Small Business Classes

What are your New Year resolutions for your small business in 2017? That might be to create a marketing plan, learn how to market yourself on the Internet, master some software or start a consulting practice.

Self-paced, online classes like these and more are taught by highly qualified teachers and business owners. Check them out and make 2017 your best business year yet.

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A proven marketing or sales tactic is to directly ask someone to buy. When I tell this to some businesses I can see them cringe. They don’t want to be pushy. They don’t want to be annoying. They think, “If they want it they will purchase.”

So let me explain this in another way.

I have a daughter who is a Girl Scout. She was recently selling cookies at a table outside a local grocery store. As people left the store with their full carts you could see them notice the cookie table from the corner of their eye. They’d grip the handles of their cart harder and push a little faster, looking straight ahead. I wondered what the thoughts were in their heads. “Ugh. Someone selling me something, can I just get past this fast?” or “Ooh cookies. No I must’n. Or should I? Maybe? No. Or? Oh well now I’m past the booth and there’s my car. No cookies today.” Mostly no one would stop and no one would look our way.

But when my daughter would piped up in her cheery little voice, “Want to buy some Girl Scout Cookies?” the panic in their eyes would change. Sometimes they’d mumble a no, but usually they stopped. And once they stopped, they bought. For fun we kept testing this. Sometimes she’d ask and sometimes she’d be quiet and patient. Over and over it was clear — a direct ask was far more effective.

The power of a simple ask. Ask for it in your brochures, on your website, in your emails. Chances are you’ll get more sales than if you don’t.

Small Business Advertising Ideas © 2011 Glynns Thomas and Advertising Spark. All rights reserved.

My online class on how to effectively market your small business using free and low cost methods has finally launched! You can learn more by clicking here: Small Business Marketing on a Shoestring.

First class starts March 16. It will run again starting April 20, May 18 and June 15.

Click here to sign up.

Small Business Advertising Ideas © 2011 Glynns Thomas and Advertising Spark. All rights reserved.

Online Ads a Must-Have

Do you think online marketing is overhyped? Census data shows us that newspaper advertising revenue has dropped while Internet and broadcast has increased. Looks like the competition thinks that’s where their potential customers are. Check out this article from The Street: Online Ads Called Must-Have for Businesses.

Small Business Advertising Ideas © 2011 Glynns Thomas and Advertising Spark. All rights reserved.

Did you know there are more awareness days then there are days in the year? Many of these could be your next great idea for a marketing push.

What is an awareness day? Some examples are: Fiscal Wellness Month (January), National Thank Your Customers Week (January), Plant the Seeds of Greatness Month (February), National Music Week (April), Happiness Happens Month (August) and so on.

Click here and click here to find a list of awareness dates and start thinking about how you might use some of these to promote your business.

Small Business Advertising Ideas © 2010 Glynns Thomas and Advertising Spark. All rights reserved.

Craigslist can be a lucrative source of business for some companies. If you currently post on craigslist, or plan to, here are some suggestions to make the most of them:

  • Post often. Posts can get buried quickly as new postings come in frequently. Craigslist will not let you post the same ad more than once within a few days of each other. So consider developing at least five different versions of your advertisement that you can rotate through.
  • To help you come up with different ad versions, while increasing your responses, develop different ads targeted to specific types of people. Don’t worry that being so specific will turn others away. In fact, in the sea of ads on Craigslist, being more specific allows you to stand out more to whomever you’re targeting. In most cases, this approach should receive more responses than a more general ad. For instance in your ad titles, call out to stay-at-home moms or runners. Or make it geographically specific like: Violin Lessons for Costa Mesa Residents.
  • In your ad copy, break up your paragraphs into smaller chunks. People scan and they scan very quickly. Breaking it up makes scanning easier and they capture more of what you’re saying.
  • Include images. If you’re selling your services, then include a photo of you. In a service business people are buying YOU so let them know who you are. Other visuals are also good to portray what you do (like musical instruments if you’re a music teacher). Also include your logo. Consider taking some of your key selling points and making them a graphical image you can include like: Great references!
  • Always check for typos and grammer. People are wary of scams and typos or poorly worded ads are one way people screen for businesses to avoid.
  • Put in your ad title the words you think people will use to search for a business like yours. Not everyone will search by going to particular categories. Some will use the search function like “music lessons”. Determine what you think people would use to search for a business like yours and then include that in your title.
  • Make your ad stand out. Use special characters in the beginning and end of your title. Use unique characters that aren’t on the keyboard like stars or musical notes, etc. You can create these in a Word document and use a symbol type font. Then cut and paste into the Craigslist ad creator.
  • Post when your audience is on Craigslist. You know ads quickly disappear to the bottom. Desk professionals are usually on the Internet right before lunch and right before they leave the office. I think mid-afternoon is a good time too. Think about who your target audience is and when they might be searching the Internet.
  • Track to see which ads get the most traffic. That will help you fine tune your ads to perform even better over time. Use a service like: http://bit.ly/. They shorten your URL to your website that you include in your ad and at the same time it tracks how many clicks you get. By creating a different bit.ly URL for each ad, you can see which ads drive the most traffic. And if you use a bit.ly URL for each ad you do for certain times of the day, you can track to see what times of the day are the best to post an ad.
  • Happy advertising!

    Small Business Advertising Ideas © 2010 Glynns Thomas and Advertising Spark. All rights reserved.

    Website Grader Ranking

    I love the Hubspot Website Grader program. Been using it to track how well my site is designed for search engine optimization. I currently have a score of 91 out of 100. Still work to be done to increase traffic but headed in the right direction. It’s free. Check it out for your business: Website Grader.

    Small Business Advertising Ideas © 2010 Glynns Thomas and Advertising Spark. All rights reserved.

    Want to find out what your customers like, and don’t like, about your business? Or want to find out what your prospective customers want in a business like yours? There are many reasons why a small business would want to run a survey.

    Writing test questions is a science. Analyzing survey data is a science. But hiring a professional may be out of the question. So if you go it alone, here are some tips:

  • Formulate a clear objective of the survey’s goals before you write the questions.
  • Send it to enough people so that you’ll get enough responses to come to an informed conclusion.
  • Start with general questions and them move to more specific ones. This is so you don’t “lead the witness”.
  • Ask about behaviors and not attitudes because actions speak louder than words.
  • Use close ended questions wherever possible. Lots of open-ended questions are hard to analyze.
  • The shorter the questionnaire the better. Keep it focused, keep it simple and keep it short. Five minutes or less is optimal.

    For samples of surveys, check out: www.esurveyspro.com.

    Click here for even more information on customer surveys.

    Create surveys using programs like: www.surveymonkey.com, spreadsheets.google.com or www.zoomerang.com.

    Small Business Advertising Ideas © 2010 Glynns Thomas and Advertising Spark. All rights reserved.

    SEO Business 80% Scam

    I’ve done SEO projects for several clients now and I’ve managed to get them all first page rankings on Google for the keywords they desired most. These are one-time projects, not ongoing.

    The more I study SEO, the more I have wondered what these big SEO companies do that charge ongoing monthly retainers in the thousands of dollars.

    Well now I have confirmation of what I have suspected. According to Peter Kent, the author of Search Engine Optimization for Dummies, “The SEO business is 80 percent scam.”

    In an article from Entrepreneur, “…experts agree that SEO firms are most worthwhile at the development stage of a website…” This is when they lay the foundation for solid SEO on your site. “Once you optimize the website and everyone on the team understand what needs to be done, there should be no cost moving forward…” Read more of the article here.

    Now that’s not to say there aren’t plenty of SEO firms that do produce quality work, but their monthly work beyond laying your SEO foundation should be focused on getting more links to your site (not just spitting out reports like some firms I know.)

    The basics for doing SEO is not hard. And they’re not secrets. I’ve scoured the Internet to find the best ones to do when you’re starting out. And I know these beginning steps work. They’ve proven themselves to me with each project I do.

    My ebook tutorial lays out the steps for DIY SEO (as well as a comprehensive view of what very small businesses can do to effectively market themselves using free and low cost methods).

    The ebook is currently on sale (as I’m completely rewriting it to convert it into an online class to launch late this year). Check it out!

    Small Business Advertising Ideas © 2010 Glynns Thomas and Advertising Spark. All rights reserved.

    The Internet is flooded with articles about how marketing online provided tremendous benefit to certain businesses. But Hubspot did a recent survey to 2,500 of their customers to get the real scoop on what works for them. Check it out at: http://www.hubspot.com/charts/

    Small Business Advertising Ideas © 2010 Glynns Thomas and Advertising Spark. All rights reserved.