Last week, Epsilon - an email marketing company which sends 40 billion emails annually - announced that its system had experienced a security breach, potentially compromising massive amounts of corporate client information.
smart small business
Originally Posted Oct. 11, 2010
The death of mom-and-pop shops has been greatly exaggerated. Although some have blamed online shopping for their ostensible demise, the internet is actually restoring opportunities for independent retailers. That’s the argument being made by Ebay and Cooler in a report about how small virtual sellers are key to the nation’s economic and environmental revival. It’s easy to counter that of course they would say that. After all, Ebay is the world’s largest online marketplace for used goods, and Cooler is a consulting firm that strives to turn every purchase into a global-warming solution. Yet the two companies make a fairly convincing argument in their report.
You’ve sorted through a whole year’s worth of receipts, bills, and 1099s, and your tax forms are all filled out from top to bottom. But not so fast: Before you send in your paperwork, take the time to do one last check for errors. Catching your problem before the IRS does could save you thousands in penalties. Here are some of the most common tax mistakes individuals and businesses alike tend to make.
Photo of Cappuccino Cadillac, Courtesy of Harmony In Hooves
Now that credit is tight and banks are reluctant to take chances on small-business loans, more entrepreneurs are trying a new way to obtain the cash they need: from their peers.
If you know Half Moon Bay, California, chances are you know the name Pastorino. Pastorino Farm is a 60 year old, family-run nursery that sits on a whopping 18 acres of land in the famous coastal town.
Recently I had the opportunity to walk the streets of Half Moon Bay before small businesses start to ramp up for the upcoming Art and Pumpkin Festival on October 16 and 17, 2010.
By Pavel Lenshin
Friday, November 26, 2004; 3:00pm EST
Hype is everywhere. There are no ebooks on internet marketing, there are ebooks that change your life, bring you wealth and happiness. Guess what happens when these ebooks don't change their owners' lives? Right, buyers lose their belief!
Today's sales letters copy writing provokes inevitable harm to customers and create a fertile ground for scams.
Marketing hype continues to grow decreasing the truthful part accordingly. The line dividing the true business marketing and marketing hype is difficult to catch due to the increasing number of tricks and techniques used by online marketers.
We ruin people's belief, we decrease the credibility of the internet as a business place, we support online scams and spammers with our own hands, sometimes even without noticing it.
I've spent months exploring so-called "Free" traffic or promotion opportunities and after all discovered that all they want is to put my money into their pocket only for my right to advertise and promote their offers. I bet you have been caught with this "Free" trick also.
Programming language in 3 hours? Web-design skills in 2 hours? What next? Millionaire in 1 hour? You can buy product with web-sites provided, which you could set-up and start running within 2 hours, but you will never be able to understand the methods and techniques of writing your own ebook or creating personal web-site during that blatantly advertised period of time.
Guess what happens with a true "inventor", who, say, developed his own system of completely learning Perl language in a month. We all know that it is a true system, but due to well-advertised marketing hype, no one will pay any attention to him, unless he states something similar to "Become a programming guru in two hours!". But he couldn't do that simply because his system designed to learn the languages in a month, not in an hour or two.
So ask yourself who wins under such conditions at the end? The answer is obvious - scams, who advertise marketing hype and play on people's laziness! Who will lose? The developers of true fundamental systems that can truly teach people a new knowledge, considering people's learning abilities, spare time etc.
I will share my simple rule with you. If I see on someone's web-site statement proclaiming I will get any knowledge in several hours others take months to learn, I immediately close down the browser window, sometimes stop my online session in order to forget the path to this site forever.
Solicited testimonials? Are they objective and true? Are they informative for the visitor? Could you find a natural or negative testimonial in someone's sales letter? Maybe one or two in the entire internet just because of unprofessional author. So why everyone tells you, that testimonials are so important? Simply it is another psychological trigger to the mind. Want to build credibility? Great! Publish unsolicited clients' feedback. If there is no any, think about improving your offer rather than bribing your customers to write a testimonial for you.
I see strong tendency towards hype, tricks and nonsense only to force a visitor to buy. It will not be a big surprise if I soon encounter an ad with 20 supporting testimonials telling me that if I buy particular book today, then tomorrow I will construct a jet-plain. That's why there is an army of disappointed people who have bought 150 ebooks and simply don't know what to do and what they need them for.
The roots of that marketing garbage lie at the bottom of the competition. When hundreds of sellers try to promote the same product using the same web-page, the competition becomes so fierce that it is almost impossible to market without advertising fraud.
In order to profit you should make your offer as unique as possible. No more, no less.
Make your offer to be addressed to the buyers' side, don't force them (using marketing hype) to buy product that you know is not good enough or fake at all. To my mind, the best way is to inform your customer about his/her benefits along with the features, not instead. Let the customer choose what features are really beneficial, and what aren't. Only that way can be fully objective in relation to your customer. Given you're having great offer, full customer satisfaction is what will make your business literally explode.
Be honest. The result of selling one more hype product is temporal, integrity and honesty with people you are dealing with is for entire life. Decide what is more important to you.
Internet is our home. Let's make it clean and shining.
About the Author
Pavel Lenshin is a publisher of NET Business Magazine, professional web-developer and CEO of:
http://ASBONE. com/ - informational portal and provider of discounted internet services for entrepreneurs, including internet access, web-design and hosting; http://InfoAlchemist. com/ - a must-have business library.
(Photo: Sarah Carr, CEO and Chairman, Earth Class Mail)
April 18th looms like a dark, ominous cloud on the horizon for many small businesses. The very thought of filing taxes can put a knot in someone-s stomach. (Thanks for the extra three days this year, guys!)
By Jon Wuebben, Professional Website Copywriter
Wednesday, May 25, 2005; 11:00am EST
Today, being on the first page for your most popular keyword phrase is like having the most memorable prime time television commercial in 1973.
Essentially, that's where the power of advertising is going. It's all about Search. And Search is only going to become more important over the next ten years. If you can get on that coveted first page organically, well then, more power to you!
I know you probably have read other articles about writing SEO copy and how it relates to achieving high search rankings, there are plenty of them to go around. But some of the articles are complicated; some are too long, others boring. Still others don't explain that great SEO copy is rarely effective just on it's own ' in order to get those high rankings (which is the goal after all), you have to do other things too. So, we decided that what most people really needed was a 'down and dirty', easy to understand, ten step method. You ask, and we deliver. Here are the official ten steps in order:
1) Check your Competitors
Who are your competitors? Do you know? If you don't, you may want to go online and do a search for your product or service. Who is on the first two pages? That is your target. Those are the companies that you want to compete with. Because right now, they are getting your customers. Take a look at their website. Notice the copy. Analyze their business. Are they successful? What are they not doing right? Look for the holes. You're going to meet the needs of their customers (that they are not fulfilling) so they become YOUR customers.
2) Research your Keyword Phrases
Remember, Keyword Phrase research is critically important. It can also be a little tricky. Do you know what keywords or keyword phrases your customers search for when they look for you? Are you sure? See what your competitors are using. You can do this by right clicking on their home page, selecting 'View Source' and then checking their keyword meta tag. Next, go on to Overture. com (Now Yahoo), click on 'Visit the Advertiser' section, and use their Keyword Selector Tool. Its great ' and its free. You can also use Wordtracker. com, but it does cost $7.50/day.
3) Write Good Copy
Now its time to start writing. Or re-writing. And if you can't write, you can hire a website copywriter to do it for you. The bottom line is to write about benefits, not features. Don't tell them how great your company is. They will discover that for themselves when you overwhelm them with your service and deliver the perfect product that meets their every need. Make the copy to the point and snappy. Make it sure it has impact, and asks the potential customer for their business.
4) Integrate Your Keyword Phrases
After you figure out which keyword phrases you want to use on your site, you need to integrate them into the copy of your site. Think Home Page and Services page as the most important pages to use them on. Essentially, you want to them to make up 5% of the total words on the page. It's not that hard actually. Just don't use them all over the place like some stupid copywriters do ' you could get de-listed from the search engines. Definitely use them in your headlines and sub headlines. That will get you extra points, so to speak.
5) Check your Links, Build if necessary
Do you have any inbound links pointing to your site? If not, no amount of awesome copy is going to get your site high rankings. Links are very important. And even more so for Google. Go to linkpopularity. com and see what you have. Also check your competitors. If they have more than you, you need to get some high quality links. You can either do that yourself or hire someone to do it for you. It can be time consuming and expensive. But you gotta do it. It makes you look important to the search engines. A good way to do it is to make sure you are listed on directories, including DMOZ and industry related sites. Go to incominglinks. com to see which ones you should be listed on. Then write articles and submit them to article submission sites. That could potentially give you hundreds of links for free.
6) Use Go Rank's Analytical Tools
GoRank. com is a fantastic free resource for SEO. They have a Keyword Density Analyzer, Link Popularity Analyzer, Top 10 Keyword Analyzer, Research, News and lots of other great stuff. It's a great tool and something I use every day. It will help you in your SEO copy efforts.
7) Submit to the Search Engines
After you've ensured that your website copy and all the other important SEO considerations have been completed, it's time to submit to the Search Engines. Do it manually. Go to the search engine and do it yourself. Definitely don't pay someone to do it for you. You may have to resubmit a few times, but eventually, your site will get noticed.
8) Tweak the Copy as necessary, Add New Content
After your site has been up for a while, go back and take a second look. Ask friends and customers what they think of it. Can anything be improved? You'll be surprised what you may hear. If something isn't working, fix it. Make it sound better. The other thing that you should also be doing is adding content regularly. Build free resources into your website. This will make your customers and potential customers happy, and it will make you appear to be more important in the eyes of the search engines. Adding articles to your site is a great way to give your customers new, free content. Write about things that they would find interesting.
9) Partner with a Great SEO Firm
You may want to also consider partnering with a great Search Engine Optimization firm. There are probably a hundred very good ones out there. There are also 1000 bad ones. For the good ones, check out topseos. com. and marketingsherpa. com. They both list reputable firms. Whoever you go with, make sure they have a list of client success stories complete with stats to back it up.
10) Measure Your Success!
Finally, measure your success. (or progress) Get a software program that will provide you with some web metrics as it pertains to your site. WebTrends and Statcounter are great ones. There are quite a few others as well.
As you can see, Search Engine Optimized copy is only part of the overall SEO story. There is a lot to it, so make sure you cover every area. After all, we want to get your web site to the very top!
About the Author Jon Wuebben is a professional Website Copywriter, SEO Copywriter and Advertising Copywriter with 10 years experience in B2B & B2C copywriting and marketing. He can be reached at (909) 437-7015, or online at http://www. CustomCopywriting. com for any copywriting project you may have or if you would like more articles or a Complimentary Website Copy analysis.
Need a custom newsletter or e-zine article written? Call Jon Today at (909) 437-7015 or email jon@customcopywriting. com for a professional Website Copywriter, SEO Copywriter, or Advertising Copywriter.
With health care costs soaring, small businesses across the country are struggling to provide health insurance coverage for their employees. In 2009, only 46 percent of small businesses with fewer than 10 employees offered health insurance to their workers, which is down from 57 percent in 2000. Add that to the predicament that small businesses typically pay over 18 percent more in health care costs than large corporations, it-s easy to see why small businesses are caught in the middle.
We-re getting down to the wire for meeting the deadline for filing this year-s tax return, so if you haven-t already filed, it-s time to get busy! But before filing your 2010 small business tax return, take note of the following tax law changes - some of which are potential money savers. Even if you-ve already filed for this year, some of the changes extend to next year.
One of the great things about technology is that it gives small businesses a wealth of marketing tools which can be easily combined with traditional outreach practices. However, with numerous high-tech marketing tools out there, small business marketing campaigns can become stretched thin from a lack of financial, technological, or human resources.
Sometimes, people just don’t get along. If you’re managing employees in a small business, you’re bound to find yourself dealing with a personality clash at some point or another, whether it’s something as simple as a staff member playing music too loudly or something as nasty as rumors being spread or even the threat of a physical altercation. No matter what the situation is, there are a number of ways to handle it gracefully. Here are some steps to take when you have to manage workplace conflict.
I thrive on word-of-mouth referrals for my freelance writing services, as do most owners of small businesses or sole proprietors.
Across the country, more and more people are enjoying the ability to choose between organic foods and their pesticide-ridden counterparts, and if Bison Brewing Company owner Daniel Del Grande has his way, more people will also be able to choose between the environmentally-friendly organic beer and the mass-produced stuff.
Workplace drug screening can be a touchy topic. Sure, you want your employees to be healthy and productive. But if you-re not careful you might break their trust — and the law. There are generally two forms of workplace drug testing: Pre-hire screening and current-employee testing. The latter, in particular, comes with a host of cultural and legal issues. So is it worth it?
Ending a marriage is hard enough, but when you and your soon-to-be-ex also own a business together, it creates an extra layer of complication. Should one of you buy the other out? Or can you continue working together without destroying the business, too?
For many entrepreneurs and small business owners, the mere thought of ending a relationship with an employee, product line, or a less-than-productive business strategy is a taboo subject often associated with failure. The idea can be so paralyzing it is often pushed to the back of the mind to gather dust.
All it takes is a single sexual harassment lawsuit for a small business to come to a screeching halt. Even a claim of sexual harassment can cost a small business its well-earned reputation, plus the depletion of its bank account.
By Jon Wuebben, Professional Advertising Copywriter
Monday, May 25, 2005; 11:00am EST
Ah' advertisements, those wonderfully adorable little vignettes that come to us at all hours of the day, seven days a week, fifty two weeks a year. Seventy percent of them are ineffective. Probably more than that actually. And a lot of them can become very annoying.
But then there are those ads ' those special ads that stand out and make you say, 'Hey, that was a really good ad!' For us in the ad and copywriting business, that may happen a little more often, simply because we tend to pay more attention to things that interest us. But, when it happens for you, what do you think it is that is making you take notice?
Well an advertisement is obviously an image, coupled with a message (copy). But not all the time. Sometimes it's just an image, other times it's just copy. But more often than not, it's a combination. Well, in this article, we're dealing with the Copy aspect. And in my opinion, that's the most important part. But then again, I'm a little biased! Well, anyway, here are some tried and true methods for making sure you have written world-class ad copy that can begin to build Brand Equity.
1) Clarify the Goal of the Ad Copy.
What do you want the consumer to do after seeing the ad? Do you want them to buy your product, 'call now', go to your website, or send for a brochure? Whatever it is, make sure you know before you even put pen to paper. (or hands to keyboard) The 'Call to Action' as it is known in its classic form, is without a doubt one of the two most important parts of the ad copy. The other is the'
2) Headline! 'Headline! Headline! Headline!
We've heard it a million times ' a great headline can make a business rich overnight. And it's true. The headline is critical. The mission is to reach out to the consumer as they are paging through that magazine, surfing the web or channel surfing their TV and magically bring them into the ad. How are you going to do it? Do a lot of brainstorming before you decide on the headline. That will help flesh out the idea. When you have the right one, you'll know. It will easily stand above the rest.
3) Write like People Talk.
This is not a research paper! Not even close to it. This is a conversation with your customer, only it's written (or spoken) and it's one-way communication. That is, the potential customer can't ask questions of the ad. Or can they? Well, at least not now they can't, but definitely in the future. Great ad copy is persuasive prose that convinces the consumer to buy. Write like people talk. You'll bond with the potential customer that much more.
4) Be Inventive.
How do you make your ad really stand out? How about creating a new metaphor? That's a tough one. But it has been done. Maybe you can find a unique way of expressing an idea or concept in the ad. A new way of approaching an old subject can really bring it to life. This is also one step that most copywriters forget about.
5) Don't use Clich's!
Nothing more really needs to be said on that one. Just make sure they don't creep in.
6) Make Every Word Count.
This is where ad copywriting really becomes an art form. To make every word count means that you have to get rid of the fluff and keep the meaningful words. You'll find when you do this that the ad will take on a whole new look and feel. But the real impact is made when it is read. An ad that keeps only the words that count is an ad that will read very well.
7) Use Short, Snappy Sentences.
Save the long drawn out, adjective filled ones for those term papers or essays. That's the only place they belong. People are drawn to copy that is punchy, snappy and to the point. Using the present tense and the active voice will go a long way to getting you there. Good ads always use them. You also know it when you see it. And it always makes a better impression.
8) Use AIDA.
Attention-Interest-Desire-Action. If you remember nothing else from this article, remember this. With any advertisement, this is really the 'foundation' on which everything else is built. Quite simply, it's: Grab the reader's attention, build their interest, create a desire in them, and make them take action. Of course, it's very easy to say this is what you need to do. The harder question is 'how do you do it?' Well think of yourself. What makes you buy something? After you figure that out, then apply it to the copy you are writing.
9) Write about Benefits!
People love to know what's in it for them. In fact, they really want to know what's in it for them! But how many websites or ads have you seen that just talk about how great the product or service is? The goal is to express how this product or service will positively impact your customer's life. The features of the product or the details about the company are important, but they are second string to the first string status of benefits. It takes practice, but it will come. People are just so conditioned to talk about features, that they forget about the most important part'BENEFITS!
That's it! Nine simple steps to keep in mind when writing that next world class, award winning ad! And if you really follow all of them, winning an award could truly be a reality. Because when the right words come together with the right image, that's when people will magically'and faithfully'.BUY!
About the Author
Jon Wuebben is a professional Website Copywriter, SEO Copywriter and Advertising Copywriter with 10 years experience in B2B & B2C copywriting and marketing. He can be reached at (909) 437-7015, or online at http://www. CustomCopywriting. com for any copywriting project you may have or if you would like more articles or a complimentary Website Copy analysis.
Need a custom newsletter or e-zine article written? Call Jon Today at (909) 437-7015 or email jon@customcopywriting. com for a professional Website Copywriter, SEO Copywriter, or Advertising Copywriter.
The IRS doesn-t reveal the exact details on how a small business tax return is selected for an audit any more than McDonald-s discusses the recipe for the Big Mac-s special sauce. The IRS does provides some hints here, but many point to red flags that scream -Audit Me- right into Uncle Sam-s ear.
LinkedIn. com officially launched on May 5, 2003. At the end of its first month, it had a total of 4,500 members.
Picture of Shana-s daughter, Hannah, with Scratch the Horse.
For a small business, landing a deal as a supplier for a Fortune 500 company or other big firm is a dream come true, but you have to work hard to turn it into reality. It can take years to land that first contract, but it can be done. Here-s what executives at Fortune 500 companies that manage contracts with small business suppliers say you can do to swing the odds in your favor.
You know you have a desk in there somewhere, under the piles of files. Time to clean up and, while you’re at it, organize your office.
These days, plenty of grandmas have traded in their knitting needles for MacBooks: The number of senior citizens using the internet has risen dramatically in recent years, jumping from 11.3 million users in 2004 to 17.5 million in 2009. Given that so many older people are spending time online, it’s important to ensure that you’ve done everything you can to make your business’ website a pleasant browsing experience for them, particularly if your product or shop is geared toward an older audience. Here are some tips to help you build a senior-friendly site.
If you’re looking for affordable, enthusiastic help for your small business, you might be interested in hiring a few teenagers. You’ll find a huge supply of willing under-18 workers during the summer months, which can be especially appealing if you run a seasonal business and need some extra hands between June and August. But before hiring a worker under the age of 18, it’s important to know state and federal restrictions for hiring teenage employees. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind.
Assuming this isn-t another elaborate April Fool-s joke, Google is taking another evolutionary step forward with its user search experience. Thanks to the heralded forthcoming addition of the so-called -+1″ button, Google is poised to fuse search results with social networking to an entirely new extent.
Most companies, regardless of their size or industry, believe that sustainability is becoming a mainstream, even essential, element of business strategy. Those hoping to gain competitive advantage, therefore, should be looking at the practices and approaches being implemented by early adopters of sustainability-driven management.
Both Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) or Health Reimbursement Arrangements Accounts (HRAs) can save you money on health insurance. But which is the best choice for your small business? To determine the real benefits of each, we called Carlos Ramirez (pictured), President of Fog City Insurance Services in foggy San Francisco.
For every online business, few things hold more allure than the promise of advertising keywords delivered via Google. After all, you only pay for those customers who come to your site, so how could anything go wrong?
March-s Intuit Small Business Employment Index showed small businesses added 50,000 new jobs and, for the first time in months, job growth in every part of the U. S. The Index is based on figures from the nation-s smallest businesses that use Intuit Online Payroll.
With spring cleaning in full swing, small business owners across the country are scratching their heads wondering how they accumulated so many printer cartridges or why they still have a fax machine they never use.
Catherine Chow and Corina Nurimba were young college graduates with a love for fashion - but little business or retail experience - when they decided to start Azalea, a clothing boutique in San Francisco.
The development of your small business website could easily prove to be one of the most important, time consuming, and expensive aspects of the entire startup experience. But while design and user-friendliness are the attributes a business owner will often most intensely desire, a critical component of savvy web strategy will ultimately be lost if customer messaging doesn-t share top billing with design and functionality.
Hopefully you know it’s almost tax time. But do you know whether your business is set up to take advantage of the tax breaks available to you? Here are five ways you can save money by cutting back your taxable income. It may be too late to implement some of these changes for this tax season, but by looking into these strategies now, you’ll be well prepared by the time next April rolls around.
Back in the old days (as in, just a decade ago), all you really needed to promote your business was a stack of business cards and brochures, and maybe a membership to your local Chamber of Commerce. But now that most potential customers spend hours online every day, there are many new marketing outlets to consider. Here’s a look at some of the latest tools you should be using to promote your company.
- 5 Tips on How to Outsource Work Overseas
- How to Create a Buzz for Your Small Business
- Ellechor Publishing House Wins $5,000 Love A Local Business Grant
- How Small Businesses Can Use Cloud Computing
- How Small Business Owners Can Save Money on Healthcare Costs
- Sustainable Seafood Can Give Food Purveyors a Competitive Advantage
- Does Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s Management Style Work?
- How to Keep Your Business Running After a Natural Disaster
- 5 Small Businesses a Student Can Start Over Spring Break
- Building a Website for Your Business
- Before Spending Money, Let's Talk About History. SCAMS: SPECIAL INVESTIGATION SERIES
- Free Resources for Minority-Owned Businesses
- Seven Success Strategies for Hiring Great People
- Small Businesses Creating More Social Media Jobs
- A Small Business Accountant Shares Her Experience with Check Fraud
- Intuit Money Matters Town Hall: Rhonda Abrams- Perspective
- Should You Start a Blog for Your Small Business?
- Deep In The Film Art of Texas: Alamo Drafthouse, A SXSW Venue
- Japanese Restaurant Owners Evolve Their Neighborhood, Venue, and Menu
- Understanding Quarterly Estimated Taxes
- Building Harmony
- 15 Best Android Apps for Small Businesses