Friday, March 27, 2015

Lazy Marketing Tips For Your Business

Are you a lazy when it comes to marketing your business? Are you too busy running the day-to-day operation of your business to put in a full day’s work marketing your business? If so, you’re not alone. Many small businesses run on tight budgets, with small staffs and simply do not have the time, money, or resources to spend more than an hour a week or month promoting their businesses. But without a marketing strategy in place, your business can fail.

If you’re a lazy marketer, these tips will help you squeeze marketing into your daily, weekly, or monthly schedule:

Develop A Following

One of the easiest ways to market your business is to develop a following for your product or service, which in turns spreads word-of-mouth advertising.

1. The first step in developing a following is to make sure your product or service is something others need, because if they don’t need it, they won’t care what you have to offer.

2. The second step in developing a following is to design a professional looking website that talks about your products or services, offers them for sale online, and includes a members only area (secure part of website or e-newsletter) where potential and returning customers can sign in, for free, to read about the latest company news, read articles related to your company products, and receive member-only discounts.

3. The third step in developing a following is to write a blog. A blog is an online journal that allows you to talk to your readers as though they were friends, and not as though they were potential sales. While your blog shouldn’t be written with a sales pitch in mind, it also shouldn’t be a place to share negatives. Stay upbeat and keep your blog free of grammar and spelling errors.

Visit Topic Related Forums

Forums are message boards, both private and open, where like-minded people visit to discuss specific topics. What you want to do is visit a different forum each day. But the key is to visit forums where your buyers frequent, not forums where other professionals frequent.

Spend no more than thirty minutes visiting the forum, pick a topic you know something about and post a relevant solution to that poster’s question. And don’t forget to pay close attention to what the other posters have to say. You just might learn some value information that can help you redefine your business, produce a new product or service, fix a glitch in your existing product or service, or help you in your marketing strategies.

Give Away Samples

Everyone loves to get something for free. Is there something that you can give away that won’t cut into your profits? The idea is to give away something that either helps promote your business through visual reminders, such as a pen with your company logo and contact information or something that will entice visitors to buy your product or service, such as a trial size version of your product or a free information course delivered by email (known as an e-course) to give your visitor a taste of the quality of your service.

Distribute Topic Related Articles

One of the fastest ways to deliver information about your product or service across the Internet is to give away quality-written articles related to your business. And one of the cheapest ways to get into print publications related to your business’ topic is to write quality articles. Articles keep a reader’s attention without making him feel as though he is being manipulated or pitched to. Articles in quality publications validate your product or service, and if it’s really good, will cause the reader to pick up the phone or visit your website. (Just don’t include those same articles on your website, in your e-newsletter, or in your paid courses.) To learn more about marketing with articles, read “Tid-Bits for Marketing Your Business With Articles.”

Get Interviewed

Interviews offer free exposure and credibility for your business, product, or service and the best part is that it’s all free!

1. Getting quoted in magazine articles or books is as easy as getting listed on a press release service, such as Dan Janel’s PR Leads, adding a media page to your business website with contact information for journalists, and notifying journalists who cover your business topic and information them that you are available for interviews.

2. Getting interviewed on radio shows is as easy as picking up the phone and calling the production assistant and asking for the contact information to send your media kit. Once you get the call back to be interviewed, you simply pick up your phone at a designated time. You don’t even have to leave your home or office!

Make A Call

My least favorite way of marketing my business, without leaving my home or office, is to make cold-contact calls. Depending on your business type, you can receive up to 100 “no thank yous” before you receive a single yes, but when business is slow, drumming up new business is not only essential, it’s vital to your profit margin.

Contact Past Customers

Whether your customer buys products from your business or uses your service take the time to contact one customer per day (or week). If you’re in the area, stop by his (or her) place of business. If you’re not in the area, call or write a letter. The key to calling an existing customer (or client) is to make sure you have a legitimate reason for doing so.

  • Do you have a regular customer who hasn’t been back to your business in awhile? Call to find out how he (or she) is doing.
  • Did a customer buy a complicated piece of machinery? Call to see if he figured out how to use it.
  • Did you complete a project for a client a few weeks ago? Call and ask how the project went.
  • Did your client miss an appointment? Call to reschedule.
  • Did your client promise to call or visit and never did? Call to find out if everything is okay.

Attend Networking Events

Attending networking events may take a little more effort since it involves leaving your home or office, but it’s really a lazy way of marketing your business because networking events are usually quite fun. They’re meant for socializing and schmoozing with business people who may (or may not) be able to help your business.

The dictionary defines lazy as “slow moving or gentle” and that’s just what these marketing tips are. They’re gentle and easy ways for you to market your business without having to expand any more of your already depleted energy. While these marketing tips may not offer fast results, they’re proven methods of attracting and keeping customers. So get out there and do a little lazy marketing!

© , All Rights Reserved.

* This article first appeared on The Dabbling Mum eMagazine.

Friday, March 20, 2015

11 Tips For Running A Productive Homebased Business

Here's an article I wrote back in 2009. Boy did I need this refresher!

As a full-time work-at-home mom with two children under 18 and a husband, I’m often asked, “How in the world do you get it all done? Do you have a magic formula? A secret you can share?”

My answer varies based on who's asking, but it all boils down to this: I don’t always get it all done. Sometimes, I simply have to say, “No” or “Not right now”. And I no longer give my home the “white glove” treatment—there’s just no way to run a profitable home business if I spend half my day cleaning!

That being said, here are 11 tips that have helped me stay focused and build my homebased business to a level I feel comfortable with:

1. Clean House

The first step in getting things done, for me, is to get my house in order. Sometimes, I feel overwhelmed when my house is a mess or disorganized and that takes my concentration away from my work. It bogs me down. So when I begin feeling squeezed for time, I make a point to gather the kids and husband and have a SPRING CLEAN DAY. I give each person a task; then we blare the radio, open up all the windows, and set a time for when the tasks must be complete. Two hours later, my home feels clean, I feel de-stressed, and the clean house helps refresh my brain cells.

2. Keep A To Do List

I have four “to do lists” going at all times. Three of them are in Word® documents on my computer. There’s one for projects I want to get done this week, one for projects I want to get done in a month’s time, and one for projects I want to get done in the distant future. Then there’s my “daily to do list”. It’s usually a small Post-it® note stuck to the current day on my desk calendar.

I organize my “to do lists” this way because if I had one long list, I’d never get a thing done—I’d be too overwhelmed, which would stop me dead in my tracks. By having my larger “to do lists” on my computer I can alter them when needed and don’t have them visually reminding me of everything I’ve yet to accomplish. My Post-it® notes are rewritten every night before going to bed—undone tasks are moved to the new Post-it® and new tasks that pop up during the week are added.

3. Set Your Priorities

Your priorities are a result of your business goals, your client (or customer) needs, the needs of your family, and your own personal needs. Each day, you must decide what’s most important and organize your “to do list” to meet those priorities. The best way to do this is to take everything you have to get done in a day, a week, a month, or a year and list them according to time restraints. In other words,

  • What must get done today?
  • What must be done within the hour?
  • What must be done by the afternoon?
  • What must be done before I go to bed?
  • What can wait until tomorrow?
  • What must get done this week?
  • What must get done in a month from now?

So if you need to make an appointment at 2 p.m. and it takes an hour to get there, your presentation must be ready by noon. Or if your child has a school concert at 4 p.m. and your new client wants his project on his desk by 4 p.m. that same day, you’ll need to complete the project the day before. Waiting until the last minute could mean complications that prevent you from attending your child’s concert and that’s simply not acceptable on your list of priorities.

4. Watch Your Browsing Time

I love to read websites, blogs, emails, and message boards. In the past, I devoured every morsel of information I could glean from such places, but as my business grew so did my lack of time.

I have learned to only stick with email groups or message boards if they offer something in return for my time—lessons learned and networking. If all they do is take my energy and time and give nothing in return, I leave—without ever looking back.

Email can be a huge problem. Every minute used to check if “new mail” has arrived is a minute wasted. I have learned to set times for checking and replying to email: when I wake up in the morning, when I’ve completed a project and need a break, and right before I am ready to stop working for the day. (The same goes for blog reading.)

5. Designate Chores

When I was little, I felt like Cinderella before the ball so I had a hard time giving chores to my children. But now that they are older, I’ve realized that if they don’t learn household and cooking skills now, they won’t know how to take care of themselves when they move out on their own. Who knew enlisting the help of our children could free up so much time!

6. Get A Hobby

When I first started my business, I gave up all hobbies. In fact, I gave up any “me time”. I had to if I wanted to succeed and still have quality time with my kids and husband. But after awhile, I began to feel really burnt out. My business was beginning to stand on its own but I’d developed a bad habit of “working, working, working” and I completely forgot what it meant to actually enjoy life. On the advice of both my doctor and my chiropractor, I began to rediscover the value of taking a time out—just for me.

What I discovered was amazing! A hobby that required nothing more than my time and ability to be creative allowed me to release the pressure I felt from running my business, things that once made me freak out no longer bothered me, and my business didn’t suffer. In fact, giving myself an hour a day (or three hours a week) has actually allowed me to become a more productive writer and better business person.

7. Make Time For Family

“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” or so the saying goes. And you know what? All work and no family time can really wreck havoc in both your personal life and your work life. When your family is happy, you’re happy. And when you’re happy, you’re business runs smoother and difficult times don’t feel quite as desperate which allows you to think outside the box for solutions you never dreamed possible. Besides, unhappy families take up far more energy and time than necessary and make working difficult.

8. Ask For Help

Sometimes, we simply can’t do it all. Sometimes we must pay or barter for help. By freeing the half hour it takes to wash and vacuum your car, you’ve just given yourself a half hour to work. By asking a neighbor to take your children to school in the morning in exchange for picking up her kids in the afternoon, you’ve saved yourself anywhere from 20 to 50 minutes every morning! By swapping babysitter duties once a week, you’ve just given yourself a toddler free day to make uninterrupted phone calls, run errands, and complete tasks that would have taken you twice as long had a toddler been underfoot.

9. Give Up Non-essentials

In order to get things done, it sometimes means we have to give up something that essentially wastes time and doesn’t enhance our quality of life or our business. Non-essentials, like watching television, prevent you from accomplishing your tasks. If you have a favorite soap opera, you don’t have to give it up. Just record it and watch it in the evening, when you need to unwind from a busy and hectic day. Don’t watch it during the day when your kids are napping and the free time could be used for business.

Are there other areas in your day where you “waste” time—time that is not essential to providing a healthy, happy you?

10. Just Do It

Sometimes we just don’t wan to work. We’d rather play hookie and as home business owners there’s no one to reprimand us or dock our pay if we decide to take the day off. But taking the day off too frequently can and will put an end to your business. When times like these creep up, determine the cause for wanting to play hookie and then work to resolve those feelings. Are you burnt out? Would one hour of relaxation help instead of taking the entire day off? If the only reason you want the day off is because you don’t want to tackle the task at hand—you need to just do it! In other words, you need to talk yourself out of procrastinating and talk yourself into working—even if it means offering yourself a small reward at the end of the day, like your favorite ice cream or a trip to the local coffee shop.

11. Set A Timer

Some people get so engrossed in what they’re doing that before they know it hours have passed; if that happens while taking a break to play Solitaire or read blogs, that can lead to an entire day wasted. Setting a timer can help.

I discovered a free reminder service that has been a God-send. With a few adjustments, I can remind myself to stop browsing the Internet, to stop reading email, to take a break and stretch, to stop working and eat, to get to work on an assignment, and when a deadline is nearing its final days. Check it out.

In the end, a productive business is what you make it. Sacrifices are inevitable, but giving up too much of who you were for your business will eventually cause you to resent your business, which will ultimately cause you to stop putting forth an effort and your business will fail. The key to a successful business is learning to balance both work and home.

© , All Rights Reserved.

* This article first appeared on The Dabbling Mum eMagazine.

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