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By : Rachel Wheeler, 05-23-2017
Grow Your Business With a Multilingual Website
Setting up a website for a small business or individual doesn’t have to mean limiting yourself to a small audience. A multilingual website provides a great opportunity to reach a larger audience online. Click here to learn more about setting up a multilingual website for your company.
Grow Your Business With a Multilingual Website

Setting up a website for a small business or individual doesn’t have to mean limiting yourself to a small audience. Your online presence represents a fantastic opportunity to reach a large number of people.

Unfortunately, if your website only exists in English, you won’t reach nearly as many users as you could. According to the research, 75% of internet activity occurs in a language other than English. In non-English markets, 52.% of consumers reported that they would not buy products from a website that wasn’t in their native language. In fact, 72.1% of international customers indicated that they spend most of their time online using websites in their own language.

Clearly, it’s worth your time and money to translate your site and take advantage of the benefits of international ecommerce. Even if your company or site is small, connecting with an international audience can be a developmental boon. That said, before you start the process, there are certain points to keep in mind: 

Domain Structure

Website domains vary depending on the location of your audience

Proper domain URL structure varies from one country to another. Before launching a website catering to users from a particular nation, you want to confirm that you understand how the URL is supposed to be formatted.

The process is simple: choose a popular website, like Amazon.com, then visit its international sites. In Germany, you’ll note that the URL reads Amazon.de. It’s Amazon.co.uk for UK shoppers.

You could also create subdomains for each language. For example, the URL for your American site might be us.example.com, while the German URL would be de.example.com. While this may be a convenient option for some, to get the best results from an international site, you’re better off launching a local domain. Doing so makes the site more likely to show up in Google searches.

Keyword Localization

a multilingual website will require different keywords

Effective search keywords are not consistent across all nations and cultures. The difference between British English and American English offers clear examples. An American is going to search for “pants” in Google, while someone in the UK will search for “trousers.” Even within essentially the same language, the best keyword isn’t universal.

You can’t expect to effectively reach an international audience by simply translating the content of your website word-for-word. Just as you conducted research to identify the best keywords for your English-language site, so too should you delve further to determine the right keywords for your multilingual sites. A professional translation service can provide assistance with this task, as they are experts in multilingual SEO.

Layout & Design

Different languages require different designs.

Paying attention to subtle cultural differences is essential when designing a version of your website in another language. The colors, graphics, and layouts that may capture the attention of American guests could be ineffective or even off-putting in another cultural context.

This is especially important to remember if your website contains multiple symbols or icons. Simple images often have symbolic weight in certain cultures. You don’t want to give your small business a poor reputation by launching a site that offends users of a particular country, religion, or region.

Remember, not all potential users read from left-to-right, either. In Arabic, for example, they read from right-to-left. The more effort you put into understanding these types of cultural differences, the more successful your website will be. 

Whether you’re representing a small business or just representing yourself, your website often serves as an introduction to new customers and guests. Coordinate with translation professionals to ensure you make the right impression, as every  effort counts when you are a small business owner.

Rachel Wheeler works for Morningside Translations, a professional translation services company offering comprehensive language solutions in 100+ languages. 
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By : , 12-23-2016
Leadership Versus Management
People talk a lot about “Leadership” and “Management”, and the terms are often used interchangeably. The mangers of a company might be referred to as the Leadership Teams, but calling a team a Leadership Team does not make them leaders. Understanding the difference can be crucial to both the productivity of your company as well as the satisfaction of your employees.
Leadership Versus Management
People talk a lot about “Leadership” and “Management”, and the terms are often used interchangeably. The managers of a company might be referred to as the Leadership Teams, but calling a team a Leadership Team does not make them leaders. Understanding the difference can be crucial to both the productivity of your company as well as the satisfaction of your employees.

Let us start with definitions, so we know what we are talking about. Management and leadership are separate concepts and both are important to the proper functioning of an organization. You could visualize a continuum from Management to Leadership, and every person in authority falls somewhere along this continuum.

Leadership is the ability to inspire people to see, and believe in, a common vision. A Leader can get everyone excited about a project or mission. They create motivation and enthusiasm. A Leader can get the team to cheer and boldly charge forward. Someone who is all the way to the Leadership end of the continuum could assemble a mob to run down to city hall, but they wouldn’t know what to do when they get there.

 
Management is the ability to coordinate and create discipline. A Manager can get the best work from each member of a team, track results, optimize performance. Leadership is the sexier end of the continuum because it is in Leadership that you find inspiring speeches and spirit lifting prose. Management is thought of as the drier part of the process. Reports. Accountability. Action plans and strategic documents. These are the tools of a Manager. Someone who is all the way to the Management end of the continuum can get the best work from each member of a team and make the team operate at peak efficiency, but they won’t be very excited about it.

Some people are better Managers and others are better Leaders. In fact, very often, one is a better Manager or Leader. This is why this is such an important concept to understand as a business owner. Because most people are one or the other, it is very important to find someone who has the complementary talents to your own.

In many companies, there is a CEO (Chief Executive Officer) and a COO (Chief Operating Officer). The CEO is a Leader. She creates a vision and a mission and gets everyone excited and enthused about that mission. The CEO points to the distant mountain and says “we are going to the top of that mountain!” and everyone cheers. The CEO is focused on the goal.



The COO is the Manager. She is aware of the goal but focused on the “how” of getting to that goal. If the team is going to the top of a mountain, the COO makes sure that they have a map of the terrain leading to the mountain, enough food, warm clothes, and climbing equipment for the climb.

The CEO gets the cheers, but the COO gets the team to the top. Without the CEO, the team gives up before they cross the first river, but without the COO, the team freezes to death on the mountainside.

I have a friend named Jeff who runs an event company. He creates brilliant events by inventing an amazing vision and being able to share that with his team. Everyone is inspired and excited by his vision and they would walk through fire to help him achieve it. Jeff is the epitome is the Leadership I am speaking of, but his great strength is Leadership and not Management. For this reason, it is very important that his team contains Managers who can execute his vision. With only his Leadership, everyone wants there to be great performances, but no one makes sure that there is a coordinated schedule and staging and lights for the performers to perform on.

This is often the nature of a small business, especially one run by a strong entrepreneur. The entrepreneur is inspired and empowered by their ideas and vision, but they often lack the training, discipline and systems to bring order to that vision, which is why good managers and operations people are vital to the success of such a business.

If you’ve ever worked in a Corporate setting, then you’ve seen the opposite, strong Management with little Leadership. Employee manuals, mission statements, process documents, and all the rest ensure that maximum value can come from your efforts and that your efforts are optimally integrated with those of your co-workers and other departments. Without Leadership, however, the work is meaningless. You work for the paycheck and for the weekend. You do enough to get by and not get fired. A company dominated by Management rather than Leadership lumbers along like a freight train, nearly unstoppable, until it comes to a bridge that was washed out by a storm of economic change, at which time the it ends up in the ravine of Failure to Innovate with hundreds of once great companies.



You have probably seen the situation where the higher ups in an organization proclaim some bold vision and the operators in the company mutter “It’ll never work. “ “It’s too expensive.” “No one will do it.” That is the classic Leadership/Management conflict, and that is why so many brilliant ideas die on the drawing board. The Leaders see the Managers as obstructionist, just saying no to everything, but the Managers see the Leaders as starry eyed dreamers with their heads in the clouds.

Which is more important, Leadership or Management? The answer is both. An organization cannot thrive without both. Leadership creates enthusiasm and dynamism, but Management creates efficiency and effectiveness. This is crucial to recognize, because so often people make the mistake of prioritizing their own strength. Leaders feel that vision and goals are more important and that process and systems should be secondary. Managers feel that process is paramount and that vision is so much new age corporate mumbo jumbo. It is only when we recognize the value of both that an organization can be truly successful.

 
By its nature Management follows Leadership because the Leader provides the direction of travel and the Manager provides the method, but that does not mean that the Leader is more important, only that they must take the initiative. When Leaders and Managers recognize each other’s importance, they can work best together. Leaders can develop a vision and then consult with Managers to see how that vision might affect the processes and systems. The Managers can develop or adjust processes and collaborate with Leaders to determine what would best achieve the vision.

Are you more of a Leader or a Manager? There’ s no fancy test to determine it, but you probably know. Do you think in broad sweeping statements or details and procedures and spreadsheets? Whether you are a Leader or a Manager, who is your counterpart in your organization. If you are a CEO/Leader, who is your COO/Manager? If you are a Manager, who is your Leader? If you cannot answer, then your organization may not be as successful as it could be. Like anything else, it is crucial to assess your own strengths and weaknesses, so you can work in your strengths and find team members to supplement your weaknesses. In this way, your organization can achieve its greatest potential!
1 COMMENTS
Nice blog! Very good to read!
GregoryChilds
02-20-2017
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By : Brendan Mitchell, 03-14-2016
How to Get More Reviews for Your Business
Reviews are important to the sucess of your business. They can make or break you. Click here to learn how you can increase the number of online reviews for your business.
How to Get More Reviews for Your Business

It doesn’t matter whether you are a contractor, pet groomer, or a restaurateur, if you own a small business the chances are you’ve already realized how important online reviews are to your business.

In an era where so many consumers are researching businesses on the Internet before they buy – on websites like Yelp, EZBZ, and Facebook – it’s vital that your company has a good reputation online. Recent studies show that 88% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, while 78% of internet users between the ages of 18-64 said that online reviews strongly influenced their decision-making process.

Here are some simple steps you can take to get more reviews of your business online:

Ask for Them (and make it easy)

Make it easy for customers to leave reviews

This may seem obvious, but unless you ask your customers to leave a review, most of them aren’t going to actively try to review your company. It’s an unfortunate aspect of human nature, but typically if a consumer goes out of their way to leave a review, it’s a negative one.  Taking every effort to encourage all your customers to leave reviews means that when you do receive a (often inevitable) bad review, it does not have as much impact.

If you regularly email your clients or send out a newsletter, include a call to action that encourages them to review your business. When a customer shares with you a positive experience they had with your business, be sure to ask them to share their thoughts in the form of an online review – most customers understand the importance of reviews, and if they had a positive experience, will be willing to help you out by sharing their feedback. It’s important to ask as soon as possible though; if a patron is going to review your business, it will typically occur immediately after their experience. 

Reward Your Reviewers (But don’t bribe them)

Reward customers that review your business

There is a fine line between incentivizing your customers to leave reviews, and buying a good review. If you’re worried that the product or service you provide is unlikely to garner many good reviews, focus on improving your product. Then, encourage all your customers to leave reviews. If the product or service is good, the majority of your reviews are going to be positive.

A monthly giveaway where you select one of your reviewers (at random) to receive a prize is a great way to increase your online reviews, without looking like you are paying people to review your business. You’d be cutting it close to the line, but some businesses also give away their product for free to popular blogs or review websites in exchange for an honest review.

Turn a Bad Review in to a Good One

Turn a bad review in to a good one

You might not feel like engaging with a reviewer who was less than impressed with your business, but these are the customers you should be focusing on the most. A bad review is a great opportunity for your business to learn how it can improve, and show customers that you are trying. Responding to a customer that had a bad experience with positivity and understanding will also help them feel heard – they might even give you a second chance to change their mind.

Use ReviewMe
ReviewMe

ReviewMe is a widget that you can place on your business website that allows your customers to post one review across multiple sites simultaneously. It’s a great way to ensure all your online business profiles receive the same review, making it easier for you to keep a consistent rating across the web. Check it out here: www.plsreviewme.com.

Reviews are important for every business, and they can easily make or break your business. By taking the steps above, you can build an online consensus of positive reviews for your business – that is, of course, assuming that the majority of your reviews are going to be positive. Ensuring you receive a good review starts with you, the business owner, and the quality of the product or service you are providing. Once you’re confident your business is worthy of a good review, you should do all you can to make sure you receive as many of them as possible.

Reviews are just one aspect of your business profile. Log in to your EZBZ business profile today and add images of your work, a description, and references to make your business stand out.
4 COMMENTS
Great customer service
Deliver great service to your customer and ask for review every time. Thta's the best fastest way to build online reviews for your business. http://www.ykrealestate.com
Yuliya Kachko - ONE Sotheby's International Realty
08-14-2016
Respond to all reviews - positive or negative
Ashburn Pro Roofing responds to all reviews whether positive or negative. If your positive is "invisible" to your customer's feedback on your site or others then it's bad. We also publish our reviews from our Google Business page and Facebook directly on our website, here's an example: http://ashburnproroofing.com/roofing-company-ashburn-va-2/
Ashburn Pro Roofing
11-21-2016
Long island Tree service
I agree reviews is the best step trusted by consumers Visit this website http://www.findlocaltreeservice.com/
New York & Long Island Tree Removal Services
12-28-2016
Good Customer Service
Reviews - the hope of future for the consumers. Do visit www.adaalo.com online classifieds websites
Ramesh Chandramowli
04-07-2017
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By : Brendan Mitchell, 03-10-2016
Running a Successful Team-Building Exercise
Are you interested in improving morale and productivity in your workplace? Many employers are investing in team-building events and exercises for their staff to help their employees work better alone, and in a team. Click here for some tips on running a successful team-building exercise for your staff. 
Running a Successful Team-Building Exercise

From time to time, many companies and corporations hold team building events to encourage a more organized, goal-oriented, and united staff. While these events can often consume both time and money, if successful they can be a truly worthwhile investment for the business. Employees that are both happy and feel a sense of community are often more reliable and productive workers. These events shouldn’t just be run by big businesses – any business with a team of staff that work together on a day-to-day basis should consider hosting a team-building event or exercise, both for the sake of their employees, and the businesses’ own wellbeing.

Here are some tips and techniques for ensuring you run a successful team-building event:

Determine an Aim

If you know your team could benefit from improving a certain skillset, it can be helpful to center your team-building exercise around this topic. It is crucial that the exercise taking place is grounded in a lesson that applies to the workplace. For example, often, the purpose of a team-building exercise is to foster unity and teamwork among group members. Therefore, a competitive, non-team sport would not be conducive to the exercise. Instead, you should try to find an exercise that requires all the staff to work together in a group dynamic. An Escape Room – an increasingly popular group activity – is a good example of this.  Team mates must work together to escape a simulated locked room within a certain time frame.

Work with Your Team to Organize

Often, employees themselves can provide the greatest feedback about their strengths and weaknesses. Simply by asking your team to help organize or pick a team-building exercise, you are showing them respect by implying that you trust their judgement, which can help your own workplace relations with your employees. Additionally, perhaps just planning an event together would be a good team-building exercise for some members of your staff.

Recognize and Praise Achievements

You can incentivize employees to participate and fully engage with the team-building exercise with the promise of a prize. It’s also a good idea to observe and praise both individual and team achievements that take place during the event. Positive reinforcement will help the lessons of the exercise transfer to the workplace.

Acknowledge Failure

Good teamwork is not just about achieving goals – it’s also about appropriately handling failure. It’s important not to single anyone out in the event of a group failure – this is demoralizing and embarrassing to not just the singled out employee, but the entire team. A group failure is a great opportunity for your employees to reflect on their strengths and weaknesses as a team – with constructive feedback, praise, and honesty, lessons from a failure can also be transferred to the workplace.

You cannot measure the true success of a team-building event or exercise until the next work day – employees will likely be more amicable, happy and energized by the breakup of their routine, with plenty of lessons to think about and apply to their work. A staff that are happy to work together will be more productive and valuable to your business, which is why team-building exercises are becoming increasingly popular.

If you’re looking for a team-building program, instructor, or provider in your area, consider submitting a free request through EZBZ. It’s a great way to find and compare local businesses, products, and services.

1 COMMENTS
Tree services Long island
Article has the Best Ideas To Improve Goals for Local sales www.findlocaltreeservice.com
New York & Long Island Tree Removal Services
02-02-2017
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By : Brendan Mitchell, 03-07-2016
Turn Your Blog in to a Business; It

Do you administrate a sizeable Facebook group? Own a popular blog? Website? This is all you need to start earning money. EZBZ is now offering their technology for free to Internet entrepreneurs who are interested in monetizing their online activity. Click here to learn more.

Turn Your Blog in to a Business; It

A common mistake that bloggers and website owners make is the assumption that it is hard to make money on the Internet. It really isn’t. In fact, if you have an audience of several thousand unique visitors a month, you’ve already crossed the line between blog and business opportunity.

The question that most bloggers have once they’ve established an audience is, how? How do I capitalize? Selling space on your website for advertising is the quick and easy answer, but it’s not necessarily an effective one. It could hinder how you communicate with your audience, and won’t necessarily earn you all that much money.

There is another option that bloggers and website owners have, that they may be completely oblivious to. EZBZ, the online concierge service, is currently looking for bloggers and website owners with a sizeable following, who may be interested in a free partnership opportunity that could provide them with multiple streams of consistent revenue.

An EZBZ marketplace is an interactive business directory, concierge, and store that you can seamlessly integrate in to your existing blog or website… for free. The marketplace platform is also a free tool for your visitors that can help you develop monetary business relationships, thus transforming your website in to a revenue-generating company. Some of our current marketplace partners include Westchester NY Moms, the New York Jewish Community, and MetroFamily Magazine

The marketplace can have its own URL, or can sit on your website as a self-contained IFRAME with three tabs: Concierge, Directory, and Shop. 

Concierge

Marketplace concierge


The Concierge allows users to submit requests for any product or service. The request is then sent it to local providers in the area, who will reply in minutes with their information, availability, and prices. It’s a great way for your followers to compare contractor quotes, hire professional services, or find a rare product or service in their area, for free. Businesses will pay to reply to these consumer requests, and as the marketplace operator, you will earn a share of this revenue stream.

While the Concierge technology will send requests to all the local businesses that can help, the Directory tab is a great way to promote your (or your followers) favorite businesses.

Directory

Directory

The marketplace admin can choose to charge businesses for a standard and/or promoted listing in the directory. This is a valuable aspect of the marketplace technology – businesses will be willing to pay for a promoted listing in a directory with a large audience, while you will be able to profit from an additional revenue stream.

Shop

Shop

The third tab, Shop, is an e-commerce platform linked to EZBZ’s online store. Businesses with an EZBZ profile are able to sell their products and services in the store, and if they are in your marketplace, their items will also be listed in your Shop tab, alongside a set of top-selling national items from EZBZ’s own distributor. This presents another revenue stream for the marketplace admin to capitalize on, not to mention numerous other benefits: your followers can use it shop online, businesses can sell their products and services, and you will have another enticing reason to attract new followers to your website.

The EZBZ marketplace is a great way for you to provide your online audience with an array of tools and services, while also earning revenue. It’s a great model to help you expand your audience, and transform your website in to a profitable business. It’s also remarkably easy to set up – a marketplace can be built and placed on an existing website within several hours.

If you’re interested in adding a marketplace to your website or blog, contact EZBZ at 1-855-461-8619 or at marketplaces@myezbz.com, and start generating revenue within twenty-four hours.
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By : Daria Collins, 03-03-2016
The Modern Office Space

Technology and innovation have made significant advancements in western society. This has a resulted in new ways of living and working. One place where significant growth and change has taken place is at the office. Click here to learn more about the modern office space.

The Modern Office Space

As various studies have explored the relationship between employee productivity, employee satisfaction, and the workplace environment, the demand for innovative workspaces has increased dramatically. Numerous organizations, including multinational corporations, have started to do away with the conventional office space, to embrace a more modern and flexible work environment. Moreover, the continuous evolution of technology and change in modern business practices that demands collaboration and creativity have resulted in the adoption of progressive polices and perks for employees. Below are some of the characteristics of a contemporary workplace:

Appearance

Cubicles are now a thing of the past. The modern office space emphasizes the need for collaboration and teamwork. Conference rooms have been abandoned as the setting of internal meetings for less formal spaces. Employee isolation was once seen as integral to a productive workplace, but now the opposite is being put in to practice. Partitions are being removed and offices are providing more casual settings designed to encourage employee collaboration. It’s not uncommon to find lounges or even beanbags in a modern office. More vibrant color schemes and lighting are also being adopted in contrast to the beige, halogen-lit offices of the past. Some forward-thinking employers also allow further personalization of the office, including art installations, special furniture, or recreational spaces.  Studies have found that employees are happier in a vibrant workplace, and thus, more productive.

Technology

With rapid advancements in technology over the past decade, the tech available in a present day office is dramatically different to what was available ten years ago. Fax machines are quickly becoming obsolete, and can be quite rare in the modern office, while employees are actively using multiple screens – such as their computer, tablet, and phone – to work.  Many office spaces also provide televisions and gaming consoles to help employees de-stress and have a positive outlook on their work environment. With increasingly wireless technology upgrades, employees are also less often restricted to a single desk or work space. This is a good example of the flexibility that technical advancements have given the modern office space, making it a happier, less-cluttered environment.

Policy

In today’s political climate, there is a correlation between the perception of a business’ brand and the policies that business has related to its employees, and the society it operates within. Today, it’s not uncommon for businesses to advocate for political issues such as equal marriage rights or global warming. Companies that appear to be socially and environmentally conscious, while also treating their employees well, often have a more positive brand value than those who don't have that reputaiton. Many of these companies offer recreational, team-building, and health-oriented programs and activities to their employees, as it has been proven time and time again that happy employees are productive employees.

No two workplaces are the same, and the modern office is dramatically different to the typical office space of ten years ago. As technology and transparency become more valuable to businesses in modern day society, services like EZBZ have become a great online tool for business owners. While your office space may not be up to date, EZBZ can help your business ensure they are capitalizing on the online market for reaching and converting customers.

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2 COMMENTS
WoW! Amazing.
All Claims USA, Inc.
02-20-2017
Office Furniture
Nice article, thanks for sharing and completely agree with you that these days employees are happier in a vibrant workplace that's why it is very important to have a nice looking,decent and comfortable furniture which makes the environment vibrant and pleasing. A good environment puts pleasant effect on the minds of the employees. Recently my friend renovated her office, I was completely shocked to see the renovation, it was so vibrant and the furnitures was just awesome. She suggested me this site (http://www.officesolutionsfl.com/) so that I could get some home office furniture idea. Looking forward to renovate my home office with some cool furniture.
Cynthia McCree
05-18-2017
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By : Kyle Freedman, 02-25-2016
The Benefits of Corporate Housing
Good accommodation for business trips can sometimes be hard to come by. Hotels can be expensive and inconvenient for anything longer than a few days, so many businesses are turning to corporate housing as an alternative.  Click here to read more.
The Benefits of Corporate Housing

One of the most important decisions you have to make when planning a business trip is where to stay. These days, your options aren’t limited to hotels.  Some businesses are booking corporate housing for their employees, as it can sometimes be less expensive and more comfortable.  Here is an assessment of some of the benefits and downsides of corporate housing:

Benefits

Most corporate housing is furnished and fully equipped with appliances, so it is more comfortable for long-term stays. That isn’t to say it feels like you’re living in someone else’s home; there is plenty of space for guests to add personal touches for the duration of their stay.

It can be cost efficient – The monthly rate for NYC furnished apartments starts at around $3000, which is a lot more affordable than a hotel would be for the same amount of time. Corporate housing can also be easier to find than a reliable sublet or rental property. 

Eating out constantly can be unhealthy and expensive, but with access to amenities such as a fridge, stove, and a full sized kitchen, guests of corporate housing can more easily cook and store food. Corporate housing is also often situated close to grocery stores, café’s and other food shops.

The Downsides

There’s usually a minimum stay of thirty days for corporate housing, which may mean that a hotel could still be the more affordable option if you’re trip is short. Hotels also typically offer more luxuriant services, such as room service, 24-hour reception, and free breakfast.

Hotels are never far away, but corporate housing isn’t available everywhere. The housing options in your destination city may not be close to your place of work., so if you’re looking for accommodation close by, corporate housing may not be the best solution.

There can be more rules in corporate housing regarding cleanliness, maintenance, and the cost of damages, which can make for awkward or tense situations with your employer/employees and the housing provider.

Ultimately, corporate housing is not the solution for every business, but it may be an option you have not yet considered. For long-term trips, it can certainly be a preferable alternative to hotels for both employer, and employee. To see what the housing options are in your destination, check out www.tempapts.com or submit a request through EZBZ today.

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1 COMMENTS
Corporate housing. What an interesting take on living. Being somewhere in your "home," for just a short amount of time seems exciting and lonely all at the same time. I've cleaned a number of carpets in Corporate housing units. Maybe it's because of these rules that you mentioned as to the reason why when we go in to clean the carpet seems to already be "pretty" clean. No big stains or anything like that. Thanks for the post!
Carpet Service Beaverton
07-02-2016
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By : Elizabeth Humbal, 02-22-2016
Factors To Consider When Preparing To Sell Your Business
Statistically, the vast majority of owners of small and medium-sized enterprises admit that they have no succession plan in place. This fact points to a common assumption many business owners make. Unfortunately, this is far removed from reality. Even in the best of times, for the very best businesses, the success rate for selling your business is less than 3%. Bellow are factors to consider when preparing to sell your business.
Factors To Consider When Preparing To Sell Your Business

Statistically, the vast majority of owners of small and medium-sized enterprises admit that they have no succession plan in place. This fact points to a common assumption many business owners make. Unfortunately, this is far removed from reality. Even in the best of times, for the very best businesses, the success rate for selling your business is less than 3%. Bellow are factors to consider when preparing to sell your business.

Valuation assessment

Putting together a thorough, comprehensive exit plan entails paying attention to some critical areas of your business to attract the highest quality of potential buyers. For example, you must have fully-documented financials available that cover a minimum of five years, including the present year. 

For savvy buyers, the reality of potential return on investment is what your company looks like on paper, and not what you as the seller think it is worth. While you will certainly want to engage the services of an experienced professional who is well-versed in all the nuances of proper valuation, you do need to understand at least some of the factors considered in an assessment. 

--Potential buyers will focus on obvious things such as net income, revenue, and cash flow as primary measures

--Buyers may also consider what is known as the EBITDA, or "earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization," a measure used to analyze and compare profitability between companies. 

--In addition to a thorough financial review, a buyer who is looking to invest in a business will consider other things before making an offer. A prospect will probably want to know details such as how many service calls you average per day and the value of those calls.

Renovation of the business premises

Your physical location speaks volumes to a potential buyer, so don't neglect it. Something as simple and inexpensive as tidying up the landscaping, throwing a fresh coat of paint on the exterior, or ensuring that the dumpsters are emptied and clean, can make a big difference when you are courting buyers.

Get your employees in the habit of keeping their company vehicles clean, their workspaces orderly, and their personal appearances neat and professional. First impressions count and never more so than when you are trying to find the perfect buyer for your company inventory. 

Customer satisfaction

Once you've made the determination to leave your business, it's easy to get caught up in the sales process and forget you still have customers of whom you need to take care. Don't allow yourself to get distracted from the everyday running of the business. Allow your advisors and transition team to handle the exit details while you do everything you can to increase your bottom line and make the company run more efficiently. 

A prospective buyer will be looking beyond the books for both tangible and intangible factors that make your business more likely to produce a quick return on investment. Planning ahead will ensure that you have done everything possible to make your business an attractive option for the prospective buyer.

Summary

Selling your business is one of the most important phases of your life. Planning and preparation ensure that you will be able to get out of your business the money you need in order to create the future you desire. Educating yourself now on the perfect exit strategy and implementing it in phases is the best way to avoid making bad decisions that will impact your retirement.

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By : Elizabeth Humbal, 02-18-2016
Pros and Cons of Working in a Family Business
Family businesses make up the bulk of small to medium enterprises today and with the apparent difficulty in landing work at large corporations you might find yourself working at one. Needless to say the dynamics involving family owned businesses are unique whether you are an outsider or family member working there making it important to weigh the pros and cons before signing up to work there.
Pros and Cons of Working in a Family Business

Family businesses make up the bulk of small to medium enterprises today and with the apparent difficulty in landing work at large corporations you might find yourself working at one. Needless to say the dynamics involving family owned businesses are unique whether you are an outsider or family member working there making it important to weigh the pros and cons before signing up to work there.

Pros

Working in a business run by your family is great because people you trust, who are typically focused on similar goals, will always surround you. Experts admit there is more authenticity in a family business, as family members tend to be freer and emotionally honest with one another, which leads to positive growth. The working environment tends to be slightly more relaxed as hours tend to be more flexible to personal needs and bosses are able to provide more personalized perks. Reaching important decisions is also frequently less complicated, as it is all about making other family members understand your goals.

Oftentimes, even key employees who are not related are treated as if they are family members, and given more compassion and understanding over personal issues, than would be experienced with an HR manager of a large firm. Likewise, employees tend to get more diverse assignments than they might receive at the same larger corporations. Within family businesses there can sometimes be an “all hands on deck” approach to solving problems and completing tasks. Because families typically work well collaboratively, this style tends to trickle down to the rest of the workforce. It can be quite encouraging to be a part of a business that relies on a range of your great skills.  

Cons

It might seem like working for family run businesses is the best thing aside from sliced bread, but there are some downsides also, that could deter even the most patient or ambitious person. 

Families business can often bring drama, due to the extend that it takes a negative toll on outsiders working there. Inevitably family disputes arise or those opinions that are so freely shared, will inevitably reach a negative escalation at some point. For this reason some people flatly refuse to work for family owned companies simply because they want no part in the daily drama. This includes members of the family! 

Climbing up the ranks to a leadership position can also be very hard unless you are one of the family members. The biggest downside to working for a family business is the risk it poses in the chance that it fails. Many workers have found themselves left out in the cold after the family companies they were working for failed to succeed and traditional employers refuse to hire them, given their experience is fitting to the traditional corporate environment. 

As mentioned earlier, a family run business requires its employees to wear many hats and while this can be good for you, it also takes significant time and concentration. You may find yourself sacrificing and devoting time to the job that you would have otherwise spent with your own family. In serious family run businesses, the family members work harder than hired hands to create a feeling of balance.

There can also be unfortunate results when family affairs take center stage during working hours. This can undermine the positive work environment and disrespect and discontent from outsiders. If you are hired to work for a family business, it can be tempting you to get involved in their personal affairs, especially when they’re brought front and center into the workplace, but that should always be avoided. Getting entangled in family issues can costs outsiders their jobs.

Even with all challenges aside, it is great to work for family businesses, which obviously have a great competitive advantage.

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By : Laurel Savey, 02-15-2016
Three Steps to Responding to a Bad Business Review
Resisting the urge to get defensive and fire back with a witty comment or rude remark when you receive a poor business review can be difficult. However, this is exactly what you must do to avoid worsening an already negative situation and jeopardizing how your business is viewed in general. It is important to be in the proper headspace when replying to any negative review. So, take a little breather before responding. Allow yourself to collect your thoughts and think about what the reviewer is saying and how you might want to respond in order to resolve the customer’s concern to your greatest ability, and also to improve your business practices.
Three Steps to Responding to a Bad Business Review

When building a business, customer reviews can make or break you, although they don’t have to. If you find yourself with a poor review of your company, especially if poor reviews are recurrent, its important to consider following the steps below before taking any action.  

Step #1: Take Time to Consider the Review

Resisting the urge to get defensive and fire back with a witty comment or rude remark when you receive a poor business review can be difficult. However, this is exactly what you must do to avoid worsening an already negative situation and jeopardizing how your business is viewed in general. It is important to be in the proper headspace when replying to any negative review. So, take a little breather before responding. Allow yourself to collect your thoughts and think about what the reviewer is saying and how you might want to respond in order to resolve the customer’s concern to your greatest ability, and also to improve your business practices.

Step 2: Compare the Review to Your Business Practices

It is true that sometimes the people leave bad reviews for spiteful, rather than valid reason, although this isn’t typically the majority of bad reviews. More often than not, a bad review is an indication of something going wrong at a business, either temporarily, or more deeply rooted. For this reason, it is important to compare what the reviewer is saying to the daily practices that your business follows. Try and decipher whether or not the issue contained in the review is a repetitive issue or a one-time occurrence. If what they are complaining about is something your company doesn’t already focus some attention on, consider the concerns and modify accordingly. On the other hand, if what they are complaining about is something your company is already attentive to, working towards, or is something your business has received numerous other positive reviews about; you can relax a little bit. You may however, want to speak to your staff to ensure everyone understands that particular business practice and is following it as best they can. 

Remember, bad reviews can be a blessing. Having customers tell you exactly how you may improve -- which is what a poor review is about, even if it doesn’t seem that way – provides valuable insights.  

Step 3: Decide How to Respond

Once you have taken time to cool off and have reviewed the complaint against your business practices, the next step is to decide how to respond to the bad review. Resist the urge to be short or rude with the individual who left the review, but instead say something that will hopefully help to calm them down and assure them that you are working to remedy the complaint. An example of a respectful and appropriate response might be: 

“We thank you very much for bringing this concern to our attention and we are doing our best to remedy the cause of the mistake. We are extremely apologetic that you experienced this and we want to assure you that we are using this information to better our business to serve you better. Please do not hesitate to contact our customer service if you have any further questions or would like to speak to someone in person about this occurrence. Sorry again for the inconvenience, and thank you for contacting us.” 

This response shows your customer that you are working to improve the business practices to ensure the mistake doesn’t happen again. You may also want to offer them some kind of refund or rebate on the product or services, but this is optional. 

If you follow these few simple and easy steps, you should be able to improve your business and create a stronger business-customer relationship. Again, the most important thing to remember when faced with a bad review is to think of it as constructive criticism. Changing or adjusting your practices accordingly can help improve your business and lead to more successful results.

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By : Laurel Savey, 02-08-2016
The Basics of Event Sponsorship
Event sponsorship can be effective as a marketing tool, because the business has the power to access a wide variety of audiences. A growing number of sponsors believe event sponsorship is better than any other marketing method. Events enable businesses to relate directly to their targeted customers while providing them the opportunity to try out the products the company has to offer. Another reason to sponsor events is the heightened visibility. It puts your business in the spotlight, and that’s where it needs to be. The company gains credibility and respect by displaying their products on the events.
The Basics of Event Sponsorship

What is event sponsorship?

Event sponsorship is a support of an activity mainly through financial aid, used to increase visibility and reach other business goals. Sponsorship is one of the fastest growing forms of marketing today in the U.S. is sponsorship. Event sponsorship provides great means of widening your competitive edge among other companies and at the same time improves the company’s prestige, credibility, and image. By supporting the events that are attended by groups your target market finds attractive, your sales and professional connections can increase dramatically if done right.  

Previously, only large businesses used event sponsorship as a way of increasing visibility and profits. Now, even smaller companies are taking part, although on a smaller scale. They sponsor everything from festivals to local baseball teams, and most of these sponsorships help increase their popularity and public profile.

Why should your business become a sponsor?

By sponsoring events, your business can benefit in many ways, especially enhancing public image. Usually, companies seek ways to improve how they are perceived publicly. They wish to improve their image among target audiences. Sponsoring events that specifically appeal to the markets of interest helps generate positive responses.  

Every business sponsoring an event should seek inclusion in both electronic and print media. Creating positive publicity helps increase your business’ and products’ popularity. If there are media covering the event, your company name and/or products will likely be a part of their broadcast. Media coverage can be one of the greatest benefits of event sponsorship as it enables small businesses obtain the kind of media coverage that is usually otherwise unaffordable or unavailable.

How to do it

Once the decision is made to sponsor an event, a business owner will quickly realize the options are virtually limitless, including events all over the country. However, you need to be smart about the events you choose to ensure the greatest benefit for your business and objectives. A sponsor shouldn’t offer event sponsorship to just any event. The choice must be carefully thought over, and only the wisest option must be chosen. 

Because a business has so many events to choose from, its necessary to prioritize those target consumers will attend. Prospective loyal customers are the audience you must seek out, they are the people you can collect feedback from, which is very important for your company. Always try to pick events where people will be interested in your business. Although it sounds obvious, really try to stick to this goal. For example, don’t sponsor an event where mostly women attend if you specialize predominantly in men’s products. Be smart and choose what’s best for your target market.

Many events will charge for extra marketing materials and samples you may wish to include. So, be sure to gather information in advance to be fully informed of the costs of a sponsorship and what exactly is included with it. Collect and sort that data, with the goal of prioritizing and choosing the right event to sponsor. When you collect all of the data you need, you will be able to clearly identify which events will be most beneficial to your goals. This is very important for the final choice, so the sponsor should never approach this lackadaisical. 

Benefits

Event sponsorship can be effective as a marketing tool, because the business has the power to access a wide variety of audiences. A growing number of sponsors believe event sponsorship is better than any other marketing method. Events enable businesses to relate directly to their targeted customers while providing them the opportunity to try out the products the company has to offer. Another reason to sponsor events is the heightened visibility. It puts your business in the spotlight, and that’s where it needs to be. The company gains credibility and respect by displaying their products on the events. 

The more successful events the company sponsors, the more brand recognition that follows. Such brand recognition can be achieved by being featured in the program book of a specific event, by media coverage or by other means. Doing the event sponsorship right will make the business more successful while steadily increasing the popularity and recognition. It is very useful for newcomers to start slowly and with smaller events, and gradually work themselves up.

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By : Laurel Savey, 02-01-2016
Pets in the Workplace
A research study conducted at the Virginia Commonwealth University showed that employees that were permitted to bring their dog had lower stress levels during the day than dog owner's who didn't have the luxury of bring their pet to work. Less stress obviously means more happiness and happy employees tend to be more productive. By having a companion around to keep them upbeat, workers are more willing to work longer hours and to work through difficult problems, rather than giving up or taking short cuts.
Pets in the Workplace

A research study conducted at the Virginia Commonwealth University showed that employees that were permitted to bring their dog had lower stress levels during the day than dog owner's who didn't have the luxury of bring their pet to work. Less stress obviously means more happiness and happy employees tend to be more productive. By having a companion around to keep them upbeat, workers are more willing to work longer hours and to work through difficult problems, rather than giving up or taking short cuts. 

Having a dog around also forces workers to take breaks, whether they like it or not, which can be a positive thing. Brain fog affects almost every person from time to time; some stare blankly at a computer, waiting for the answer to come to them, while others frustratingly wrack their brain for a solution to a particular obstacle. Taking a break to get up and move around can stimulate mental clarity. Having to walk a pet for a potty break gives employees a chance to mentally regroup and come back to their desk refreshed and ready to problem-solve. The only downside is timing as they may be forced to take a break at less optimum moments too. If they are on the phone with an important client and their dog starts whimpering or barking that it needs to go outside, that could be very distracting and counterproductive. 

Having pets around offers personal health benefits, including the possibility of prolonging the life of employees. Doctors agree that getting up from the work desk for a few minutes each day to stretch and move about is very beneficial to overall health. The unavoidable exercise factor coupled with the stress reduction of having a pet around could lower the chances of an employee developing serious health conditions over time. Having a dog has been shown to lower blood pressure, which in turn can lower the risk of heart disease and other serious medical issues. Ethical treatment of employees may be motivation to some employers, but there is also a benefit for the employer as well. They won't have to hire a temp or spend time and money on training a new employee for a job their current, experienced employee may not be physically able to do if they were to become chronically ill. With every positive aspect of bringing a pet to work, there also seems to be a negative and this no exception. While having pets at work may contribute positively to its owner health, it could also make other employees sick. Though less common than allergies to cats, individuals do have allergies to dogs.

Having pets at the office gives clients and employees the feeling of a more friendly work environment. Recent studies have shown that businesses with pet-friendly policies have better communication in the workplace. The majority of workers are in a better mood overall and are quicker to find common ground, rather than result to discourse. On the other hand, even though it may be hard to imagine anyone not liking animals, some people don't. Whether it is simply fear from a bad experience with an animal or simply just a discomfort for man's best friend, some people will not be thrilled about dogs or other pets at the workplace. 

There has been a national growth from 5% to 8% of American companies now allowing pets in the workplace since 2012. Even with all the enthusiasm surrounding the trend, a bring-your-pet-to-work policy may not be feasible for all companies. Imagine if a company of 50 or more people working in one relatively small space allowed its employees to bring their dogs to work. It would likely be chaos with so many animals in one space, possibly fighting or wanting to run around with each other. Most office space owners will raise the rent or completely disallow pets to their buildings for fear of property damage. Things can also get frustrating if a manager has to explain to his employee that their dog is disruptive and no longer welcome at work, but another employee's dog is welcome to stay. 

The pet-friendly policy is working for some small business as well as some big-name companies as well. Google, Etsy, Zynga, and Petco all allow employees to bring their dogs with them to work and a few of these even carry pet insurance for them. Small businesses like bookstores and retail shops will sometimes give shelter to once homeless cats or dogs with favorable results in profits. 

Research shows a generally positive outcome for companies that support a pro-pet environment and an increase of those that do. Having a pet-inclusive workplace may be a good integration for businesses where it seems possible and practical.

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By : Kristen Glehan, 06-02-2015
Evolution of a Website - A Bit About myEZBZ.com

As a web based company, we are well versed in the evolutions a single website can go through before its final iteration. Many factors will determine the look and feel of a website, including the evolving expertise of the team contributing to its goals and design, as well as the ever changing digital landscape which brings new tools, techniques and even coding styles and languages at near lightening speed.

If you were to take a look at what www.myEZBZ.com was when it started, as well as the various versions over the prior years, you would likely be taken aback at the stark differences. Just as time has passed, our business objectives have evolved and strategies been tested, giving way to new approaches and appearances. We have been fortunate in having creative and technical agility, mostly due to the strength of our in-house team, which includes among others, our founder Shana Schlossberg and Racheli Dantess, a creative and technical whiz who has been involved since inception.

Evolution of a Website - A Bit About myEZBZ.com

As a web based company, we are well versed in the evolutions a single website can go through before its final iteration. Many factors will determine the look and feel of a website, including the evolving expertise of the team contributing to its goals and design, as well as the ever changing digital landscape which brings new tools, techniques and even coding styles and languages at near lightening speed.

If you were to take a look at what www.myEZBZ.com was when it started, as well as the various versions over the prior years, you would likely be taken aback at the stark differences. Just as time has passed, our business objectives have evolved and strategies been tested, giving way to new approaches and appearances. We have been fortunate in having creative and technical agility, mostly due to the strength of our in-house team, which includes among others, our founder Shana Schlossberg and Racheli Dantess, a creative and technical whiz who has been involved since inception.

Many people assume that design of a website is a simple process, mostly because they see the ready-made templates available on hosting and software for hire sites. However, designing a website from scratch is significantly more complex. It involves consideration of site architecture (what each relevant item links to and how); user experience (designing for ease of use, considering typical behaviors and best practices while still trying to innovate); SEO and SEM (how the search engines will index the site); transactions; media; legal, etc and of course visual appeal. With all items, there are different security measures to consider, potential coding languages, plug-ins, etc. It takes skilled web designers, developers and other contributors to make the site visually appealing and fully functional for visitors.

Understanding what the intended core function of a website is helps to determine what the site design and structure should be. For example, with EZBZ we already had our core technology in place, we knew we offered a very special search and concierge service, we just needed a way to appropriately showcase it and place it at the fingertips of users. To do so, we needed to consider the various ways in which a visitor might arrive to each page and step in their search process. At the same time, we wanted to ensure the user enjoyed their experience, viewed the site as inviting and worthy of regular visits. 

To arrive at the present look and the feel of myEZBZ.com Racheli Dantess applied her deep knowledge and expertise within interactive and digital art. She developed a design intended to be visually appealing while also complimenting our technology. Acknowledging that our users are frequently busy and taxed, she elected to incorporate whimsical elements to the user experience, by way of the illustrations of Zoey, our super girl. Also understanding that our users are based all across the USA and that all regions can’t be effectively represented with a single stock photograph, Racheli developed a plan to portray the widest variety of landscapes within a visually appealing illustration. If you take a look at the background graphic on our site, you will find areas to represent the country, suburbia and big city. Racheli had these illustrations and others specifically commissioned for our use.

Marrying functionality and design together is among the greatest challenges web businesses face. But of course, it isn’t the only one. Driving traffic to the web and mobile properties, tracking interactions, developing consistency in branding, managing user experience, etc. are all key components of daily business operations. Developing processes to manage and update across these efforts is important. In the case of EZBZ, our founder and other critical staff work methodically and focus diligently on these efforts daily. The business reflects strengths because of this collaboration. Everyone at EZBZ agrees that the strength of our operation starts from the top, with veins trickling down and throughout because of talented contributors, such as our whiz Racheli Dantess, who’s creative influence and handy work can be seen throughout.

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By : Elizabeth Humbal, 10-20-2015
Why Reviews are Key to Your Success
Why Reviews are Key to Your Success

When you want to buy a product, some of the first questions you ask yourself are: Is it good? Does it serve my purposes? Such questions are often the trigger for seeking out online reviews. You never need look far to find a review on services, businesses, and even tourist destinations. Now, consider your business for a minute. How do you shape up in the review department? Consumer reviews are essential in order to flourish, but how do you establish and attract reviews?

Many social media platforms provide users with a way to post reviews. Let's take Facebook for instance. On Facebook you can add a physical location for your page, and when you do that it automatically adds the option of adding reviews. This is a very significant indicator for your client base to find out what they need to know. Your page presence increases with more reviews. In addition to the option of having more detailed reviews which could include more details of the specific type of information that your page visitors are more interested in.

Another way to ask for reviews is by creating your own accounts each popular websites for reviews – such as Yelp, Trip Advisor; City Search, et.) or, you can create a single account on the new app called ReviewMe, which streamlines this review process altogether. With ReviewMe, your customers can write a single review and have it distributed to every major review site automatically, so you can say good-bye to maintaining multiple accounts and finding your reviews diluted among various platforms.

It’s always recommended to promote your business and ways to review it within your social media, website, receipts, e-newsletters and other related collateral. Often, customers who are really happy enjoy showing appreciation by leaving good reviews online. However, it’s important to keep in mind the same holds true for really discontent customers as well, so it’s important to try and avoid and remedy negative customer experiences as immediately and fully as possible. Like anything in our digital era, online reviews are a double-edged sword. 

Research shows that in the past couple of years more than 80% of online search results lead to social media accounts, rather than the actual website. Social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google+ deal with very strong search engine optimization (SEO) techniques. Therefore, you should consider leveraging these platforms within marketing plans and monitoring them closely. Sometimes neglecting a big, yet not very common platform, such as Google+, can do unexpected damage to your brand. One unhappy customer can go leave a bad review about your brand on Google+, and that will show up in search results for good, leaving you having to counterbalance. Thus, the best way to countermeasure this possibility is by encouraging positive reviews from the beginning on the different social media channels and review websites.

It’s important to never underestimate the power of the digital era. Customer experiences are no longer limited to transactions. Thanks to the advent of social media and reviews, each customer now has immense power to shapes and define how others will see your business. Lucky businesses can find themselves with free brand ambassadors who enjoy prolifically share their praises within social media and help to build increased interest and awareness. Likewise, there can be customers who feel slighted, jipped and dissatisfied who will endeavor to tarnish reputations whenever possible potentially dragging you down and damaging a fragile reputation. Which you get all depends on the quality of the products and experience you and your staff provide and how much attention you also dedicate to encourage social media engagement and sharing of positive experiences with good reviews.

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By : Karen Lasser, 10-13-2015
Discover Benefits of Joining Professional Organizations

Joining or forming a group that can really boost your small business by feeding success into it is a tried and true practice. Even many of the largest corporations are members of local or global business organizations. Some join groups based on industry, others based on affinity and shared values. Regardless of which group is selected, there are tremendous benefits that can come with joining. As a business owner, you have a lot of duties and responsibilities upon your shoulders, some of which are very demanding; the support of an organization can help streamline your path through the many learning curves ahead and increase opportunities for exposure.

Take a quick look and see how beneficial it is to join business organizations as a small business owner.

 
Discover Benefits of Joining Professional Organizations

Many small business owners open their businesses with limited knowledge about the best operation strategies, networking methods and marketing techniques. Many only have their idea and basic techniques to get their business started and keep it afloat in the market, merely surviving, with no massive profits being earned, just some little revenue trickling in here and there.

It’s critical for small business owners to remember there are insiders of the same industry, who are making staggering amounts of profits on a daily basis. These are frequently considered the competition, although at times they can also be considered allies, when collaborating to further both businesses.

Joining or forming a group that can really boost your small business by feeding success into it is a tried and true practice. Even many of the largest corporations are members of local or global business organizations. Some join groups based on industry, others based on affinity and shared values. Regardless of which group is selected, there are tremendous benefits that can come with joining. As a business owner, you have a lot of duties and responsibilities upon your shoulders, some of which are very demanding; the support of an organization can help streamline your path through the many learning curves ahead and increase opportunities for exposure.

Take a quick look and see how beneficial it is to join business organizations as a small business owner.

  1. Increased Exposure

Networking with fellow business owners whose techniques and strategies have been successful can provide entry to new opportunities. With all the experience these business owners have gained along the way, it is very easy to drink from their cup of knowledge and identify the best, proven-to-work methods to apply to your business. Word of mouth marketing is among one of the best techniques available to you and networking with fellow business owners provides this great opportunity!

  1. Gain Access to Resources

Members of local business organizations typically gain access and even discounts to top quality and efficient resources. Often times, joining a local organization can also provide a rare chance to meet with your competitors and ascertain from direct contact how they stay on top of the market; such information can serve as an eye opener for you, to help develop strategies for business advancement. 

  1. Information and Education Components

Local organizations like to see their members succeed and often strive to provide information and programs to assist through events, keynote speakers, lecture series and other invitations. Chances are that, in that particular industry you are in, there is someone local and successful who has already crossed the same concerns you are currently facing. Thanks to the newsletters, meets and greets, open forums, blogs and such, you will be able to tap into their knowledge and know how best to approach the problem and put it into complete rest.

  1. Potential Improved Purchasing Power

On your own, there are some tools and resources you are limited to because of limited purchasing power. Yet, with local trade associations your purchasing power can strengthen! Trade organizations frequently arrange for discounts for all members and some organizations even organize committees for joint advertising, marketing and purchasing efforts to extend the value of what you are able to bring to the table. Such discounts can even include health insurance, which can be far more expensive to pay on your own. 

  1. Making Personal Connections

Business organizations by nature have you socializing with similarly minded and goal-oriented professionals. Given this, it isn’t uncommon for lasting personal connections to be made. 

  1. Potential Chances of Involvement in New Projects

Many business owners and industry insiders seek to enhance growth with projects and new ventures. As a fellow member of a particular group, you have the potential to be invited to participate in the development of the project.

To sum it all up, getting yourself hooked up with a local business organization comes very much in handy and will accelerate your speed towards success. As a small business owner, you should seek to get motivation and information to power up your business above all your competitors from these beneficial trade organizations.

As you join such trade associations, be sure to:

  • Join your peers and fellow decision makers in the market to network and explore new opportunities.
  • Be sure you participate in forums, and discussions.
  • Take advantage of the knowledge gained from the organization.
  • Ask for help wherever you are facing challenges.
  • Consider fellow organization members’ opinions
  • Never underestimate any idea.
  • Be active and help other people where you can. 

By doing all of this, you will improve your chances of boosting your business towards your success and also make the most out of the resources available. You should never let such opportunities slip of your hands! Good luck to you!

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By : Elizabeth Humbal, 09-03-2015
Reasons and Options for Incorporating
You start a business right at the garage of your home. As it grows, you begin to hire employees to help you complete more transactions and manage relationships. Now that your business is getting bigger, you're considering whether to register it as a corporation or to maintain its sole proprietorship status.

If you can relate to the scenario, you're not alone. According to Business Insider, there were 1.4 million corporations last fiscal year. On the other hand, sole proprietorships were at 19.4 million. This means that there are millions of businesses that, along with you, are torn between incorporating and maintaining the sole proprietorship structure of the business until it picks up. To help you decide, we list the reasons why it's much better to incorporate your business.
Reasons and Options for Incorporating
You start a business right at the garage of your home. As it grows, you begin to hire employees to help you complete more transactions and manage relationships. Now that your business is getting bigger, you're considering whether to register it as a corporation or to maintain its sole proprietorship status.

If you can relate to the scenario, you're not alone. According to Business Insider, there were 1.4 million corporations last fiscal year. On the other hand, sole proprietorships were at 19.4 million. This means that there are millions of businesses that, along with you, are torn between incorporating and maintaining the sole proprietorship structure of the business until it picks up. To help you decide, we list the reasons why it's much better to incorporate your business.

Divides Personal and Business
The first and the most important reason to incorporate is that it separates your personal property from that of your business. The two become distinct entities, so to speak. This boosts the confidence of potential stockholders to invest in the business as they know they are protected against personal liabilities. Whereas, when you're operating your business as a sole proprietor, if a consumer, supplier or contractor sues you, personal assets can be attached to satisfy the business' liability.

Grants Issuance of Stock Options
If you're the type of entrepreneur who wants to compensate the business stakeholders (employees, contractors and suppliers) by allowing stock options or giving discounts when they opt to buy in, this is a good option when you're just starting the business and cash is limited.You may form a pre-corporation arrangement that upon incorporation, the stakeholders will be entitled to equity or stock.

Allows Funding and Establishing Business Credit
If an investor wants to invest in your business, you would need a separate financial account for the business to accept the investment. That is why venture capitalists and other investors like to work with a corporation, because everything has been set up already, and that they knew that the investment would go to the corporation, not to the owner.

Gives the Business Credibility
Adding an Inc. after your company name boosts your credibility in the eyes of some consumers. Hence, you may find your sales grow after turning your business into a corporation. Another thing is that you can be eligible to join bidding or pitch for some contracts that require a legal company. On the other hand, if you want to sell your business, it would be easier for you to find a potential buyer since you have a legible company.

Offers Tax Benefits
There are cases where individual tax rates are higher than corporate tax rates. Moreover, corporations are often qualified to additional tax benefits and deductions that are not available to sole proprietorships.Many sole proprietors prefer being a corporation for so many reasons, even though it requires effort and ongoing filing obligations. It may be because they enjoy the benefits of being a corporation more than the difficulty they get from it. It's about time that you reap the same benefits that corporations get.
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By : Karen Lasser, 08-21-2015
Before and After Photographs Speak Volumes Construction and Repair Work
Work samples are an effective way of selling your work to potential clients. Samples outline your experience, competencies and abilities to perform your tasks. There is no industry that is more greatly moved by before and after images like the construction and repair industry. When it involves processes like repair and renovation, it is critical that you display what changes you can effect with your skill set. This can be done efficiently and effectively through before and after photographs. Photographs are visual aids which help your client prove what kind of work you can do.
Before and After Photographs Speak Volumes Construction and Repair Work
Work samples are an effective way of selling your work to potential clients. Samples outline your experience, competencies and abilities to perform your tasks. There is no industry that is more greatly moved by before and after images like the construction and repair industry. When it involves processes like repair and renovation, it is critical that you display what changes you can effect with your skill set. This can be done efficiently and effectively through before and after photographs. Photographs are visual aids which help your client prove what kind of work you can do.

Before and after photographs are commonly used to show contrasts. The before photos are of the former state while the after photograph is the achieved outcome of a project. Nothing offers justice in construction like before and after photographs. To make these photographs available, there are a couple of things you should consider:

First, be selective.
This means picking your best. Only the repair and renovation projects which you rank highly and which after consultation rank highly on the opinion of others should be used. It is important to realize that not all pictures will impress, hence why selecting a selective bunch of only the  best one is optimum.

Also, be moderate. Do not bombard your clients with an overload, make it sweet and brief. This does not mean that you use too few, clients should get the impression that you are inexperienced. Though avoid using too many as consumers sometimes assume higher costs come with a splashier appearance.  If there are commercial establishments you were contracted to renovate, put a few of the impressive ones up, if they are residential do the same. People get easily tired with information overload.

Do not compromise on the quality of photographs, take clear photos for display. Nobody wants to browse haphazard samples of work, it begs the question if haphazard care is given to one's own business will even worse care be given to the project? Remember, your competitors are scrambling for clients also.

Then, be diverse. Change up those photographs to include new projects which you have either constructed, repaired or renovated. Think about the long-term value that those before and after photographs will give you.

Lastly, be orderly. Clients like well-organized portfolios. In dealing with photos it is advisable that you have a raft of your specifications, aspirations and achievements in writing. In accompanying your photos with an organized resume of your company, you are able to sell easily to clients. A picture is worth 1000 words but a little back up will increase the value of your work sample. A well-drilled work sample opens opportunities for you to tackle more construction projects. It gives you credibility and makes you more valuable.

Before and after photographs should be a priority investment in your work in construction. They skyrocket your value and the returns will be profitable. Work samples are evidence of what heights you can achieve and what your hands can accomplish.
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Its beatiful
Crystal Janik
09-28-2015
Best Practice
I've found in my industry, that providing before and after pics, helps put the customer at ease and assists me with getting more reviews of my company. http://napervillegaragedoorpro.com :)
Naperville Garage Door Pro
02-19-2016
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By : Karen Lasser, 08-17-2015
Insurance is a Smart Decision for Small Business Owners
Securing insurance for your business is among the best decisions you can make. There is no other way to protect your interests and liabilities than with a carefully considered and secured business insurance policy. In very simple terms, there is just no better way to protect your lifetime investment and hard work from loss.
Insurance is a Smart Decision for Small Business Owners

Securing insurance for your business is among the best decisions you can make. There is no other way to protect your interests and liabilities than with a carefully considered and secured business insurance policy. In very simple terms, there is just no better way to protect your lifetime investment and hard work from loss.

While business insurance may seems a logical move, many small business owners do not insure their business due to misinformation or a lack of awareness. It could be they believe it's too cost prohibitive or problematic to file claims, although both of these concerns can usually be dealt with and resolved up front. Believing such misinformation should not cost you and your hard work. When dealing with a reliable and affordable insurance company, getting affordable insurance cover for your business is very simple.

Business insurance helps to guard against any type of loss or damage that may occur to your business or property. The types of insurance that exists can be divided to those that cover, equipment, real property, inventories and other assets that you may own for your business as well as liabilities faced at other locations.

Insurance cover helps mitigate risk, it helps you in terms that if by any chance you were to loose some of your assets through damages the insurance companies helps you get them back, without so much stress.

Insurance can help increases the value of your business in today’s society clients want to invest in companies where their assets have been protected, with this in mind failure to insure yourself is setting your business to fail.

When it comes to business owners and matters of insurance, the size of insurance will depend on the level of income and the history of the business that needs insuring. Before securing a policy, it's necessary to sit down and evaluate the numerous types of risks that you may face while running your day to day activities and potential values associated with each risk assessment. After doing so you can choose your insurance concientiously according to risk faced.

With the help of a good insurance agent you can position your business in a favorable position to ensure success in the event anything negative comes to pass. Physical retail business, office location business and onsite clients business can ensure themselves with one or more of the following insurance policies:

  • Business owner insurance
  • Insurance for business equipment
  • All risks verses named peril policies
  • Replacement value coverage
  • Business interruption coverage
  • Bodily injury and property damage liability
  • Product liability
  • Commercial insurance policy

The above types of insurance are but a few though options, although you can research others, basing them on your business and their advantages. A good agent will also be able to guide you.

For small business owners who have partitioned their homes to include their business as part of their home, it's dangerous to assume that your landlord or your home owners policy will cover any liability related to your business; to be on the safe side it's always advisable to insure your business separate of and in addition to any home or renters policy.

If you need help finding an appropriate insurance policy, you can submit a free request for assistance to www.myezbz.com

 

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Nice blog shared! I think insurance is very much necessary for all types of businesses. Whether the business is small or large hub insurance helps to get the insurance money if any damage occurs to your business property. My friend is running a small business in his hometown, but his property got damaged due to some reason so he hired a public adjuster such as http://allclaimsusa.com/ in order to file a claim and they also helps in all sorts of legal documentation.
GregoryChilds
02-20-2017
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By : Karen Lasser, 08-13-2015
Setting up an E-commerce Website
The Internet has made it easy for small and medium sized businesses to leverage on the benefits of e-commerce by reducing overhead costs and increasing potential sales. With an e-commerce website, a business can reach thousands if not millions of new potential consumers on a daily basis. Setting up an e-commerce site has become much easy and achievable within minutes. There are two models to follow when considering creating an e-commerce website for a business; do it yourself model and outsource model.
Setting up an E-commerce Website
The Internet has made it easy for small and medium sized businesses to leverage on the benefits of e-commerce by reducing overhead costs and increasing potential sales. With an e-commerce website, a business can reach thousands if not millions of new potential consumers on a daily basis. Setting up an e-commerce site has become much easy and achievable within minutes. There are two models to follow when considering creating an e-commerce website for a business; do it yourself model and outsource model. 

Do it yourself
With today’s technology, building your own e-commerce website has become much easier. This is credited to the inexpensive, easy-to-use yet sophisticated e-commerce tools and services available. Some level of web design competence is necessary to accomplish the goal. Regardless, if the business is one-man or two-man firm, one of you can get started on building the website from scratch. The effort put into building your own e-commerce website corresponds directly to potential revenue. It also gives you control over everything in your website.

Designing an e-commerce website may be daunting at first, especially when no technical skills are existent in your business ecosystem. Nonetheless, popular website design tools are readily available to help in the endeavor. For instance, Wordpress, Wix and Squarespace all provide popular options. Each of these tools accomplish virtually the same thing,the choice of which tool to use is merely a matter of predilection.

Obtaining a merchant account from your bank and incorporating it into your website will allow you to accept and process credit card payments. Such processing is done by a payment gateway, which verifies card information, payment requests and authorizes the use of credit cards in real time. The leading gateway providers include VeriSign, Authorize.Net and CyberSource. An even less expensive way of accepting online payments is by setting up an account with PayPal. It is a free service but as a business, you will be charged 2.9% plus 30 cents for every transaction under $3000.

Finally, hosting your website can be done on either a dedicated server or a shared server. For small businesses or start-ups, a shared server is enough to get by with but as you customer base increases, a dedicated server is an appropriate choice since it gives you control of processing performance and storage capacity. A cloud-server is another option to explore. Under a cloud-server, you only pay for want you need.

Outsource model
In the event building your own website becomes hard, outsourcing becomes the next option. Web hosting companies offer site-building tools that facilitate setting up of a website. Such tools are a combination of shopping-cart tools, shipping and tracking tools, payment tools, marketing tools, domain registration, and hosting services. Most popular storefront solution is Pro Stores from eBay, which is fully featured and highly customizable e-commerce platform. Merchants are responsible for marketing and driving traffic into their Pro Stores website.

Do it yourself model has some advantages over outsource model and the reverse is true. Nonetheless, the type of model does not matter. What matters is having your e-commerce website up and running.
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By : Margaret Hansen, 08-12-2015
Creating a Cable Television Ad: A Surprisingly Cost-Effective Way to Draw Customers
Creating a cable television commercial can be a great source of exposure and revenue for a small business. Not many businesses realize how affordable cable advertising can be. While broadcast advertising can be very expensive, cable advertising can be very affordable. Beyond affordability, cable also has a huge reach, as over fifty percent of households in America have cable.
Creating a Cable Television Ad: A Surprisingly Cost-Effective Way to Draw Customers
Creating a Cable Television Ad: A Surprisingly Cost-Effective Way to Draw Customers written by: Margaret Hansen Creating a cable television commercial can be a great source of exposure and revenue for a small business. Not many businesses realize how affordable cable advertising can be. While broadcast advertising can be very expensive, cable advertising can be very affordable. Beyond affordability, cable also has a huge reach, as over fifty percent of households in America have cable. 

The first step in determining whether creating a commercial is a wise investment for your business is to review your business demographics. While cable television commercials are a wise choice in expanding the reach of your business for many demographics, it is not right for all businesses. Millennials are known to be cord cutters and are less likely to purchase cable, so if that is the sole target group for your business, cable advertising may not be right for you. If your business targets other demographics as well as Millennials, you will likely benefit from cable television advertising.

You will also want to consider your demographic focus when determining how to position your ad. You may be able to cut costs if you are targeting a demographic who will be watching shows on at non prime hours. Many cable companies offer commercial packages in blocks depending on when they are to be aired. Television commercials that are not aired during prime time will cost less than prime spots. You will also want to consider your budget when determine how to position your ad. You will want to determine ahead of time how much you want to spend, as well as how many slots you want to purchase and how often you want the commercial to run. 

Once you have determined your demographics, as well as your desired reach and budget for your television commercial, you are ready to contact a cable sales representative. They will be able to advise you on a package that will best meet your budget and may be able to assist you with production for your commercial, as many cable companies provide production services. When it comes to production, you will want to keep your budget that you previously determined in mind.

Commercials with dramatic actors and special effects are best left to companies who can afford high budgets for production. Small businesses will want to stick to simpler commercials. You will want to focus on creating a commercial that is short, catchy, and informational. Take advantage of any production services offered by the cable company you are using, as these services are generally affordable. You can also save money on lighting expenses by shooting outside. When considering the amount of production time you will need, remember to plan for things like changing lighting and audio equipment between shots.

Many local and small businesses do not take advantage of advertising via cable, likely because they do not realize how cheap it can be to air and produce a commercial, and how much creating a television commercial can expand your reach. Don't lose out on potential customers that can be gained by advertising on cable, as creating an ad can be so simple and affordable.

If you'd like to explore cable advertising but aren't sure where to start, you can always submit a free request to the EZBZ concierge!
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By : Brendan Mitchell, 08-11-2015
Starting Your Company Blog - Content Marketing
So, you’ve decided it’s time your company had its own blog. Firstly, relax. This could actually be one of the easier, and more fun aspects of building your company’s brand. The best part about blogging is that there aren’t many rules, and it’s a great way to inject your brand with personality. The stronger your brand’s personality, the more consumers can relate with and eventually trust it.
Starting Your Company Blog - Content Marketing

So, you’ve decided it’s time your company had its own blog. Firstly, relax. This could actually be one of the easier, and more fun aspects of building your company’s brand. The best part about blogging is that there aren’t many rules, and it’s a great way to inject your brand with personality. The stronger your brand’s personality, the more consumers can relate with and eventually trust it.

It’s important to remember that you’re not creating the Wall Street Journal; your articles can be opinionated, passionate, even dramatic. Of course, there are plenty of pitfalls to avoid – opinionated and passionate can easily be interpreted as ignorant and stubborn – but if you already have a basic understanding of marketing and journalism, you should be fine.

After you relax, you should probably decide how and where your blog will exist. If you have a company website, your blog should probably be integrated in to it, if only for the SEO benefits. If your blog is completely separate from your company website, it is quite difficult for the two of them to share traction. If they are integrated (i.e. share a domain), any attention your blog gets will be shared by your company website, and vice versa.

Your blog can be manually designed and hosted through your initial website, although this obviously requires some developer skills. You can also use a CMS (Content Management System) such as Wordpress to help you create a blog within your website. This means you would author your blog using Wordpress, but host it on your own website. If you’re a smaller operation, this is the easier way to go. Wordpress actually offers fairly basic instructions on how to do this, which you can read here. Similar CMS services that can also be used include Typepad and Blogger, a Google-owned CMS.

But deciding where and how to host your blog is not the hardest part. In my opinion, the real challenge is making sure your blog is relevant, interesting, and kept up to date. 

Keeping it at least somewhat related to your company should be fairly straightforward – for example, nobody wants dating advice from an accountancy firm - and when it comes to upkeep, daily posts are best. When you’re first starting out, however, you may want to start slow and give yourself a target of three to five articles per week. Giving yourself a lower target means you can work harder on making sure the blog is delivering quality content to your audience, whoever they are.

My final piece of advice would be to keep it short and sweet. Blog-readers have short attention spans, and anything over five hundred words is creeping on too much. As I wrote earlier, this isn’t the Wall Street Journal… Even if your articles are addressing a sensitive topic, being succinct is the best approach. If you’re a natural at blogging, you’ll quickly learn not to waste words, and start writing articles that reach five hundred words exactly… But don’t set your sights too high at first.

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By : Kristen Glehan, 08-07-2015
An Introduction to Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising
Success on the internet today is largely driven by the ability to increase online visibility; the more visible a given resource proves to be, the more traffic it can expect to attract. Many businesses are turning to pay-per-click advertising as an effective means of increasing their online exposure.
An Introduction to Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising

Success on the internet today is largely driven by the ability to increase online visibility; the more visible a given resource proves to be, the more traffic it can expect to attract. Many businesses are turning to pay-per-click advertising as an effective means of increasing their online exposure. 

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is an Internet marketing channel used to drive traffic in noteworthy quantities toward a websit or blog. It is an approach through enables businesses to buy advertisements and sponsored listings within the first pages of search engine results on Google, Yahoo and Bing.

With pay-per-click advertising, businesses can bid for relevant keywords and phrases as well as ads which, when displayed on a search engine’s results page will redirect users to the advertiser's web pages. The advertiser pays for the click-through with a pre-approved fee. PPC advertising is flexible, providing businesses a potentially effective yet affordable means of growing their businesses.

Benefits

The popularity of PPC advertising is largely driven by the numerous benefits it brings to the table, these including the following: 

PPC advertising can be implemented and start driving quickly. Businesses can expect to generate traffic immediately, which is perfect for promoting new businesses, products or services. One need only make the decision to invest enough money into PPC to get a top placement where they are likely to attract quick attention from potential clients. With systems like Google Adwords allowing users to generate traffic in mere minutes, the attraction of PPC advertising is difficult to ignore.

PPC advertising is very flexible, allowing businesses and individuals the chance to rapidly observe the positive or negative effects of their PPC advertisement campaigns and availing them the opportunity to make changes in line with the situation at hand.

PPC is very affordable; with a surprising number of niche keywords often attracting some very low bids, PPC is an effective advertising solution for individuals facing all manner of financial restrictions. 

This form of Internet marketing avails its users a considerable amount of control especially over cost; with PPC you only have to pay for actual visitors. More importantly, PPC allows its users to effectively filter negative keywords, this referring to those phrases you do not want to associate with your marketing campaign. You can also carefully optimize to place the investment on keywords that are converting not only to traffic, but also sales to justify the spend.

Pitfalls

For all the Excitement surrounding this method of Internet marketing, PPC advertising is not without its failings, some of those less than attractive elements of PPC including the following:

While PPC advertising can be affordable, it can also become very costly if not effectively managed. For one, it is relatively easy for a beginner to become engrossed in bidding wars over particular phrases, resulting in far greater expense than the potential return. Because of this behavior and bid inflation, the cost-per-click (CPC) tends to rise over time for popular keywords. Additionally, without careful oversight and setting of appropriate budget limits, it is possible to quickly spend large sums of money on traffic that isn’t converting to set goals. Plenty of new advertisers have made the mistake of setting up a campaign believing it would just work on auto pilot, only to wake up and realize their ad budget for the week was spent in a single day and worse, on irrelevant non-converting traffic. 

Pay-Per-Click Advertisements are prone to attracting junk traffic, the kind that can deplete your marketing campaign of life. Certainly, the listings displayed on search engines like Google and Bing can benefit businesses immensely. However, there are corners of the Internet that tend to generate clicks that, while positively impacting your traffic report, will do little to improve the conversion goals of your campaign.

Despite the fact that the cost per click tends to stay constant, with PPC the more traffic you want to attract the more money you will inevitably have to spend; these two items will always run hand in hand. Given this, PPC seen as once a temporary solution to boost traffic, can become something a business must rely on for continued success and growth, unless other plans are implemented in tandem to stimulate non-paid traffic growth.

The fact that clicks do not always convert into sales also tends to weigh PPC down; nonetheless the positive elements that this Internet marketing approach brings to the table can outweigh the negatives. Each business must decide if there is an appropraite fit for them.

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By : Kristen Glehan, 08-05-2015
Quick SEO Tips
Search Engine Optimization, commonly known as SEO, is vital to most businesses, but especially e-commerce and other web based initiatives. Being found for key terms can make a business, and similarly not being found can break one. Many companies spend significant sums of money and employ varied techniques to have their web pages place ahead of their competitors. At the same time, the search engines are constantly evolving to ensure results returned are legitimately of interest, rather than merely well manipulated. SEO is one skill that to be done well requires constant learning and a steady eye on the competition.
Quick SEO Tips

Search Engine Optimization, commonly known as SEO, is vital to most businesses, but especially e-commerce and other web based initiatives. Being found for key terms can make a business, and similarly not being found can break one. Many companies spend significant sums of money and employ varied techniques to have their web pages place ahead of their competitors. At the same time, the search engines are constantly evolving to ensure results returned are legitimately of interest, rather than merely well manipulated. SEO is one skill that to be done well requires constant learning and a steady eye on the competition. As a marketing professional with 15+ years of SEO experience I’m always on alert for ways to improve a site’s search appearance, I’ve summarized a few SEO basics below: 

Register and renew your domain for 5 years or more

This is something I picked up along the way from another SEO expert. While it’s not obvious to many, it’s logical once any thought is given to it. Search engines give preference to businesses they believe will be around for a while. Would you want your system clogged with a fly-by-night business or flaky contacts? Nope. Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc. are no different. 

Know what you’re selling and make sure your site language matches

This is something that should be obvious, but too often isn’t. People will specialize in something but scarcely mention it in their site content. You can have the most beautiful design and images, but if the content of your site doesn’t appropriately speak to what you do, good luck on being found organically for it. One word for you: keywords. Yes, they matter. No, I’m not referring to the keyword meta tag because that definitely doesn’t matter (don’t use it). I’m referring to knowing what keywords people search for relative to your business and planning around them. Not sure what keywords are good? There are many tools, to uncover good ones but my favorite over time has remained Wordtracker. Try to choose keyword strings that are popular with users, but less programmed for by your competitors. 

HTML Heading structure still matters

The debate is on! Do H1, H2 and H3 tags still matter? Some will say ‘no’ and many will still say ‘YES! I’m among the latter. If you’re not sure what I’m referring to, this is the HTML code that the front-end of your website or blog is built with. H1 tags typically contain some of the most important information on the page, such as a title or tagline and H2 usually contain the second most important information. The remaining tags follow in numerical order in the hierarchy. It isn’t necessary to use all tags, though using at least 2-3 can offer some benefits. The tag to never forget is definitely the H1. While looking at HTML and tag structure, it is also important to remember that the meta title and description tags continue to hold value, these should contain relevant keywords also contained within the page content.

Make sure your site is mobile optimized

Just because a page can be viewed on a mobile device doesn’t mean it has been optimized for it. A properly mobile optimized site will dynamically resize and streamline content for efficient loading and viewing. It’s never fun to come across a site that you have to struggle to magnify or wait endlessly for pages to load. Given that many businesses receive more than half of their site traffic from mobile devices, this optimization component is critical. In fact, it’s so critical that sites not mobile optimized are being penalized by search engines. 

Offer visitors constantly refreshing quality content

Static business card websites are a thing of the past. Site visitors are more savvy than ever and also insatiable for engaging content. Give it to them. Content is king. High quality, engaging and relevant content will keep bringing in visitors and it will also keep those search engines on a frequent schedule of crawling your pages for new information. The more frequent your updates, the more frequent the search engines come calling; the more the engines crawl, the better chance you have for indexing on relevant and popular subjects.

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By : Kristen Glehan, 05-26-2015
How to Communicate with Difficult People

Over the decades, I’ve had my share of experiences with difficult people. Personally and professionally, I’ve encountered situations that have left me feeling frustrated, fuming, attacked and even defeated with nothing constructive coming from the experience. It took me a long time and a lot of figurative bruises to learn how to successfully navigate these stressful encounters. Here are two key lessons I’ve learned along the way.

How to Communicate with Difficult People


Over the decades, I’ve had my share of experiences with difficult people. Personally and professionally, I’ve encountered situations that have left me feeling frustrated, fuming, attacked and even defeated with nothing constructive coming from the experience. It took me a long time and a lot of figurative bruises to learn how to successfully navigate these stressful encounters. Here are two key lessons I’ve learned along the way.

You don’t need to attend every argument you’re invited to.

This is perhaps the best lesson to learn early on. It is so important to assess a situation and actively choose whether or not to be a part of it. There are some people who are just negative, argumentative or generally miserable. There are others who are incapable of backing down once heated up and yet others who become impenetrable to rational thought when in a heated state of mind. When encountering any of these, it’s always best to pause, breathe and think strategically prior to engaging -- if engaging. Carefully consider what, if anything, you can accomplish by engaging, always remembering that there are some arguments that serve no legitimate purpose in furthering the conversation or relationship. Only engage if there is an immediate need to. Otherwise, take a step back and consider having a more constructive conversations at a later date, if the topics of discussion warrant it. Many times, the sheer act of disengaging can be disarming, resulting in the other party becoming open and willing to negotiate a resolution. 

The only person we have control over is ourselves

The simplicity of this truth is amazing. When fully considered and observed, it holds immense power in dealing with difficult people. Too often people look to control things they can’t, especially other people. How many times have you heard someone claim the only or best way to resolve a problem is by having another person change? Or, have you heard a person blame another for their own feelings and behaviors (“He made me…”)? Relying on changing someone else as a solution will for the majority result in negative repetition. As will neglecting to take responsibility for our own inputs and responses to a situation.  However, when we step back and fully recognize the amount of control we have over our own thoughts, feelings and actions, and the utter lack of control another person has over same, things become significantly easier to navigate.

It once again comes down to making active choices: choosing whether to engage; choosing how to engage; choosing how to respond. I always recommend contemplating 5 steps ahead, considering purpose and likely outcomes of various scenarios. Then, determining the value of each and choosing your reaction accordingly. At times, the greatest value will come from not engaging at all. Other times, a highly controlled, non-emotional and rational response will be best. In either case, it’s always best to focus only on the necessary components to reach a productive resolution. Rise to a higher level, view from top down, and avoid getting caught in the minutia. Let the other person waste their energy where you refuse to and carefully observe the reactions and outcome. Learn from it. Remember the process your counterpart takes for the next interaction. It will many times help you determine the best approach when another difficult situation arises.

"When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudice, and motivated by pride and vanity."
- Dale Carnegie

 

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By : Kristen Glehan, 05-19-2015
Instagram 101 for Small Business
There is little doubt of the incredible tool social media can be for engaging with customers and growing a business. For small businesses targeting the 18-35 demographic, overwhelming evidence makes Instagram a must-use platform. The photo and video sharing, social networking service launched as an app and website in 2010 and has been going gangbusters since, with over 300 million active users as of December 2014.
Instagram 101 for Small Business

There is little doubt of the incredible tool social media can be for engaging with customers and growing a business. For small businesses targeting the 18-35 demographic, overwhelming evidence makes Instagram a must-use platform. The photo and video sharing, social networking service launched as an app and website in 2010 and has been going gangbusters since, with over 300 million active users as of December 2014. According to Business Insider, over 90% of those users are under the age of 35, with many of them coming from affluent homes. These numbers make it impossible to ignore the power of Instagram when trying to get a product or service in front of this young audience. Here are some easy tips for getting started:

Choose a profile name that best associates your business

Many novice social media users think this is the time to be cute, and strive to pick a name that is snappy and fun. But for business, it’s important to keep it professional. Using your business name is most often the best option. When participating with multiple social networking sites, keep the profile name consistent across all. You don’t want four different names on four different sites; that only makes it harder for consumers to remember you! If your preferred name is unavailable on one site, consider picking a name that is available on all. Even if you won’t be posting to the other sites immediately, it can be worth claiming the name for when you plan to.

Take time to learn what similar businesses are doing

English writer Charles Caleb Colton said “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” In the case of Instagram, imitation can be the best form of strategy! If your competitors are on Instagram, take note of how successful they are. Do they have a decent follower count with many interactions? If so, then study their profiles, posts and interactions. Pay close attention to the types of images, the descriptive text and hashtags they are using. Also examine the interactions they are having - are they chatty or just polite, do they use emoji? Then step beyond competitors and do the same exercise with other users related to your field, including potential customers. Learn the lay of the land, by studying it!

Start snapping photographs!

Once you have the above groundwork covered, it’s time to consider your smartphone, the camera in particular, among the most valuable tools in your arsenal. Start snapping images whenever you can! Snap photos of work samples, of staff and customers (while also obtaining their permission to post), of your office or storefront, of the local area, etc. No need to limit to one type of image either. For example, even if your business is focused exclusively on cars, it’s still possible to post mood shots, such as pictures of sunsets, rain on the glass, a person entering a restaurant, etc. as these items build to the overall experience a person has with your product or service. Think of what you do as dynamically connecting to a user’s lifestyle, and bridge those connections with the images you post. Just remember one rule – people like pretty and artistic pictures. They’re not sitting on Instagram to see garbage, unless it’s in a stellar photograph!

Post away!

There are no hard and fast rules about the number of images to post and what days or times that work best, only guidelines. It’s never recommended to post a flurry of images at once, this risks flooding the feed and being unfollowed. Posting 1-3 images over the course of an entire day can be considered optimum for many. Choose times of day that make the best sense for your user, base this on trial and error, paying close attention to when the greatest engagement is had. By example, I’ve managed Instagram accounts that had great success during nights and weekends, while others saw their best results during normal business hours. The peak will vary based on topic of interest and even geography.

Use hashtags

Hashtags are something of a lifeblood on Instagram. They enable users to organize and view images based on specific topics of interest. Popular hashtags can easily be identified via tools like Iconosquare. It’s recommended to build them into your descriptive copy in a highly focused manner, without using too many. As a guide, 5 is a decent number to stop at. Any more risks having your posts look like spam. With time, you’ll notice which hashtags work best for your business.

Grow your audience

Share your Instagram profile with your customers and friends! Spread the word. List your profile on your email signature, business cards and other collateral materials. Also share the profile with your other social media posts. If interested in utilizing a tool to grow with, give Crowdfire a shot. It is an inexpensive option that provides visibility and recommendations.

If this is too much to swallow and you want to hire an expert marketer to guide you further, or to do the work for you, consider submitting a request to www.myezbz.com.

 

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By : Karen Lasser, 05-06-2015
Marketing your professional services business is critical but doesn't need to cost you a fortune. There are plenty of ways you can reach your target audience and promote your professional and trustworthy firm that doesn't involve using large PR companies or an extensive amount of advertising.

Marketing your professional services business is critical but doesn't need to cost you a fortune. There are plenty of ways you can reach your target audience and promote your professional and trustworthy firm that doesn't involve using large PR companies or an extensive amount of advertising.

To be most effective, you'll first want to decide who you're going to target in your campaign. It's not worth spending money or time chasing the wrong audience. Defining your audience is a central aspect to any marketing campaign. You can begin by asking yourself questions such as “Who do I want to work with?” and “Am I targeting businesses or individuals?” Think about demographics (age, gender, etc), geographics and psychographics. The more personal data you've collected about your current clients, the easier it will be to build your target audience. Once you've defined your audience, you have to make sure it's a large enough segment to target and that it's easily accessible.

When planning your marketing campaign, it's always a good idea to be creative while making sure to avoid several well known marketing myths. It's also recommended to look at other successful marketing campaigns people have tried in your industry. There are some pretty genius marketing ideas that you can find online if you search. Keep in mind that you do not need to reinvent the wheel. It's a good idea to focus your marketing based on seasons relevant to your industry. For example, if you run an accounting firm, you should think about promoting your services just prior to tax season. If you are a wedding photographer, be conscious of wedding season and plan your campaign appropriately.

There are probably a ton of marketing opportunities you never even knew existed right in your community. Get a hold of community calendars and see when different events are taking place. These could be anything from a lecture series at the community center to the Memorial Day parade. Every event needs sponsors. You may even be able to set up a booth at the event and give out promotional material. This would also be a great opportunity to create of a very attractive business card.

Think of ways you can promote your services in an indirect manner including hosting your own events. If you're a photographer, consider hosting a monthly photography class at your studio or out in nature somewhere. If you're a physical trainer, start a running group that meets weekly at your gym. If you're a web designer, think about hosting an event for small business owners talking about the importance of having a website. You can bring in other area professional to give talks as well such as graphic designers, online marketing pros and so on. The more people coming in­and­out of your office means more potential clients.

Take steps to really claim your spot as an industry thought leader. If there's a local newspaper or bulletin in your neighborhood, offer to write a weekly column or guest post. If you're a wedding planner, you can write about tips and tricks on how to plan a beautiful wedding without the stress. Before you know it, people will be reading your articles and contacting you for work.

Conferences and trade shows are also a great way to promote your services. For example, if there is a conference in town that will attract start­up companies, you should definitely consider attending if you're a lawyer, accountant, graphic designer or any other relevant professional. If you're in the wedding industry, find out when and where there are bridal shows and make sure you're in attendance. There will be plenty of soon­to­be­newlyweds to speak to. Whenever attending an event, make sure you come armed with enough business cards.

No matter what type of marketing campaign or promotional event you're holding, make sure you are prepared to collect people's contact information so you can remarket to them in the future. Great marketing programs will help you continue to grow your contact list as well. When speaking to your current clients, ask them to spread the word via a refer-­a-­friend program. This word­of­mouth promotion can actually be on of your most valuable techniques since ninety percent of consumers trust recommendations from people they know. You'll want to have a giveaway or promotion as part of your refer-­a-­friend program to help it grow quickly.

There are a lot of ideas out there and like any small business owner, you have limited time and resources to commit to your marketing. With a bit of planning and strategic thought, you can be well on to your way to a successful marketing campaign. Good luck and let us know what other marketing techniques you'd recommend to professional services business owners.

Have questions about marketing for professional services businesses? We'd love to hear them! Send them directly to biznetwork@ezbz.co and we'll get back to you as soon as possible. You can also contact us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn where we are always listening!

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By : Karen Lasser, 05-06-2015
Any labor contractor looking to grow his or her customer bse has to spend time and energy thinking about marketing. While professionally done marketing campaigns can cost a lot of money, there are many ways to successfully promote your business without breaking the bank. Labor contractors in particular have many opportunities throughout the workday to both formally and informally market their services. Every marketing opportunity is valuable and should be taken advantage of to the fullest.

Any business owner looking to grow his or her business has to spend time and energy thinking about marketing. While professionally done marketing campaigns can cost a lot of money, there are many ways to successfully promote your business without breaking the bank. Labor contracting businesses in particular have many opportunities throughout the workday to both formally and informally market their services. Every marketing opportunity is valuable and should be taken advantage of to the fullest.

Before starting any marketing campaign though, it's essential to know who you're trying to reach. For example, if you're a local business, there is no reason at all to advertise your services nationally. If you do strictly residential work, then you should be less worried about advertising in commercial parts of town. If your business services both residential and commercial, it's important for you to consider where the most value will come from. For example, while there may be many more potential residential jobs, commercial jobs might pay more. A bit of market research while asking yourself questions such as “who you'd like to work with?” will go a long way when launching your campaign.

Before even considering breaking into new markets and adding new clients, make sure you're successfully marketing to your current clientele. As proven time and time again, it's much easier (and cheaper) to retain current customers than find new ones. It can cost you 5 times as much to bring in new customers than retain your current ones. Furthermore, even a small increase in customer retention will dramatically increase a company's revenue. Another very telling stat according to Gartner is that 80% of your future revenue will come from 20% of your existing clients.

There are a number of ways you can turn current customers into repeat and long term clients. The more you connect, on a personal level, with your clients the better your chances. Typically, when someone finds a professional and trustworthy labor contractor, that person will use the same contractor again and again even if it's a few years down the road. It's important therefore to keep an active contact list for all your clients and stay in touch periodically. This way they'll know how to contact you the next time they need your service. A great way to do that is by sending a yearly holiday greeting card. If you know you client's birthday, send a “Happy Birthday” card as well. If you're in an industry that see's the same clients on a regular basis, like a carpet cleaner, landscaper or pool service for example, consider setting up a loyalty program. Offer a discount (or a free gift) if they use you a certain number of times. In general though, for labor contracting services, nothing is more important than providing quality work when trying to retain retain customers.

The best way to find new clients is through word­of­mouth marketing. Meaning, when your loyal customers give you rave reviews either online or in person. Reward your customers for their referrals. Offer anyone a generous discount on their next service if a friend they refer becomes a paying customer. It can also be well worth incentivising customers to give you a high rating and nice recommendation on business directory websites like EZBZ.

There are many other great ways to promote your business. Car advertising for example has a lot of benefits and is a great form of marketing for Labor contracting businesses. A car advertisement on an average day can get up to 70,000 impressions which makes it a very cheap advertising medium per impression. When choosing a car decal, don't be afraid to do something creative! If you're work is done outside, yard signs can be a successful marketing tool as well. If you're in a residential area, especially one with relatively new homes, a yard sign can help attract neighbors who are looking for services like landscaping. In commercial areas, you can catch the eye of an adjacent building manager interested in your work. Make sure you get the owners permission though when putting down a sign. Distributing door hangings and pamphlets offering a free estimate are techniques worth considering as well.

There are many regular opportunities to promote you business in your own community. One such opportunity is sponsoring events in your neighborhood. Speak to local community centers, churches, synagogues and schools to find out about upcoming events and sponsorships opportunities. Also, many communities have local news bulletins that are always looking for contributors. Explore the option of writing a weekly column or periodic guest post with tips for homeowners. Writing articles are a great way to get your name out in the neighborhood and brand yourself as an expert in your field.

However you choose to market your business, make sure your ads make clear what you do and how you can be reached. Don't hesitate to try a number of tactics until you find the methods that work best. We'd love to hear other marketing ideas you may have as well as any feedback on the techniques we listed above!

Have questions about marketing for labor contracting businesses? We'd love to hear them! Send them directly to biznetwork@ezbz.co and we'll get back to you as soon as possible. You can also contact us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn where we are always listening!

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By : Karen Lasser, 05-06-2015
Before you set out trying a new marketing tactic or some wacky PR stunt, make sure you have a strategy in place that will bring your store real value. It's important to remember that while a rise in sales from a marketing campaign is nice, it's not necessarily the most beneficial nor the most profitable outcome for your business. Building long term relationships with loyal customers, for example, will have a much greater return on investment than purchases from one­time shoppers who are just looking for a deal. Your marketing campaign has to facilitate your business goals and store values.

Before you set out trying a new marketing tactic or some wacky PR stunt, make sure you have a strategy in place that will bring your store real value. It's important to remember that while a rise in sales from a marketing campaign is nice, it's not necessarily the most beneficial nor the most profitable outcome for your business. Building long term relationships with loyal customers, for example, will have a much greater return on investment than purchases from one­time shoppers who are just looking for a deal. Your marketing campaign has to facilitate your business goals and store values.

When determining your goals for a marketing campaign, it's important to know who you want to reach in your campaign and why. Keep in mind that not every customer is equal. Identifying your most profitable customer and the customer that's a pleasure to serve is a great first step. A study by Rice University actually found that about 80% of first­time buyers who used a coupon from a service like Groupon would not become repeat customers. You can safely say that those buyers will not be your most profitable customers in the long run.

After you determine who you'd like to market to, the next big step is knowing how to differentiate your business so it appeals to your ideal customer. In today's Amazon and Walmart dominated world, it's very hard, or more precisely, impossible, for small retail businesses (both brick­and­mortar and e­commerce) to compete on price. They have to find a way to offer a superior shopping experience for customers. The best retail shopping experience that comes to mind is none other than the Apple Store. It's worth studying and modeling. Retailers who don't manage to differentiate themselves will have a hard time winning over consumers no matter what marketing material they use.

When looking for creative marketing ideas for your retail store, you need not invent the wheel! There are plenty of well documented successful campaigns readily available online. Simply search for guerilla marketing on Google and you'll find tons of examples of creative, interactive and even outrageous advertising campaigns. Pinterest can also be a great source of guerilla marketing ideas.

Even if you run a small shop, there are plenty of PR ideas you can try out. Think of ideas that are related to seasonal holidays, your community and charity. For example, if you own a bakery, during the holiday season donate $1 from the purchase of every Christmas Cookie to the Salvation Army. This will not only show your good will, but it will help out your community and give people an extra incentive to buy from you. You can host events in your store that are relevant to your neighborhood. For example, if you own a bookstore, bring in local or national authors for book signings. Similarly, offer your venue to local politicians and community leaders for town hall meetings. Every such opportunity is a way to bring potential customers into your store.

Other in­store events worth trying are creative workshops or classes. If you own a flower shop, have a night where you teach people the ins­and­outs of flower arrangements. If you sell computer products, try offering a series of classes on different software (for example Microsoft Excel) for those who aren't so computer savvy. If you own a wine shop, have a Ladies/Mens wine tasting night. No matter what you sell, you can find an event worthy of hosting at your store. Consider offering all the attendees special discounts on your products.

Another great way to generate PR for you retail store is by sponsoring local events. Speak to your city hall as well as local churches, synagogues, community centers, schools and so on to see what events are being planned and what sponsorship opportunities are available. Everything from putting your store's logo on the jersey of a youth baseball league to setting up a booth outside a lecture are ideas worth exploring.

It's important as well to capitalize on the traffic that's already coming into your store. While they are there, don't let them leave without some sort of incentive to come back. You could do this with coupons, contests or free giveaways. Simple contests include guessing the amount of jelly beans in the jar (this is obviously great for candy stores!), guessing what type of flowers are on the counter just based on smell (for a flower shop) and so on. Correct guesses will win a free gift or a discount on their next purchase.

There are a lot of PR and Marketing ideas worth trying for small retail shops. Just keep in mind that the focus has to be not only bringing people into your store, but bringing in the right people! Let us know what other ideas you have and if you tried out any of the above.

Have questions about marketing for retail businesses? We'd love to hear them! Send them directly to biznetwork@ezbz.co and we'll get back to you as soon as possible. You can also contact us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn where we are always listening!

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By : Karen Lasser, 05-06-2015
As we've mentioned in previous articles, your online profile matters - big time! From your website to your social network pages, people are checking out your business online before they decide to work with you. That's why last year marketers spent over $100 billion to promote their businesses online and drive traffic to their websites. As foreign as online ads might seem to some professional business owners, it's becoming an increasingly important part of today's marketing landscape.

Here's what every professional services business owner needs to know about online advertising!


As we've mentioned in previous articles, your online profile matters - big time! From your website to your social network pages, people are checking out your business online before they decide to work with you. That's why last year marketers spent over $100 billion to promote their businesses online and drive traffic to their websites. As foreign as online ads might seem to some professional business owners, it's becoming an increasingly important part of today's marketing landscape.


What are some of the best ways to advertise online?


For starters, there is what's called Search Engine Marketing. When people need a service today, they're going to search online. Search engines, like Google and Bing, let marketers show those people ads that get triggered by specific search terms, or keywords. Ads show up on the top and side of search results pages and send the user to a website of your choice once they're clicked.


With search engine marketing you pay every time your ad gets clicked, therefore it is important to make sure the right people are seeing your ad. You should therefore only target relevant keywords that are likely going to bring you potential customers. Many times, even if a keyword is relevant, it could be way too broad to bring good results. For example, if you own a law firm, the word “law” is very relevant but will most likely not bring you good clicks as it is way too general. Similarly, if you make wedding cakes, you'll most likely want to stay away from general keywords like “wedding” and “cake” as you have little idea if they actually refer to a wedding cake.


A great tool to help you decide which keywords are right for you is Google's Keyword Planner. Here's an article from Google's help center with more tips on choosing the best keywords: https://support.google.com/adwords/answer/2453981?hl=en. The Wordstream blog also has some great sugestions on keyword research: http://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2013/11/21/ppc-keyword-research-guide.


Just as you don't want to target keywords that are too broad, there will probably be a whole slew of keywords you want to exclude. You can do so by adding them to your Negative Keyword list that lets Google know not to show your ads when one of these terms are searched. In fact, here's a list of 75 terms that almost any adwords campaign should add as negatives: http://www.techwyse.com/blog/pay-per-click-marketing/75-negative-keywords-that-every-adwords-campaign-should-include/. In general, terms such as sex, job, resume, etc are probably good triggers that the person searching is not a potential client.


Beyond keyword targeting, there is location targeting. You decide where you want your ad shown and where you don't. If you service the greater Chicago area, then you should only be showing your ads in that area. There is no reason to get irrelevant clicks by people around the world. Learn more about geotargeting and local ads with this blog post: http://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2013/11/13/adwords-geotargeting-local-ppc-guide.


Other than search ads which are only text, Google let's you show display ads on millions of sites around the web on what's called the Google Display Network. You choose what sites based on their relevancy to your product or service. If you're an interior designer, you could have your ads show up on different blogs and websites related to homeowners and interior designers. Once you get your display network campaign going, you'll want to take a look at these 7 mistakes to avoid.


Another really powerful feature available in the Adwords is what's called remarketing. What is remarketing? Well, If you're on the web much then you've most likely been remarketed yourself. Have you ever seen specific ads that follow you around the web like “big brother”? That's most likely due to a remarketing campaign from someone else. What remarketing does is essentially let you reach people who have visited your website (or a specific page on your website) previously. Here's a great post from PPC Hero that covers the ins-and-outs of how remarketing works as well as best practices.


If you want ideas as to how Adwords can work for your business, take a look at these success stories shared by Google. While there's a lot of great information online regarding Adwords, including the links we posted above, you can always turn to Google themselves for Adwords assistance- by phone, chat, email and even Google Hangout!


Online advertising today refers very much to Social Media Marketing too. Just about every social network today either has a paid advertising platform or is testing one. It's worth noting that the advertising community is adapting to a world where people spend more and more time on social networks and mobile phones. We are a far cry from the days when banner ads dominated and today see a whole slew of new advertising options from video ads to promoted posts. Most are deeply intertwined with social networks.


Let's start with Facebook Ads. Facebook lets advertisers target their 1.1 billion users based on interest, age, gender, education, location, language and many other factors. Additionally you can target users based on whether or not they like your Facebook page. Facebook allows you to show several different types of ads including sponsored posts that promote a post from your page to ads along the side that take people to your page or to website. There's plenty of useful information about Facebook ads in Facebook's help section.. Additionally there are tons of articles on the web about Facebook advertising like the 30-minute crash course from MOZ and Kissmetrics' detailed guide to Facebook Ads.


What's truly unique about Facebook is all the options you have when targeting users. For example, if your professional service has to do with weddings, you can target users that are “engaged”. If you're looking for college students, you can target them too. If you own a hair salon for women only, then you can use Facebook Ads to target women only! If you're a personal trainer looking to increase your male clientele who are 60 and over, you can use Facebook to target only men 60 and over. For more ideas on how to best implement Facebook Ads, take a look at these businesses who had success from ads: https://www.facebook.com/business/success/.


Another increasingly popular social media platform for advertising is Twitter Ads. With Twitter, you can promote tweets that target users based on location and the content that they're tweeting about. You essentially promote tweets to people that will find your content interesting. For example, if you're a graphic designer, you can promote a tweet linking to a blog post with tips on choosing a logo, and show it to people who are interested in small businesses. If you're a dietician, you can promote a tweet offering a free 30-minute consultation to people interested in weight loss. With over 200 million users on Twitter and 400 million tweets being sent a day, it's worth looking into. This guide to Twitter advertising will definitely come in handy! Twitter boasts as well their fair share of small business advertising success stories.


Ironically enough, Google's own social network, Google+, has a platform that is not yet public but will be most likely soon. It is called +Post ads. You can find out more about it and sign up for the waiting list, here: https://www.google.com/+/business/brands/ads.html.


Youtube, which is also owned by Google, does have an increasingly popular and quite effective video ads platform. It's simple to get started with as long as you can create a quality video and register for an Adwords account. Like other social networks, Youtube ads offer you plenty of targeting options to help you reach the right audience. You can target people based on location, gender, age, personal interests and more. For more on YouTube's advertising options, take a look at this article here.


What are the best B2B advertising platforms?


More than any other social media platform, LinkedIn Ads will let you reach commercial clients. Whether you're an accountant or graphic designer, LinkedIn's advertising platform will help you reach the decision makers in each company. LinkedIn lets you target users based on their age, location, industry and job seniority. With over 100 million American professionals on LinkedIn, it can be an important network for advertising use.


Linkedin lets you promote posts from your LinkedIn company page or create ads that appear on the right hand side of the page. In typical online advertising fashion, you can either pay per engagement (like, click, comment, etc) or per impression.This beginners guide to LinkedIn Ads will give you more insight into how the platform works.


Another very effective B2B advertising solution is EZBZ's ad platform. It gives professional business owners the chance to promote their products to highly relevant and local companies. For example, a web designer can advertise web design and SEO services to all small business owners in a certain area. EZBZ Ads show up alongside the real-time leads that get sent to business owners.


See you on the other side!


Without further ado, we cordially invite you to get started with online ads! We've covered the major platforms and the benefits they can have on your professional services business. The next step is for you to get going.


Have questions about Online Advertising? We'd love to hear them! Send them directly to biznetwork@ezbz.co and we'll get back to you as soon as possible. You can also contact us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn where we are always listening!
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By : Karen Lasser, 05-06-2015
Imagine advertising your products to the exact people who need them, the moment they're looking for them. Or targeting only the specific areas that you service. And how about just paying for ads that actually result in visitors to your website. Sound good? Well, that's all possible with internet marketing today and just some of the reasons why advertisers are going to spend well over $100 billion on it this year.  All retail business owners, whether running a local shop or an ecommerce store, need to consider online advertising's ability to drive traffic to your store or website and help increase sales.
Here's what every retail business owner needs to know about online advertising!

Imagine advertising your products to the exact people who need them, the moment they're looking for them. Or targeting only the specific areas that you service. And how about just paying for ads that actually result in visitors to your website. Sound good? Well, that's all possible with internet marketing today and just some of the reasons why advertisers are going to spend well over $100 billion on it this year.All retail business owners, whether running a local shop or an ecommerce store, need to consider online advertising's ability to drive traffic to your store or website and help increase sales.


How do I get started with online advertising?


There are a number of ways to leverage the power of online advertising for your store. The simplest method might just be approaching an advertising agency or finding a freelance online marketing specialist. Before you commit to this scenario though, it's wise to consider what size budget you have as ad agencies and good freelancers are not cheap (The easiest way to find and get bids from reputable agencies and ad specialists is by posting an inquiry on EZBZ). You need to make sure you'll have enough money left over to actually pay for ads.


Before launching any type of ad campaign, it's a great idea to figure out how much you're able to spend per lead. Someone selling tractors or high end jewelry will obviously be able to spend more per lead than a pizza shop owner or a clothing store. While online advertising might be a fairly new concept for you, it is definitely not as complicated as it sounds. Therefore, it's well worth reading on and seeing what it entails to launch your own online ad campaign before you hire anyone. If you're savvy enough to go at it yourself, then we totally recommend giving it a shot. You can always decide to hire someone at a later point.


Search Engine Marketing


There are several important ad platforms you'll need to know about before approaching any internet marketing campaign. The most famous and by far the largest is Google Adwords. With Adwords, you can advertise on Google's search page by targeting keywords in certain locations and showing display ads all across the web on sites that are related to your product. With search ads for example, if you own a pizza shop you can target people within 10 miles of Chicago who are searching for pizza. If you're an internet store selling premium coffee that ships internationally, you can target the specific countries around the globe that you service. This type of advertising is known as Search Engine Marketing or SEM.


In general, you'll only pay for ads when they are clicked on which is called pay per click advertising or PPC. Which essentially means, even if Google shows your ad 1000 times, but it is only clicked 10 times, you'll just have to pay for those 10 clicks.


You'll want to spend some time thinking about which keywords to target and which to exclude. Remember, the whole point is to show your ads to people who are interested in your product. So if you sell flowers, you'll want to target people searching for things like, 'buy flowers', 'order flowers online', 'flower shop', 'Valentine's day flowers', etc. A great tool to help you decide which keywords are right for you is Google'sKeyword Planner.  Google's help center has more tips for choosing the best keywords. This blog post from Wordstream also has some great keyword research suggestions.


Almost as important as choosing proper keywords is selecting negative keywords. A negative keyword is a specific search term that tells google not to show your ads. For example, if you're selling flowers, you probably will not want your ad showing up when someone searches 'job at flower shop.' Similarly, if you sell pizza, you will most likely not want to advertise on searches that say 'best pizza recipe.' A well compiled negative keyword list will save you a lot of money as you'll pay for less irrelevant clicks. Techwyse put together a list of 75 negative keywords that every adwords campaign should include.


Location targeting is also something that can save you money and give you great data as to where your customers are coming from. For starters, there is no need to be paying for clicks in places out of your service area. So if you only do business in Florida, or even just in Miami, you should limit your ads to show in that location only (you might also want to include all other state names and state abbreviations in your negative keyword list). Additionally, you can run two ads in different neighborhoods or zip codes and compare each ad's performance. Analyze this data together with your other business insights and you might just discover a thing or two about the different locations that you service.


Another great feature by Adwords that is really useful for retailers is calledremarketing or retargeting. With remarketing, you can target specific people who have visited a certain page on your website and show them ads all across the internet. Why is that great for retailers? Say you have a clothing store and a person browses your men's pants section online but does not purchase anything. For the next several days, weeks or months you can show that person ads for men's pants all across the web. By periodically reminding your website visitors of the products they've looked at, you have a better chance of driving sales. Here are some Adwords remarketing best practices that will help you better incorporate it as part of your online advertising strategy.


Microsoft has a platform very similar to Adwords called Bing Ads.  It's based on more or less the same general principles as Adwords and allows you to target people based on keyword and only pay when your ad is clicked.  While the platforms are reminiscent of one another, there are differences too. Many articles have been written comparing Adwords with Bing Ads and some marketers even claim that Bing Ads is better for small businesses.


Social Media Marketing


On the other end of the online advertising spectrum you have Social Media Ads which is known as Social Media Marketing or SMM. It's important to note that while Google is still the leader in online advertising, social media ads are gaining steam and fast.  Marketers today are regularly debating whether SEM or SMM is more effective. It's definitely worth noting that social media advertising is simpler to master than SEM and it helps businesses expand the reach of their social media pages which has added benefits by itself. Additionally social media marketing has a 'word of mouth' effect that is so crucial for retailers when promoting new products.


The most popular of the social media advertising platforms is Facebook Ads. Small business owners can use Facebook Ads to target over 1 billion people based on age, gender, location, interests, marital status, number of children, level of education and many other reference points. Let's jump straight to an example. Say you own a small shop in upstate New York that sells wedding cakes and you're looking to reach soon-to-be brides. With Facebook Ads you can easily target women, who live in your area that are engaged to be married.


When advertising on Facebook, you can choose whether to promote a post in the news feed or to show your ad along the right-hand side of the page.  It's easy for Facebook page administrators to promote posts by simply clicking the 'Boost Post' button beneath each post.  When creating a right-hand side ad, you'll have to select a picture, title and text. Facebook gives you several payment options including either paying per action (click, like, share, etc) or per impressions. To learn more about Facebook Ads, take a look at this 30-minute crash course from MOZ and Kissmetrics' detailed guide to Facebook Ads.


Facebook Ads has another feature called Custom Audiences which is very useful to any business with a customer database or email list (and if you don't have one yet, you should start building an email list ASAP). It essentially allows you to target only the people in your list. So let's say for example you have a list of 10,000 customers who purchased shoes last year; you can show an ad just to those people on Facebook (assuming they have facebook accounts). Custom Audiences can be a really effective marketing tool so it's worth reading more about it!


Another popular social media marketing platform is Twitter Ads. With Twitter, you can either promote your account or promote a tweet. You only pay when someone follows your promoted account or engages with your promoted tweets which includes replying, retweeting, clicking your link and so on.


When promoting on Twitter, you target users based on location and the content that they're tweeting about.  For example, if you have a boutique wine shop out in Northern California, you can promote a tweet announcing a wine and cheese tasting evening to people who live near your shop . With over 200 million users on Twitter and 400 million tweets being sent a day, it's worth looking into and checking out this guide to Twitter advertising to learn more. Take a look at other small businesses who are advertising on Twitter here: https://business.twitter.com/success-stories/company-size/smaller-biz.


Youtube has an increasingly popular and quite effective video ads platform too. It's simple to get started with as long as you can create a quality video and register for an Adwords account. Like other social networks, YouTube ads offer you plenty of targeting options to help you reach the right audience. You can target people based on location, gender age, interest and more. For more on YouTube's advertising options, take a look at this article here.


As a retail store owner, you can use YouTube video ads to show off a new collection of clothes or give a closer look at the fresh ingredients your restaurant uses in its kitchen.

B2B Advertising Platforms


No article on Internet Marketing for retail businesses would be complete without mentioning LinkedIn Ads. LinkedIn's advertising platform lets you target users based on their age, location industry and job seniority which makes it a great platform for B2B retails businesses. Whether you sell plumbing supplies, car parts or stacking chairs, you can use LinkedIn to make sure your ads get seen by the decision makers in relevant companies.


EZBZ's ad platform is one of the most effective B2B advertising solutions available. It allows retail businesses to precisely promote their products to business owners based on industry and location. For example, a tile supply store in Columbus, OH can target local tile contractors. Ads on EZBZ show up alongside real-time leads that get sent to business owners.

So, What Are You Waiting For?


In case you haven't noticed, we warmly recommend you get going with online advertising! Online ads have evolved over the past few years to accommodate people's social media use and near smartphone addiction. A good advertising program looks at social, display, search, and video ads. Banner ads, which don't show up well on mobile, are no longer the focus like they use to be. Today you have sponsored posts, promoted accounts and video ads.


So with all the different platforms available, there's certainly something that you'll feel comfortable getting started with. Whether you want to start with Facebook Ads or EZBZ's B2B advertising platform, it is important that you get going. That is the best way to learn.


There's also a lot more information out on the web with tips and techniques that's worth reading. Some relevant blogs include PPC Hero, Search Engine Land and the WordStream Blog. Also, most of the major ad platform have great help sections that are worth checking out too. Google has a great customer support system too that let's you contact their adwords specialists by phone, chat, email and even via Hangouts!


Have questions about Online Advertising? We'd love to hear them! Send them directly to biznetwork@ezbz.co and we'll get back to you as soon as possible. You can also contact us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn where we are always listening!

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By : Karen Lasser, 05-06-2015
Here's what every contractor needs to know about online advertising! This article is presented in an easy Q&A format.

Here's what every contractor needs to know about online advertising!

In 2013, advertisers spent over $100 billion paying for online ads on millions of sites across the web including Google, Bing, Facebook, Yahoo, YouTube and Twitter. While it’s by far the fastest growing segment in media advertising, many contractors are still reluctant to spend on online ads. With limited advertising budgets and unfamiliarity with online ad platforms, on top of many other time quenching day-to-day challenges, it’s quite understandable why a contractor might prefer a more traditional marketing method. As a contractor though, if you’re looking for a way to precisely target your audience with ads and accurately measure results, online advertising is the way to go!

Where should I advertise online?

There are a number of great online advertising options for contractors. For starters, there’s Google Adwords. With Adwords, you can place text ads on Google’s famous search results page as well as display ads (ie images) across millions of different web pages known as the Google Display Network. When advertising with Adwords, you generally target people based on “keywords” (ie terms and phrases that people are searching for on Google) and location. You only have to pay when someone clicks your ad, and the user is taken to your website.

Bing Ads, which is Microsoft’s advertising network, is based on the same general principles as Adwords. You target people based on keywords and only pay when your ad is clicked.

Most social media sites have advertising platforms as well, such as Facebook Ads. Advertising on Facebook let’s you promote posts on your Facebook page or an external webpage like your website. With Facebook you can meticulously target your audience based on many factors including interest, age, gender, location, level of education, marital status and many other demographic scenarios.

Online video ads, being led by YouTube advertising, are growing with popularity. On YouTube, video ads appear before the selected video begins to play and are typically short and catchy. If you’re a handyman, consider creating and advertising videos where you offer a quick DIY home improvement tip followed by your contact information. With targeting, you can choose who you want to see your ad to ensure that you’re reaching the right audience.

Another advertising platform that is great for B2B companies is LinkedIn Ads. With LinkedIn, like Facebook, you can promote your company page posts or an external website like you blog or homepage. With Linkedin, you target users based on their industry, location, age and level of seniority at their workplace.

One of the most effective online B2B advertising solutions available is EZBZ Advertising. With EZBZ’s ad platform, labor contractors can promote their services to business owners based on industry and location. For example, a cleaning company based in Portland can target local Hair & Nail Salons and offer them their services. Ads on EZBZ show up alongside the real-time leads that get sent to business owners.

As you can tell, with people today searching, messaging, tweeting and watching billions of hours of YouTube, advertising is no longer simply banner ads across the web. Ads need to be dynamic and look well on mobile devices too.  Features such as video ads and promoted posts are becoming just as normal as plain old display ads. Let’s discuss ways that a labor contractors with a small advertising budget can make the most out of these popular online ad platforms.

Focus on targeting!

As a contractor, you probably have a good idea as to who your typical customer is. For example, if you work in landscaping, your clients most likely won’t be college students but rather homeowners. Additionally, if you do commercial landscaping, you could seek out property managers at shopping centers and apartment complexes.  Alternatively, if you’re a mover in a college town, a large percentage of your clients might come college students, especially in the spring and summer time. All these details will help you when deciding who to target with your ad campaign.

The more targeted and focused your ad campaign is, the less money you’ll end up spending on irrelevant clicks and views of your ad. You can use Google’s Keyword Planner to get ideas as to how many people are searching for your desired keywords and estimates as to how much it will cost you per click. Here are some great tips on how to get started with your keyword research: http://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2013/11/21/ppc-keyword-research-guide.

Another important tip to help save money and improve your ad performance is to exclude certain search terms by adding in negative keywords. For example, if you’re a handyman in Seattle, you’ll definitely want to be targeting people who search for the term “Handyman in Seattle” though you’ll definitely not want to target people who search for the term “Handyman job training in Seattle”. Therefore by adding “job” or “training” as a negative keywords you can make sure your ad won’t show up when those terms are searched. Here’s a list of 75 negative keywords that almost every Adwords campaign should include: http://www.techwyse.com/blog/pay-per-click-marketing/75-negative-keywords-that-every-adwords-campaign-should-include/.

Targeting with Facebook Ads is going to be much more personable than search ads like Adwords. If you’re a mover, you can easily have your ads target college students. You can choose the specific college you want to reach, the zip code where you want your ads shown, expected graduation year and so on. Here are some general tips on targeting your Facebook ads: http://socialmediatoday.com/jennifer-macdonald/1438616/7-things-you-need-consider-using-facebook-ads. Again, when deciding who to target, the more you know about your customer the better. If you remodel bathrooms, and you’ve found that women typically decide when and how to redo the bathroom, you can run a campaign targeting only women. If it’s men, then you can just target men.  You could also target both men and women and see who responds better. This will give you great insight into your prospective client base and future advertising strategy.

Location, location, location!

Yes, location. While you might think we’re talking about the position of your ad on the page, which is quite important, we’re actually referring to the physical location in which you’re advertising. Meaning, are you running a worldwide campaign that will show your ads all across the USA as well as in China and Germany or are you targeting only a single zip code near where you live.  If you’re looking to save money, focus on as specific a location as possible. Not only will you avoid clicks from people outside your service area, but typically, the more focused your ad is, the less you’ll pay per click.


By targeting different nearby locations with your ads, you can get some really neat data as well. For example, run the same ad in two different neighborhoods. See which one responds better and where you get the most leads. You’ll then want to analyze the data and determine why one location performed better or worse than the other.

Simplicity vs. keeping costs down

Admittedly, a lot of these ad platforms look quite intimidating and all the different targeting choices can be overwhelming. Therefore, whether you’re using Adwords, Facebook or LinkedIn, each network offers you simplified methods to post ads. For example, Adwords has a platform called Adwords Express which Google brands as “easy online advertising.” All you have to do basically is write a few lines about the services you offer and set a budget while Google handles all the rest. It is simple, but you won’t always get the most bang for your buck. Some advertisers claim that Adwords Express actually does more harm than good.

Similarly, if you’ve ever posted something on your Facebook or LinkedIn page, you’ll notice an option to “promote” your post straight from your page. While it’s super simple to do and only requires you to select your budget and some minimal targeting options, it won’t always bring you the best results. By promoting that same post from Facebook’s ad platform you’ll get a lot more control over who will and won’t see your post.

On the other end of the spectrum, you can hire an ad agency to manage your campaigns. While you’ll probably see good results, it might not be that practical with a tight advertising budget. Or in other words, after your done paying the ad agency to set-up and manage your campaigns, you might not have enough budget left to spend on the ads themselves.

The best way to really know what option is best for you is simply to get started. Sign up for an Adwords account, promote a post or two on Facebook and reach out to businesses with EZBZ Ads. There’s also a lot more information out on the web with tips and techniques that’s worth reading. Some relevant blogs include PPC Hero, Search Engine Land and the WordStream Blog. Also, most of the major ad platform have great help sections that are worth checking out too. Google has a great customer support system that let’s you contact their adwords specialists by phone, chat, email and even via Hangouts!

Have questions about Online Advertising? We’d love to hear them! Send them directly to biznetwork@ezbz.co and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible. You can also contact us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn where we are always listening!

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By : Karen Lasser, 05-06-2015
As a professional services provider, you should be placing a lot of emphasis on your firm’s online profile which includes social media. Your current clients and prospective clients are searching for services online and asking their friends for recommendations over social media. Even if you meet a potential client offline (ie in the real world :-)), you can safely assume that this person will check out your website and social media pages before choosing to work with you.

The ins-and-outs of social media marketing for Professional Services business owners. Learn if, why, when and how to use social media marketing for your business.


We’ll come right out and say it: It’s 2014! Social media has to be a significant part of your online marketing strategy.


As a professional services business, you should be placing a lot of emphasis on your firm’s online profile which includes social media. Your current clients and prospective clients are searching for services online and asking their friends for recommendations over social media. Even if you meet a potential client offline (ie in the real world :-)), you can safely assume that this person will check out your website and social media pages before choosing to work with you.


When people find a business on social media and see pictures of friendly employees, quality work, satisfied customers, and maybe even a “like” from a friend, they’ll immediately develop a level of trust for that service. Whether you’re an accountant, lawyer, photographer or web designer, social networking platforms will help you attract new customers and retain current clients.


Make your firm come alive!

The more visible your business is online, the more leads you will get. If you have no, or little, presence online, these leads may very well go to a competitor that does. With Social Media, you have the opportunity to show your business’ true colors and can do this in several ways.


For starters, let’s say you run a law firm. To many people out there, lawyers are quite intimidating. Through social media you can paint your firm as personable and in-touch with the real world. Use social media to introduce your team, show your office and publicize testimonials from happy clients. You can do this by posting pictures, video clips and links. Be open to talking about things other than your business such as last night’s football game, current events or food. It’s a chance to make your firm more approachable and real!


Additionally, social media will help you connect with prospects on an emotional level.  If you’re a wedding planner for example, don’t focus on selling or promoting your business, but rather talk about your favorite moment at weddings, share a funny story or two and post touching pictures. The emotional connection you create with your followers can, in many instances, be the key to getting new clients.


Become a thought leader in your industry!

No matter what service you’re offering, there’s relevant and important information you can provide your clients with regularly over social media. Let’s say you have an accounting firm and you keep your eye out for new legislation that directly affects your industry and clients. If you can quickly notify your followers over social media about the new law and how it affects them, it can be very valuable.


Similarly, if you’re an architect and there’s some sudden change in building code, writing about it in real-time on social media can help solidify your place as an industry thought leader.  Your clients will not only appreciate your expert advice but will also develop a greater trust in your services.


Choosing the right social networks

With so many social networks out there, it can be quite overwhelming just thinking about social media marketing. As a professional services provider, you should try to put your business on as many platforms as possible as long as you can handle them all. You should try for at least 3 networks. Here’s a deeper look at several social networks you should consider:


LinkedIn

There’s a lot you can do on LinkedIn and it is just about a must for anyone working at a professional services company. For starters, you should have a company page on LinkedIn. To set one up, simply go to: http://business.linkedin.com/marketing-solutions/company-pages.html and click the yellow “Get Started” button. Furthermore, you should have an up-to-date personal profile on LinkedIn.  Unlike your personal pages on other social networks, LinkedIn is a place to show off your background and expertise. Before someone hires you (or your firm), there’s a good chance they’ll look you up and LinkedIn.


Being active on LinkedIn is also a great way to meet other business owners.  For B2B businesses, this means potential clients. If you’re B2C, these connections will help you expand your network and knowledge.


One of the best ways to network, stay informed and connect with other like-minded business owners is through LinkedIn Groups. If you’re a wedding planner for example, you can find groups of thousands of wedding planners discussing trends, pricing, techniques, etc. There are similar groups for photographers, makeup artists, architects, web designers, engineers and so on. Another great example of a LinkedIn group is our EZBZ Business Network group with small business owners from all across the nation sharing relevant information and tips.


Google+

Google’s own social network has a lot of value for a number or reasons- especially if you’re business serves a specific location. A local Google+ profile has a lot of SEO value (See more about SEO for Professional Services Businesses in this article), shows up high in search results and will place your business on Google maps. You can open a page for your business here: http://www.google.com/+/business/.


Additionally, Google+ has a number of networking opportunities especially with Communities (http://www.google.com/+/learnmore/communities/). Similar to LinkedIn Groups, Google+ Communities are a way to find like minded business owners as well as potential customers looking for expert advice.


YouTube

With over 1 billion unique visitors per month, YouTube reaches more US adult viewers than any cable channel (see some more really cool stats, here: http://www.youtube.com/yt/press/statistics.html). By all means, YouTube is an important network. Videos that offer, and demonstrate, short tidbits of advice can be truly worthwhile. If you’re an interior designer, take your viewers into a home you designed and explain about different color schemes. If you’re a party planner, shoot a quick film talking about venues and how to save money when booking.


It’s important to note here that you do not need to produce professional quality videos to be effective. The same way people take countless photos (and selfies) with their smartphones, you can also capture great video too- with your smartphone! Here’s a very informative piece from the New York Times with tips for shooting better quality videos on your smartphone. It’s worth the read!


As with Google+, YouTube is owned by Google which gives it significant SEO value and a potentially high placement in search results.


Facebook

To set up a Business Page on Facebook- the world's largest social network- simply go to https://www.facebook.com/business/products/pages. Not only is it recommended that you do so, but a lot of consumers today actually expect businesses to be on Facebook.


If you’re business has an office, make sure to add your address to your profile which will make it possible for people to “check in” when they visit you. People searching on Facebook will be able to see how many of their friends have “liked” your page and “checked in” at your location.


Facebook has a really great page insights tool that will give you stats and data about your users. You can see things like where people live, age range and gender, and how people respond to different types of posts. This information can help you when planning future posts.


Twitter

Twitter is unique in that every post can only contain 140 characters. The character limit makes Twitter fast, which is also one of the reasons people are drawn to it. Many companies, like Bank of America and Nike, use Twitter for Customer Support. Here are some great examples of other brands using Twitter for customer support too: http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/exceptional-customer-service-on-twitter/.


As opposed to other social networks, posts on Twitter (or tweets) are mostly public- which makes it a great search tool for finding potential clients. All you have to do is enter a few keywords on www.twitter.com/search. For example, if you’re a graphic designer, try searching for the term “logo” or “graphic design” and see what results get returned. You’ll almost certainly find someone looking for your service.


Pinterest

If you’re in an industry with good photo ops, you’ll almost certainly want to be on Pinterest. This rings true for all the wedding planners, hair stylists, photographers, architects and so on. The photos on the site, with over 70 million users, speak for themselves. Take a look:

a. Architecture: http://www.pinterest.com/all/architecture/

b. Hair and Beauty: http://www.pinterest.com/all/hair_beauty/

c. Photography: http://www.pinterest.com/all/photography/

d. Weddings: http://www.pinterest.com/all/weddings/

e. Fashion: http://www.pinterest.com/all/womens_fashion/



When you sign up for Pinterest, make sure you register for a business account, here: http://business.pinterest.com/..


Instagram

Instagram is a mobile app that was bought by Facebook for $1 billion last year.  Like Pinterest, it’s photo centered and is a great way to showcase images from your line of work. To join, you’ll have to download the free app to your mobile phone. You can find links to Instagram in the App Store and Google Play, here: http://instagram.com/.


How often should I post?

It’s important to keep your social networks up-to-date. It will actually reflect negatively on your business if you let your pages go long periods of time without a new post. On networks like Facebook, Google+ and your LinkedIn Business page you should try to post at least twice a week and more if possible.


Also try to explore different LinkedIn Groups and post in them once a week. If you post too often, it can turn people off and look like spam. In terms of Youtube videos, set a realistic goal, say one video a month, and stick with it. Your fans will appreciate the consistency and start looking forward to your new videos.


As a general rule, be as real as possible with your social media posting. When you have something to say that’s relevant and valuable to your followers, let them hear it! If you don’t have anything to say, there is no point in wasting your time and your followers time.

There is a great tool you should know about called Hootsuite (https://hootsuite.com/) that will save you a lot of time and stress when positng on social media. With Hootsuite, you can send posts to several social networks at the same time and even schedule them in advance. So for example, if there’s a certain day of the week, or month, where things are a bit slower for you, you can sit down on that day and schedule posts ahead a time. You decide when each post will go live and on which social networks it will be published.


Should I be worried about negative comments?

As soon as you start posting on social media, expect questions, comments and criticism from fans and customers. While there is a tendency to ignore, or even delete, the critical comments, there are better ways to handle them. Take a look at this article for some suggestions: http://www.dmnews.com/when-social-media-comments-go-negative-should-your-brand-respond/article/338762/.


The key though is to always respond in a timely manner (within 24 hours) and try to use as real a voice as possible! Take a look here and see what happened when the CEO of Liberty Bottleworks responded to a complaining customer! Spoiler alert: it brought them record sales and not to mention thousands of new likes on Facebook.


How can I get more “likes” and followers?

The first thing you have to know, is that “likes” and followers won’t come overnight. When you commit to a social media marketing strategy, it has to be a long term commitment. The more consistent you are with posting and the better content you put up, the easier it will be for you to attract new members.


Don’t be embarrassed to promote your business pages on your own personal social media profiles too! Post a link to your new page and ask your friends to give it a “like” or “share”. Send your friends and family (via email, whatsapp, sms, facebook, twitter, etc) links directly to your new social media pages.


Additionally, it’s a great idea to put links to your social media pages on your website, in your email signature and even on your business card.


Finally a word of caution: watch out for social media activities that can annoy people and cause them to “unfollow” your page.  Here’s a list of 9 things not to do on social media as suggested by Forbes.


With that said, what are you waiting for? Good luck and let us know if you have any questions!



Have questions about Social Media? We’d love to hear them! Send them directly to biznetwork@ezbz.co and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible. You can also contact us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn where we are always listening!

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By : Karen Lasser, 05-06-2015
Over the past several years, social media has changed the marketing landscape for retailers. Many of the conversations retail owners once had with customers through traditional marketing channels like pamphlets and catalogs, are now taking place on sites like Facebook and Pinterest. Social media’s growth has affected just about every industry with 93% of marketers saying they use social media for business. Way more important than marketers, studies show that 40% of users have purchased a product after interacting with it on social media!

The ins-and-outs of social media marketing for retail business owners. Learn how to leverage social media to best reach customers and promote your products.


Over the past several years, social media has changed the marketing landscape for retail businesses. Many of the conversations retail business owners once had with customers through traditional marketing channels like pamphlets and catalogs, are now taking place on sites like Facebook and Pinterest. Social media’s growth has affected just about every industry with 93% of marketers saying they use social media for business. Way more important than marketers, studies show that 40% of users have purchased a product after interacting with it on social media!


Social media marketing might sound confusing and even seem intimidating when you think about all the different social networks out there. Though with so many of your customers active on social media, it has not only become a necessity for retail businesses but can also be an invaluable tool if leveraged correctly (Just think, last year Beyonce launched a new album entirely over social media without any sort of traditional marketing campaign. It sold 365,000 copies on the first day in the US alone!). With a bit of strategy and a few tips, you’ll have a much better understanding of social media marketing and grasp on how it works.


What should I be posting on Social Media?


Retailers can use social media to connect with customers and promote their products! Here are some ideas as to what you should be posting:


Share new products with your fans: Whether you run a pet shop, online shoe store or bakery, you should be showing off your new line of merchandise. A lot of times, a cute picture of a puppy looking for a new home or a freshly baked loaf of bread is all it takes to drive traffic to your store.


Anytime you post a picture of a product, make sure you include a caption. Let people know what makes this necklace so special (are the beads made in some far off Island in the Pacific or is the design one-of-a-kind), why this dress needs to be part of your wardrobe or why this is the best sandwich in town. You should be funny, insightful and most definitely passionate about your products.


If you're a local store, consider tying your posts into different community events. For example, if there is an annual marathon in your town, start posting about a new shoe you have in stock that would be great for the race. Similarly, if you own a restaurant, post mouthwatering pictures of your lunch menu every morning to try and attract the business crowd.


Advertise in-store events: Are you holding a book-signing or offering a fitness class? Is your wine shop having a tasting? Does your shoe store have a running group that meets once a month? Spread these events around as much as you can on social networks! Make sure you don’t only post about them before hand, but put up pictures as they’re happening and afterwards as well. This can make great promotional material and get people excited for future events at your store.


Offer exclusive sales and promotions: The only thing people like better than a good sale is sharing one with their friends over social media! Rewarding your followers with exclusive offers and deals over your social networks is a great way to  increase fan engagement and build loyalty.


One of social media’s biggest advantages is the fact that it’s so easy and quick to post. You can use social media to offer deals “on the fly” when your restaurant is slow or if you really need to sell some merchandise quickly. Let people know when the deals will be over (for example, “Until 6 PM today only) as it will create a sense of urgency and encourage people to take advantage of them right away.


Employee exposes and product recommendations: Your employees make up a very important part of your business. This includes everyone from chefs and baristas to sales people and cashiers. Introduce them over your social networks and share details such as how long they’ve been at your store, what their hobbies are, backgrounds and so on.


Talk about their favorite item on your menu or favorite product on your shelf. If you own a bookstore, ask one of your employees to recommend a book and write a short review for social media. If you own a coffee shop, let your followers know how your baristas like to drink their coffee.


Sharing about your employees will not only make you followers feel much more connected to your store (and it’s personnel) but will give them some great product recommendations for future purchases.


What social networks should I be on?


Pinterest: There is no questions that retailers are flocking to social networks to drive sales and chief among them is Pinterest. According to a recent study, Pinterest is putting people in stores and is responsible for a phenomenon called “reverse showrooming” where people first browse online and then head to the brick-and-mortar retailers to purchase. 36% of users under 35 said they have purchased an item in-store after first interacting with it on Pinterest.


If you have great pictures from your store, as Pinterest is a very visual social network, you should definitely sign up and start pinning your products. For some more tips on how retailers are using Pinterest to promote their products, take a look here and here.


Twitter: With Twitter, you’ll have to learn to be concise as each post consists of no more than 140 characters. While 140 characters is not a lot of text, it is exactly why Twitter is so unique and loved by hundreds of  millions of users worldwide.


A very common use nowadays for Twitter is customer support beleive it or not. The character limit almost forces brands & businesses to respond to questions with answers that are straight and to the point. Consumer like that!


To get a better understanding of how to use Twitter to promote your products, it’s worth taking a look at some of the larger retailers, like Best Buy.


Facebook: Facebook is the largest social network and it’s definitely recommended you have a page for your retail store. One of Facebook's biggest advantages for retailers is the viral nature of the site. That means when one user “likes”,“comments on” or “shares” a picture you post, the friends of that user will see it. When one user interacts with your post in a positive way, it’s basically a stamp of approval for your business that all the users friends can see!


Small businesses have even begun utilizing Facebook for actual sales. The retailer, Lolly Wolly Doodle, based in North Carolina,  is seeing most of it’s sales come through Facebook.


If you’re retail store has an actual location, make sure to add your address, hours of operation, and contact details to your pages profile which will make it possible for people to “check in” when they visit you. People searching on Facebook will be able to see how many of their friends have “liked” your page and “checked in” at your location.


You can use Facebook’s insight data to start seeing who and how people are interacting with your page and posts. Over time you’ll be able to see actual trends showing when to post and which types of posts work best.


Google+: For local retailers with storefronts, Google+ has a lot to offer! Not only will your page have a lot of SEO value (Being the social network that carries Google’s name definitely helps here) and show up high in search results but it will also place your business on Google Maps. That means people in the neighborhood, looking at Google Maps on their smartphone will see your store’s location.  


You can open a page for your business here: http://www.google.com/+/business/. For tips on setting up your Google+ page and getting started with the social network, take a look at this blog post here.


Don’t think Google+ is only about SEO though. Plenty of big name fashion retailers are using Google+, from Burberry to H&M, to promote their products.


YouTube: Another very important social network, and also owned by Google, Youtube has a lot to offer from SEO value to a very large user base. With over 1 billion unique visitors per month, YouTube reaches more US adult viewers than any cable channel (see some more really cool stats, here: http://www.youtube.com/yt/press/statistics.html).


As a retail business owner, you can use Youtube to show a promotional video for your store, demonstrate how to setup and use your products and offer expert tips and tricks. For example, If you own a wine shop, you can film short clips talking about different wines and what foods they go best with. If you're selling sports equipment, you can create short films showing how to best use each piece of equipment to improve your game. These videos will give your customers a lot of added value after they purchase your products.


Keep in mind  that you do not need to produce professional quality videos to be effective. The same way people take countless photos (and selfies) with their smartphones, you can also capture great video too- with your smartphone! Here’s a very informative piece from the New York Times with tips for shooting better quality videos on your smartphone.



Instagram, Vine & Snapchat: Whether you use these apps or not, you should know that the most popular trends in social media today are mobile only networks. Which means social networks that are accessed strictly through mobile apps.  Instagram, which was bought by Facebook last year for over $1 billion is the largest, with over 150 million users and is becoming a very popular and powerful selling tool for retailers.


Retailers use it to post unique looking photos of their store and products. Here’s one example of a local New York retailer using Instagram to show off it’s clothing line.


Other popular mobile apps that marketers are paying more attention to include Vine (which is now owned by Twitter) & Snapchat (which recently rejected a $3 billion buyout from Facebook). Vine let’s you shoot short, 6 second video clips that loop and snapchat let’s you share photos and video that disappear after a short time. The fashion industry has fallen hard for Vine, and many types of businesses as well are adding Snapchat to their mobile marketing mix.



Shhh… Listen!


Think of social media as an on going 24/7 conversation about pretty much every topic imaginable. Just by listening you can find out lots of information about your own business, products and even competitors. While posting can be fun and is definitely important, listening on social media can be priceless!


Try searching for relevant topics (including your store’s name) using Twitter search. Make an effort to respond to relevant tweets.


It’s also important to pay close attention to comments left on your social media pages by your own customers.  It’s important to read their feedback and respond (within 24 hours) to let them know you’ve heard them. While there is a tendency to ignore, or even delete, the critical comments, there are better ways to handle the comments that go negative. Take a look here and see what happened when the CEO of Liberty Bottleworks responded to a complaining customer!


Finally, when using social media you can get a great idea as to what products customers like more than others. By watching the number of “likes”, shares and comments on Facebook posts you’ll see what items your fans prefer. This information can then help you decide which products to place where in your store or how to promote certain items. Retailers, such as Nordstrom, have even begun marking items in their stores that have been highly “pinned” with a Pinterest symbol.  Additionally, Target last year created an online storefront called the “Target Awesome Shop”  that organizes item based on their popularity on Pinterest.


How can I make posting on Social Networks easier and less time consuming?


There is a great tool you should know about called Hootsuite (https://hootsuite.com/) that will save you a lot of time and stress when positng on social media. With Hootsuite, you can send posts to several social networks at the same time and even schedule them in advance. So for example, you could sit down on the first Sunday of every month and plan out your posts for the entire month.  The posts that you scheduled will then be published automatically on the date and on the specific social networks that you selected.


How can I get more “likes” and followers?


The first thing you have to know, is that “likes” and followers won’t come overnight. When you commit to a social media marketing strategy, it has to be a long term commitment. The more consistent you are with posting and the better content you put up, the easier it will be for you to attract new members.


Don’t be embarrassed to promote your business pages on your own personal social media profiles too! Post a link to your new page and ask your friends to give it a “like” or “share”. Send your friends and family (via email, whatsapp, sms, facebook, twitter, etc) links directly to your new social media pages.


Additionally, it’s a great idea to put links to your social media pages on your website, in your email signature and even on your business card. Put a sign in your store window with the logos of the different social networks you’re on and give customers a card with your social media links together with their receipt.


Finally a word of caution: watch out for social media activities that can annoy people and cause them to “unfollow” your page.  Here’s a list of 9 things not to do on social media as suggested by Forbes.


With that said, what are you waiting for? Good luck and let us know if you have any questions!



Have questions about Social Media? We’d love to hear them! Send them directly to biznetwork@ezbz.co and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible. You can also contact us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn where we are always listening!

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By : Karen Lasser, 05-06-2015
When thinking about social media marketing, it’s very easy to get overwhelmed. Not only are new social networks popping up each day, but just the thought of posting regular status updates can make a lot of Labor Contractors nervous! Don’t be intimidated though, with a few simple tips and a bit of strategy, you’ll have a much better understanding of what social media marketing is and why it’s not so hard!

The ins-and-outs of social media marketing for retail business owners. Learn how to leverage social media to best reach customers and promote your products.


When thinking about social media marketing, it’s very easy to get overwhelmed. Not only are new social networks popping up each day, but just the thought of posting regular status updates can make a lot of Labor Contracting business owners nervous! Don’t be intimidated though, with a few simple tips and a bit of strategy, you’ll have a much better understanding of what social media marketing is and why it’s not so hard!


Why is social media so important? Let’s start by asking the obvious question: why is social media marketing important? Even more specifically, why is it important for a plumber or gardener or mover? Whether or not you personally use social media, your customers most likely do and that includes using social media to find products and services such as plumbers, gardeners and movers. Here’s a great video, put out several years ago, which shows the amazing culture shift caused by social media.


When people find a business on social media and see pictures of friendly employees, quality work, satisfied customers, and maybe even a “like” from a friend, they’ll immediately develop a level of trust for that service. With an active social media presence you’ll be able to find potential customers, offer advice and valuable information to your current clients, and positively portray your company.


Where do I start? With so many social networks out there, it can be confusing when trying to decide which ones to sign up for. The big social media sites today are: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, Tumblr and Instagram with each network having it’s positives and negatives. The rule of thumb here is that fewer well managed social media profiles is much better than a lot of neglected profiles. Nothing looks worse than a social media page that hasn’t been updated in months.


A one-man show should focus on one social networking site. If you are already active on Facebook, and don’t mind mixing work with pleasure, then by all means, go ahead and use your personal Facebook profile to promote your business. This works since you essentially are your own brand and may become quite friendly with your clients. Just make sure to update the “Work & Education” section of your profile to reflect your business’ information. For further information on using your personal Facebook profile for business, check out this article form Social Media Examiner: http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/personal-facebook-profile-for-business/.


Finally, before you start using your personal profile to promote your business, you should review your past posts and make sure there is nothing up that can give your business a bad rap.

With privacy settings, you can decide which posts are public and which are private that only your friends can see. You can learn more about Facebook’s privacy settings and tools here: https://www.facebook.com/help/325807937506242.



If you’re not keen on the idea of mixing your personal profile with your business life, then open a page for your business on either Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/business/products/pages), Google+ (http://www.google.com/+/business/) or Twitter (https://twitter.com/).


While Facebook has the advantage of being the largest and most popular network, Twitter and Google+ have great things to offer as well. Twitter, for example, can be used as a great search tool to find potential clients right in your area. All you have to do is enter a few search terms on Twitter’s Advanced search page. You can do a search for the word “Plumber” around Chicago and might find someone asking for a plumber due to a burst pipe. One of the major advantages to Google+ is that information from local business pages can be seen on Google Maps. Which means people in your neighborhood searching for a plumber will potentially find your business on Google Maps.


If you want to learn more about Twitter for your business, take a look here: http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/how-to-use-twitter-for-business-and-marketing/. For reasons why you should be using Google+, you can read this: http://socialmediatoday.com/ubersocialmedia/1632481/google-plus-why-your-business-needs-it.


If your business is comprised of two or more employees, you should consider signing up for 2-3 platforms. In addition to the platforms we discuss above, you’ll also want to look at LinkedIn and consider another picture-based network.


LinkedIn is best known as the “professional social network” and is more B2B focused (or in other words, you won’t see too many pictures of cute kittens on LinkedIn). One of LinkedIn's best features is groups. LinkedIn Groups are great places to network, stay informed and connect with other like-minded business owners. If you’re a Landscaper for example, you can find a dedicated group of thousands of Landscapers discussing trends, pricing, techniques, etc. Another great example of a LinkedIn group is our EZBZ Business Network group with small business owners from all across the nation sharing relevant information and tips. To set up a company page on LinkedIn, simply go to: http://business.linkedin.com/marketing-solutions/company-pages.html and click the yellow “Get Started” button.


If you’re in a profession with lots of good pictures, such as a contractor or kitchen remodeler, you should consider posting to a photo based social media website like Pinterest, Houzz or Instagram. All three are places people go when looking for ideas and inspiration for their home. Pinterest is a very large network with over 70 million users. It allows you to sign up for special business accounts here: http://business.pinterest.com/. Instagram is a mobile social network (that was recently purchased by Facebook for $1 billion!) which means you need to sign up using the mobile app. You can find link to the app here: http://instagram.com/. Houzz is a network that is all about, well, the house! This actually gives Houzz an advantage over the other networks because people are there looking specifically for pictures relevant to home design and renovation.



What should I post? After you have your pages set up, the next question is what to post. No matter what network you’re on or the size of your business, you cannot go wrong with posting pictures. Pictures of smiling employees, a birthday cake in the office, satisfied customers, and quality work are all relevant! Social media is about storytelling and relationship building and these images will help tell the story of your business and build relationships with your followers. Remember to always include a brief caption describing the image.


Beyond the photos, any type of coupon or sale is great to post as well. So if you’re a Pool Cleaner and offering an “early bird” special to anyone who signs up for a pool cleaning by a certain date, make sure you blast that out on your social networks. Your followers and customers will definitely appreciate it.


Professional advice and DIY tips are also always welcomed. If you’re a plumber, share advice on preventing pipes from freezing during the winter. If you’re a mover, let your followers know some safety dos-and-don'ts when moving heavy furniture. You can also share links to relevant articles if your readers will find them valuable.


Other types of posts can include trivia, funny pictures (something like this picture for all you movers out there and this picture for the plumbers), and giveaways. You should definitely have fun with your page but still be professional. The most important tip to remember is to be real and true to the culture of your business! That’s what consumers expect today in 2014.



How to post?

There are 3 ways to post on social networks:


a. Using your computer. Navigate to the social network’s website, sign on and write an update. Double check to make sure you’re logged in to the correct profile before you post. Someone could have been logged in on that computer beforehand or you might be on your personal profile as opposed to your business page.


b. Using the mobile app. If you have a smartphone or tablet, go to your phone’s app store and search for and download the app for the social network you’re using. This will make posting pictures super easy as you can upload them straight from your phone to the social network. Using the mobile app also gives you the flexibility of posting while out in the field or out on a job.  


c. Using third-party sites. These are different websites that make posting to social networks easier, especially if you’re going to be sharing to more than one social network. If your business is comprised of two or more employees and are posting to 2-3 social networks, you should seriously consider using a site called Hootsuite (https://hootsuite.com/). With Hootsuite, you can send posts to several social networks at the same time and even schedule them in advance. So for example, if you know Fridays (or Sundays or Tuesdays) are slower days for you, you can sit down on those days and schedule all your social media posts ahead of time for the week or even the month.


How often should I be posting?

You want your social media pages to be current and up-to-date.  That’s the most important element. As to exactly how often you should be posting, you’ll find many different answers from different people. A lot also depends on who your followers are and how many people are following you.  A good starting point though would be once every two days. We also recommend you schedule one post over the weekend (on either Saturday afternoon or Sunday) because that is pretty much prime time for social media!


Hootsuite, the website we mentioned above for scheduling posts to different social networks, will really make planning out your posts much easier!


It’s also very important to point out that once you begin posting on social media, people can start following you and commenting on your posts. Be prepared for questions, recommendations and even criticism at times. You should think ahead of time of how you’re going to respond to each one. The key though is to always respond in a timely manner (within 24 hours) and try to use as real a voice as possible! Take a look here and see what happened when the CEO of Liberty Bottleworks responded to a complaining customer! Spoiler alert: it brought them record sales and not to mention thousands of new likes on Facebook.


How to promote your social networks?

A great way to promote your social media pages is through your own personal social media profiles! Post a link to your new page and ask your friends to give it a “like” or “share”. You can also send you friends a link directly to the social media page.


Additionally, it’s a great idea to put links to your social media pages on your website, in your email signature and even on your business card.


Finally, what shouldn’t be done on social media?

That would probably be a long list but here are 9 things not to do as suggested by Forbes: http://www.forbes.com/sites/capitalonespark/2012/12/20/9-things-businesses-shouldnt-do-on-social-media/.




Have questions about Social Media? We’d love to hear them! Send them directly to biznetwork@ezbz.co and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible. You can also contact us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn where we are always listening!

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By : Karen Lasser, 05-06-2015
People are searching on the Internet all the time. Just ask yourself when was the last time you searched Google. And now ask the person next to you...  According to Google, 97% of Internet users look online for local services and products. Google’s search data shows that every 1 in 5 searches is actually for a product or service nearby.

The ins-and-outs of SEO for Professional Services business owners. Learn if, why, when and how to do SEO for your business.


People are searching on the Internet all the time. Just ask yourself when was the last time you searched Google. And now ask the person next to you...  According to Google, 97% of Internet users look online for local services and products. Google’s search data shows that every 1 in 5 searches is actually for a product or service nearby.


In other words, whether you’re a wedding planner in Atlanta, an interior designer in Houston or a lawyer in San Jose, someone is probably searching for your service online right now.


The question is, how do you get your business to show up in those search results. The answer is Search Engine Optimization or SEO.


What is SEO and how is it important?

Without getting too technical, every time someone searches for something on a site like Google, Bing or Yahoo, these search engines looks through billions of web pages in order to provide the most relevant and valuable results.


Think of it like this: Google is the guy sitting in the back of the room at a conference watching how questions are asked and if relevant information is being provided. That's Google's agenda - to always provide the most relevant results for your search. So if you want your business to appear first on the results page, you must prove to Google that you’re the most relevant.


SEO is the tool used to show Google for which search terms you’re relevant. Even after you “convince” Google of your relevancy and make it to the top of the results page, the game isn’t over.  SEO is an ongoing process because if too many people searching for "Photographer Detroit" click on your site and leave within seconds, Google understands you aren't relevant for this search and will move your site down in the results.  


Traditional elements of SEO include using relevant keywords, links and properly structuring your website. To learn more about the basics of SEO, take a look at the video clip, here: http://searchengineland.com/guide/what-is-seo. Here is another article that explains the basics of SEO in greater depth (and has some yummy looking pictures on cake!).


How do I do SEO?

As plenty of marketers will tell you today, you don’t “do SEO” anymore. Search Engine Optimization has become something so fundamental that it needs to be incorporated into all of your online marketing efforts. You’ll want to think about a broader SEO strategy for your business.


SEO can get quite technical as well and is changing all the time in correspondence with search algorithm updates. Google, for example, changes its search algorithm between 500-600 times a year.  You’ll therefore most likely want to consult an SEO professional.


Finding an SEO person shouldn’t be too hard but make sure you get good recommendations and a straightforward work proposal. It’s important to work with someone trustworthy and to know exactly what you’re getting for your money.


Speak to your friends, colleagues and LinkedIn connections and see if anyone can recommend someone. Another great way to find a reputable, local SEO professional is by posting an inquiry on EZBZ. Using EZBZ you’ll be able to easily compare bids from different companies.


Professional services companies tend to struggle with SEO so it’s worth spending the time to find someone good!


Can I do any SEO on my own?

While we recommend working with an SEO expert, there is plenty you can do on your own! For starters, consistently add relevant content and information to your website and blog. If you’re a patent lawyer, write a blog post about the current patent wars between technology companies and write another piece telling people how to search public patent archives. Another post idea would be something titled, “How to Better Prepare for a Meeting with your Patent Lawyer” and so on. The more you write about your services and industry, the better. This will definitely put you in the right direction as search engines look for text and also give extra points for new content.


Here is something else you can do right now on your own. It’s called Google+ local. By setting up a Google+ local page, your business will appear in Google Searches, on Google maps and on the Google+ social network. To set up your page, go here: https://www.google.com/+/business and then choose the “Local business or place” option. When filling out your information, try to add as many details as possible including your address, local phone number, high quality photos and more. It’s also highly recommended that you link your website to your Google+ page.


Setting up a YouTube channel and regularly posting videos will bring you a lot of SEO value (and not to mention fan appreciation!). This article here will walk you through setting up your own channel on YouTube: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/229284. The name of your channel, video titles and video descriptions are all important for SEO purposes so make sure they’re directly related to your business.


Take a look at our article on Social Media Marketing for Professional Services Businesses where we discuss YouTube and Google+ further. By utilizing these networks, you can easily “kill two birds with one stone” (i.e. SEO and Social Media Marketing)!


If you have any other social media pages for your business, like Facebook and LinkedIn, you should go through the “About” sections and make sure they’re all filled out properly. That information as well can be found in search results so it should all be accurate.


While there is SEO value in linking to all of your social media pages from your website, the Google +1 button can significantly improve your ranking in search results so that needs to be a must. Here are further details on the +1 button’s impact on search rankings: http://mashable.com/2012/02/21/google-plus-1-seo/.  Read this article to find out how to add the +1 button to your Wordpress site.


How can I learn more about SEO? If you like to read, have some time on your hands and want to find out more about SEO, you can dowload this free beginners guide to SEO, here: http://moz.com/beginners-guide-to-seo. You’ll be more than a beginner when you’re done!


There are also plenty of blogs that cover the subject. Just quickly search for SEO tips in Google :-).



Have questions about SEO? We’d love to hear them! Send them directly to biznetwork@ezbz.co and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible. You can also contact us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn where we are always listening!
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By : Karen Lasser, 05-06-2015
We’ve previously discussed the importance of retailers having an attractive website - whether or not you actually sell products on your site. As we’ve mentioned, and you probably already know, an extremely high percentage of consumers search the web before they buy products in local stores. That’s great news as long as they're able to find your site and your products as opposed to your competitor’s.

The ins-and-outs of SEO for Retail business owners. Learn if, why, when and how to do SEO for your business.

We’ve previously discussed the importance of having an attractive website for your retail business- whether or not you actually sell products on your site. As we’ve mentioned, and you probably already know, an extremely high percentage of consumers search the web before they buy products in local stores. That’s great news as long as they're able to find your site and your products as opposed to your competitor’s.


So how do you make sure people come to your website from online searches? It’s called Search Engine Optimization or SEO.


What is SEO?

Put simply, SEO is the practice of enhancing your website so it shows up more prevalently in search results. The more optimized your site is for search engines, the higher it will show up on results pages when someone searches for your store or products in Google or Bing.


Traditional elements of SEO include using relevant keywords, links and properly structuring your website. The basics of SEO are pretty straight forward and can be found in this SEO guide. There are also plenty of articles and blog posts on the web explaining SEO and how it works.


How do I do SEO?

The  proper implementation of SEO requires a good amount of technical skills and current knowledge of the different search engine algorithm updates. Google, for example, changes its search algorithm between 500-600 times a year.  Therefore, if SEO is a fairly new concept to you, it makes sense to work with a professional.


When looking for an SEO person, speak to your colleagues and ask connections on LinkedIn. There are plenty of worthwhile SEO experts out there so finding one shouldn't be too hard.

Before you hire someone for SEO though, make sure you get recommendations and a clear idea as to goals and expectations.


A great way to keep the price down is by getting multiple bids from SEO experts through a site like EZBZ. With EZBZ, you’ll be able to find the right person for your needs, hassle free!


If you built your site using a website building platform like Shopify or Wix, check out what resources and tools they offer for SEO.  Shopify discusses SEO in their online marketing section and Wix has an article about building your site with SEO in mind.


What SEO practices can I do on my own?

There are quite a few important steps you can take to improve your site’s SEO right from your home or office- without involving a professional at all. They include:

Unique product descriptions: When posting products to your site, write a unique description about each one. Make sure you don’t just copy the product details from some manufacturer’s website. A major element of SEO is unique content and you can certainly take advantage of that when labeling your products.


Name your images: Similarly, before you upload product images to your site, save the image file under a name related to your product. So for example, if you sell different soaps, you could name an image file “lavender bath soap”. These images can actually show up in search results like in Google Images.


Google+, YouTube and social media pages: Your social media pages can actually have a lot of SEO value, as we mentioned when we discussed social media for retail business.


Your Google+ local page, which you can set up here (https://www.google.com/+/business) by choosing the  “Local business or place” option, will greatly benfit your SEO efforts. It will not only show up in Google search results but will put your business on Google Maps!  Make sure you add as much detail as possible when filling out your profile, including your address, local phone number, and photos.


Your YouTube channel and videos will bring you a lot of SEO points too! When setting up your channel, keep in mind that the name of your channel, video titles and video descriptions are all important for SEO purposes. Therefore, make sure they’re directly related to your business.


Beyond Google+ and YouTube, it’s a good idea to make sure all the information on your other social media profiles is correct. Review the “About” sections and see what additional information you can add. Whenever prompted, add in your website and store location address. Place links on your website too that can direct people to your social media profiles. It’s an especially good idea to have a Google +1 button on your website. The more active your site, the better it looks for SEO.



Have questions about SEO? We’d love to hear them! Send them directly to biznetwork@ezbz.co and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible. You can also contact us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn where we are always listening!
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By : Karen Lasser, 05-06-2015

The ins-and-outs of SEO for Labor Contractors. Learn if, why, when and how to do SEO for your business.

People are searching on the Internet all the time. According to Google, 97% of Internet users look online for local services and products. Google’s search data shows that every 1 in 5 searches is actually for a product or service nearby. In other words, whether you’re a kitchen installer in Chicago, a plumber in Austin or a handyman in Chattanooga, someone is probably searching for your service online right now. The question is, how do you get your business to show up in those search results. The answer is Search Engine Optimization or SEO.

The ins-and-outs of SEO for Labor business owners. Learn if, why, when and how to do SEO for your business.


People are searching on the Internet all the time. According to Google, 97% of Internet users look online for local services and products. Google’s search data shows that every 1 in 5 searches is actually for a product or service nearby. In other words, whether you’re a kitchen installer in Chicago, a plumber in Austin or a handyman in Chattanooga, someone is probably searching for your service online right now. The question is, how do you get your business to show up in those search results. The answer is Search Engine Optimization or SEO.


What is SEO and how is it important? Without getting too technical, every time someone searches for something on a site like Google, Bing or Yahoo, these search engines look through billions of web pages in order to provide the most relevant and valuable results.


Think of it like this: Google is the guy sitting in the back of the room at a conference watching how questions are asked and if relevant information is being provided.  That's Google's agenda - to always provide the most relevant results for your search. So if you want your business to appear first on the results page, you must prove to Google that you’re the most relevant.


SEO is the tool used to show Google for which search terms you’re relevant. Even after you “convince” Google of your relevancy and make it to the top of the results page, the game isn’t over.  SEO is a long-haul game and an ongoing process because if too many people searching for "handyman boston" click on your site and leave within seconds, Google understands you aren't relevant for this search and will move your site down in the results.  


Traditional elements of SEO include using relevant keywords, links and properly structuring your website. To learn more about the basics of SEO, take a look at the video clip, here: http://searchengineland.com/guide/what-is-seo.


How can I get started with SEO? The truth is, SEO is a very technical field and requires a fair amount of knowledge and skill, let alone time, to do properly.


If you’re using a freelancer or an agency to build your website, you should speak to them about SEO. See how much it costs and what results they can guarantee. Ideally you should talk about it before you build your site. If you’re using one of the free website building solutions we mentioned in our article on websites, you should see what type of SEO options they offer.


Is there anything I can do on my own?

Certainly! Add some relevant content to your website. If you own a Tree Service, add as much related and original content to your site about your service as possible. If you’re able to, keep updating it and adding more to it. This will definitely put you in the right direction as search engines look for text and also give extra points for new content.


Here is something else you can do right now on your own. It’s called Google+ local. By setting up a Google+ local page, your business will appear in Google Searches, on google maps and on the Google+ social network. To set up the page, go here: https://www.google.com/+/business and then choose the “Local business or place” option. When filling out your information, try to add as much information as possible and be sure to include your address, local phone number, high quality photos and more. You’ll also be able to link your Google+ page to your website and it’s highly recommended that you do so.


If you have any other social media pages for your business, like pages on Facebook, you should also go through the “About” section of those pages and make sure it’s all filled out properly. That information as well can be found in search results so it is important to be accurate.


How can I learn more about SEO? If you like to read, have some time on your hands and want to find out more about SEO, you can download this free beginners guide to SEO, here: http://moz.com/beginners-guide-to-seo. There are also plenty of blogs that cover the subject.




Have questions about SEO? We’d love to hear them! Send them directly to biznetwork@ezbz.co and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible. You can also contact us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn where we are always listening!

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By : Karen Lasser, 05-06-2015
Does your business need a website? Yes. It’s not a question of how large or small your business is or whether or not you have a product that can be sold online. If you have a professional services business, you need a website. Period.

The ins-and-outs of websites for Professional Services Business owners. Learn if, why, when and how to build a website for your business.


Does your business need a website? Yes. It’s not a question of how large or small your business is or whether or not you have a product that can be sold online. If you have a professional services business, you need a website. Period.


Don’t freak out though! Having a website, a good website, will be very beneficial for your business. With more than 2.2 billion people worldwide on the internet, including over 78% of American adults, the world is more connected than ever. According to Google, 97% of internet users look online for local services and products. It’s therefore no surprise that the Small Business Administration says that businesses with websites experience on average, 39% greater revenue per year than those without.


If you’re still unsure as to why you need a website or feel that your target demographic isn’t online, take a look at this blog post by Bluehost. It’s pretty convincing!


How do I build a website and what will it cost?


While a website is a must, having a professional-looking website is just as important, if not more important! Before any prospect chooses to work with you, assume he or she will be researching your company online. You’ll therefore want to make a good first impression by building a good website! If consumers see your website is serious, you’ll score major credibility points and quite possibly new clients!


Building a professionally looking website might sound scary (and expensive), but it doesn’t have to be! While there are ways to build a website yourself (with no coding knowledge necessary) which we mention below, we do recommend you use a professional. And here are some great ways to save money when using a professional.


First of all, you’ll want to use a website platform that you can update yourself in the future, because paying to have someone manage the site for you is just an unnecessary expense. Therefore, we recommend you go with WordPress. If you’re fairly web savvy, you can learn to update your site (including posting pictures to the gallery, adding pages and blog posts, changing text, switching logos, responding to comments, and much more) with several hours training. There’s also tons of “How To” videos and blog posts online explaining WordPress.


Furthermore, WordPress is an extremely popular platform powering nearly 75 million websites worldwide! The likes of CNN, The New York Times and eBay all run their blogs using WordPress. Check out this article for some more amazing WordPress stats.


Going straight to a web developer and asking for a site will run you an easy $5,000-$10,000. There are ways to do it cheaper though! One great way is to buy a template ahead of time. You can find really nice premium WordPress templates, or themes, for $50-$100 dollars. Take a look at StudioPress for some very nice examples. Once you buy your theme, all you need to do is have someone install it for you and plug in your content. Since the design aspect is already taken care of, you’ll save a lot of money. The themes are fully customizable too so you can have a developer make some changes for you.


Another great way to save money when building your site is to compare bids from several developers. You can do this easily, in a matter of minutes, using a site like EZBZ. All you need to do is post a simple inquiry describing what you need on www.myezbz.com and you’ll get bids from local, reputable web developers.

 

If you would like to go at building your website yourself, you can check out Wix and Squarespace. Both sites have really straightforward website builders (meaning there is no coding involved) with nice looking templates to choose from. The downside is that they are much less customizable than WordPress and also charge a monthly fee (Wix does have a free version, but you’ll have more flexibility if you use the premium versions. This includes using your own domain name and removing the Wix branding from your site).


What should I include in my site?


This point cannot be stressed enough: your website is for your visitors. You need to build a website that is relevant, attractive and beneficial to your target audience and not to you as the business owner.


For example, if you’re a photographer, you obviously need pictures- and really good pictures. But not just any pictures. Wedding photographers shouldn’t include their favorite photos from a recent family vacation in Maui, but rather shots of wedding cakes, brides and grooms, table settings, flower arrangements and so on. On the other hand, if you’re a commercial photographer make sure to include pictures of products, food and buildings; not weddings.


Similarly, if you’re a caterer, think about what your customers need to know and not what you want to promote. For example, your menu (and pricing) is probably a lot more important to potential customers than the culinary school you attended or the number of people on your staff.


Every industry is going to have those unique necessary elements that your website must include. Here are some general guidelines though that every site should have:


a. Contact Information


As a professional services business, contact Information might be the the single most important item on your site. You could be the best in your industry but if your site’s visitors can’t reach you, they won’t work with you.  There is nothing more frustrating than visiting a website and not being able to find out how to contact the company. Include your phone number, email address and mailing address and make sure it’s easily found and correct.



b. Subscribe Form


Include a Contact Us or Subscribe form right on the homepage (as well as other pages throughout the site). Make an effort to collect as much information from your visitors as possible so you can keep in touch with them even after they leave your site.


You should consider offering free downloads, consultations, or coupons in exchange for a visitors email address. For example, if you’re an interior designer, offer a free 30 minute phone consultation in exchange for an email address. If you’re a photographer, you can offer a 30% coupon on a family photo shoot.


Choosing a professional service is not a spur of the moment decision. Therefore getting a prospective client’s email address can help you convey information overtime and solidify a relationship. As we’ve written about already, a newsletter can be a very valuable marketing tool.


c. Testimonials


People will trust what your clients say a lot more than they’ll trust what you say. Don’t be afraid to show off your clients. If you’re a wedding planner, get some quotes from a recent couple raving about your service. If you’re an accounting firm with business clients, include logos and testimonials from executives at those companies. If you’re a web designer, nothing speaks louder than the actual sites you’ve built. Include screen shots and even links to your past work.


d. Bios


As a professional services business, your team is a major asset. Let visitors know who will be doing their work. Include high quality portraits and biographies of your staff emphasizing their areas of expertise and background.


You might even consider including an email address and link to the LinkedIn profile for each member on your team.


e. Blog


Having a blog on your site is really simple to do using WordPress. This is where you can talk about relevant current events and establish thought leadership in your industry.


If you’re a lawyer, discuss new legislation that directly affects your client base. If you’re an interior designer, offer new decorating tips based on the current season. Accountants can offer valuable- and stress saving- tips leading up to tax deadlines.


Write posts and articles that your readers will easily understand and want to share. This will help attract new visitors to your site. One word of caution though: you’re better off not having a blog if you can’t keep it up to date. You don’t have to post daily, or even weekly, but try to get something up at least once a month. Letting your blog sit dormant for a long period of time will give off the wrong signal to your site visitors.


Want some more blogging tips? Here are 21 blogging tips from the pros! Here are some more tips to becoming a top blog in your industry.


f. Social Media Links


Use your website as a way to promote your presence on social media. To do so, just add buttons linking to your different social media pages.


This will help increase your following on those networks, show your website visitors that you are “social and up-to-date with trends” and improve your SEO. While we recommend linking to all of your social media pages, the Google +1 button specifically can improve your ranking in search results so that is a must. Here are further details on the +1 button’s impact on search rankings: http://mashable.com/2012/02/21/google-plus-1-seo/.  Read this article to find out how to add the +1 button to your Wordpress site.


You’ll learn as you go, so get going!


The best way to learn about your site is to just get started. Remember to always keep your site up-to-date; it’s even worth checking out your competitors’ websites from time to time to see how you compare.  


One final tip is to install Google Analytics to your site to better track your visitors activity. This is something your web developer can do for you easily. Over time, you’ll see how many visitors your site is getting, where they’re coming from, who is signing up, what people are commenting on and much more. This is all important data that will help you as you make future changes to your website and business strategy. Good luck!



Have questions about Websites? We’d love to hear them! Send them directly to biznetwork@ezbz.co and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible. You can also contact us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn where we are always listening!

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By : Karen Lasser, 05-06-2015
No matter what you’re selling, from fine wine to children’s clothing, you need a website. Whether you’re a small one-man operation making products in your basement or if you’re a growing retail business with several store-front locations, it’s important you have a website.

The ins-and-outs of websites for Retail business owners. Learn if, why, when and how to build a website for your business.


No matter what you’re selling, from fine wine to children’s clothing, you need a website. Whether you’re a small one-man operation making products in your basement or if you’re a growing retail business with several store-front locations, it’s important you have a website.


In 2014, it’s no secret that when people need something, they search online. If you don’t have a strong online presence, including a website, you won’t be found.


Internet users today span all age groups and demographics. According to Google, 97% of Internet users look online for local services and products. Because of this, it’s no surprise that the Small Business Administration says that businesses with websites experience on average, 39% greater revenue per year than those without. With more than 2.2 billion people worldwide on the internet, including over 78% of American adults, the world is more connected than ever.


What sort of website do I need and what will it cost?


Before we go any further, you’ll need to decide whether you want an ecommerce website, which means you’ll sell products from you site or simply a marketing website that’s geared towards driving traffic to your brick-and-mortar store. The ecommerce site is going to be a lot more complicated and expensive to build though it will obviously be able to bring in actual revenue for your business.


Let’s discuss further what each type of site entails:



Marketing Website: If you’re looking to build a website that will simply promote your business or product (without selling anything online) and are fairly web savvy, you can try building the site yourself using either Wix and Squarespace. Both sites have really straightforward website builders (meaning there is no coding involved) with nice looking templates to choose from- including templates designed specifically for retailers.


The downside is that you’re limited in how much you can customize the site and they also charge a monthly fee (Wix does have a free version, but you’ll have more flexibility if you use the premium versions. This includes using your own domain name and removing the Wix branding from your site).


Alternatively, you can use a professional to build your site- which might sound scary (and expensive), but it doesn’t have to be! This route will let you build a more personal and customized website. Here are some ways to save money and simplify the process.


First of all, you’ll want to use a website platform that you can update yourself in the future, because paying to have someone manage the site for you is just an unnecessary expense. Therefore, we recommend you go with WordPress. Depending on your internet skills, you can learn to update your site (including posting pictures to the gallery, adding pages and blog posts, changing text, switching logos, responding to comments, and much more) with several hours training. There’s also tons of “How To” videos and blog posts online explaining WordPress.


Furthermore, WordPress is an extremely popular platform powering nearly 75 million websites worldwide! The likes of CNN, The New York Times and eBay all run their blogs using WordPress. Check out this article for some more amazing WordPress stats.


Going straight to a web developer and asking for a site will run you an easy $5,000. There are ways to do it cheaper though! One great way is to buy a template ahead of time. You can find really nice premium WordPress templates, or themes, for $50-$100 dollars. Take a look at StudioPress for some very nice examples. Once you buy your theme, all you need to do is have someone install it for you and plug in your content. Since the design aspect is already taken care of, you’ll save a lot of money. The themes are fully customizable too so you can have a developer make some changes for you at any point down the road.


Ecommerce website: If you’d like to sell products from your website, then you’ll need an ecommerce site. The cost of an ecommerce site is going to depend on several factors but you should be prepared to pay around $10,000 to have it built. Things to consider when building an ecommerce site that will affect the cost are how many products you want to list (there’s a big difference between 100 products and 50,000), your payment processing solution (especially if you're selling international this could get tricky) and your site’s security features.


Another suggestion, which is similar to the website builders we mentioned above, is a website called Shopify. You can use Shopify to create an online store, without any technical or design knowledge necessary. You simply select a theme, upload your products and start selling. Shopify takes care of site security, payment processing and tons of other details. The upside here is definitely convenience.


The downside includes lack of customization (you can’t really change around their templates), monthly fees and the commission . Monthly fees range from $29 to $179. There are also transaction fees on all plans except but the most expensive one.


A general suggestion and great way to save money no matter what type of site you want to build is to compare bids from several developers. You can do this easily, in a matter of minutes, using EZBZ. Simply post an inquiry describing what you need on www.myezbz.com and you’ll get bids from local, reputable web developers.


What should I include in my site?


Just like in your retail store where the customer is the most important person, your website too needs to be customer focused! Make sure you build the website you think your customers will want to see. That should also be the guiding principle when deciding what information to include on your site.


Additionally, just as you want visitors in your brick-and-mortar store to feel a certain ambience when they walk in, you’ll want to try and create a similar feeling for visitors to your website. For example, if your actual store uses certain colors, use those same colors when designing your site.    


A number of necessary items that you must have on your site include the following:


Products: Whether you have a full blown ecommerce site or not, you need to showcase certain products. You don’t want your site visitors guessing as to what you sell. If you have a vegetarian restaurant, make that perfectly clear. You don’t need people calling or showing up looking for steak. If you have a jewelry store, try and be specific as to what product categories you carry and what you don’t. For example, do you have wedding rings? What about watches? Is your jewelry only made of imported wood or is it all gold? If you can, be specific about prices too.


If you are selling products online, include as much detail and the highest quality photos as possible. You don’t want people ordering something only to find out it that it does not look like anything the website implied.


Contact Information: Make sure that your contact information is highly accessible on your website. Going to a website and not knowing how to reach the store can be really frustrating.  If people can’t find your address or phone number you will without a doubt lose out on sales and you may also aggravate some people along the way.


Subscribe Form: Include a Contact Us or Subscribe form right on the homepage (as well as other pages throughout the site). Make an effort to collect as much information from your visitors as possible so you can keep in touch with them even after they leave your site.


You should even consider offering a coupon or free gift in exchange for an email address. With the proper email marketing strategy, every person you add to your email list can mean more sales down the road.


Product Reviews: People love to know what other shoppers think about products. That’s why you should definitely include testimonials and feedback from customers on your site. If someone wrote you a positive comment on Facebook or Pinterest, feature that right on your homepage.


Tutorials: If your products require assembly or instruction on how to use, a tutorial section of your site could come in handy. Include assembly guidelines or videos and as much instructional information as you can gather. It’s extremely frustrating to buy something but have no idea how to assemble it or use it when you get home!

Social Media Links: Use your website as a way to promote your presence on social media. You’ll not only want to link to your individual social media pages but you’ll also want to let people “like”, share, tweet, +1 and pin your individual products. By adding social media sharing buttons, people can start promoting your products to their friends online. Links to your own social media pages will increase your following on those networks, show your website visitors that you are “social and up-to-date with trends” and improve your SEO.


Read, Set, Go!


You’ve read enough, now it’s time to get started! Remember to always keep your site up-to-date and it’s even worth checking out your competitors’ websites from time to time to see how you compare.  


Finally, you should install Google Analytics on your site to better track your visitors’ activity. This is something your web developer can do for you easily. Over time, you’ll see how many visitors your site is getting, where they’re coming from, and what they’re clicking on. This is all important data that will help you as you make future changes to your website and business strategy. Good luck!



Have questions about Websites? We’d love to hear them! Send them directly to biznetwork@ezbz.co and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible. You can also contact us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn where we are always listening!

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By : Karen Lasser, 05-06-2015
Having a website today is pretty much a must for every contractor! Before you panic, you should know that it’s actually a good thing and most definitely does not mean that you need to invest thousands or dollars (or even hundreds) and hire a web design firm. Building a website can be easy, cheap and actually fun!

The ins-and-outs of websites for Retail business owners. Learn if, why, when and how to build a website for your business.


Having a website today is pretty much a must for every business! Before you panic, you should know that it’s actually a good thing and most definitely does not mean that you need to invest thousands or dollars (or even hundreds) and hire a web design firm. Building a website can be easy, cheap and actually fun!


Why do I need to be online? For a whole number of reasons. For starters, your website is another channel where potential customers can find you.  If a customer loses your phone number, you want to make sure that customer can find your name online through searching.


Additionally, many, many people across the country are looking for local services and contractors on the internet. If you don’t have a website, you won’t be found. The numbers also show that businesses who have a web presence are expected to grow a lot faster over the next 3 years than those that don’t.


If you’re still unsure as to why you need a website or feel that your target demographic isn’t online, take a look at this blog post by Bluehost. It’s pretty convincing!


How do I actually build a website and what sort of  investment will I have to make?

Not much! If you’re fairly internet savvy and have some spare time on your hands (as little as 2-3 hours) you can get your site up for no cost at all. We want to recommend two sites that will make this super easy and quick:

a. Get Your Business Online (GYBO) by Google: http://www.gybo.com/. Google is on a mission to get as many small business owners online as possible. GYBO walks you through every step of building your own site and Google+ page (see more about Google+ in Social Media article and SEO article). The cost of the website is free for one year.


b. Wix. With http://www.wix.com/ you can create a beautiful website without the need for any technical skills & totally for free. There are premium plans too if you're looking for something more serious. What’s especially nice about Wix is that they have pre-designed templates for many contracting services like Plumbers, Handymen, Movers & Landscapers.


What do I need to have on my website? You can think of your website like an online business card. All of your essential information needs to be up there and that includes your company’s name, logo, contact information, quality photos of your work and a bit about your business.


In many instances, your website is going to be the first impression a potential client has of your business. Therefore you want it to look nice. Both Wix and Google’s GYBO have great templates you can choose from and have support sections that can give you really helpful tips and insights.


Definitely keep in mind though that when someone looks to hire a labor contractor, for anything from roof repair to hardwood floor installation, there will be many more important factors to consider (such as price, time frame, workmanship, etc) than the way your website looks.  


What If I don’t want to build a website myself? Even if you are going to hire a professional to build your site for you, there are ways to do it without having to pay an arm and leg. One great way is to buy a template ahead of time. You can find really nice premium Wordpress templates, or themes, for $50-$100 dollars. There are some very nice examples on StudioPress. Once you buy your theme, all you need to do is have someone instal it for you and plugin your content. Since the design aspect is all taken care of, you’ll save a lot of money.



Have questions about Websites? We’d love to hear them! Send them directly to biznetwork@ezbz.co and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible. You can also contact us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn where we are always listening!

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Waqqas Anwar
03-10-2017
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By : Karen Lasser, 05-06-2015

The ins-and-outs of email marketing for labor contractors. Learn if, why, when and how to send an email newsletter.

Should I send out an email newsletter? Is it really that important?

An email newsletter is a good chance for you to communicate directly with your customers. It's an opportunity for you to show off your industry expertise and share with your readers valuable tips and bits of information.

The ins-and-outs of email marketing for labor contracting business bwners. Learn if, why, when and how to send an email newsletter.


Should I send out an email newsletter? Is it really that important?

An email newsletter is a good chance for you to communicate directly with your customers. It's an opportunity for you to show off your industry expertise and share with your readers valuable tips and bits of information.


Like any new marketing endeavor though, it is going to take time and energy to execute properly, so you'll have to ask yourself if you have the time available to make such a commitment (and it's definitely a commitment). Keep on reading to find out exactly what sending a newsletter entails.


It's safe to say, if you're a one-man show working long hours, publishing an online newsletter should not be a top priority. Though once your company grows, an email newsletter will be a higher priority and a recommended marketing tool.


It's also worth noting, that while there are many websites (see below for specifics) that simplify sending an online newsletter, you'll still need to be familiar with the computer and internet. So if the computer is not your thing, you might want to pass for now.


Even if you're not going to send out that newsletter yet, there are easy steps you can take now that will greatly benefit you in the future when the you're ready. So keep on reading!


How often should I send an email newsletter?

You first want to figure out the purpose of your newsletter and then make sure you're sending it often enough to accomplish that goal.


Depending on your industry, you might want to consider a seasonal newsletter. So if you plow snow, try sending out a newsletter every November before the snow falls. If you're an HVAC contractor, you'll definitely want to send out a newsletter once in the spring and again in the fall.


If you do work all year round, then you should aim for at least a quarterly newsletter and slowly build up to a monthly publication.


How long should my newsletter be and what should it include?

Include information about your business and industry that is relevant and valuable to your readers.


So again, if you plow snow, share tips with your readers on how they can help keep their driveways clear of snow and how they can prevent black ice from forming. If your business is HVAC repair, then talk to your readers about ways they can save money when heating and cooling their homes. If you're a plumber, share with your customers how they can prevent their pipes from freezing in the winter and tips on keeping water costs down.


Keep in mind that your readers are most likely very busy so you'll want to send them content that is right to the point. Try to publish short bits of information that is on target and easy to act upon.


In terms of design, most email marketing platforms (see below) have really great templates to choose from so you won't need to worry about that too much.


Consider also offering special discounts strictly for your newsletter subscribers. Your customers will certainly appreciate it and look forward to receiving your newsletter again and again.


How do I actually send a newsletter?

There are plenty of online platforms that not only make email marketing simple but also offer free plans. For example:


a. MailChimp (www.mailchimp.com). The free plan lets you send 12,000 emails to up to 2,000 subscribers.
b. Aweber (www.aweber.com). First month costs only $1 and they had a 30 day money back guarantee.
c. Mad Mimi (www.madmimi.com). The free plan lets you send up to 12,500 emails to 2,500 subscribers.
d. Vertical Response (www.verticalresponse.com).
e. Constant Contact (www.constantcontact.com).

Who do I send my newsletter to?

Your newsletter is geared for your current client base and others who could benefit from it. The better you know your audience, the more relevant and engaging your newsletter will be!


This gets us to a very touchy subject called spam! Not only is spam mail very annoying, and in certain instances is illegal, it can also be very damaging. Each time someone clicks "report as spam" on your email, this damages the reputation of your website and email address in the eyes of the email giants (Gmail, Yahoo, Aol, etc.) and the next time you send any email it may end up in your recipients' spam folder. Therefore, make sure you're only sending your newsletter to people who have actually signed up. Here is a more detailed compliance guide for the CAN-SPAM act:

http://business.ftc.gov/documents/bus61-can-spam-act-compliance-guide-business.


I'm not sending out an email newsletter yet but want to. What's the best place to start?

This tip right here is relevant to every single small business owner whether or not they are sending out a newsletter: Start building up your email list! As you get emails, simply add them to an excel spreadsheet for organized keeping.


That means, when you finish a job for a customer, ask them for their email. When a potential customer calls for an estimate, ask them for their email. If you have a website, Facebook page or blog, add a subscribe box to your site. The easier it is to subscribe, the more emails you'll collect! You might also want to consider offering an incentive, such as a discount or a company promotional item (pen, magnet, tshirt, etc.) in exchange for an email address.


I am already sending out an email newsletter? Can you share a tip or two on ways I can improve it?

You should start looking at the effectiveness of your email. Most email marketing platforms (such as the ones we list above) will share with you a wealth of statistics about your email newsletter. For example, you can see how many opened the email, how many read it and how many clicked on the links. Begin to review this information, look for patterns and see where you can improve. Don't be afraid to test new things like catchier subject lines, titles, more pictures, etc, to see if it affects your numbers.


The day and time when you send your newsletter is also very important. Studies show that newsletters sent on Monday or Friday are less successful than ones sent on Sunday or Thursday. As for the time, you either want to send the newsletter early in the morning (before 10 AM) or later on in the evening but a newsletter sent at 1 PM in the middle of a hectic work day may just be deleted. All of this can change based on your user base so experiment a bit and see which day and time yields the most opens and clicks.


Have questions or comments about this post? We'd love to hear them! Send them directly to biznetwork@ezbz.co and we'll get back to you as soon as possible.

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By : Karen Lasser, 05-06-2015

The ins-and-outs of email marketing for retailers. Learn if, why, when and how to send an email newsletter. This post is presented in an easy Q&A format.


Should I send out an email newsletter?

Most definitely! An email newsletter should be a central part of your marketing strategy. Not only is it a great way to share your knowledge with customers, but as a retail business owner, you can use your newsletter to regularly announce sales and promotions which will directly increase revenue.

The ins-and-outs of email marketing for retail business owners. Learn if, why, when and how to send an email newsletter.


Should I send out an email newsletter?

Most definitely! An email newsletter should be a central part of your marketing strategy. Not only is it a great way to share your knowledge with customers, but as a retail business owner, you can use your newsletter to regularly announce sales and promotions which will directly increase revenue.


How often should I send an email newsletter?

As a retail business, you should be distributing an email newsletter as regularly as possible, granted that you have valuable content to deliver. Take caution though not to overload your readers with emails as that can be a big turn off.


Whether you're a business with one store or several, a monthly email newsletter is a good starting point. During peak shopping times (like the holidays) you might want to send something out more frequently, like once a week. Definitely though take into consideration how much time you have to write as well as how much value you can bring to your audience.


How long should my newsletter be and what should it include?

Your readers are most likely very busy so you'll want to send them content that is right to the point. Try for short bits of information that is on target and easy to scan. If you are including a longer article, publish an excerpt followed by a "read more" link. This is also a wonderful way to get visitors to your blog or website.


In terms of content, talk about what you know best! Let's say for example you own a wine shop. Recommend a wine that goes great with fish and include a yummy fish recipe. You should also consider including a link to a coupon on your site for that bottle of wine. Alternatively, if you sell furniture, write about 5 furniture cleaning tips in your newsletter. Then include a link to your website offering 5 more no-fail tips! If you have a shoe store, talk about the new line of boots you just got in stock as well as different trends. Make sure to highlight items that are on sale in your store.


You can also share "news" as this is a newsletter! If you're a neighborhood store feel free to publish news that is relevant to your local community. If you have stores in more than one location, you'll want to focus on broader issues that affect all of your stores.


Your newsletter should have different sections, with different size headers and include pictures and if relevant, videos. This will make certain items stand out and will increase engagement. The more visually appealing you make it, the better! Most email marketing platforms (see below) have templates to choose from that make this process much easier.


How important is an email newsletter?

Your email newsletter gives you a chance to not only communicate directly with your customers but to bring them real value even when they're not shopping.


An email newsletter done right, will without a doubt drive traffic to your website and increase your revenue so take advantage of it!


How do I actually send a newsletter?

There are plenty of online platforms that not only make email marketing simple but also offer free plans. For example:


a. MailChimp (www.mailchimp.com). The free plan lets you send 12,000 emails to up to 2,000 subscribers.
b. Aweber (www.aweber.com). First month costs only $1 and they had a 30 day money back guarantee.
c. Mad Mimi (www.madmimi.com). The free plan lets you send up to 12,500 emails to 2,500 subscribers.
d. Vertical Response (www.verticalresponse.com).
e. Constant Contact (www.constantcontact.com).

Check them out and see which one you like best. They'll guide you through the actual process of building and sending the newsletter.


Who do I send my newsletter to?

Your newsletter is geared towards your existing customers. Here, the better you know your audience, the more relevant and engaging your newsletter will be.


Keep in mind that people today are very social online and like to share good content with others. So if you have a great tip, or even better, a great deal or coupon in your newsletter people will want to share it.


This gets us to a very touchy subject called spam! Not only is spam mail very annoying, and in certain instances is illegal, it can also be very damaging. Each time someone clicks "report as spam" on your email, this damages the reputation of your website and email address in the eyes of the email giants (Gmail, Yahoo, Aol, etc.) and the next time you send any email it may end up in your recipients' spam folder. Therefore, make sure you're only sending your newsletter to people who have actually signed up. Here is a more detailed compliance guide for the CAN-SPAM act:

http://business.ftc.gov/documents/bus61-can-spam-act-compliance-guide-business.


Another important tip and great way to make sure you're not sending spam is to make sure those who do sign up, know what they're going to be getting. Be straightforward and honest about what type of content you'll be sending out and how often.


I'm not sending out an email newsletter yet but want to. What's the best place to start?

Start by building up your email list! If you have a website, Facebook page or blog, start collecting people's email address. When people walk into your store, find a fun way of incentivizing them to leave their email address. Giving away something for free is always a good place to start :-)). So are coupons and raffles.


The easier it is to subscribe, the more emails you'll collect!


I am already sending out an email newsletter? Can you share a tip or two on ways I can improve it?

You should start looking at the effectiveness of your email. Most email marketing platforms (such as the ones we list above) will share with you a wealth of statistics about your email newsletter. For example, you can see how many opened the email, how many read it and how many clicked on the links. Begin to review this information, look for patterns and see where you can improve. Don't be afraid to test new things like catchier subject lines, titles, more pictures, etc, to see if it affects your numbers.


The day and time when you send your newsletter is also very important. If you are sending out an online coupon you want your customers to be able to click right away and purchase the item so send it during the week at a time when they are in front of their computer. However if you are having an in-store sale, send it right before the weekend either on a Thursday night or Friday afternoon. All of this can change based on what you are selling so experiment a bit and see which day and time yields the most opens and clicks.


Have questions or comments about this post? We'd love to hear them! Send them directly to biznetwork@ezbz.co and we'll get back to you as soon as possible.

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By : Karen Lasser, 05-06-2015
The ins-and-outs of email marketing for professional services. Learn if, why, when and how to send an email newsletter. This blog post is set up in an easy Q&A format.

The ins-and-outs of email marketing for professional services business owners. Learn if, why, when and how to send an email newsletter.


Should I send out an email newsletter?

Yes! As a professional services business owner, email marketing is going to be an important part of your online marketing strategy.


How often should I send an email newsletter?

First and foremost, make sure you have something to say! There is no reason to waste your valuable time (and you definitely don't want to waste your customers' time) publishing a newsletter without worthwhile content.


When deciding how often to send your newsletter, you have to consider how much time you have to write as well as how much value you can bring to your audience. To start, shoot for a monthly newsletter. Over time, as you get feedback from you audience you can always decide to change the frequency.


How long should my newsletter be and what should it include?

Whether you're an interior designer, lawyer, photographer or graphic designer, your clients are looking to you for your expertise. So in the newsletter, talk about what you know best.


Think about the service you offer your clients and how your newsletter can bring them value. For example, if you're a personal trainer, recommend a new at home workout for your readers. If you're an accountant, share simple steps people can take to make tax season stress free!


Try giving each month's newsletter a theme. If you're an interior designer, you can dedicate one issue to colors. The next issue could discuss art, and so on.


While writing long, informative articles is fine (and for some professional services it may be necessary) a good practice is to include only excerpts in the newsletter and then a link to the full piece on your website or blog.


Your newsletter should be designed with different sections, header sizes and lots of images. This will make certain items stand out and will increase engagement. Most email marketing platforms (see below) have templates to choose from that make this process much easier.


How important is an email newsletter?

You're the expert in your field and there is no better place to express this than in a regular newsletter. By sending your clients informative and helpful articles that directly relate to them, you'll build trust and a develop long lasting relationships.


Your business will stay relevant to the client even if you are not currently doing work working together.

How do I actually send a newsletter?

There are plenty of online platforms that not only make email marketing simple but also offer free plans. For example:


a. MailChimp (www.mailchimp.com). The free plan lets you send 12,000 emails to up to 2,000 subscribers.
b. Aweber (www.aweber.com). First month costs only $1 and they had a 30 day money back guarantee.
c. Mad Mimi (www.madmimi.com). The free plan lets you send up to 12,500 emails to 2,500 subscribers.
d. Vertical Response (www.verticalresponse.com).
e. Constant Contact (www.constantcontact.com).

Who do I send my newsletter to?

Keep your newsletter aimed at your current client base and others who are familiar with your work.


This gets us to a very touchy subject called spam! Not only is spam mail very annoying, and in certain instances is illegal, it can also be very damaging. Each time someone clicks "report as spam" on your email, this damages the reputation of your website and email address in the eyes of the email giants (Gmail, Yahoo, Aol, etc.) and the next time you send any email it may end up in your recipients' spam folder. Therefore, make sure you're only sending your newsletter to people who have actually signed up. Here is a more detailed compliance guide for the CAN-SPAM act:

http://business.ftc.gov/documents/bus61-can-spam-act-compliance-guide-business.


It's important to make sure that those who do subscribe, know what they're signing up for. Be straightforward and honest about what type of content you'll be sending out and how often.


I'm not sending out an email newsletter yet but want to. What's the best place to start?

Begin by building up your email list! If you have a website, Facebook page or blog, start collecting your visitors' email addresses. The easier it is to subscribe, the more emails you'll collect! You might also want to consider offering an incentive in exchange for an email address. Such as a free consultation or a discount.


I am already sending out an email newsletter? Can you share a tip or two on ways I can improve it?

You should start looking at the effectiveness of your email. Most email marketing platforms (such as the ones we list above) will share with you a wealth of statistics about your email newsletter. For example, you can see how many opened the email, how many read it and how many clicked on the links. Begin reviewing this information looking for patterns and trying to improve. Don't be afraid to test new things - catchier titles and pictures, etc, to see if it affects your number.


The day and time when you send your newsletter is also very important. Studies show that newsletters sent on Monday or Friday are less successful than ones sent on Sunday or Thursday. As for the time, you either want to send the newsletter early in the morning (before 10 AM) or later on in the evening but a newsletter sent at 1 PM in the middle of a hectic work day may just be deleted. All of this can change based on your user base so experiment a bit and see which day and time yields the most opens and clicks.


Have questions or comments about this post? We'd love to hear them! Send them directly to biznetwork@ezbz.co and we'll get back to you as soon as possible.

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