances on the quality of their translations.  This could be in the form of free trial translations, or an insight into their quality assurance processes. 
  • If you are short on time a good agency will manage your project from start to finish, leaving you free to carry on with your own job. 
  • Remember, translators employed by an agency must be native speakers of the target language; as well as also being able to understand the nuances of the original text.

And finally, Beware! Not everyone who speaks a foreign language is a translator. Make sure you hire qualified professionals for the job.

Here are some examples where meaning has been ‘lost in translation’:

  • The name coca-cola was first rendered in China as ke-kou-ke-la. Unfortunately it was discovered, after thousands of signs had been printed, that the phrase means Bite the wax tadpole!
  • The translation of the Pepsi slogan ‘come alive with the Pepsi generation’ came out in Taiwanese as ‘Pepsi will bring your ancestors back from the dead’.
  • A sign In a laundry in Rome read ‘Ladies, leave your clothes here and spend the afternoon having a good time’.

Top tips to customer satisfaction

Posted in Marketing with tags , , , on August 3, 2010 by virtualcitypa

1. Keeping your existing customers is more profitable than finding new ones.
Back in the late 1980’s the American Consumer Association announced that it was 5 times more   expensive to win a new customer than to keep an existing one. Many case studies since have confirmed this theory, including MBNA and Domino’s pizza.

2. You can’t manage what you don’t measure.
If you don’t find out what is wrong through a customer satisfaction survey you will never be able to make improvements. Equally, if you implement changes to your business you will have no way of measuring its effectiveness other than looking at changes in revenue.

3. Satisfied customers are more likely to be loyal customers.
There is growing evidence to support the theory that the more satisfied a customer is the more loyal they will be, however customers have to be exceptionally satisfied before they enter the loyalty zone.

4. Loyal customers become more profitable over time.
The longer a customer stays with you, the more valuable they are likely to become as there is a higher chance that they will increase the level of business they do with your company and they are more likely to expand the range of products and services they buy.

5. Satisfied customers are an extension of your sales force. 
If your customers are happy, or even better, delighted with the service you provide they will be more inclined to recommend you to others.

6. Customers rarely complain; they just take their business elsewhere.
Companies that believe their customers are satisfied because they very rarely complain are missing an important part of the picture. In fact, it is quite often those customers who are loyal to your business that will complain as they want the situation resolved. Those who are dissatisfied are far more likely to simply take their business somewhere else.

7. Service often differentiates more than products or prices.
Much as we are led to believe that price is king and customers will always go for the cheapest price, quite the opposite is often true. By fully understanding your customer’s needs you will find that price generally only becomes an issue when they are not receiving the level of service that they were expecting.

8. Delight your customers by showing them you care!
Everyone likes to feel that their opinion is important, so what better way to confirm to your customers that they are indeed the most important part of your business than by asking them for their opinions? By carrying out a customer satisfaction survey you are clearly stating that you are a business that cares about its customers. Be warned though – never ask for someone’s opinion unless you are going to use the information to make a difference!

9. Great results give convincing PR.
It is far more convincing when your customers say how good you are rather than you having to say it yourself. Customer satisfaction measurement provides you with an opportunity to highlight your strong points by sending the results to your customers, and by promoting them in any marketing materials, PR etc. It also gives an opportunity to show that you have taken feedback onboard and made changes as a result.

10. Customer satisfaction is a requirement of ISO 9001:2000
According to ISO 9001:2000, customer satisfaction should be measured to monitor the effectiveness of the quality management system and to highlight areas where improvements should be made.

Juliet Mumford

http://www.intelligentinsight.co.uk

(00 44) 1536 373182