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The Web Marketing Connection

Image courtesy of Sommai from freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of Sommai from freedigitalphotos.net

In the hustle and bustle of running a business it can be easy to be confused and concerned about the things that matter. You’re trying to run the business, your mind full of daily details, it’s easy to miss out on what should or could be happening in the business.

Not everyone is good at all areas of the business, many are technically adept at the ‘doing’ side of the business, others more marketing or management focussed. So when things happen you need to know about to grow your business you can soon be overwhelmed. Let’s take marketing for instance.

In the ‘good old days’ marketing was a somewhat simpler affair, sales reps would drop in and sell you everything from T.V. space to to print advertising and sign writing, to name a few. These days there seems to be a more to it.

The technology revolution means people are now hassled via email and directly by organisations saying they can get their website on the first page of google, others say your website needs updating, oh and  how is that email campaign going… The list of questions, technical details and so on is seemingly endless.

Also know that some of these people can provide you with a solution that may not work, it may look alright to you but in the back end functionality details can be missed and performance may not be all you want it to be.

Like anything in business there are times when you have to trust your gut instinct about the people you are dealing with and the way you want to do business. Knowing if the technology solution is right for you can be a minefield but also know that with some research and effective questioning you can find more answers without being too bogged down with ‘techno babble’ here are a few points to consider…

The sales rep says…

  • We can get you on the first page of google – Any body can get on the first page if they google their own business name, ask them to show you examples of sites they have done which have achieved this ranking with appropriate key words. Now call that business and ask them what they thought of the web company in question
  • We can give you an email campaign that works for just $x per month – That’s good any examples of that? Do you have a red hot copy writer that will work directly with me to create sales letter type emails that will suit my prospects?
  • We can link with your social media – Yep so can I, generally it’s a no brainer to add in a link to your site
  • We make it so you can add in new info to your site – Great but is there a catch? Do you train me how to do that? Any others you have done that for? There are free options on the web for creating websites that you can add information to, photo’s videos, text etc so you should have full control of the content on your site.
  • We look after you – That’s great, but can I still have the access details for the hosting, the domain name registration etc so IF I change my mind I can take my web details elsewhere? Some will baulk at this, wanting you to be a customer for life. Others will give you all the details you need to be in control
  • It won’t cost much – For now… What about ongoing monthly fees and what do you get for that ongoing fee? Support? If you are on a tight budget you probably want to think twice about any ongoing fees and charges

There’s a start, I guess it’s all about due diligence in the end, just watch out for the technical details where the sales rep will want to confuse you with foot work, dazzle you with charm and deliver a knockout punch you may regret in the long run.

Here are some other web based marketing articles you might like to check out Content marketing Social media for business Using face book for business

Regards

http://stevegray.biz

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Smart Phone web stuff

You have a web site for your business, and now people have heaps of smartphones and while they are out and about they are checking out your site from their phone.

Therefore make your site work on a mobile, as MILLIONS are now using their phones to browse, and the figure is building daily.

What you need is a way to test your site, the good people over at Google have come up with a fairly elegant solution… http://www.howtogomo.com/

A simple yet highly effective way to test your webpage/s to see if you can cut through when you need to! Now call your web people and make changes.

5 Reasons to purchase a comprehensive car insurance policy

It can be a confusing and daunting task to select the right car insurance policy for your personal or business vehicle, however this article will outline the top 5 reasons why you should invest in a comprehensive car insurance policy.
 
Reason #1: Insurance providers who offer comprehensive car insurance policies often include Roadside Assist as part of the insurance policy. Roadside assistance is an often overlooked feature of insurance policies as many customers do not see the value of this benefit as they have not previously had the misfortune of finding themselves stranded after their vehicle has stopped running. The quality and coverage area of the roadside assistance included in the insurance policy will vary from provider to provider, so it is vital to check that you are covered in areas which you frequently travel, and if there are any additional costs incurred under certain circumstances – such as if a tow or on-site repairs are required.
 
Reason #2: Another unique feature of comprehensive car insurance policies are the inclusion of a loan car for when your car has been stolen or taken in for repairs. Having access to a loan car from your insurance provider is a valuable addition to your policy as it minimises the impact of car trouble to your lifestyle and work commitments, allowing you to continue on with your planned activities without disruption or the inconvenience of arranging alternative transport.
 
Reason #3: Car contents cover is a new benefit included in more modern comprehensive car insurance policies. This benefit allows you to claim for personal belongings lost when you car has been stolen, or damaged in a car accident. No longer will you also need to replace your iPod and other valuables that were inside your car when it was stolen.
 
Reason #4: Caravans and Trailers are additionally covered under many comprehensive car insurance policies. These are especially valuable when undertaking long family vacations or business trips where you are also taking along your caravan or trailer filled with your valuable possessions.
 
Reason #5: A hidden and expensive extra cost of budget insurance policies is the lack of cover for lost or stolen car keys. A re-keying or re-coding of your car keys can cost as much as $250 as keys often have electronic signatures which need to be replicated by an authorised dealer. Comprehensive car insurance policies will often allow you to include key replacements in your monthly policy, therefore in the event of lost keys you won’t be required to pay an excess fee.
 
When considering the added value that comprehensive car insurance includes, depending on how you use your personal or business vehicle, it may be the smart and economic decision to invest in comprehensive cover. Always be sure to thoroughly read the product disclosure statement (PDS) provides by your provider, and ask your insurance agency to clarify any points that you are unsure about.

Allianz operates throughout Australia and New Zealand and through its subsidiaries offers a range of insurance and risk management products and services. The company provides some form of insurance cover for more than half of Australia’s top 50 BRW-listing companies, and employs approximately 3,300 staff. An avid supporter of environmental friendly initiatives, Allianz has a target to reduce emissions by 20% by 2012 and Is a member of the Australian Government’s Greenhouse Challenge Plus program.

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Choosing the right franchise for you

Franchise opportunities abound, but choosing the right franchise requires careful thought and considered research.

Combing through franchise businesses for sale notices should be less daunting if you implement a well thought-out research strategy. Using online research, industry publications, news clippings and other methods is a great starting point.

When identifying franchise opportunities, consider what will complement your lifestyle, business goals and your skill set. Some aspects to consider are outlined below.

Brand strength? Behind every successful business is a strong brand, bolstered by an enviable reputation. Read widely about how the franchise brand is perceived by the industry, customers and business partners. Part of what you’re buying is the company’s brand equity. What do you estimate the brand’s equity to be?

Finding out about financial health How open and transparent is the organisation about its financial health? A company’s balance sheet can provide valuable insights about how well placed the franchise business is to harness future growth.

Expenses today and in the future Before you buy a franchise, you’ll need to know what set-up costs are involved. There could also be ongoing costs, such as marketing or advertising levies.

Strategic marketing, PR and advertising expertise? Dig deeper into the company’s marketing strategy. What level of investment and support is offered nationally and locally? What marketing and branding expertise does the company offer? How well resourced is the organisation to fund public relations programs?

Systems for success? Systems are essential ingredients in any successful franchise network. How efficient are the franchise’s systems and processes – do they help or hinder your ability to operate the business?

Investigate the level of support on the ground Do they have a dedicated operational and field support team to assist you? Investigate the ratio of franchisees to field support infrastructure.

Consider the commercial environment Determine the competitive dynamics that are likely to impact the brand. Do they have a well-defined understanding of their competitors, future opportunities, trends and issues?

Create a shortlist of franchise business opportunities? Once you’ve created your wish list, shortlist your most suitable franchise opportunities. Map out what works for you and what doesn’t, including the business must-haves e.g. IT and marketing support, costs (one-off and ongoing) and other forms of critical infrastructure.

Talk to franchise owners at the coalface Franchise owners are valuable resources. They can often provide you with the ‘inside story’ about a potential franchise business opportunity.

 

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Business and the view from there.

I probably should have called this “I can’t see the wood for trees” it’s that kind of quote/cliche I was thinking of when I put the wheels in motion for this article.

Reflecting (as one does from time to time) on the way things have happened for me in a number of positions of employ, one in particular comes to mind, let me explain.

Untitled © Peter Biram 2009

In the interview the view seemed clear, my mind has mapped out a course of action right from the get go… But when I get into the role, things somehow magically alter, the view has changed, the map becomes useless and things do not appear as they once were.

What happened? Sometimes I am not so sure, but in reflection from a role about six years back I can see what happened there. The role looked straight forward but on the inside the complexity was a bit much, information overload took place and detail-itis kicked in, people were throwing in all sorts of information into a vacuous space (the memory space allocated for my brain to handle this role.) and it was fast getting cluttered with “STUFF!”

My view on reflection was I could have done better by getting a better map or at least orienting the map to face the right way when I got into the role, and sorting out the basics in a better way to begin with.

The role was in a training organisation and as a 12 month contract my job was to set up new programs and look after a small handful of courses already running. It seemed simple enough but the points outlined above gave it an air of despair.

For each course currently running I should have had an outline of what subjects were being presented, what ones had already been covered, and what was coming up, followed by what I was going to do to make the upcoming parts easy for the Trainers, fail on all counts.

I wanted to go in and check out what the trainers were doing, how they presented, were they engaging, were they providing a rich and interesting environment for the participants and were the participants happy, fail on all counts…

I conjured up a range of new course ideas and ways the organisation would be able to make money out of professional development programs for businesses… A few great ideas were beginning to take shape when a new manager was appointed in a higher role and the eye cast on my plans sent a shiver, there was no money going to be allocated to some of the new programs I had in mind “These plans are all very well Steve, but we don’t have the money or resources to run them.” that was it, despite my evidence to the opposite.

My map turned to mud, my strengths to weaknesses and before long the whole thing became a sham. I had no idea of the view and what it should be like anymore and was somehow glad when the contract came to an end… The tables had turned and what I was hired for became a farce. Funny though just after I left the new Manager was sidelined and things went into some sort of a rejigging spin with the aim of getting the organisation back onto a level keel.

Twelve months wasted? Not really there were a number of small wins and “pats on the back” but the big thing is learning from it all. The aim being not to make the same mistakes. I can blame the organisation for being unclear, I can blame the manager for poor insight and limited vision, but in the end the real results came down to me.

Looking forward was part of the role, looking back was important too, but the here and now of the existing course operation probably may have yielded greater results in the long term. In reality who knows if it would have or not… I can only believe in myself it would have made a difference.

May I suggest you take a look at what’s happening in your business or department now and explore the map in detail and see if all parties on the “Island” are able to read the map and know what to do if they get lost. Otherwise the map may well be useless.

Business Basics

I love chatting about business, and love to see people put an idea or three into action and get results, but unfortunately far too many people go to get started and so blindly follow the idea their heart runs off with the head and they fail. I don’t want them to fail but they do, the business owner does not want it to fail but it does… Fail, fail , fail… its not a good look!

Therefore, any chance I get I like to mention the basics of business in the hope to make a difference, I like to harp on about the basics and let people know…

  • Idea – Research – Action – Spend $$ – Make $$ – Have some left over – Invest – Repeat. (or close to that.)

Still people get it wrong, some end up with an image like this…

  • Idea – Action – Spend $$ – Make SOME $$ – Spend more $$ – End up broke. (Or some similar pattern to that.)

What’s the point of having a great idea and seeing it crash and burn? None, it hurts and can easily hurt others, so stop doing it. The challenge is however people don’t see the “crash and burn phase” they see a rose coloured world of $$ and happy customers.

Consider this, you want to learn to fly, you have the idea, you have the cash to buy a plane, you know full well you can’t fly the sucker until you have been trained and pass the test.

So why the heck do people jump into business (of any size) without the right training… Because they can, and you know what, you can sign up to get business registration on line, get a bank account and so forth and be in business in no time flat. Problem is no training, probably some skills, possibly and few helping hands to get started. and the rest seems to be “fly by the seat of your pants” and hope for the best.

Do some basic research BEFORE getting started and make sure you KNOW what you are in for PLEASE. too many failures in business seems such a waste of resources folks.

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Does your business have a heart problem?

I live and work in Geelong. I have for 15 years or so. In that time, we have pretty much been in drought conditions, and under water restrictions.

This year, month, week, that’s pretty much changed. The word is, we are fast moving towards breaking the drought. With just “average” rainfall mind you. Fantastic! However, it’s caused a bit of chaos this week. You see, Geelong is a city divided by the Moorabool River. It runs roughly West to East, and dissects the North from South.

Of course, there are multiple points at which to cross the river, but one (apparently) vital one. It’s called the Breakwater Rd & Breakwater bridge. As the name suggests, it’s a breakwater, and it floods every time the Moorabool River reaches a certain level. It a pressure release valve so that the river doesn’t flood as badly as it might.

It’s a two way, one lane intersection. It’s tiny. It’s insignificant. It doesn’t appear to be that busy in the scheme of things. I take it everyday in my 5 minute trip to the office.

When it floods, it throws the City of Geelong into Traffic chaos! This week has seen a lot of Geelong employees late for work. My daily 5 minute drive has turned into 45-60 minutes!

My City has a heart problem. Like our Hearts, the city depends on all it’s arteries to follow un-hindered – block one, and you have a heart problem.

It made me think about my business (while i was stuck in traffic 🙂 ) Sometimes, we have arterial blockages in our businesses. It might be that the phone messages stall at reception and don’t quickly get sent to the sales guy, it might be the order release message from the accounts dept stalls and doesn’t get communicated to the despatch area, so an order sits on the back dock two days longer than it should.

An arterial blockage in our business is simply a part of the system that gets blocked up, slows the rest down, and sometimes even stops the system dead – grid lock!

The first step to clearing such a blockage is to identify it. Sit back, take a breath, and objectively look at your business and how an order goes through your system, even place an anonymous order and see how your system looks to an outsider. Once identified, you can take steps to alleviate the pressure and work out ways to prevent future issues.

In my business for example, the artwork process can be one of those areas that can bog down and block the system. It might be the client is slow to send us appropriate files, or our email breaks down, or a contract artist does not do the job fast enough – there are any number of ways that part of my business can (and has) block and stop orders from proceeding. I don’t like it, but knowing it is an area for a higher potential for screw ups, I pay more attention to it to avoid said screw ups.

Another area with potential for blockages is delivery. I rely on third parties often for delivery. I have clients all around Australia and even a few Internationals. Therefore, I am often reliant on third parties like manufacturers and couriers. If the guy on the back dock at the pens factory is having a bad day, my urgent delivery might not go out, just as the courier driver might have a flat tyre or only pick up 2 of 3 boxes. Even a foggy night made us miss one deadline when the plane holding one box was grounded.

I can’t completely avoid potential blockages, but if i know exactly what they are, I can put safe guards and pressure valves in place to reduce the risk.

So, does your business have a heart problem? It’s one of those questions just like your own health – it might not be comfortable to self analyse if you are at risk, but well worth the effort.

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