The Big Idea

Business culture is obsessed with the Big Idea.  Many aspiring entrepreneurs are convinced their professional success lies somewhere in the yet undiscovered revolutionary idea.  A break-through invention, a brand new service, a radical marketing strategy.  Something that will shock and intrigue our material-saturated America.  Some individuals are so convinced that the Big Idea is the key ingredient, that they shove aside a truly viable business venture that they were once totally passionate about and instead invest their time in pursuit of the never-before-conceived company plan that will propel them to corporate stardom.

While there is no denying that brilliant new inventions and radical marketing strategies get attention and could bring success, it’s narrow minded to believe it’s the only worth-while business pursuit.

Ordinary restaurants, professional portrait studios, cozy cafes, and friendly financial consultants are writing their proverbial success stories ever day.  It takes more than a brilliant idea to create a successful business- you need passion, drive, commitment, and savvy.  A regular, ordinary business with all of these is in a much better position for success than a half-baked Big Idea.

If you’re passionate about your ordinary business idea, you have everything you need.  Ignore the myth that the Big Idea is the only idea worth pursuing.

3 Ways to Improve Your Company’s Website Copy

Your website is a vital part of your marketing plan.  Consumers are online, and they use your website to pre-qualify your business for their personal needs.  Here are 3 ways to make sure your website copy is pulling its weight.

1. Does the home page make your visitors feel at home? You only have a matter of seconds to capture a visitors attention- this is your home page’s job (the rest of the site is responsible for keeping a visitors attention after the home page has captured it).  The homepage copy should focus on your business’s most compelling benefits.  Say something amazing to make a visitor want to learn more.  Don’t put up a company history, a CEO biography, or list of awards your business has won.  This is all impressive stuff, but it won’t keep the attention of your flighty website visitors.

2. Your website should be all about your customer.  Just like your home page, your entire site should focus on benefits.  While each subsequent page after the homepage needs to focus on different information (perhaps product descriptions, contact info, business facts, etc.), all information should be presented in a customer-centric fashion.  For example: when presenting information about your company, don’t spurt facts about employee training and company awards.  Most consumers really don’t care how successful you are (harsh, but true).  Instead, they want to know how your expertise can make their lives better, easier, happier, etc. Tell them how your employee’s training will make their shopping experience less stressful and will save them valuable time.

3. Less is more.  The fewer words you use to make your point, the better off your website will be.  Visitors don’t want to read through large blocks of text (most of them won’t even try).  Sum things up in short, snappy sentences, and break up text chunks with graphics and blank spaces.  Also, be sure to limit copy to a certain topic on each page.  For example: store hours, location, and contact information on one page.  If you want to put up information about your products, create a separate page for that topic.

Using Twitter to Build Your Small Business

There are many Twitter skeptics out there- I know, I was one of them.  But there’s no denying that Twitter has become a sort of superforce on the internet.  Everyone’s there.  It’s a thriving community of constant communication.  Whether you think Twitter is brilliant or not, you have to go where your customers are.  And they’re on Twitter.

Once you’ve realized the potential you can tap into by getting on Twitter, it’s important to understand how to approach it as a marketing medium.  While I’ve read a handful of success stories using Twitter to sell products or services directly, it is more effective as a “brand builder”.  Think of it as a way to get your name out there in front of your customers and prospects, create a brand reputation, gain trust, and build relationships.  The more people see you (and like what you say) the more they will remember you.  Make an effort to interact, start conversations, and offer helpful advice.  Even if “brand building” doesn’t pay off in immediate profits, the constant exposure will certainly pay off in the long run.

As a final word, here are some suggestions of valuable “tweets” to help you build that brand and those relationships (and, as the end result, your business)

-Articles or blog posts you’ve written

-Articles or blog posts you find interesting and helpful

-Tips and helpful advice related to your business or expertise

-Questions related to your area of business

-Promotions or sales your business is running

So, what are you waiting for? www.twitter.com

Welcome to the Internet Age

The fact that you are reading this blog post indicates you’ve come to grips with the importance of the World Wide Web.  But, surprisingly, many small business owners don’t utilize the web to promote their own business ventures.

It has become a basic standard that consumers can find (at the very least) basic information about a company online before visiting or purchasing from that particular establishment.  Imagine the frustration a costumer would encounter when a Google search for your company turns up nada.  The most likely scenario is that this person will turn to your competitors (who have provided informative, enticing websites) for their needs.

Fortunately for you, launching your business into cyber space has become fairly simple and inexpensive.  A business owner can purchase a domain name and host a website for dollars a month (I use godaddy.com, and have been happy with the service).  You can hire a professional web designer, or use a simple web template program (that most web hosts provide) and set it up your self.

Depending on the size and complexity of your business, the content of your website will vary.  At the least, your website should provide the following basic information to your visitors:

-What your company provides to consumers (the services you offer, or the products you sell)

-Location information

-Hours of opertation

-Contact information

I suggest your study the websites of your competitors and make sure your website measures up.

Your website will be a virtual portal for your business.  Consumers can access info about your company at any time and share your web address with their friends.  It becomes a constant, world-wide, inexpensive marketing tool.

7 Reasons for Small Businesses to Hire a Copywriter

1.  You probably don’t have the time to complete writing projects yourself.  Most small business owners wear many hats- you hire employees (and keep them happy) deal with taxes, payroll, and insurance, you serve your costumers, stock your store (or improve your services), etc., etc.  It’s time you started outsourcing to professionals so you have time to focus on your true passion: running your business.  Hire someone to take care of your taxes, and find a copywriter to handle your writing projects.

2. Copywriters have marketing knowledge that you can tap into.  They do more then pen beautiful prose that sell your products or services- they also know their stuff when it comes to marketing (or at least, they should.)  This can prove to be an invaluable resource for you to tap into, and is a primary reason why they can create such successful copy for you.

3. Copywriters write.  It’s their job- so your project will get undivided attention.  Unlike you, writing isn’t a side project that just has to get done.  Writing is their whole vocation.  This, obviously, results in higher quality.

4. Fresh prospective.  A copywriter coming on board with your company has a fresh prospective that you lack.  They’re on the outside- just like your costumers.  This, along with the extensive research they will conduct, allows them to write copy that truly speaks to your target market.

5. Not everyone can write well.  Writing is a skill, just like any other professional service.  Expert copywriters can do a better job than an accountant who wants to save a few dollars by typing up his own brochure.

6. It’s going to save you money in the long run.  Even if a copywriter’s fee seems steep at first, you have to consider the return on investment.  Lets say you’re a weight loss consultant and you decide to write the copy yourself for the direct mail campaign you intend to send out to find more costumers.  Because your true talent lies in helping people get in better shape, your letter only generates a couple inquires that result in a couple hundred dollars worth of business.  On the other hand, you pay a copywriter six hundred bucks for a stellar sales letter that results in fifteen new clients and a couple thousand dollars worth of business, and you actually come out way ahead.

7. It will help you focus on the things you do best- running your business.  The more extra tasks you outsource to independent professionals, the more time you’ll have left over to focus on your business, which is always a good thing.

Purple Cow Marketing

Every business owner should be reading (if you haven’t already) Seth Godin’s book Purple Cow.

It sort of captures the epitome of modern marketing, and encompasses what I believe to be the key to successful business building.

Just encase you haven’t checked it out yet, let me proliferate.

Consumers are way too bogged down by advertising and sales messages.  They encounter so many of them each day, that these messages are now largely ignored.  The competition for consumer’s attention is so fierce in today’s market place, that there is really only one solution: you have to be different.

And not just a little bit different…very different. You have to be a purple cow.  You have to exploit those things that make your company and your brand unique.  And if there’s nothing notable that makes you stand out from your competitors, then you better go back to the drawing board. Right now.

Business isn’t just about what people need anymore.  Most people have everything they need, and most of the things they want.  The game is different now.  You have to be unique.

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