Wednesday, June 3, 2015

HOME Renovation & Plumbing Services

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Friday, September 20, 2013

Beauty Tips ... Benefit of Cucumber

THE BENEFIT OF CUCUMBER Cucumbers soothe skin irritations, prevent water retention and are rich in water, fibre and beneficial minerals. It’s no wonder then that beauty products contain this beneficial vegetable. So, who has not heard about the wonders cucumber pads can do for tired/over strained eyes? Just cut two slices of cucumber, lie down somewhere comfortable, relax and place the cucumber slices over your eyes. As they work their refreshing magic, in a matter of minutes, you can feel the puffiness and tiredness in your eyes being washed away by the moist cucumber. If you want happy skin, cucumber is your answer, say beauty experts. As cucumber and the skin share the same level of hydrogen, it becomes easy for cucumber to mask all the problem areas. It helps in soothing and softening your skin so you feel relaxed in no time. Scientifically known as Cucumis sativus, the cucumber belongs to the same family as watermelon, zucchini, pumpkin and other types of squash. Ever wondered how the phrase “cool as a cucumber” originated? Perhaps this is due to cucumber’s high water content (90 per cent) which lends it a unique moist and cooling taste. Cucumber also contains ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and caffeic acid, both of which soothe skin irritations. These two acid compounds prevent water retention, which is why cucumbers applied topically are helpful for swollen eyes, burns and dermatitis. Its hard skin is rich in fibre and contains a variety of beneficial minerals, including silica, potassium and magnesium. The silica in cucumber is an essential component of healthy connective tissues, which include muscles, tendons, ligaments, cartilage and bone. This is why beauty experts recommend drinking cucumber juice as a source of silica to improve the complexion and health of the skin. Cucumbers are thought to have originated more than 10,000 years ago in southern Asia. Early explorers introduced this vegetable to India and other parts of Asia, and later to the United States. It was popularly used during the ancient civilisations of Egypt, Greece and Rome, not only as a food source but also for its skin healing properties. Now that you know how good cucumbers are for you and your skin, besides eating them, you may want to slather some on your skin as well. Kursus Urut Tradisional & Rawatan Spa RM 499 je.. Masa : 2 hari ..Lokasi : Kajang Sijil Diberikan setelah tamat kursus Penginapan ada disediakan (jika perlu) Peserta akan diajarkan perkara berikut : 1. Foot Spa 2. Sauna Herba 3. Facial & Treatment 4. Bekam Angin 5. Bekam Darah 6. Rawatan Resdung 7. Urutan Kaki, Tangan dan Kepala 8. Urutan Pinggang, Bahu dan Belakang 9. Urutan Bersalin, Keguguran, Peranakan 10.Urutan Satu Badan - full body massage 11. Bertungku 12. Mandi Lulur 13. Mandi Bunga 14. Mandi Susu 15. Pakej Pengantin Baru 16. Pakej Lepas Bersalin call naz : 017 223 7009 Website .. http://herb2u.blogspot.com

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Tips for Young Entrepreneur

1.Don’t be Afraid to ask for Help Entrepreneurs are typically positive and optimistic by nature. Young entrepreneurs have a lot of confidence, in particular. That can be awesome, but it can also be damaging. The road to success is paved not just with mistakes, but “with mistakes well handled.” How can you handle those mistakes well if you have no clue what you’re doing ? Sometimes it’s intuition, sometimes it’s luck, but usually it’s solid advice that gets you through. If a person truly wants to help you out, then you should consider sharing your most challenging issues. The key, always, is genuinely meaning it. Create true relationships and ask for help. It makes the right kind of difference. 2.Establish a Meaningful Online Presence The first thing people will do is Google your name. And what they should see is an expansive, thoughtful presence that shows you understand, use, and make the most of the web. If you don’t have a blog, start one and write regularly. Remember that Google is your ultimate homepage. Fill it with your social media accounts, get the right coverage and links. You'll find that your insights and communication will be judged the same way, regardless of your age. 3.Give Real Value Back to the Community What you get out of a community is almost always less important than what you put into it. And youth is definitely no excuse for not getting involved and not creating real value for others. "Becoming an expert on a subject has nothing to do with age. “The easiest way to get there is to create... whether you blog, speak or host events, share your ideas and vision with others.” 4.Make an Impact at Events for Your Industry Make sure to select events that will be chock-full of people who care about the industry you’re in and the problem you’re trying to solve. Make friends at the social events, after-parties, and networking sessions. You don't have to collect business cards, but aim to create at least two solid relationships each day. Another option is to create your own event. 5.Don't Take Yourself too Seriously It’s one thing to be a young entrepreneur. It’s another to pretend you’re not. If your blog posts are too serious, your Facebook comments too well structured, and your Twitter bio too professional, you’re over thinking it. Have some fun. Joke with other people in your space. Share hilarious videos. Write a blog post with a section on technical disruption of the middle ages. 6.Build Something that Deserves Recognition No matter how many people you ask for help, how thorough your online persona is, or how much value you create for the community, if what you’re building isn’t worth the recognition, you’re out of luck. “Respect is born out of track record and accomplishment, not age, profession, or title. Ultimately that thing you're working on, that thing you keep talking about, that thing that has grown to define you has to be good — preferably great. If related goals come at the expense of building something less awesome then you’re doing it wrong. "To earn respect, regardless of age, you simply need to hustle and crush

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Increasing Sales

Increase Sales Without Spending Money ..... Increasing your sales doesn’t always have to mean spending money. Take a look at what is already working for you, and find ways to build on those successful elements. The Direct Selling Education Foundation, a BBB National Partner, recommends the follow ways to increase sales without increasing your spending ..... 1.Identify top customers and offer them more. You likely have loyal customers who spend more on a regular basis than others. Identify those people and offer them more than they already get. For example, start a VIP program where top customers receive special promotions, incentives, or exclusive access to new products and services. When your top customers know how much they are appreciated, they will not only embrace that “VIP” role by patronizing your business more often, but they will want to share their positive experience with their families and friends. Superior customer service can have far-reaching effects on your overall business..... 2.Customize your sales pitch for each client. Each client is an individual and should be treated as such. Don’t go with a generic sales pitch that every single client hears. Do some research about each person, and incorporate something personal about him or her into your pitch, especially if it’s something you share (an interest in sports, a community activity). When you can relate to clients on a personal level, they will be assured that you have their best interests in mind..... 3.Increase goals for referrals and sales will increase. Bump up your goals for getting referrals. It doesn’t have to be a large jump, but setting the bar higher will motivate you to work harder and acquire more. Instead of shooting for 5 a week, increase your goal to 7 or 8. Make the time in your schedule to meet this new goal, and you’ll find your sales increasing steadily over time. Each time you find that you are meeting the goal on a consistent basis, consider raising it again. Your business should never run in a straight line, but should always be heading in an upward direction to maintain growth and success..... 4.Interact personally with customers more frequently. This may come easier in a retail business, but no matter what type of business you run, make the effort to interact with customers on a personal level as often as possible. Learn their names and one or two facts about them. People love going into a place where they feel like more than just a number. One customer of a local deli states that the moment she realized she would never take her business elsewhere was when the owner greeted her by name, asked how her daughters were, and offered her “the usual.” It’s a comforting feeling for a customer and will go a long way to acquiring loyalty and appreciation... Find ways to improve upon what works for you, break out of your comfort zone, and always look to set the bar higher for yourself and your business.

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Sunday, May 26, 2013

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Customers Service

Business Tips : Customers Service ..... The secret to a loyal customer base is no secret at all.... Great customer service will bring them back every time..... Whether it’s a bored demeanor, a dismissive look or just plain rude behavior, sloppy customer service spells disaster faster than just about any other business transgression. Bad customer service is no joke. It can kill your reputation and devastate your bottom line............ We live in an age where a business can thrive or die based on how it understands and approaches customer engagement........... Here are the key components for providing outstanding customer service, and you need to score high marks in every one of them............ 1.A Quality Product or Service..... Do you want to buy or be served junk? No, you don’t, so why do that to the customers who provide your livelihood? The best way to reduce customer complaints is to provide high-quality products and services........... 2.Stellar Service......... No one will care how good your products are if you do a poor job delivering them. Customers appreciate care and attention, and they tend to resent it—vocally—if it’s not in evidence. They also vote with their feet.......... 3.Time is Not on Your Side........ Consumers are not a patient lot, and the digital age hasn’t improved things one bit. On the contrary, customers weaned on the Internet won’t wait around for you to get your act together. Expectations of what is timely are really changing. If you can’t deliver what customers want when they want it, they’ll move on rather than waste their time.......... 4.Be Prepared for Things to Go Wrong.......... Have a process in place to deal with issues before they arise. Fuss over customers like a mother would over a beloved family member. Why? Because when you genuinely—and that’s the key word here—fuss over a distraught customer, he or she will tend to self-diffuse, and then resolving the issue becomes much easier.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

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Thursday, January 10, 2013

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

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Saturday, May 1, 2010

Marketing Through An E-Book

Why People Writing An E-book And Then Give It Away For Free ?

Here are the reasons :

1. People will visit your web site to get the free valuable
information.

2. Advertise your products or services in the e-book.


3. You will become known as an expert on the subject
of the e-book.

4. Offer the e-book as a free bonus for purchasing one of
your products or services.

5. Allow other people give away the e-book to increase
visitors to your web site.

6. Gain new leads by having people sign up and give their
contact information before they can download your e-book.

7. The word "FREE" is the most appealing word on the
internet.

8. Conduct market research asking people to fill out a
survey before getting the e-book.

9. Make money selling advertising space in the e-book.

10. Give away the e-book as a special gift to your current
customers letting them know you appreciate their business.

11. Gain free advertising by submitting the e-book on
freebie sites.

12. Make money selling the reprint rights to people who
would like to sell the e-book.

13. You'll gain valuable referrals from people telling others
about your e-book.

14. Make money cross promoting the e-book as a free
bonus with other people's products or services.

15. Gain free publicity sending press releases announcing
your ''Free E-book Giveaway.''

16. Increase subscribers to your e-zine by giving away the
e-book as an incentive to subscribe.

17. Give away the e-book to people that join your affiliate
program.

18. The biggest reason you should write an e-book and
then give it away for free: you'll feel good helping people
improve their lives.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

INTERESTING LINKS


PLEASE CLICK THE LINKS BELOW FOR FURTHER INFO:

BIZ
1. ONLINE BUSINESS - CLICK HERE
2. NETWORKING BIZ - CLICK HERE

HOME DECORS :
1. HOME CRAFTS - CLICK HERE
2. TEAK FURNITURE - CLICK HERE

HEALTH , BEAUTY & FITNESS :
*
1. HEALTH & BEAUTY - CLICK HERE
2. SLIMMING SOLUTION - CLICK HERE
3. BEAUTYCARE - CLICK HERE
4. BEAUTY TIPS - CLICK HERE
5. SPA - CLICK HERE

TRAVEL & TOURS
1. HOMESTAY - CLICK HERE

Thursday, October 15, 2009

TIPS TO MULTIPLY SALES

FOLLOW UP
When you make your first sale, follow-up with the customer. You could follow-up with a "thank you" email and include an advertisement for other products you sell.

UPSELL
You could upsell to your customers. When they're at your order page, tell them about a few extra related products you have for sale. They could just add it to their original order.

REFFERAL
Tell your customers if they refer four customers to your web site, they will receive a full rebate of their purchase price. This will turn one sale into three sales.

AFFILIATE
When you sell a product, give your customers the option of joining an affiliate program so they can make commissions selling your product. This will multiply the sale you just made.

REPRODUCTION
Sell the reprint/reproduction rights to your products. You could include an ad on or with the product for other products you sell. You could make sales for the reproduction rights and sales on the back end product.

CROSS PROMOTE
You could cross promote your product with other businesses' products in a package deal. You can include an ad or flyer for other products you sell and have other businesses selling for you.

COUPON
When you ship out or deliver your product, include a coupon for other related products you sell in the package. This will attract them to buy more products from you.

CATALOG
Send your customers a catalog of add-on products for the original product they purchased. This could be upgrades, special services, attachments, etc. If they
enjoy your product they will buy the extra add-ons.

GIFT CERTIFICATES
Sell gift certificates for your products. You'll make sales from the purchase of the gift certificate, when the recipient cashes it in. They could also buy other
items from your web site.

FREE PRODUCTS
Send your customers free products with their product package. The freebies should have your ad printed on them. It could be bumper stickers, ball caps, t-shirts etc. This will allow other people to see your ad and order.

Friday, January 16, 2009

MARKETING PLAN

A good marketing plan is like a battle plan or a game plan.

It should serve as a guide and a blueprint for the actions you need to take to grow your business.

It should also have some flexibility because as you start testing and measuring tactics, you'll need to shift strategies from time to time, to capture or gain share in a particular market.

The best marketing is a synergistic combination of good strategy and tactics, and you can't do either one effectively without the other.

When putting together your marketing plan for the first time, here are some things to avoid :

FILLING YOUR PLAN WITH FLUFF

"Fluff" is anything not specifically related to a number, strategy or tactic. Generalities also qualify. Saying your target market is "everybody" or "adults 50-plus" isn't specific enough and will lead to problems down the road. Start to think in terms of a niche. Instead of "everybody," scale down to "young males 16-plus who play video games and ride skateboards." Instead of "adults 50-plus" turn this into "adult women at least 50 years of age who shop online at least three times a week."

Remember, marketing is all about buying customers. Imagine going into a grocery store and buying everything. You may want to, but in reality, your resources would never allow it. In marketing terms, this means buying your ideal customer with the resources you already have. So figure out who your ideal customer is and how much you can budget to buy that customer. Then come up with a plan and stick to it. Know that most of your competition won't have the discipline to do the same thing--or will follow a plan that has been filled with too much fluff.

NOT DOING THE NUMBERS

Marketing is all about math, and math is all about numbers. Taken a step further--business is all about numbers. If you don't know your numbers, you won't succeed in business. Creating any marketing plan without knowing how much it'll cost to acquire your customer, what your average sale needs to be, what your profit margins need to be and how many times your average customer needs to buy over a lifetime will set you up for failure. If you're going to run a $1,000 advertisement, how many leads and sales will you have to make to cover the cost of the ad, let alone make a profit?

RELYING TOO HEAVILY ON CREATIVITY

Creativity is fine and there's nothing more creatively fulfilling than succeeding in business. But focusing too much on creativity at the expense of tactics and outcomes can hurt your business.

A great example of this is the difference between the once-famous and now-defunct brand Pets.com and the still famous and thriving brand eBay. While Pets.com relied heavily on its famous sock puppet icon and national TV ad to drive its brand, eBay (under CEO Meg Whitman) took a very tactical approach to its business. By moving from its original model of a collectibles auction site to embrace a number of upscale markets, eBay was able to boost its average sale price, a key metric in determining its transaction fees. While the sock puppet was creative, boosting average sale price produced a tangible outcome. This is why it pays to know the numbers that ultimately drive your business.

THINKING MARKETING IS ONLY ADVERTISING

While advertising is part of any marketing plan, marketing is much more than strictly advertising. Marketing is not only how you sell your products or services, but also the way your receptionist answers the phone and how you set up your internal company culture. In addition, it's the strategic and tactical aspects of identifying and segmenting your ideal customer base, discovering your competitive edge and USP (unique selling proposition), setting your pricing strategy, sales strategy and promotional strategy, creating and tracking a system for repeat business, and testing and measuring all of these to leverage effort and maximize ROI.

Note that if your advertising doesn't yield an ROI, you've fallen into the "creative" trap, and that's both expensive and wasteful. You'll know you're in it when your vendors tell you, "Half of your advertising works, and half doesn't--you'll never know which half," or the even more famous, "it takes 17 weeks for people to get name recognition and then they'll start buying from you."

FORGETTING TO MARKET TO EXISTING CUSTOMERS AND PROSPECTS

For businesses that have moved beyond the startup phase, there's no better or quicker way to massive growth than your current customers and "warm" pool of prospects. Generally, it costs up to six times more to get a new customer than to sell something to an existing customer. So if your plan doesn't include initiatives to tap into your current customers, you're missing out on a huge untapped resource.

Many marketers get so caught up in chasing new markets or customers, they forget the goldmine that exists within their current business. Don't make the same mistake; develop strategies to tap into what could be your most valuable--and profitable--resource.

As the end of the year approaches, take some time to start setting some objectives and clarifying how to make next year your best and most profitable yet. A large part of that success will depend on the actions and decisions you make now in the form of your marketing plan--and avoiding the costly mistakes that cause most businesses to abandon their efforts early and often.

If the metaphor "marketing as warfare" fits, know that wars are won by attrition. If you can out-perform, out-strategize and out-discipline your competition, you'll win more of your own company's marketing battles.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

NETWORKING TIPS

Every minute you're around other human beings is a chance to network.

So no matter what the occasion, whether you're at the yoga studio, your child's soccer game or at a religious event, networking is possible.

Start as friends
Start talking and introduced yourself. After a while you may find that both of you might share the same interest about something or shared a lot of the same value systems or shared a common passion for something.

Then developed a trust and friendship, something that's often omitted at formal networking events.

Maybe the best contact , might have been with the person sitting in the seat next to you.

Think about it--if you're on a business trip, chances are that most of the other people on the plane are probably going to be business travelers as well.

You might think you're getting on that plane to fly to a conference , but maybe at the conference you're not going to meet anybody who's really going to help you. Maybe that person who's going to help you is sitting right next to you on the plane.

A good way to start a conversation on the plane is to ask where someone's going and where he's from. Then, before you talk about yourself and your business, find out his interests and pain points. These conversations create the trust and sincerity that form a strong networking relationship. The bottom line, is simply to take the initiative and talk.

We're all brought up to believe back in the day to never talk to strangers., yet talking to strangers is just about the best networking tip you could have."

Limit your networking activities to networking events and the only thing you'll accomplish is to limit your networking activities. Entrepreneurs don't want to be pushy with their networking attempts, but good things will happen to those who start conversations, listen to other business people and keep their wits about them--even when the oxygen is thin.

How to do it

It's not always easy to strike up conversations with strangers.

Select your flight neighbor.
If you have a choice in seating, boarding the flight late and scanning the passengers. Choose to sit next to someone who's dressed in a suit and reading a book, presumably a businessperson who's not buried in his or laptop or hovering over a report.

Greet your fellow passenger on first sight
Otherwise it makes the conversation "awkward if you haven't acknowledged each other's presence from the outset."

Start a conversation
By either commenting on the airline service or complimenting something the person is wearing, such as a piece of jewelry or a pin. Ask the story behind it. The word 'story' is important to use because it has certain associations with the human psyche.

Ask questions, and mirror her actions and facial expressions.
Even synchronizing your voice--copying the tone, volume and speed--will help you build rapport with your flight neighbor. People like people who are like them, and behaving similarly is the best way to achieve this.

Art of Mastering Conversation
Make that person feel like the most interesting person you've ever met. Not only is this easy to do since it takes the focus off yourself, but also it prolongs the conversation so you can build a quick and easy rapport. Keep the spotlight on them for as long as possible. It's the one subject most people find the most fascinating of all."

Monday, December 1, 2008

CUSTOMER LOYALTY

It's looking pretty darn ugly out there. I'm no economist, so I'm not about to predict the markets or the stability of the economy, but I am an internet marketer, and what I can say--with confidence--is that a downturn in the economy does not have to be a major roadblock for your internet business.

One key to surviving--even thriving--during this period of uncertainty is to know your customers.

It's more critical than ever for you to understand exactly who they are--their interests, goals, priorities and desires. This will allow you to create laser-focused marketing copy that speaks directly to them and solves their specific problems. You'll also be able to offer products that you know will make a difference in their lives. They'll reward you with continued customer loyalty and ongoing sales.

The easiest and fastest way to look inside their heads is with a survey. You can create an effective and informative survey that will help you connect with your customers and continue to profit during the current financial turmoil in five steps.

Step #1: Plan Your Survey
As with everything else you do with your business, you'll have the greatest success with your survey if you plan. Decide on your goals for the survey. Are you trying to learn more about specific products you offer? Looking for ways to give everyone a more positive customer care experience? Trying to gather demographic information so you can segment your list better and send out tailored offers?

Be clear about what you're hoping to accomplish with the survey, and you'll be in great shape when it's time to create it.

Step #2: Choose Your Weapon
One thing I like about surveys is that they're simple for most business owners to administer. That's because there are lots of free web-based services that will host your survey. Just design the survey using their simple point-and-click interface, enter the text for your questions, and then e-mail a link to your customers and subscribers. When your customers show up, the automated survey is online and ready to take. Many of these free services also offer a reasonable number of reporting features, making it easy to interpret your results.

Most of these services also offer paid upgrades, which allows you to create more complex surveys and get more sophisticated reports, but for a typical small survey, the freebies work fine. You may start with :

SurveyMonkey
Survey Pro

Step #3: Design and Write Your Survey
Here are a few tips to help you design a better survey:


Start off easy: To ease your customers into the survey, start off with some simple questions they can answer without a lot of thought. Basic demographic information is a good example (age, location, etc.).

But save a few easy questions for the rest of the survey. That way, it won't get increasingly difficult throughout, which can cause some people to bail before they complete it.

Avoid asking too many questions: Ten minutes is about the maximum time people will spend on a survey. Let them know up front how much time they'll need.

Give your survey an introduction and ending: Include a brief introduction to the survey that clearly explains what people are required to do. End the survey with a thank-you page to let people know you appreciate their time.

Respect people's privacy: If you want to collect personal information like income or occupation, reassure your customers that their answers are all confidential.

Avoid leading questions: Be sure that your questions don't sway your customers toward a particular answer, especially giving an answer that's not true.

For example, don't say, "How quickly did we resolve your problem?" This assumes the problem was resolved. The question you should ask is, "Was your problem resolved?"

Avoid questions that require people to rate more than one thing at a time: For instance, don't say, "How fast and accurate did you find our customer service representative?" While the service may have been fast, it may not have been accurate (or vice versa).

Focus on asking closed-ended questions: In a survey, a closed-ended question is one that can be answered with a simple yes, no, or other specific piece of information, or a selection from multiple choices. This makes the survey faster and easier for your customers, and the results more simple for you to manage.

Be consistent with your questions: If you ask your customers to rate certain things on a numbered scale, make sure to use the same scale each time. If they need to rate something on a scale of 1 to 5 in one question, avoid using a scale of 1 to 10 elsewhere.

Carefully review and test the survey: Make sure it has a logical flow and that it all makes sense, then ask a few people (customers, if possible, or co-workers, friends, or family) to take the survey ahead of time, and watch them while they do it. Once they're done, ask about the experience. Was there anything they didn't understand? Were they confused at any point? Make sure the survey is easy to understand and follow before you make it available.

Step #4: Administer the Survey
The easiest way to do this is to e-mail your customers and ask them for a few minutes of their time. Be sure you tell them what's in it for them if they take the survey.

If your goal is to improve a certain product, tell them that by taking the survey they'll actually be helping you to help them because you'll use their comments to fine-tune the assistance you can offer them.

Don't be shy about offering your customers a "bribe" for taking the survey. Consider sending everyone who responds a gift, like a free e-book, a coupon for discounted products or entry in a drawing.

Finally, make sure you build some urgency into the e-mail. If you don't ask people to take the time right away to answer the survey, they'll often put it aside for later but never return to complete it.

Step #5: Interpret Your Results
As you review the results of your survey, remember that, more than anything, you're looking for trends. Did the majority of respondents answer specific questions the same way? Are they often expressing the same frustrations?

At the same time, look for any surprising answers. Your survey is likely going to tell you things about your audience that you had no idea were true.

By finding out exactly who your audience is, what they like and dislike, and what their goals and experiences are, you'll be able to tailor your sales copy, your e-mail marketing efforts, your website and even your products, to suit them.

The results should be improved customer loyalty and ongoing success with your business, even during these turbulent economic times.

Monday, November 17, 2008

BRANDING TIPS

The look and feel of your logo and website can put lots of money in your pocket, but the way the dots connect may surprise you.

Start with the idea that your potential customers don't really know you. They don't know if you're well-established or fly-by-night. They don't know if you're honest or if you treat your customers well. They don't know if you're a solid professional.

People pick up clues from the way your logo, brochure and website look. It's human nature. Think about going to the office or to a party: You can tell at a glance if a new arrival is someone you'll want to get to know by his or her dress and body language. In an instant, you've formed your first impression.

This human habit evolved to let your human ancestors stay alive long enough to bear children. If you could tell predator from prey at a glance, you were more likely to eat and not be eaten. Today, this well-honed at-a-glance sense is used less for physical survival than for making purchase decisions.

Visual branding is about harnessing this at-a-glance sense to boost your business success. Its about using your businesss dress and body language to attract more customers. Think of an amateurish, overly complicated website for a used car lot as opposed to a clean-looking one that still gets the message across. What does each website tell you about the business? At a glance, you know where would you rather shop and which business you're more likely to trust.

Trust means your future customers believe you're likely to be honest and competent, and will deliver a good experience. Sometimes trust comes from friends telling friends they had a great experience. But most of your future customers wont have word-of-mouth to rely on. They have to decide on their own whom to trust. Thats the mission of your logo, website or brochure, to create your business dress and body language -- your visual branding.

Now take it a step further. Gaining your potential customers' trust and belief can also be called credibility. The more credibility you build, the more likely they will buy from you. The word credibility comes from credo, Latin for "I believe." Not coincidentally, the word "credit" also comes from credo. You can obtain lots of credit when lenders believe in you and your ability to repay. Thats not all. The money in your wallet is backed by the full faith and credit of the government. If it wasn't for this belief, greenbacks wouldn't be worth the high-tech paper they're printed on. So our entire economy and your business in particular are built on a foundation of credibility. That's how important visual branding is, and your expression of it in your logo, website and brochures.

Here are a few basics to help your business look credible :


Go for simplicity and lack of clutter. (Think Apple, the master of simplicity in branding.)

Create or demand a clean, well-balanced graphic design.

Use one or two basic colors that go well together, not a hodgepodge.

Choose one font and stick with it. You can express almost anything by using variations within a single font family: size, weight (boldness), italics, etc. If you really must, choose a second font for major headlines. But first try it with one font.

Coordinate a single look (design, colors, etc) across everything you do, including your logo, website, brochures, ads and signage.

Give your business the dress and body language that will tip off your future customers so they can believe in you. Harness their highly evolved, at-a-glance sense to build instant credibility. Credibility equals credit, and that can put lots of money in your wallet.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

MARKETING THAT MATTERS

In this new era of social responsibility, what you don't do can cost you.

"Cause marketing" is now the norm, and customers who visit your website and see your advertising want to know that you share their desire to make the world a better place by supporting an important cause.

If your business or brand doesn't stand for a cause, consumers may turn to your competitors. The number of consumers who say they would switch from one brand to another if the other brand were associated with a good cause has climbed to 87 percent, a dramatic increase in recent years, according to a Cone Cause Evolution Survey.

Even niche markets, such as the nation's college students, now show a striking preference for brands they believe to be socially responsible. According to a newly released College Explorer study from Alloy Media, nearly 95 percent of students say they are less likely to ignore an ad that promotes a brand's partnership with a cause.

There's a strong connection between entrepreneurship and giving. The challenge is to make your socially responsible efforts a winning proposition for the nonprofit group you support, the community and your business. You can master this marketing challenge by following these five important steps:

Step 1. Give from the heart.
Cause marketing works best when you and your employees feel great about the help you're providing to a nonprofit group. So work with an organization you and your team believe in, whether that means supporting the fight on behalf of a national health issue or rescuing homeless pets. What matters most to you, your team and your customers? You'll work hard to make a difference when you give from the heart.

Step 2. Choose a related cause.
A solid cause-marketing campaign often starts with the right affiliation. So as you go through the nonprofit selection process, look for a cause that relates to your company or its products. For example, when Procter & Gamble's Olay brand skin-care line partnered with the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, its campaign goal was to inspire women to protect their skin from the sun.. PR support yielded widespread broadcast, print and online coverage, helping the program attract more than 9,000 individuals for free skin-cancer screenings.


Step 3. Contribute more than dollars.
For many types of businesses, cause marketing involves donating products or services and not simply writing a check. This can help form even stronger consumer associations between what you offer and the good work you do. For example, a company that works hard to support a shelter for homeless women and children or and an organization that helps cancer patients pay their rent and other bills while undergoing treatment.

Step 4. Formalize your affiliation.
To make your affiliation a win-win for everyone, work with the nonprofit you choose to define how it will help your business increase its visibility, brand or company awareness. If the organization has a newsletter or other communications with its constituents, negotiate for opportunities to do joint promotions. Discuss how you will use the organization's logo and name in your marketing campaigns, and how it, in turn, will use your company logo and name in its press releases, on the organization's website and in other materials.

Step 5. Mount a marketing campaign.
Success in cause marketing often means motivating an audience to take action, such as making a donation or participating in an event.. Using a dedicated marketing campaign, you can reach and persuade the target group while also raising awareness for your business and its commitment to social responsibility. For example, to enhance its relationship with the black community, State Farm created the 50 Million Pound Challenge to educate blacks about the risks associated with being overweight. A special Challenge website was created to provide ongoing advice and support, and has helped hundreds of thousands of people lose weight.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

COLD CALLS

Cold calling is just like an extreme sport for some marketing people.

There is a classic case of a person, which he manage to open 100 new accounts in the first quarter of the year and make 200 calls a day when he does …. "nothing but get on the phone."

Do You Have Any Tips on Developing Cold-Calling Skills ?

Expert suggestions:
1.Warm up prospects with an inexpensive promotional item.
2.Ask for an appointment at a certain time – timing is everything
3.Do your homework on the person you are calling before you pick up the phone.
4.Make the appointment once you've got a match

You've done your research, you've timed the call, the phone is ringing -- and you get voice mail. Don't fret: The right message can get your call returned.

Let's face it -- cold calls are hard.

However, if you keep on doing it … the right way

At the end of the day, you will find a solution to overcome and mastered it.

All what you need is …. patient, courage and time.

Keep trying and soon, through experience ….

Success will be with you.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

KEYS TO SUCCESS

Nowadays businesses undergo dramatic changes in their attempts to meet customer requirements and serve their markets more professionally and successfully.

Competitive pressure is relentless, especially when it's becoming more obscure as to whom the competitor actually is and how the customer is evaluating their choices.

There are a lot of challenges that organizations have to struggling with in order to success.

Here are some tips on how to reposition your company and win more business in 2008.

Customers don't fully understand their problem and what to do about it.

The complexity of today's business -- advancements in technology, evolving global markets, unanticipated competition, creation of robust and more complex solutions make it nearly impossible for the customer to be expert in all areas of business and be able to recognize the best opportunities for improvement.

Customers need business advisors to help them sort it all out and it's important that they see you and your team in that role.

Like an experienced doctor who continually diagnoses for problems and recognizes symptoms, you see the issues your solutions address far more frequently than your customers do.

You know the business drivers that your solutions impact and the symptoms that verify that your customer's performance is at risk. You know what to look for and how to help.

To determine if those symptoms exist, develop a diagnostic approach to clarify the situation with your customer. Don't let the customer self diagnose when they don't clearly understand the problem to be solved. Leverage your experience and become an advisor who helps your customer optimize their performance.

Customers are bombarded with options that are difficult to comprehend.

As problems to be solved become more complex, so do the solutions, and there are an increasing number of competitors offering them. To differentiate solutions, sellers tend to pile on features and compare themselves to their strongest competitor.

I'll share an example from our business. We will soon purchase a new phone system. It's interesting to hear that two of the three competitors described their solution as equal in features and quality to the "#1" supplier, and yet they offered 10-15% less in cost. From their position they're emphasizing the value of their product and not its impact on our business and the resulting impact on the value we deliver to our customers. That's a serious gap in their approach to solving our problem.

On the other hand, top sales professionals walk into an opportunity with higher levels of experience than their customers and focus on bringing clarity to the problem to be solved and the cost impact on their business in absence of the products and services available.

They consider an entire industry, come into contact with a full range of operational practices, and become experts in their customer's business. It is this advanced perspective of the issues facing the customer, combined with their customer's expertise that enables the sales professional to help their customers make informed, high-quality decisions.

They help their customers connect business objectives to the capabilities of their valuable solutions and do not cloud the issue with irrelevant features.

Customers fear the risks associated with change.

A fundamental element of behavior is that people will change if the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change. As a result, customers tend to avoid change and the risks associated with it. They know that making changes to the organization's operations, systems or processes will be difficult, lengthy, and resource consuming.
Why would they personally take on that pressure?

If you can help your customers recognize the symptoms of their situation and clarify the risks they are facing, you can then help them understand that a decision to change is a better option. Your role as business advisor is to help them calculate what it's costing them not to have your solution and bring clarity to that decision.

You will also want to position yourself and your organization as a vital resource that will guide and support their change process, thereby assuring they will be successful in making the changes required to implement your solution.

Ensure your customer's success, and you will also ensure your successful future.

It's no longer about selling solutions; it's clearly about helping customers create more value in their businesses as a result of their relationships with you.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

BUILD YOUR VIRTUAL STORE

At some point, every small business must set up shop online.

A website can serve as another sales channel, a place to feature products, or just a resource for more information about your business. But above all, it serves as a communications channel with your customer. Establishing an online presence doesn't have to break the bank or eat up your time.

Here's a guide to help get you on your way.

Register a domain name.
Dozens of online registry sites allow you to secure a domain name. Some of the most popular include Register.com, NetworkSolutions.com, and GoDaddy.com. They're all fairly similar, and which one you choose won't really affect anything else about your site, so the main difference is price. In general you can expect to pay an annual fee of about $15, but if you're inclined to comparison shop you can pay as little as $8 a year. Try to pick a domain name that's as simple and intuitive as possible - complicated URLs just make it harder for customers to find you. Most companies simply drop their name into the middle of www and com, as in: www.JetBlue.com.

Set up an e-mail account to receive customer feedback.
One of the keys to your Web success is making sure your customers can always reach you. Once you have your domain set up, be sure to create an active e-mail address and post it on your site right away. As your site grows, this will become a key contact point for your customers, and it will allow you to get feedback on your business.

Hire a temp.
You probably have better things to do than spend all day entering data for every item you intend to sell online. As you start assembling your site in earnest, hire someone else to help with the setup work.

Sources to turn to for easy solutions
Numerous Internet service providers (ISPs) offer e-commerce solutions that require little work on your part. Some of the most basic handle your Web hosting needs and provide standardized storefront templates. Many are capable of growing with your business, offering additional services and customizable options should you need them down the road. These companies can provide basic design templates and technology to process transactions, too.

Telecommunications company offers an assortment of off-the-shelf set-up packages for individual merchants. Some key components to look for in such packages are shopping-cart software (allowing your customers to drop in items as they go through your site) and assistance with Web design. This last part is extremely important, as deciding how customers will flow your site is the same as directing them to merchandise. You have to get this part right.

You may have to go through your bank or through services like Verisign to set up a secure system to accept online payment for orders. For smaller operations, you can also explore services like PayPal, which make it easy to accept customer payments with an easily downloadable software package.

Think about affiliating with another site
Is it better to go it alone or join an existing online community? If you really need to differentiate your product or brand, particularly through site design, you may be better off building your own site. But if your needs are more basic and you want to keep costs down, it's probably to your benefit to pitch your tent in an existing online marketplace, which can provide more traffic than if you just open a shop and wait for customers to blow by. Sites like Ebay, Yahoo, and Amazon offer prepackaged storefront services with variety of options for individual merchants, often including free registration of your domain name.

Ebay offers your customers the chance to bid on items or buy them outright at a set price. The Ebay package also includes flexible listing options, limited customization tools, monthly sales reports, inventory search options, and the ability to cross-promote other items with ones you are selling. A mid-level Ebay store costs $49.95 per month, but options rage from $9.95 a month for a bare-bones storefront to $499.95 for a full-service store complete with marketing support.

Yahoo offers three basic levels of service, ranging from $39.95 a month to $299.95 a month, plus a $50 setup fee (sometimes the setup fee is waived during promotions) and transaction fees that range from 0.75 percent to 1.5 percent. It, too, offers a selection of services as well as simple step-by-step methods for listing your products online and software for accepting payment.

Depending on what kind of products you're selling, Amazon also offers several online options for third-party sellers. Amazon's Marketplace program charges a 15 percent commission, on top of a $39.99 monthly subscription cost (or $0.99 per item if you prefer), but leaves shipping and customer service to you. As another alternative, you can partner with Amazon and sell its goods on your own site for a commission.

The bottom line:
Always focus on the benefits to your business
Be sure to keep your customers and your business goals in mind as you set up your site. Getting online is the easy part. Creating an online presence that adds value to your core business is what really matters.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

SEARCH ENGINE

Imagine trying to hit a pin-sized target in a pitch-black auditorium. Or looking for a quarter-carat diamond hidden someplace in the forest. Or locating a single novel in a giant library that shelves books randomly.

Or trying to find a particular website--for instance, your company's--in a world without search engines.

With precise directions--or, for the website, a URL--searchers in all those scenarios would have a pretty good chance of finding what they sought. Without them, they'd be out of luck.

Fortunately, in your case, the Web is rich with resources for helping people find what they want. Your challenge is making the best possible use of those tools.

The Big Picture
As the Web has grown to millions of sites and billions of pages, demand for ever-more sophisticated search capability skyrocketed right along with it. By most estimates, users worldwide now conduct at least 550 million searches daily--and, of course, that number will keep rising.

Meanwhile, as any Web user knows, individual queries often yield hundreds or thousands of links. Research indicates that few searchers venture beyond the first 30. So with users most likely to click on the highest-ranked results, it's critical to make sure your site rises to the top.

Complicating matters is the sheer variety of available search engines and Web directories. The roll call reads like a Who's Who of the high-tech industry. At this writing, Google, the category's undisputed Goliath, is gearing up for an initial public offering (IPO) of stock that's likely to set new records. Microsoft Corp. is massively upgrading its MSN Search program. Yahoo! has acquired several top competitors; Amazon is quietly developing its own offering. And hundreds of smaller players, including some highly specialized ones, remain in the game as well.

First Obvious Question
So if you're serious about competing, do you have to list your site on all those directories and search engines? Absolutely not, experts say.

"There are only a few worth worrying about," says Web consultant Peter Kent, president of Denver-based iChannel Services and author of Search Engine Optimization for Dummies (John Wiley & Sons, April 2004). Kent's must-have list includes Google, Yahoo!, AlltheWeb, AltaVista, Ask Jeeves, Inktomi, and the lesser-known Open Directory Project. "They're the only ones who matter because they feed everyone else who counts," he says. Directly or indirectly, he adds, those few sites provide data for 99% of all searches. For instance, Inktomi provides data to Microsoft's MSN Search and Yahoo's Overture, while the Open Directory Project feeds at least 300 others, including many specialized ones catering to particular industries or interests.

What about all those companies dangling tempting offers to list your site with 400--or even 4,000--search engines in exchange for what sounds like a reasonable fee? Rarely worth the cost, Kent says: "Sometimes what they're doing is submitting you to just a few sites, knowing that then those sites are feeding hundreds more." Worse, those helpful companies may list your site with bogus "search engines" that do nothing more than compile e-mail addresses for use by spammers, says Chris Sherman, associate editor of the industry information site and newsletter Search Engine Watch. "I would say they're not only not a good deal, they're the best way quadruple e-mail spam you get," Sherman says. A better strategy: Focus on getting listed with a few key search engines and forget about the rest.

Second Obvious Question
When, if ever, should you pay to play?

That is, should you concentrate on getting your site to surface in free--or, as Sherman calls them, organic -- search-engine listings? Or should you invest one of the many pay-for-placement (PFP) options?

"Either will work," says Sherman, who also heads the Searchwise consulting firm in Boulder, Colo. "Organic placement will take more time [to show up on search engines] and last longer." A PFP listing--a small text ad that appears in or near relevant search results--will go online almost immediately, but its longevity is tied to the bottom line: "The minute you stop paying for it, it's gone," Sherman says.

Under the PFP system, marketers bid to have their ads listed in the results for specific searches, with high bidders' ads show up first. Search-engine companies collect fees--anywhere from a few cents to upwards of $10--whenever users click through to marketers' websites.

The decision about whether to stick with free listings, enter the PFP universe, or combine the approaches depends on your budget, your competitors' strategies, and a sense for how your target audience will respond (many users dislike paid placements, especially those that look too much like free search results).

"It's like buying or leasing a car," Sherman says. "It's up to you to decide which option works best."

The Keys to Search-Engine Success
Actually, there are two major ways to "optimize" your site so it's most likely to show up in a potential customer's search.

First, carefully identify the words and phrases your best prospects are most likely to use in searching for whatever you provide. "Each page should contain two or three keywords that you want people to use in finding you," Sherman says. (But don't list those words dozens or hundreds of times in attempt to show up first in search results; that's called "keyword stuffing" and it's considered cheating.) Choose keywords that are simple, coherent, and consistent with your other marketing campaigns, and be sure to list them in meta tags as well.

In addition, get specific. Phrases like "home mortgage" and "low rates" won't set you apart from the pack. But adding your city and state, for instance, might help land your site higher in the results for searchers using those terms. In addition, keywords--not just your company name--should appear in the title bar atop your site's pages, Kent recommends. "Sanders & Son Ltd" doesn't indicate what the company does; "Sanders & Sons Graphic Design and Printing Services" tells users at a glance whether they've found the right site.

Secondly, keep in mind that search engines love links. The more sites linked to yours, the higher it's likely to rank in search results. "Links are essentially the same thing as votes," Sherman says. From a search engine's point of view, he says, " the more votes you have, the greater the indication that there's high-quality content at your site." So keep building your network of relevant links.

Finally, remember that while getting your category's number-one search-engine ranking is dandy--but you certainly haven't failed if a clear, well-targeted message appears a few notches down the page. "Keep your eyes on the result," Kent advises. "The goal is to increase qualified traffic to your Web site, and you can do that without having the very top position."

Sidebar: Glossary
Keyword: Words and phrases included in a Web page matching those users are likely to employ in searching.

Keyword stuffing: Discouraged practice of overloading Web pages with keywords in an effort to obtain higher placement in search results. Also known as "spamdexing."

Local search: Evolving capability to limit search results to particular geographical areas.

Meta search: Search using multiple search engines and directories.

Meta tag: HTML tag that stores information about a Web page, including keywords for search-engine and directory use.

Optimization: See "SEO."

PFI (pay for inclusion): Advertising option in which marketers pay to be included in search results.

PFP (pay for placement): Advertising option in which marketers bid to place short text ads in or near search results, with highest bids appearing first.

Query: Synonym for "search."

Search engine: Program such as Google that searches its indices or databases in response to a user's query, retrieving lists of documents containing specific keywords. See also "Web directory."

Spiders: Software robots that automatically scour the Internet, reporting Web page contents back to a search engine's index or database. Also called "crawlers."

SEM: Search-engine marketing; using search techniques to build brand awareness or generate business.

SEO: Search-engine optimization, or retooling a site so that it's more likely to appear high in search results.

Web directory: Searchable indices such as Yahoo that are compiled by human editors rather than by automation. See also "Search engine."

Sidebar: Major search engines, directories, and related research tools:

All the Web (subsidiary of Overture/Yahoo!)
www.alltheweb.com

AltaVista (subsidiary of Yahoo!)
www.altavista.com

Ask Jeeves
www.askjeeves.com

Google
www.google.com

Inktomi (subsidiary of Yahoo!)
www.inktomi.com

MSN Search
search.msn.com

Overture (subsidiary of Yahoo!)
www.overture.com

Search.com
Conducts searches via several other major search engines
www.search.com

Yahoo!
www.yahoo.com

Yahoo! Directories
dir.yahoo.com/

OTHER USEFULE WEBSITES

All Search Engines
Useful index of search engines
www.allsearchengines.com/

The Open Directory Project
Human-edited directory of the Web, edited by volunteers.
dmoz.org/

Search Engine Bulletin
Companion site to Search Engine Optimization for Dummies, by Peter Kent (John Wiley & Sons, April 2004).
www.searchenginebulletin.com

Search Engine Optimization Tips
MSN's printable list of SEO do's and don'ts.
www.submit-it.com/subopt.htm

Search Engine Strategies
Resource site with articles and links. www.searchenginestrategies.biz

Search Engine Watch
News, advice, reviews, links, information about Search Engine Strategies conferences and free Search Engine Report monthly newsletters.
www.searchenginewatch.com

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

RESEARCH ON PEOPLE

A good salesperson does research on companies, a great salesperson does research on people.

It’s just like a one-page synopsis on the person with all kinds of information :
His hobbies,
His family,
His most remarkable achievements,
What he's most passionate about.
What about his favorite charity?
What college he went to?
How many kids?

The only criterion for what should be included is that it reflects something about the person as a human being.

Even stuff about the person's company has to be something that affects him personally, in his daily life.

These are the things that matter to him. And trust me, even the most giving, humble people naturally care, above and beyond anything else, about what it is they do.

If you can show that you care, too, and have understanding or even a way to help, you'll feel the appreciation radiate from them and cover you.

The purpose of all this research is to find a point of common ground that is deeper and richer than what can be discovered in a serendipitous encounter.

Friday, July 18, 2008

LOOKING FOR THE SOLUTION

Sometimes, as a salesperson, when talking to customer, the prospect seemed to get bored or, worse yet, to actually become defensive or offensive, as the case may be, every time the salesperson mentioned a product benefit or feature.

The solution to this is to look for the aspects that the client needs most. Finding the solution requires really active listening and calm questioning, not interrogating. And remember, if you want your prospect to get down to the truth, you may need to expose a little of yourself first to establish a deeper trust. And if you take such an approach to your next difficult conversation, you'll successfully achieve two things.

Discover the real problem.

If you're actively looking for the solution, you just might find out what's really a thorn in your client's side. And it's usually not what you'd expect. You've got to find what their internal problems are, and it sometimes aren't what's it look on the surface of their business.

In fact, they are rarely related to the products or services you are selling. Sometimes it's listening to their fears or frustrations about their current job or boss and offering an understanding ear. It could be just asking what their personal aspirations are relative to this project and assuring them that they will be met.

Avoid death by complex sale.

Complex sales are just that -- complex, and we often just don't have the time to execute them. Some people go into a sales call with a very well laid out plan of what they want to sell. You know what happens then ? The buyer very often is inclined to figure out what about the proposal isn't right or needs to change.

You'll be much better served by going into a sales call with a path in mind than without one, sure. But you must also have the willingness to listen and react and find a way to place your value proposition in the context of their immediate needs. Once you begin to listen, sales will no longer be a time to sell but to let your prospect tell you what he wants and you configuring your product or service around those needs.

Remember, if you get resistance, stop even thinking about selling. Think about listening and understanding what the person really needs. Your first goal shouldn't be to sell anyway. You need a foot in the door. You need to build a trusting relationship. You need to get a chance to prove that relationship.

So first look for the solution.

You can always make sales later.

Friday, June 27, 2008

NETWORKING NEVER TAKES A HOLIDAY

You can build relationships with powerful people even when they're out of the office on vacation.

You call someone's office, but you can't reach her because she's on vacation. Let's say that you call a powerful corporate chieftain, and she says, "I don't have much time to talk. I'm going on vacation Friday, and I've got a billion things to do before I leave. If you want an appointment, call me after I get back."

The boss doesn't know it, but she's given you a gift: She's told you her schedule. Ask where she's going. If you're familiar with the place, offer her a tip or two about getting the most from it. If you're not familiar with it, ask her about it; people love to talk about their favorite vacation spots. Listen closely if she mentions surfing, hiking or other activities. You may find that the two of you enjoy the same sports or hobbies.

Before she leaves town, send her a gift to make her vacation more enjoyable and to help her remember you fondly. If you know where she's going, give her a guidebook. If not, try a best selling a "beach book" like Dean Koontz's The Husband, Mary Higgins Clark's Two Little Girls in Blue, James Patterson's The Fifth Horseman, or the new Harry Potter. Or a familiar old friend like To Kill a Mockingbird, The Catcher in the Rye, or On the Road. Or a business book with a streak of fun, like Freakonomics. Whatever you give, remember to jot a personal note on the title page.

In addition, you can send a basket of fruit to her hotel (if you know her well). If you don't, getting something into her room can make you look like a stalker.

What about your own vacation time ?

Picnics, barbecues and other venues for getting to know people ?

When you're talking to someone you want to know better, ask a friendly question like, "Hey, what're you doing for the weekend ?"

If she's going to a nearby resort town, visit the place. Getting to know someone when she's relaxing and having fun is a great way to build a friendship.

Even better, maybe you can help to organize an event. Volunteer to help make them happen. You'll get to know business and political leaders, and you'll probably have a lot of fun.

However, maybe if you can host a picnic or barbecue at your home, so much the better. Letting people into your private space is a terrific way to say, "I'm open and comfortable with you, and I hope you feel the same way about me." Or if you know a great spot for witnessing a fireworks display, host an event there.

Longer vacations provide a way to meet the important people. Every city has a local resort area where the wealthy and powerful people play.

Research the people who visit these places. Find out how they like to take their leisure. For instance, golf. The demographic of business and business associates are often that of a golfer or golf fan. If you genuinely love and get involved in an activity that a super-successful person plays, you'll increase your likelihood of meeting her.

While you're out socializing with the powerful, don't neglect the staff that they've left back at the office. When the boss is gone, her team gets to relax a little. Her gatekeeper -- the secretary or administrative assistant who decides if and when the boss talks to you -- has a little more time for the kind of friendly chatting that can make him your pal.

If you need someone to make a decision that the boss usually makes, ask the gatekeeper : "Since the boss isn't around, who do you recommend I talk to?" This question shows the gatekeeper how much you trust his judgment. It also opens the door to other powerful people within the company. Instead of calling someone cold, you can introduce yourself with "Jack in Mary's office tells me that you're the company's authority on marketing [or finance or whatever]." After the boss gets back, don't forget to tell her about anything praiseworthy that her people did for you. She'll appreciate it, and so will they.

Vacation time doesn't have to be down time. It can be relationship time.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

REFERRALS

As entrepreneurs and salespeople, referrals are our lifeblood because they jumpstart the trust-building with potential customers, partners and suppliers.

Naturally, we're always eager to refer a friend whose character and services we know well, but what do we feel when people we just met or we just agreed to buy from asks us to introduce them to our networks ?

Well, it depends. It depends on the level of intimacy we reached during our initial meeting or the sale. It depends on our excitement around the go-forward work our new contact is about to perform.

No need to fear being put in this situation, a relatively new contact asking you for a referral. At the end of the day, you hold all the power! And you should exercise it proactively.

When I have established a basic level of trust with new contacts, I try to go overboard to suggest them to my friends and associates. I always think of this as a win-win, because for any new business my new contact gets with people in my network, I am helping my friends be more successful. So as soon as I trust my PR firm, I go out of my way to introduce them to others.

Of course, you don't ultimately have to make the introduction. It's the responsibility of your new acquaintance to give you a darn good reason why you should.

If there comes a time when you are not comfortable before making a recommendation, just say so. Then explain that you would be happy to begin making recommendations, however, if a few criteria were met in the future.

All that said, I recommend that you reach deep and start finding ways to make more referrals. And if the situation is right, do it even for people you just met or just started working with. Too many people see relationships as pies -- where if you take a piece (in this case, introduce someone new to an existing contact) there won't be as much left over for you.

Relationships and networks are more like muscles. The more you work them, the bigger and stronger they get. Don't mistake your relationships for pies and refuse to make referrals. If you do, you'll miss out on many opportunities to help your friends and to help yourself.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

MAKING BUSINESS PERSONAL

One of the most common mistakes people make when building relationships for career success and revenue growth is treating business contacts differently than personal friends.

Just think for a moment about the people you work with on a professional level who are also close personal friends. Aren't they always more forgiving when you slip up and more helpful when you're in need than new acquaintances are? Of course! I guarantee your work will be easier, more joyful, and more successful if you make more of your business relationships personal.

How to do it? The same way you make genuine friends. Build trust through intimacy; show them that besides being professional, you're human. Skip the small talk and go deep into what really matters -- your dreams or fears, your children or the business issues that keep you up at night. Even better, have new clients and contacts spend time with you and your family and friends.

As it turns out, there are also benefits for the bottom line. "Not only has that customer done business with us, they have also influenced other potential customers and helped us in establishing a number of key relationships in the market.

We all have more opportunities than we realize to overlap our personal and professional lives. You can keep up your personal life by including a date, a significant other, or a few good, fun friends. Most important, it makes for a much more robust, personal conversation between everyone.

In this day and age, when our most scarce resource is time, the closest you can come to creating more time is by overlapping agendas. So take more of these opportunities to make business more personal, and please don't think your professional contacts will think less of you. In fact, usually the opposite happens. In most cases, this blurring of personal and professional lives seems to be good for business and good for our families, our friends, and ourselves.

Friday, June 6, 2008

HOBBIES THAT CAN MAKE YOU MONEY

Looking for extra cash to keep your household afloat in this storm-tossed economy?

Maybe it's time to turn your hobby into a business.

Whether you wade in part-time or dive in full-time, there are several advantages to launching your hobby as a business. For starters, you already enjoy it. You also have the knowledge base and skill set upon which to build, and may have a network of fellow enthusiasts to help get you started.

It's likely that you also have a sense for pricing and market dynamics surrounding your hobby.

Finding the time and space to create a new business can be challenging, especially if you're working another job as well. But with a few simple marketing moves and the help of a willing mentor or two, you can turn your pastime into cash time in no time.

Your hobby has to translate into a product or service for which there is an identifiable market. You may love the product you make, but the bottom line is, will anyone actually buy it ? Everybody is scared because they're stepping outside their comfort zone. The only way you can get past this is with some experience and doing it more than once.You have to be able to take some rejection. It's not rejection against you personally; it's the product or service you're offering. It's not you that's being judged."

Ready to take the plunge ?

Here are six lucrative hobbies you can start from home today.

Custom Baking

Skills:
Baking, cake decorating, on-site catering.

Market:
Retail, special events, office parties.

Opportunities for growth:
Custom wedding cakes (growing and lucrative market).

A few years ago, 27-year-old Katie Schwarz, a special education teacher in Austin, Texas, took a cake-decorating class and fell in love with it. Soon, she was decorating cakes and treats for children's birthday parties. In 2007, inspired by the trendy treat of choice in New York City, she started Let Them Eat Cupcakes, a Web and phone-order home business. Let Them Eat Cupcakes specializes in custom-decorated cupcakes in more than a dozen flavors, including margarita and s'mores. The cupcakes are delivered directly to the customers' doors. Schwarz charges $1.25 for plain and $1.50 for theme-decorated cupcakes. There is a six-cake minimum and a $5 delivery charge. Her typical order is two dozen to five dozen. "It was hard at first to figure out how to make a profit, especially because I offer delivery with my cupcakes," she says. "It was hard to figure out how to charge for that with gas prices increasing." Schwarz, who still teaches every other day, estimates she spends 10 hours baking and delivering to three or four events a week. So far, her marketing consists of word of mouth and her Web site. "I would say the money is not significant yet, but I haven't had to advertise at all yet," she says. "I just have a Web site. I'm looking at advertising because I hope to eventually expand and have a storefront."

Professional Organizer

Skills:
Organization, work flow, creative problem solving.

Market:
Home businesses, busy executives, harried stay-at-home moms.

Opportunities for growth:
Business consulting, virtual assistant.

Seven years ago, M. Colleen Klimczak was a Chicago-area health care recruiter when she stumbled upon the National Association of Professional Organizers, or NAPO, Web site.
"I was looking for an organizer to help with a giant garage sale," says the mother of three. "When I found that Web site, I said, 'I don't want to hire one, I want to be one.'" Through NAPO, Klimczak found a mentor who helped her set a fee. She charges $50 per hour, average for her suburban Chicago location, although she admits professional organizers command three times that in San Francisco. She recently earned the "Certified Professional Organizer" designation and may raise her fee slightly. "Out the door, if you have a computer and the know-how, it's not hard to just start up," she says. She deals mostly with residential and home offices. To supplement her professional organizer business, she also works as a virtual assistant and occasional project manager. Her events-planning background and sense for organization and work flow serve her well. Do you have to be organized to become a professional organizer ? "Yes, but it doesn't work the other way though -- just because you're an organized person does not mean you can be a professional organizer," she explains. "I can be as organized as I want, but I can't impose what works in my house onto somebody else's house. Just because my closets are really, really tidy doesn't mean I can do this as a business and translate that to other people. It doesn't work that way." Klimczak says she stresses education, a bit of a double-edged sword because once her clients are organized, she knows she'll lose them. Still, there are plenty more where they came from. "I have a client who says she would rather pay me than a therapist because at least her house looks better when I leave," she says.

Arts and Crafts

Skills:
Ability to produce a saleable art or craft product.

Market:
Retail or wholesale, the sky's the limit.

Opportunities for growth:
License product for mass market production, media spinoffs (cartoons, etc.).

Brabec has sold nearly a half-million books that help fellow crafters turn homemade items into cash. She's also seen the same mistakes over and over -- such as the little old seamstress who made pudgy-faced soft dolls but failed to patent her creation and hence didn't receive a dime when Cabbage Patch Kids exploded. "The concepts are the same, whether you're selling quilting or stitchery or woodwork or steel sculpture or jewelry," she says. "Arts and crafts is a multi-billion-dollar industry all by itself." How can you get your share of that? Start with a computer. Even a technology holdout like Brabec admits you won't get anywhere today without one. Computers are essential, not only to do the necessary market research, but also to sell your products beyond your city limits, she says. Although you'll probably begin at local craft shows and farmer's markets, your ultimate market may be half a state or even half a world away. Next, test market your product any way you can. "One woman who makes jewelry said, 'I just wear my new pieces and if a stranger stops me on the street and says 'I love your pin,' I know I've got a winner,'" she says. "But don't try that with your strawberry preserves!" Many crafters make the mistake of not charging enough, Brabec says. "Build in elements for profit and overhead because if you really take off, if you've set your prices too low and then find you have to hire help, there's not enough profit in your pricing structure to pay for an employee," she says. "It's a lot easier to lower prices than to raise them." Brabec maintains that the ongoing flood of imports only means a brighter future for homemade arts and crafts. "People want the quality and beauty of real handmade products," Brabec says. "They understand that there is a part of that artist within each piece, so they're buying more than just a product. There's always going to be a market for handmade products."

Exotic Birds

Skills:
Knowledge of care, feeding and breeding of exotic birds.

Market:
Wholesale to pet stores, retail to breeders and the public.

Opportunities for growth:
Depend on whether pet store consolidation hampers growth locally.

Kathy Short has always had a thing for birds. "I've had birds all my life," she says. "One leads to two leads to 10, and at some point you start wondering if you can do something with it." She's not wondering anymore. As the owner of Exotics of the World, Short hand-raises between 250 and 400 cockatiels, parrots and other exotic birds annually at her home aviary in Woodinville, Wash. She then sells them wholesale to pet stores and collectors of show birds. Short made the leap from infant day care to raising birds after her husband gave her an umbrella cockatoo. She started in her garage but quickly outgrew it. She now has 250 birds in aviary outbuildings but keeps the hatchlings inside her home. "Birds are extremely messy," she warns. Startup expenses for an exotic bird business can be steep: a pair of Moluccan cockatoos can run you $2,000, African gray parrots cost $1,200 to $2,000 a pair and individual cockatiels will set you back $500 apiece. Short owns 200 cockatiels, but only breeds 22 pairs at a time. In addition to the cost of cages and food, exotic birds come with a range of exotic ailments. Securing the services of a good aviary veterinarian is as critical as it is costly; vaccinating five baby parrots against avian polyoma can run $155. But pedigreed exotic birds also fetch a handsome price, even wholesale. Short says she'll sell a single baby Moluccan cockatoo to a pet store for $1,000, which in turn will sell it to the public for between $2,000 and $2,400. In fact, Short says her biggest business obstacle is the declining number of independent pet stores that serve as her customer base. Building a stable list of wholesale clients and breeding birds that sell are keys to success in the bird world. She advises against buying your breeding stock over the Internet. "People don't tell the truth when you buy birds off the Internet; they're usually selling them for a reason," says Short. "Over the years, I've found it's almost better to start with individual birds and pair them yourself instead of buying what they call 'proven pairs.'"

Personal Shopper

Skills:
Shopping for men, women, children and pets.

Market:
Busy professionals, the elderly, disabled or fashion-challenged.

Opportunities for growth:
Ellen Macklin doesn't even advertise. Need we say more?

Twenty-five years ago on a whim, Ellen Macklin bought a computer and a handful of business cards and became one of Boston's most successful personal shoppers. A former art teacher, Macklin had what it takes to make it in her new field: infallible taste, an outgoing personality, a love of shopping and a fiercely independent spirit. She was one of four personal shoppers listed in the phone book then. The other three weren't in business long. In recent years, the personal shopping field has expanded greatly, or so the get-rich-quick scam artists would have us believe. Macklin receives a flood of resumes sent her way by innocent wannabes who've been led on -- for a fee, of course -- by phony placement specialists. Macklin's business thrives because she delivers. She's proud to say she's never returned a purchase. "I've done many, many different things, but something that has always been a constant is wardrobe consulting," she says. "I have certain clients who keep coming back to me season after season and year after year. It used to be women who were executives who were pregnant two or three times and just wanted to throw everything away and start over again, but now it might be a bunch of outfits for a trip or a wedding trousseau. "One just never knows. Every job is different; that's what so wonderful about it." Macklin charges a flat fee of $45 an hour, door to door. She hasn't changed her fee in years, nor does she advertise or even have a Web site. People find her through word of mouth or her occasional lecture appearances. Her clients are evenly split between men and women. She has purchased everything from cars to Picassos. She knows some of her clients so well that she'll even pick up items for them on pleasure trips to New York or Connecticut. She won't take kickbacks from any store. And although she was a mystery shopper for years, she won't work for a single store because she doesn't want them limiting her shopping options. "If you want to put an outfit together and really do a great job, you might have to go to three or four different stores," she explains. "And I like to do it from head to toe, because to wear a pair of 1970s shoes with a 2008 outfit is so -- ecch!" So, what is the worst thing about being a personal shopper ? "It's unpredictable," Macklin says. "You can't expect a steady income. You can't say Christmas time will be your busiest time; sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't." The best part is a no-brainer, she says. "It feels good," Macklin says. "You're doing something good for people."

Day Lilies

Skills:
Basic gardening, some market research.

Market:
Retail to home gardeners, landscapers (locally to worldwide).

Opportunities for growth:
Develop and patent your own hybrids for optimal return on investment.

Got a green thumb? You might want to sow a money crop like day lilies into your garden this spring. "Most people who sell day lilies get started as a hobby," says Kathy Lamb, owner of Loon Song Gardens in Champlin, Minn. "When you grow day lilies, you become very passionate about them and love to select different varieties. You do this for a few years and fill up your gardens and at some point you make the decision that you must dig these up, divide them and get rid of some of them. That's when some people start selling their day lilies." Day lilies are wonderfully whimsical flowering plants. They are neither true lilies nor bulbs. You harvest them by splitting the part below ground, called a crown, into two or more new plants, called "divisions" or "fans." Here's where it gets economically interesting: U.S.-grown, field-harvested day lilies are more expensive than their imported counterparts. However, U.S. lilies bloom in one to two years and sell better than the tissue-cultured day lily imports available at your local discount stores, which often take three times as long to bloom. Lamb says common varieties like Stella de Oro sell from $3 to $5 a double fan, while new introductions can retail for $300 to $500 for a single fan. Some even sell at auction for up to several thousand dollars. Because all day lilies from a new hybrid (there are some 60,000 registered with the American Hemerocallis Society, or AHS) start as divisions from the original plant, their price can remain in the $100 to $150 price range for 10 years until supply catches up to demand.

The best way to break into the business is through a local day lily club; you can find a listing of these as well as valuable regional symposiums on the AHS Web site. Day lily growers like Lamb prefer to ship them bare-root, wrapped in paper or sawdust. With a sturdy Web site and a few in-demand varieties, you can harvest cash from your day lily garden in no time. If you ship out of state, however, be sure to check with your state department of agriculture to see if a nursery license or certificate is required. Lamb says the wholesale market is probably unrealistic for most hobbyists. "That would require a really sizable production area," she says. "You would be selling to other nurseries and they would want quantities in the thousands. You would need to have some field space to be a wholesaler." Jay MacDonald is a contributing editor based in Texas.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

THE SECRETS OF BREAKTHROUGH COMPANIES

Why do some companies "break through" while so many others do not?

How Everyday Companies Become Extraordinary Performers.

Here are some secrets to long-term entrepreneurial growth

The sexiest businesses don't always win.
In fact, the most interesting companies often don't operate in the markets that Wall Street and the business press consider interesting or "cool". Many of the breakthrough companies began in market segments experts considered unattractive at the time. We certainly didn't expect to find a nuts-and-bolts distributor, a snowmobile maker, a payroll processor, or even a niche real estate business on our list of top performing growth companies. But we did.

It's not all about the entrepreneur.
They're the ones that grab the headlines, right? And in fact, in the earliest stages of development, the quality of the entrepreneurial team tends to swamp all the other variables in predicting firm success. But as soon as the business gets on its feet, the best entrepreneurial leaders are too smart to let the company make it "all about them." Breakthrough leaders understand that no one wants to serve a king. These leaders work hard to put the company's vision -- and not their own personality -- at the center of things.

Entrepreneurs aren't always risk takers.
Entrepreneurs are actually distributed evenly across the risk-taking spectrum. Even more important, there is evidence that as they achieve success, some entrepreneurs actually become more risk averse -- "playing tight" (as they say in poker) at the very time when they should be upping the ante.

Founders don't need to let go.
Conventional wisdom holds that entrepreneurial companies fail to reach their full potential because founders just won't "let go." Actually , in eight of nine top-performing companies , founders stayed deeply involved -- usually for decades. It turns out that, rather than letting go, founders and founding teams need to redefine their roles as the business grows.

You don't necessarily have to stick to your knitting.
Sticking to your knitting is fine, as long as your competitors stick to theirs as well. But competitors rarely behave the way you want them to. To achieve breakthrough performance, companies need to be constantly scanning the changing needs of the customer and developments in the industry so they can spot the most important opportunities to advance the business.

You don't need other people's money.
We've all heard the professional investor's pitch: "Sure you can grow your business on your own, but you can grow it faster with our money." Actually, not one of the breakthrough companies were funded by venture capital in their start-up years -- not even several high-tech ventures. The right investor at the right time can be crucial, but outside money is far from a requirement.

It's not all about hiring the right people.
These companies focus more on making the people already in the company productive through intense training and education. In the words of one breakthrough CEO, we have succeeded because we have built a place where ordinary people can do extraordinary things."

It doesn't matter where you went to school.
It's not about where (or even whether) you went to school. One company was run by a PhD in statistics and former college professor; another was run by a person who hit the bricks right out of high school.

You don't have to let the MBAs take over.
Many business people divide the world into two groups -- entrepreneurial firms and "professionally managed" firms. But reality is not that simple. Many small firms are very well managed -- though probably not in a way that most bureaucrats in giant companies would recognize. And in many big companies, it is easy for the "professional management" tail to start wagging the company dog. Companies large and small alike should strive to create an entrepreneurial enterprise that combines the quickness and customer focus of an entrepreneurial firm with the systems and processes of a more mature organization. MBAs are optional.

Strategy isn't just the job of the CEO.
The most successful companies recognize that strategy is a firm's "source code" -- the fundamental set of assumptions upon which everything else in the business is based. So they strive to get people throughout the organization thinking about and debating strategy. They nurture an environment that includes "insultants" -- people willing to take a full swing at the issues, even if it means questioning the fundamental assumptions upon which the firm is based.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

UNDERSTAND GOOGLE'S GUIDELINES

Google is popular, and popularity means it may be tough to get in initially. Even if you do everything right, it could take months to see results, at least if you use their URL submission page. However, there is hope! There's a method to get indexed in 24 hours, so don't even bother submitting through the URL page.

But before you get to that, you should know about the guidelines you must follow to ensure that your site not only gets listed, but also doesn't get banned. Plus, you should learn about elements of your website that Google won't look at.

How to Get Google to Read Your Keywords First

Google's bots read web pages from the topmost left corner of your site to the bottom right. However, most sites are designed with all of the links on the left side, and the content on the right. Yet the problem with this design is instead of seeing your content first, Google sees the links first. Your links may not be seen to be as optimized as your content.

One solution is to use three panes rather than two. Keep the normal left and right panes, but add an extra pane at the top left of the layout. Don't put keywords in this extra pane. With this area "blank" when the Google bots read the site, rather than going for the links as they normally would, the bots see that a portion of where the links are is "blank." This then forces it to read the content first, which is more keyword-rich than the links.

Note that not all search engines read sites this way, which is why this guideline was provided in this special section dedicated to optimizing for Google. You could be on the safe side and use the layout anyway, especially if you do plan to submit to Google, which you should. It doesn't take away from the look of the site, and by using it you ensure that your content gets read first. If you don't use it, you aren't giving yourself the best opportunity to rank highly in Google search engine listings. Making tables isn't very hard to do. Most word processors and even WYSIWYG HTML editors provide them, so take advantage of it.
Google