Small Business Tips

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A small business blog featuring tips to help entrepreneurs succeed in the small business world. Topics include family business, human resources, marketing, money, networking, operations, ownership, startup, taxes and technology.
Direct Mail Marketing Tips (1 of 2)

These days, mailboxes contain more junk mail (also known as direct mail) than anything else. Clearly this marketing strategy works to some degree, otherwise businesses wouldn’t keep doing it. As a small business owner who is just starting out myself, I am able to combine the need for marketing with a still apparent consumer perspective. And, if you plan on marketing through the US postal service, here are some things to keep in mind:

Letters are the most effective way to personalize your advertising enough that the consumer at least looks at what you have to offer. Postcards get glances before they hit the wastebasket, and catalogs usually just get set aside for a time to thumb through that may never come along. Advertising letters are the happy medium that may mean increased success.

Though the body of your letter will obviously need to be typed in order to mass produce and insure ease of reading, there are still great ways to add a personal touch. Take the time to chose letterhead that is appealing. Stick with earth tones for the color of the paper, staying away from plain white and colors found in the crayon box, especially bright ones. Basically, you need something classy, yet trendy and modest, yet attention grabbing. And of course, a great logo and your business’ contact information.

Hand-written touches are the most important element. First, hand-write the addressee’s name. That way the consumer knows you thought of her personally and thought she would enjoy hearing about the product/service or special deal you are offering (even if she has no idea who you are).

Next, sign your name personally (with the typed version underneath, of course). Don’t use a stamp or an electronic signature, but actually take the time to sign each letter your business sends. Not only does it add a personal touch, but it aids the consumer in believing that you personally stand behind the product or service described above your name.

If you’re sending the letter as a special office for previous customers, write a “P.S.” at the bottom of the letter, in your own hand-writing, asking him how the cordless drill he bought last month is helping him with the new deck he’s building. Let the customer know he’s important to you by remembering him and aspects of his life specifically.

When adding these personal touches, do so in blue ink so that it jumps out at the customer and emphasizes that you actually wrote it. Many larger companies will use a script font for these personal touches and simply change the text color to blue… in an attempt to add the appeal of a personal touch without the actual effort to do so… and potential customers can see right through it (I always do). So I would recommend you don’t do that, if it can be avoided.

When sending advertising letters, your envelope makes the first impression. It will make or break whether the potential customer actually opens your letter. First, make sure the envelope matches your letterhead. Avoid simple No.10 white envelopes or window envelopes (which are synonymous with credit card offers), but take the extra expense to have the return address pre-printed just like your logo and use the same color paper.

One way to practically guarantee that your advertising letter will be opened is to keep the envelope free of clutter. Just stick to the mailing address, return address and a stamp/postage mark. The extra phrases some businesses put all over the envelope, such as “Act now!” or “Open immediately for a great offer!” are a dead giveaway that what’s inside is advertising, which means many of them will likely end up in the trash without the seal even being broken.

If possible, hand-write each mailing address on each envelope. A tedious task indeed, but this provides an added personal touch that piques the curiosity of the consumer about what may be contained inside. And if you get them to open the envelope, you’ve won half the battle.

Now that you know what may help you to get that “junk mail” actually opened, what should you do with the text of the letter that turns it from “junk mail” to quality advertising? Tomorrow I’ll cover some tips for getting the potential clients to consider buying what you have to offer.

Direct Mail Marketing Tips Part 2

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Direct Mail Marketing Tips (2 of 2)
Getting the Most Out of E-Mail Marketing
How Accessible are You?
5 Affordable Marketing Tips
10 Interactive Marketing Tips

By Michelle Cramer
Saturday, February 23rd, 2019 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Marketing |

When You Should Consider Hiring a CEO

When you start a business, it’s your baby, your life’s ambition come true. You spend thousands of hours building it, nourishing it, helping it grow. But just like a child, there may come a time when you have to loosen the reigns a bit. It may be time to hire a CEO.

Here are some clues that it may be time to put your business in another person’s hands:

• If you’re more comfortable planning the next big product for your company, but not with delegating who does what to make that product happen, you may need a CEO.

• When you don’t feel like you provide the professional presentation that clients are looking for, it may be time for a CEO to handle them.

• If your company has had ample turnovers, internal problems and a lack of direction, a CEO may be able to help clean up the mess.

• If all of your time is spent on operating the business and other important growth elements such as customer service, business development, and marketing are falling by the waste-side, time to bring in some CEO management.

The purpose of a CEO is not only to manage and operate the company on your behalf, but to give you constructive criticism and advice. And you have to be able to take it, because it’s the CEO’s job to make sure the company runs smoothly, and that may mean some necessary changes you’re not ecstatic about.

Also keep in mind when looking for someone to fill the CEO position that he needs to understand and share your values and vision for the future of your business. After all, it is still your business, so the track it is on should stay relatively the same. The CEO may bring other possibilities to your attention, but you will make the ultimate decision and she will have to be someone who can accept and respect that.

Putting the management of your business in someone else=s hands is a scary thought and requires immense consideration. But with someone who is capable and on the same page as you are regarding values and goals, he/she can actually make the experience of being an entrepreneur much more enjoyable.

• Bringing in a CEO

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Leading by Example in a World of Copy Cats
Leaders as Strong Public Speakers
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Consider This When Hiring an Intern
What Makes Women Entrepreneurs Different from Men?

By Michelle Cramer
Friday, February 22nd, 2019 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Operations, Startup |

Business Tips from Presidential Campaigns

Well, it has begun. The race for the White House in 2008 has started nearly two years in advance. But things are a bit different on the campaign trail this time around. The biggest difference: the candidates reliance upon the internet to develop their following. And business owners need to pay attention, because the strategy works.

Nearly every candidates website has some sort of blog post in which the candidate expresses his/her thoughts on a certain issue. John Edwards announced his participation in the race on his website one day before the press conference where he did the same. This gave his followers a feel of somewhat “privileged information,” not to mention brought in a little extra press coverage.

The candidates that keep a blog going throughout the campaign trail have caught on to the fact that the largest benefit of a blog is making your supporters/clientele feel like a part of the team. Keeping them informed with the daily issues at hand, whether that be how a candidate’s visit to a factory went that day or the new product that your company is releasing, help them feel like a part of your company, or in this case, campaign.

Leave it to Hillary. Senator Clinton launched her campaign for the presidency in a webcast on January 20th. Talk about tech savy. She continues to have weekly “HillCasts” in which she addresses various aspects of her campaign and her position on various matters. The idea is to appeal to the younger generation of voters out whose resource for news and information is the internet.

As a business owner, consider using video to announce the launch of a new product or a promotion. Posting such videos to YouTube as well as you’re own website can definitely generate some response. And let’s not forget that a video of someone like the CEO helps the customer to feel like there is actual person behind the business. It helps provide a sense of comfort and security.

Social Networks
Senator John McCain has invited supporters to sign up for their own “McCainSpace” site, to help them feel more involved in the campaign. Now even those supporters who may have little to no experience or knowledge base for helping on the campaign trail can feel like they are making a difference for the candidate they believe in.

Gov. Bill Richardson invites his supporters to join what is deemed his “grassroots campaigns” on sites like MySpace, Facebook and Flickr. Supporters can link their sites to Gov. Richardson’s as well as post their own blogs on the candidate and his issues.

Businesses can follow suit by developing social networks centered in their company’s ideals and benefits. Allowing customers to post their own reviews or blogs through your website allows them to feel involved. The loyal customers become part of the marketing concept for your company.

In all of this it’s important to remember to stick to the truth. Falsehoods will find you out, especially when you are inaccurately promoting a product or service you provide, or the statistics about your company.

Also, keep in mind that, along with the good comes the bad. If you open yourself up to the community, there will be people out there who are not pleased with your company, whether it be the service/product, the customer service department, or the charity you donate to. You can’t please everyone, and those that you don’t will definitely make themselves known. This is a risk you take when opening yourself up to the public, so be careful and stay on guard.

• Business Trick from Presidential Campaigns

Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Is Viral Marketing Effective?
Barriers to Marketing Success
The Lawsuit Risks of Having a Website
Marketing Your Website
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By Michelle Cramer
Thursday, February 21st, 2019 @ 12:08 AM CDT

Marketing, Networking, Operations |