Celebrating Small Business Success

Dream Plan Act CelebrateI have posted previously about looking at business as a four part cycle: Dream Plan Act Celebrate.

Have you celebrated your success recently?

I’ve seen some small companies that do this brilliantly. Usually because there is an informal social convenor who takes it on her or himself to get a celebration going at every opportunity.

Do you have one of these people in your team? Do they get enough encouragement and recognition for the role they play?

If you don’t, what can you do to get the celebrations rolling?



Starting a consulting business online

Did you know that business consulting is one of those industry segments that perform well during recessions?

If you are already a business consultant, congratulations!

But if you aren’t, have you considered starting a consulting business online?

What kind of consulting business could you run?

How about tapping into people’s desire to do things faster and easier?

What do you know that can help others do things faster and easier? The business world is changing so quickly that many businesses haven’t caught up. Sometimes they know what they should be doing, but just haven’t had the time or inclination to do it. Often they will jump at an opportunity to do things faster and easier than they currently do.

Here a few examples that might inspire you:

  • The Virtual Assistant industry is rapdily coming of age.
  • New productivity tools are launched almost daily for early adopting Lifehackers and others, tools that gradually filter their way through to the fast followers and the late bloomers.

Starting up

Starting an online business is easier than you might think. And couple that with the fact that you can start a business that services a global market (well, wherever speak your language anyway), and you have every reason to sit down and think this one through.

People consult successfully online in different ways.

Online Freelance Markets: Some consultants operate in global marketplaces such as Guru.com and Elance.com. Here are the categories consultants offers services in under Business Consulting in guru.com:

  • Business Planning, Business Development, E-Business Management, Market Research/Planning, IT Project Management, Project Management, International Outsourcing, International Commerce, Operations Planning/Management, Controller/Administration, Human Resource Management, Investor Relations Management, Training.

Expert Blogger: Some people publish a blog and share their expertise freely. As they build an audience they can advertise (either through Google or by promoting affilate products to earn commission on sales).

Lead Generation Blog: By sharing your expertise through a blog, you can attract leads for your one on one consulting services. Just include a suitable description of what you do in your About page and make sure you have a contact form.

Online Mentor: You can establish one on one consulting relationships such as a mentoring relationship with clients online. PayPal subscriptions allow you to quickly and easily setup a recurring payment (weekly, monthly or annually) to support your ongoing service. And communications tools such as Skype allow you to have international voice calls, video conference calls and instant messages (text) for free.

There are many more ways to consult online. Do some keyword research to find out what people are looking for in your area of expertise, and use that to guide you.

A recession might be just the time to start!



Ideas for Building Links

Anyone with a business online needs to understand the importance of links. Not only do they build authority for your business in the eyes of search engines (and lead to stronger rankings), they also deliver visitors to your business.

Link Building by Marketing SherpaThis article by Marketing Sherpa 7 Traffic Building Tips to Boost SEO is one of the best educational articles on link building I have ever seen. It is thorough and accessible, and packed with the sort of tips that will give you ideas on how to build links for your business.

Take notes as you read it, and when you have finished make sure you pick 3 action items to implement in the next 24 hours!



New Opportunities in the Organic Market

Australian Organic Market Report 2008Ever get the impression there are a lot more organic choices around these days?

The Biological Farming Association have recently released a report suggesting that the growth in demand for organic food is nothing short of explosive.

Research from the University of New England has shown that organic farm gate sales have grown by over 80% in the last 4 years. That is during one of the worst droughts on record in Australia.

That is a clue for small business – consumers increasingly want organic choices.

Surprisingly, Australia has more certified organic farmland than any other country in the world, with nearly 12 million hectares (mostly used for grazing). Cottage industry?

There are more than 500 organic fresh and grocery lines carried by major retailers, and the number of certified organic operators has increased by more than 5% on average for the last 5 years.

Do you have an opportunity to help satisfy the growing demand for organic products?



Talk to the Oracle and find Inspiration in Keywords

If you are considering new business opportunities online, have you talked to the Oracle lately?

If you have seen The Matrix, you might remember the Oracle saying:

“Do you know what that means? It means know thy self”

It is a bit like that with keywords. Use keywords to learn all about your business online.

Lets say you are thinking of going into business, and you are passionate about cooking.

Go to the Wordtracker Free Keyword Suggestion Tool.

First of all, type in cooking and then click the Hit Me button.

Based on what people have been searching for in the past 90 days, Wordtracker will show you the predicted searches for the next 24 hours that involve cooking.

Now type in recipes and do the same thing.

Notice the interest people have in recipes compared to cooking.

Rather than guessing what people want, use a keyword research tool to tell you. Do that research for a business opportunity you are considering. You will be inspired.



OM4 and Online Marketing

[Update]
We have launched several new sites focussed specifically around online marketing.

Please visit our new sites at:

Thanks for your interest.

Click here for OM4



4 ways to build your email database

Your email database is one of your most valuable marketing resources, providing you with a captive audience for your marketing messages.

It’s important that your email recipients allow you to communicate with them by opting in to a subscription and sending you their email address. Email that is unsolicited is usually referred to as spam and is something you want to avoid.

So here are four ways to build your list:

1. Run a competition
Competitions and awards are easy to publicise through the media because they’re offering something for free – the prizes – and they usually have a fun aspect to them. The prizes need to benefit both the winners and you. For example, a new surfing magazine ran a photo competition to create publicity and pull in great photos for the magazine. Your competition entry forms will naturally require the entrant’s email address.

2. Publish an e-book
Not as hard as you might think. Your expertise, experience and knowledge – along with those of your team – will give you more than enough material to create a pdf document of value. Offer this for free on your site to those who sign up with their email address. Here’s an example of a business doing this.

3. Produce a newsletter
If you’re already blogging, a newsletter is only a step away. Review your posts each month and choose a selection to reflect your ‘news’ and then add sections such as ‘tips and tricks’ or ‘useful links’ – anything that will be easy to absorb and focuses on your readers’ needs and wants. Signing up for your newsletter requires an email address. Take a look at the right column of our PublicityShip site to see how simple the sign-up looks.

4. Tempt with special offers
If you are able to regularly discount your products or services, or better still, add value – include a ‘sign up here for special offers’ link. Glenn has posted on an example of this happening instore – and it can be done in an online store too. Do make sure you send out the offers to this list regularly – along with other messages.



Search marketing and the screaming fans

Crowd at the FootballWow, 90,000 screaming fans at the stadium, what an experience! The adrenaline is racing, the excitement is high.

What a chance to get your banner ad in front of all these prospects! Not.

What’s wrong with getting your message across to 90,000 screaming fans? Plenty. For one thing, they are thinking about the footy, which is maybe good if you’re selling beer or snack foods. But to advertise most effectively, you want to get their attention in the right frame of mind. That’s why its no good catching people’s attention with a scantily clad picture if you want them to pay attention to a product not related to the scantily clad model.

So getting your banner in front of 90,000 screaming fans isn’t always the best option.

Search marketing is very different. Imagine those same 90,000 people, but this time we can magically track what they do after they leave the stadium. We notice when they have a problem and go looking for a solution. A lot of them will use the Internet, and search using a keyword. Where do you want to try and get attention? In front of 90,000 screaming fans, with mad football skillz on their mind? Or after they have searched on a keyword that shows an interest in your product?

Using Google AdWords doesn’t cost you anything to display your ads. Choose your keywords, write your ad, set your landing page. No cost. If they click on your ad and come to your landing page, that costs you. How much depends on the keyword. If its a niche keyword, it will possibly be between 10c and 30c. If you get 300 interested clicks, that might be between $30 and $90.

But consider these differences:

  • They are interested in your product – its not just a random screaming fan.
  • They are in the right frame of mind – they are searching for a solution to their problem, not doing something else.

Not only does search marketing cost less than equivalent traditional marketing approaches, it gets the right people in the right frame of mind. Search marketing means small business doesn’t have to pay through nose to try and compete for the attention of 90,000 screaming fans, when what we really want is the attention of just the right people at just the right time. And search marketing offers us just that.

Search marketing has changed the rules in favour of small business. Take advantage of that. Leave the super boxes and banners to your big competitors.



Don’t boil the ocean

Boil The OceanIts such an exciting time to be a small business! We can do big things, on a budget that would have been laughable not that long ago.

If you aren’t already reading Seth Godin’s blog, well, you should be, you’ll find lots of inspiring ideas about marketing your small business. Seth’s writing is masterful and concise. His most recent post One, a few, most or all provides a brilliant framework to look at a small business marketing strategy.

When I read Seth’s post, it made me think of the saying “Don’t Boil The Ocean”. Its a bit of a cliche, but so often marketing efforts can get lost by attempting to do too much. Thinking about your market in terms of one-few-most-all helps you get clear what you are after.

As a small business, what would happen if you focussed your efforts on the ONE or the FEW customers?

ONE: You’re a needle, the market is a haystack … A FEW: Being exceptional matters most. Stand out, don’t fit in. Shun the non-believers.

Lets leave it to the bigger (richer) companies to focus on the ideas that need the ‘most’ and ‘all’ markets. They can try and boil the ocean. We don’t need to. A small business focussed on the one or the few is in a powerful position.



The value of a blog for your business

One of the blogs I find most valuable is Brian Clark’s Copyblogger. His most recent post on The Real Secret to Getting Tons of Blog Subscribers might cause small business owners some dismay – after all, how can a busy small business owner hope to do what Brian does?

Some bloggers build a large audience. Reading their blog is like reading a great magazine or newspaper column – just in a different medium. Their opportunity is to build a new audience that competes with newspapers, magazines and other media for readership.

As a small business owner your opportunity is distinctly different. What you should be considering isn’t audience size, but audience quality.

For a traditional publisher, building a large readership means more revenue in the form of advertising or subscription fees. A blogger who is aiming for revenue from advertising is in the same boat, a large audience means more money. So getting tons of subscribers really matters to them.

But a small business isn’t a traditional publisher. The value of attention can be far greater than just advertising revenue. We have clients who blog for attention – and when they get that attention, it might lead to:

  • a new client worth many thousands of dollars (we have a client who measures customer value in the tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars).
  • a new influencer who can indirectly lead to many new customers.

You don’t need a massive audience for blogging to be worthwhile. Getting the attention of a niche audience can be extremely valuable, but not if you think in terms of advertising revenue.

Here is an exercise for you. Visualise your ideal prospective clients and your ideal influencers (the people who can send lots of small customers your way).

Now imagine your top 100 prospects and influencers worldwide. That’s right, the top 100 prospects or influencers for your business around the world. If you run a business that relies only on local (geographical) customers, this may be a very short list. But for most businesses, that isn’t the case.

How much is it worth to you if you could be remarkable to your top 100 prospects or influencers? Guess what, blogs give you the ability to open up a conversation with them. Its not easy, but possible. You need remarkable content, and to learn how to reach people using it. 5 years ago it wasn’t possible, but blogs have changed the rules in favour of small business. Now its viable for a small business to become a publisher of niche content. And usually for less than it costs to run advertising that could well be ineffective (and definitely not remarkable).

I’ll give you an example from one of our small business clients. Paul and Jenny are expert in making artificial eyes. That is pretty obscure for many people. But if you (or one of your family) was to lose an eye because of an accident or cancer, all of a sudden you would learn about what an Ocularist does. Paul and Jenny have been using their blog to talk to people interested in artificial eyes. People from all over the world now get in touch with them. They run clinics outside Australia, in Asia and the Middle East, and they are busier than they have ever been. And you know what? They had a web site for years that didn’t have much influence on their business at all. So what changed? They became remarkable, because they started talking about what they knew. People who are dealing with eye loss find their content remarkable. They don’t have an audience remotely like the A list bloggers. But blogging has transformed their small business.

So, think about the value of a blog for you. What could it mean for your business? Do you know things that a niche audience will find interesting? Could that lead to new sources of revenue for your business?

Read Brian’s post to refresh yourself on the importance of being remarkable. Finding a niche audience can be a great way to build your business.