Sunday, 15 October 2017

Marketing Planning Made Simple: Focus Marketing Efforts for Measurable Results

Marketing is the set of strategies and tactics by which potential customers know about a business, and know enough about it to consider purchasing the product or service. A marketing plan is one critical component of any strong business plan. Planning marketing activities does not have to be complicated. One page can create focus and efficiency, and enough data to make better decisions next year. This process presumes clarity about the business and the target customer.

Getting Started

The one page format requires a three row by three column grid. The three columns are Strategies, Tactics and Measures. The three rows are Objective 1, Objective 2 and Objective 3. Put the BHAG (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal) for the year at the top of the page, and make it a measurable goal. Remember, measurable doesn't necessarily mean numbers- getting on the front page of Fast Company is just as measurable as achieving a huge sales goal.

The Power of Focus

The one page marketing plan format allows for only three major objectives or areas of effort and focus. It's critical, particularly with limited resources and in times of economic uncertainty, to focus investments of time and money where they have some chance of generating a return rather than spreading a little money across a wide range of activities. The one page plan requires that the list of wishes is culled such that there is focus on the big ones. The titles of the rows are the top three objectives that will be pursued to achieve the big goal. If the BHAG is a big sales goal, the objectives might be "steal market share from Competitor A, expand sales in new customer group and build awareness amongst influential media."


Strategies are the general descriptions of the approach that will be taken to achieve an objective. Let's say the objective is to cross a river, for example. Three possible strategies for crossing it might be 1) build a bridge, 2) swim, or 3) row a boat across. These are very general descriptions that allow visualization of achieving the desired outcome. So in the previous example for the big sales goal, a strategy for getting known amongst influential media might be to discover and create a presence for the business on the research sites and blogs that they use for reference.

Effective Tactics

Tactics are the very specific actions that will be taken to achieve the objectives or by employing the tips from the best web design company. Following the sales example, for the strategy of getting known amonsgst influential media, the tactics might specifiy the names of the appropriate blogs and the method that will be used to reach them (write an article, send a product sample).

Measure the Results

At the end of the year, and ideally at a couple of check points throughout the year, the results must be examined. Did the expected number of calls come in? Was there any media coverage, and if so how much and where? Be rigorous in the analysis, and be sure to reflect what the results are telling saying both about the activities, but also about the goals that were set. That weekly column written in the community newspaper may not have generated a hundred sales leads, but it did get the keynote address at the local board of trade which resulted in a big contract.

Plan for Next Year

Before making any commitments to marketing activities next year, take a look at what worked and what didn't this year. What lived up to expectations and what didn't? What exceeded the anticipated results? Be sure that reinvestment occurs in tried and true tactics before throwing good money after bad.

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Thursday, 12 October 2017

Marketing Tips for Self Employed Professionals: Working from Home Means Working to Create a Sellable Image

Every self employed professional, no matter how successful, can benefit from learning a few marketing tips. While good, solid self employment marketing may not guarantee instant success, it certainly doesn’t hurt. Working from home requires real work- and that means creating a sellable image to clients, employers…even the public at large.

Self Employed Marketing Tips

The self employed professional is a bit of a maverick, a lone wolf in the professional world. The self employed professional scours the ‘Net to find their own jobs, toils alone to complete work at home projects and relies upon themselves only in all matters of insurance and personal retirement. And the self employed professional, at all times, should be trying to sell themselves. With a few marketing tips, anyone can learn how to present their best professional side. Putting self employment on a resume. Many self employed (or would-be self employed) professionals struggle with the seemingly simple act of crafting a resume. Learn how to write a self employment resume that showcases skills, talent and any related work experience. Keep the resume simple but informative, professional but approachable and always, always present everything in the best possible light. Creating an online portfolio. Creating a personal, professional Web site which features a portfolio of online links is a strong self-selling tool. Having a reference point for all potential clients and employers is essential in self employed marketing, but the personal Web site is only the tip of the iceberg in online marketing.

Tips for Online Marketing

The Internet and e commerce web designers offer their own online marketplace which can be extremely useful for self employed professionals. Online marketing encompasses many different opportunities in self employment, from ads to social networking. Establishing an online presence is very important in self employment of any kind, so don’t neglect all the free marketing possibilities offered through the Internet. Create a blog. Finding success with self employment? Why not blog about it? This not only creates a potential revenue strain (many advertising agreements offer money for those who are willing to sell space on their content-rich Web pages), it’s also a great marketing tool. Social networking. Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and other social networking sites are wonderful marketing opportunities for self employed professionals. Link all those online profiles and personal Web sites together and start spreading the word. If nothing else, this can help drive traffic to Web pages that might actually help the self employed professional earn a little extra money. Write a Google profile page. Google offers free profiles which allow individuals to post all their links - Web pages, blogs, social networking profiles - in one convenient, attractive profile page. This helps online searches find who they’re looking for with more ease. In self employed marketing, this online profile provides another reference point for would-be clients and employers, and it’s yet another way to establish a strong presence online.

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Monday, 9 October 2017

Marketing Tips For Writers: Targeted Writing – Four Steps to Help Writers Sell Their Work

The writer should be clear on what age group he is writing for. Is his topic more suitable for the children’s market than the adult market or is it something that has wide appeal? What reading level is he shooting for? Is he interested in writing fiction or non fiction, poetry or memoirs?

Target the Subject

Once the writer has identified his audience, some research on his topic is in order. Whether he is writing an article about saving New England’s stone walls or a novel set in 20th century Denmark, subject research is essential. Refining the idea with research strengthens the work and makes it more attractive to an editor. Research resources abound and include, internet and print searches and networking with other writers and experts on the chosen topic.

Target the Competition

The writer has chosen a topic he feels is marketable based on tips from e commerce web developers and now it is time to take a look at the competition. What is he up against? What books and articles are in print that are similar to his idea? When were they published? What is the slant? And, perhaps the most important question the writer should ask himself, how can I make my work stand out from the crowd? A quick internet search will give him an idea what other articles, books, essays or poems are out there that are on or similar to his chosen topic. University libraries online, the Library of Congress as well as Amazon can help the writer narrow down his options. Conversations with librarians, teachers, and experts in the field the writer is interested in can also be helpful in choosing a marketable topic.

Target the Publisher

The writer has done all the leg work. He’s settled on a subject, he knows who his audience is and what the competition is. The next step is finding the right publisher, one who is waiting for just the right manuscript. If the writer takes the time to research the market, that perfect manuscript may be his. There are market guides for almost any type of writing, market guides for children’s literature, market guides for adult fiction and non fiction, magazine market guides, poetry market guides and market guides for religious based work. They can be found in print and on the web. Once the writer has found the right market guide for him, he uses it to narrow his search. He checks the category index, usually found in the back of the market guide and finds the one that most closely matches his work. From there, he narrows it down to possible publishers. He reads the publishers’ guidelines to see who is looking for the type of work he is hoping to sell. The next thing the writer may want to do is peruse samples of the publication’s work; books they published or in the case of the magazine market, articles, short stories and poems that have appeared in recent issues.

Submit the Manuscript

The writer has done his homework. He has targeted his audience, his subject, and his competition. He has researched the market and studied the publishers he has targeted. Now it is time to submit his work, confident in the knowledge that he has done all he could do to reach his ultimate goal of publication.

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Thursday, 5 October 2017

How to get Free Website Content: Where Articles can be found Online for Publishing

Building a website can be difficult for many business owners and hobbyists. Website maintenance usually requires frequent updates to content published for online visitors. Expenses for building a website can cost $300 or more for a variety of online services including content ownership. Learn how to get free website content that can be published without any long term financial obligations.

Host a Contest for the Best Articles

Public competitions are one effective way to get free website content. These contests attract online content that bloggers and website owners can use to promote their business. Advertising is the first step in promoting a contest where website owners can get free content. Grand prizes must be given for the best article submissions to a website. The submissions can be sent through email or a web form, as preferences among website owners vary. A contest can also be advertised on freelance writing message boards and job websites. Prizes are also a good way to get regular visitors interested in providing free website content.

Search through Article Directories

There are several websites that operate as article directories where nearly anyone can visit to get free website content. Bloggers and website owners can use these directories as filler when building an online business. There is a catch where publishers using this content must keep the byline that states who wrote these articles. Content provided through online directories usually come with a non-exclusive license. A number of non-affiliated websites could all be publishing the same article based on this license. This causes websites that publish content from article directories to loose their page rank. The decline in page rank is the result of duplicate content penalties placed by search engines. A potential page rank consequence is one reason why website owners are safer when publishing original content. Article directories still remain popular as the main source on how to get free website content.

Use Website Content with Creative Commons Licenses

Outsourcing articles, video and images to freelance writers or producers is another way to get free website content. Bloggers or website owners can search online for specialized authors who have large inventories of content. The authors usually consist of freelance writers who may own content that was published in print but not online. These items usually contain some form of Creative-Commons license, giving permission to be reused. Website owners do not have to worry about page rank penalties with this type of free online content. The licenses vary and may allow website owners to modify any text for their own needs. Doing so can remove the duplicate content issue in some circumstances. The publisher benefits from using private freelance contacts to get free website content.

Build on Information Provided in Press Releases

There is an abundance of opportunities for website owners to get free content using publicity materials. Best web designers in Traverse City and other marketing firms release photos, video and text for their clients with the goal of promoting consumer based products or services. Text is usually the easiest form of free website content to obtain through press releases. Publicists and entrepreneurs send out press releases to encourage more news stories about specific events. Website owners can write their own version of the events, using press releases as a resource. Many press releases can be republished as well, providing automatic opportunities to get free website content.

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Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Article Writing and Marketing – How To Get Started

You know you need articles to promote your online business across the Internet-whether doing it on your own or with some help from a web design agency, and to establish yourself as an authority in your niche. But suppose you have never written an article before and don't know how to start? You could hire a ghostwriter. But ghostwriters charge for their services. Given that you need to produce a large number of articles to have any effect, this would really eat into your profits. So why not learn to do it yourself? It is really not as hard as you think.

Get Started Writing Articles

There are few things worse than sitting staring at a blank sheet of paper. So don't do that. Just start. First, jot down as many topics as you can think that people want to know about in relation to your niche. For instance, if it is about growing roses, it could be planting, mulching, what varieties of rose to choose, pruning, protecting from pests, and so on. But don't give people what you think they ought to know; give them what you know they want to know. Go to forums on your topic and sites like Yahoo Answers to find out what questions people have. Make a list of topics, choose one, and start writing. Yes, just start. At this stage it doesn't matter what you write -- just write anything that comes into your head, even if it seems like rubbish. Just write. If you need more information, go to books on your topic, and articles on relevant websites. Never copy what anyone else has written, but it will get your ideas flowing. Just keep writing. Do it on paper or on the computer, whichever makes you feel more comfortable. When you have scribbled down as much as you can think of, have a break - take the dog for a walk, or water the roses. That really gets your subconscious working. Then you can start to write up the article.

Get It Down

You won't need telling that an article must have a beginning, a middle, and an end. But you would be strongly advised not to start with the beginning. The beginning needs to be an attention grabber and you will just sit chewing your pen or gazing into space. Start with the body of the article. Imagine you are writing a letter to a friend who has written to ask you why her roses won't grow properly (or whatever the problem might be). She is a newbie rose-grower so you need to be simple and clear. But she is also a friend so you want to be chatty, friendly, and personal. If you can imagine a particular person you know, so much the better. Write to that person. Keep that person - that is, your reader - in mind all the time. Keep using "you". If you have a list of tips, don't be afraid to make them into a bullet list. Of course, you probably wouldn't do this in a real letter to a friend, but it's an unbeatable way to get your points across clearly. Plus, directory and eZine editors love them. Your mythical (or possibly real) friend will almost certainly be very upset and frustrated at his/her lack of success at rose-growing, or whatever it is. Remember that people will be reading your article because they have the same problem, and they are likely to be upset and frustrated too. So show that you understand. Write as someone who has been there, though do avoid using the pronoun "I" as much as possible. It won't take you long to write a page along these lines. When you've written a page, do a word count. You will almost certainly find you have 400-500 words which is quite enough. Now you can write your opener. It will be much easier to write an opening sentence once you have written the body of the article. But always bear in mind that it needs to be an attention grabber. By all means start off with a question. But don't make it a boring one like "Have you ever wondered why so many people find rose-growing difficult?" Would this grab your attention? Your readers are not interested in other people's problems; they are interested in their own! So make sure you come up with an opener that gives your reader that "Wow! This is about me!" feeling. If you can generate a rush of excitement, so much the better. "At last! The answer I've been looking for!" Get straight to the point - never, whatever you do, indulge in opening waffle. The ending is as important as the beginning, because it determines the impression the article makes. You can write the greatest article, but if it fizzles out at the end, your reader will be dissatisfied and your effort will be wasted. Find a sentence that will pithily sum up what you have said, and reinforce that it will work. (Do not on any account use any phrase like "in summary" or "in conclusion".) Something like "Follow these steps and your roses will be the best on the block - guaranteed!" will do.

Get A Title

You are usually best leaving the title till last. There is no need to think you have to be terribly clever – and never use puns. Just make sure your title makes it clear what problem your article solves or what benefits it contains. And don’t forget numbers are always very popular in titles. If you have bullet points or a numbered list, put the number of points in your title: “Seven Tips to Supercharge Your Roses”.

Get It Out

You have wasted all this effort if nobody can see your article. Put it on your site and submit to as many directories and eZines as you can. And then start again – the more the better!

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Friday, 29 September 2017

Create a Sellable Product: Self Employment Without Strings?

Want to create a sellable product? Inventing a hot-selling item can be a very quick route to success, but it’s not a highly-likely one for most to achieve. It certainly seems like a bit of a drag to work at home, still doing someone else’s projects and meeting someone else’s deadlines. Is invention the only way to achieve self employment without strings?

Self Employed…for Someone Else?

After days, weeks, perhaps months of hard work, it’s all finally started to pay off. The work at home job opportunities are pouring in and so is the money…but somehow, it doesn’t quite match the dream of self employment, does it? After all, there are still people to answer to, deadlines to meet and set goals to be achieved - goals set by someone else, of course. It’s hard for self employed professionals to be told what to do, and at times it can make the joy of being self employed leave a bitter taste in the mouth. Why not simply create a sellable product, market it and achieve self employed success the “easy” way?

Can’t Anyone Create a Sellable Product?

The Internet makes a lot of things easy these days especially when you have e commerce web designers, and almost anyone can strike out to become a self-made entrepreneur using this fabulous tool. Create a product to sell, create a Web site to market it from and watch the money come tumbling in…right? The trouble is, none of this is at all as easy as it sounds when glibly stated. Creating a product takes time, testing and lots of trial-and-error. Even when the product is created, there is absolutely no guarantee it will sell. Depending on what the product is, there may be patents, licensing fees and government testing standards involved all well - things which cost a great deal more money and effort. But selling online to achieve self employment certainly isn’t impossible, either.

Self Employment Without Strings

In a way, every single self employed professional out there is selling something. Whether self-marketing products and services, or shopping around online to find work at home job opportunities and gigs, the self employed story is somewhat similar for all. Even when mass-marketing a service or product to the world, there are people to please - customers and clients who expect a certain level of quality. Whether the job is writing on demand (with topics, even certain keywords being dreamed up not by the writer, but the buyer) or simply selling the Web, it’s necessary to work toward pleasing someone else. In self employment, there is little self-serving and self-pleasing, because it’s necessary to receive money from others to keep the career going. However, it is possible to carefully choose products and services to offer, to be discerning in opportunities, jobs and gigs accepted and to maintain a certain standard in work. That, in a way, is self employment without strings.

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Thursday, 28 September 2017

Business Success with Web 2.0: How to Use Social Networking in Your Business Marketing Plan

Take advantage of the new interactive social networking developments to significantly grow your business. Learn how they work and which ones are appropriate for your business. Understanding how your target market uses these new tools will help you to use them to effectively impact your business' bottom line. Web 2.0 has taken the Internet and changed it from a one way conversation with website visitors to real interactions. The evolution has changed the way software developers look at opportunities to create new programming. Some of the biggest most important developments include social networking sites, video sharing sites, wikis, blogs, and folksonomies. All of them can be used for creating new ways and possibilities for marketing your business.

Using Social Networking in Your Business Marketing Plan

Sites such as Facebook, Linkedin, Ning, Perfect Networker and Fast Pitch are all opportunities to network and interact with your target market. Developing relationships is more important than ever in today’s marketplace. These sites give you the opportunity to interact with folks allowing them to get to know you and develop that level of trust that is so important in their buying decisions.

Using Video Sharing to Market Your Business

These sites have become very popular and can be a great addition to any blog. Talk about allowing folks to get to know you and create your reputation as the expert in your target market! Posting video on sites like YouTube, Google Video, and BrightCove gives you an opportunity to make an emotional connection with your target market.

Using Wikis to Share Knowledge about Your Business

Wikis are web pages that allow anyone or a specific group of people to add to the content, comment and edit. They are great for sharing knowledge and a sense of community. Want your clients to feel connected with you and your company? Create a wiki where they can interact with you. Sites such as Wetpaint, Squidoo and Hubpages offer these options and they are free.

Using Blogs to Reach Your Market

Blogs are very different than the traditional web page which is very stagnant. Blogs are constantly being updated and allowing you to share more of yourself and who you are. Readers can comment on your posts and you can begin that all important relationship development. Even the micro blog called Twitter allows you do interact and develop relationships.

Using Folksonomies to Draw Attention to Your Site

Heard of Folksonomies? You have you just didn’t know it. Think of sites like Digg, Stumble Upon and Delicious. They are all sites that allow you to tag items on the web that you find of interest. The more an item is tagged the more attention it gets. You can tag your own items and ask your sphere of influence tag them as well to give them a higher relevance. Business owners can incorporate all of these items into their marketing plan. First, with some help from a web designer in traverse city you can do some research to determine if your target market can be reached with these tools. If not, be careful to not get sucked into the latest fad for the sake of the fad. But by all means, if your ideal client can be touched by using Web 2.0 tools, get busy.

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