Case Study: Costs for starting up a second, related business
A LOT OF BUSINESS OWNERS branch out into related fields when their flagship business becomes successful enough (just look at Jim’s Mowing). However, this can be a bit dicey if the business owner doesn’t properly forecast all the start up costs. Not doing so can not only have an adverse impact on the new venture, but also on the existing business.
PowerPoint: The Great Visual Aid to What You’re Saying
Many people don’t realise what an excellent design tool PowerPoint is. It can be used for a lot more than just creating slideshows and presentations and is a great marketing and design tool for all kinds of business functions.
You know what PowerPoint is. It was installed on your computer when you bought Microsoft Office. You hate it. But have you thought that the reason you hate it is because a) you’ve never learned how to use it properly, and b) you associate it with boring corporate meetings and seminars?
In its decade of existence, Facebook has built up a wealth of data about its users, data that it likes to sell back to those who need it, in the form of targeted advertising. Facebook advertising, though similar in its approach, is very different to Google Ads in what it delivers.
Never Fear: A “Sales” Pitch Can Really Just Be a Conversation
After you’ve set the correct prices for your bookkeeping services, it’s time to perfect your sales pitch. It’s good to think about the way real estate agents sell a property to prospective buyers: Good sales agents don’t pitch to the buyer at all. Instead, they get to know the buyer and their needs.
If that happens to suit the property they’re selling, they tell them so. If it doesn’t they tell them that too. Often, they’ll mention another listing they have that might better suit the buyer.
Don’t Reinvent the Wheel: Glean Relevant Info from the Property Industry
As a bookkeeper, or someone thinking about becoming a bookkeeper, you may be surprised how much you can learn from real estate agents. For an example, take the way a real estate agent has to price a property for sale.
The key to selling a property quickly and efficiently, is setting the right price. A real estate agent who sets a price that’s too high for the market, isn’t doing her or his job properly. In such cases, the property will sit around for many weeks, or possibly even months, until the price is eventually reduced to one the market will bear, sometimes to well below market value.
The beginning of a new year, which is typically the quietest as people take a while to adjust to the work and school routine, is when a lot of business owners spend time setting goals for the year ahead.
Just as individuals set their own personal new year’s resolutions, many business owners use January to set some new year’s resolutions for their business’s marketing activities.
Here are the Digital Marketing tasks that staff can do to bring more inquiries and more sales:
Business blogging vs paid Google Ads or Facebook Ads
We’re busy developing a new content marketing course because as a form of online marketing, content marketing is finally starting to come into its own. Content marketing has actually been around for many years – it’s been known as custom publishing, branded content, branded journalism, and custom media – but as it became more popular, marketers began referring to it as content marketing to make it easier to for their clients to understand.
Content marketing is basically the process of creating valuable, informative content – blog posts, email newsletters, ebooks, etc – and sharing it online to help attract and retain customers. But because it requires a lot of content to be produced and regularly, many small businesses are outsourcing their content marketing needs.
Your content marketing needs to have a purpose
To make the most out your content marketing, you need to have goals and a strategy in place to achieve them so you’re not just wasting your time. This is the same as traditional marketing activities, which we cover in our Small Business Management Course. You also need to be able monitor how each piece of content is going at achieving those goals.
If you’re also hiring a content writer or strategist to help you with your content marketing, you also need a way to easily collaborate. Now, if only there was a way to monitor and analyse your content marketing AND schedule and set content marketing tasks for those people you’re working with…
A tool for schedule and managing content marketing
Well, as we’ve recently discovered, there is! It’s a cloud-based content marketing and editorial calendar called CoSchedule and it allows you to schedule and create content marketing tasks, assign those tasks to your team, create and publish blog posts, share links to content via social media, and monitor the success of your content and the social media platform all within the CoSchedule app.
It’s a very powerful, very useful tool for small businesses that work with a number of remote workers who are based around the country, as it allows complete collaboration with your team and also integrates seamlessly with WordPress. It also helps you to optimise your blog titles and your social media sharing to help drive your web traffic.
By providing you with detail stats – and also integrating with most web analytics software, including Google Analytics – you can see what content performs well and what doesn’t, so you can improve you content in the future.
You need to know your readers to succeed
Because content marketing is about creating engaging and interesting content, whether it’s blog posts or ebooks or something else, it’s vital that you know what content your customers like and what the don’t, so you can ensure you’re always keeping them engaged.
In a post I wrote about content marketing not so long ago, I mentioned how important it is to know and understand your reader, because that’s what’ll help you to engage and interest them with your content. If you have highly engaged people consuming your content, they’re more like to share it with their friends, family and other people in their social networks.
This helps to spread the word about your business, which will bring you more customers and make you more money. But better than that, it’ll also help you to see new opportunities and areas into which you can expand your business.
Content marketing can help expand your business too
We used the feedback we received from our content marketing activities when we decided to develop the Xero training courses and the currently in-development content marketing course; it also guided us in our decision to partner with National Bookkeeping who are taking on licensees and helping them to start their own bookkeeping business.
Yes, we got all that from content marketing! Because through our content marketing, we got to know you, our readers, and what you were interested in and that allowed us to look for the types of courses and business opportunities that would interest you. You can do the same for your business too.
Learn about content marketing from the experts
If you’d like to learn about content marketing, our new content marketing course is currently in development. We’re working with an Australian journalist, a successful small business owner, and a digital marketing specialist to create a relevant, easy-to-follow course that’ll guide you through the process step-by-step. In the meantime, you can subscribe to our blog to continue reading our posts, where we’ll keep you updated on how it’s progressing.
If you’re looking for the opportunity to start your own home-based bookkeeping business, we recommend you get in touch with National Bookkeeping, who is taking on licensees. We’ve made all of our courses available to them, which will include our content marketing course when it becomes available so their licensees can learn all about starting and operating their own bookkeeping business.
What about content marketing for real estate agents
We’ve recently become aware of the need for real estate agents to build their own personal profile and credibility online. Property vendors who want to sell their property are (like the rest of us) increasing looking online for selling agents who have good experience and great reputation to sell their properties at the highest possible price and as quickly as possible. Watch this space as we learn more.
Because web analytics is something we cover in our Digital Business Course, we’re not going to spend much more time on that here, but we do want to talk about a great new tool that you can use in-conjunction with web analytics: the web optimization software, Optimizely.
Testing Out Different People’s Responses
Web optimization, or A/B split testing, acts almost like a focus group where, without being told, a small number of customers will be diverted to a slightly different version of a web page and their behaviour compared with that of the users on the standard site. If the updated version of the web page results in more clicks, longer visits or more purchases, the updated version will displace the original; if the new version is inferior it will be phased out with very few people ever seeing it.
Web optimization has long been the open secret of high-stakes web development companies, like Google, but Optimizely’s foray into the marketplace makes it possible for small businesses to have the same data and insights available to them as a big businesses — and cheaply.
While Optimizely — which was founded in 2010 by Dan Siroker and Pete Koomen, who were both product managers at Google — may be used by a number of big players like MTV, Disney and Sales Force, it’s most useful for time-strapped small business owners, where making changes to web content has always been a time-consuming process.
If you have been using web analytics and made adjustments to your web content in response to data you’ve received from your analytics software, then you know how tedious the process can be — but importantly you know how much guesswork is involved in making changes to some elements of your web pages, like copy, for instance.
Are Folks Subscribing to Your Newsletter?
If you’re not using web analytics (and you should be!) it goes something like this: you notice users are landing on a particular web page in response to searching at particular keyword, but they don’t choose to sign-up to your newsletter. Why?
You guess that maybe there’s too much copy and it’s overwhelming the user so you decide to reduce it. You check your analytics — still no joy. Now what? Do you undo those changes and try something else? Or keep those changes and try something else? What if that still doesn’t work? Then what? Also, how long is a piece of string?
Eliminating the Guesswork
Optimizely eliminates all of that guesswork and for as little as $17 a month, it’s a lot cheaper than retaining the services of a web developer to provide this information just once, never mind for an entire year.
Optimizely is another tool small businesses can use to increase their productivity and increase their sales. If creating web content that’s efficient and highly targeted to your customers is a priority for your business, we recommend you give Optimizely a try.
If your business is about to make the transition online, you can find more information on our digital business course here, or by subscribing to our blog.
As EzyLearn provides what, in our humble opinion, is the best Small Business Management Course in Australia (yes, blatant plug, but we firmly believe this and can show you why) the issue of privacy, and the way people’s privacy is handled by small business, is of concern to us.
In November last year, the Gillard government’s Privacy Amendment (Enhancing Privacy Protection) Bill was passed in parliament, marking some of the biggest changes to the Privacy Act in the last 20 years. The reforms, which are due to come into force in March next year, give individuals greater control over their personal information and who has access to it, making it essential for all businesses to review the way they handle their customers’ details to ensure they’re not in breach of the Act.
Australian Privacy Principles and Direct Marketing
Perhaps the biggest change to the Act is the introduction the Australia Privacy Principles (APPs), which, by streamlining previous policies relating to privacy into one set of guidelines, will limit an organisation’s ability to use unsolicited information; regulate the use and disclosure of personal information for the purpose of direct marketing; and introduce new responsibilities for organisations transferring information overseas.
For the first time, the Privacy Act — by way of the APPs — takes issue with direct marketing, particularly whether or not an individual would reasonably expect an organisation to use and disclose their information for the purpose of direct marketing.
So for every business that collects email addresses and other personal information during the course of their operating procedures and then uses that data to contact lapsed customers or remind them of “special offers” this could well be in breach of the Act.
Regardless of whether organisations offer individuals an “opt-out” mechanism, greater onus is now being placed on how the organisation came to hold the individuals information in the first place.
Individuals will now be able to request that organisations tell them how they got their personal information or request that an organisation doesn’t disclose their information to anyone for the purpose of direct marketing.
This could potentially put an end to the practice of organisations renting data to or from other companies for the purpose of direct marketing, or at least reduce the instances of it.
The reforms also introduce a new scheme for credit reporting — making it possible to be denied any future credit if you miss or pay a loan or credit card payment late — and give the Information Commissioner greater powers over privacy breaches.
And on a lighter note — Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mum’s out there.
We made the decision to use WordPress for our website because it’s easy to use, inexpensive yet looks professional. It’s great for blogging and bringing visitors to your website and is also really flexible — with an abundance of features, layout options and plug-ins.
Yet, when it comes to websites, there are still thousands — yes, thousands — of business owners who don’t have one. These are people who still believe in phone books.
Phone Book Uses
Phone books are pretty handy things. They’re handy for fashioning into a makeshift monitor stand to prop up your laptop. They’re handy for wrapping glassware and crockery when you’re moving house. They’re pretty darn handy for killing really big spiders. And if you’ve got a stack of them collecting dust in your garage since, say, 1982, then why not build a fort? Surely that’s pretty handy for someone, somewhere — the kids, maybe?
Phone books are not particularly handy, however, for finding a telephone number or business listing in 2013. Why flick through some-seemingly million pages searching for something you could easily find with a click of your keyboard, a glide over your tablet device, or a quick chat with Siri?
Get a Website
If you’re a business owner and you don’t have a website, our strong advice is: get one! Today, when people are searching for a business, product or service they invariably Google it, so for anyone in business, a website is an essential online marketing tool.
Again, we highly recommend WordPress. Business owners can manage their own content, which gives you enormous flexibility and it comes with a host of attractive themes and options. We offer an online WordPress training course, designed to help you understand things like SEO, working with plugins (including mobile sites and RSS feeds) and much more.
The 7 Website Must Have’s
If you’re a business owner and you already have a website but it looks like a 90’s relic with loads of Clipart, an endless-scroll of 10-point, Times New Roman copy, punctuated periodically by headings that are underlined, in bold and capped off with 73 exclamation points, then it’s time for a makeover.
There are 7 things you must do when building or renovating your website:
1. Establish Goals: Like anything in business, you need to establish some goals for your website. Things like: Why will people visit my website? What information do I want to provide? What do I want people to do next? You need to answer these questions before you begin.
2. Don’t Forget to be Mobile: The Internet is literally in the palm of your hands; so don’t forget to consider a mobile strategy during the planning stage. You’ll need to consider the main reason people will be visiting your site — for information about your products and services, to purchase your products and services, or something else — and build that into your mobile site, make it the most prominent feature.
3. First Impressions: Your website is your brand, your personality, and your reputation all rolled into one. If your website resembles the shambolic mess we described above, that’s how people are likely to view you and your business: as a shambolic mess. Photos from online photo libraries, like iStockPhoto will give your website a professional finish, but don’t forget to add a bit of you into your website. Too many stock-standard images and you run the risk of seeming generic, uninspired, bland. And bland is boring.
4. Keep it Simple: Don’t overwhelm your visitors with too many links, too many choices. This isn’t a Pick Your Own Adventure novel, it’s a website. Ensure your menu and links are intuitive and consistent. If you want to point people to the “contact us” page in your copy, use the same language that’s in your navigation menu — this will eliminate confusion.
5. Use a ‘Call-to-Action’: Your visitors are here for a reason; capitalise on that. Make sure it’s easy for them to find what they’re looking for — display contact details, proceed to checkout links, or your mailing list prominently — and encourage them to take the next step.
6. Less is More: The endless scroll of copy has got to go. It doesn’t matter how multifaceted or interesting your business is, people won’t read it. They don’t care. If you can’t whittle your business and services down to two or three (short) sentences, get someone else to — we recommend you use a professional copywriter.
7. The Need for Speed: Load times are critical. If people can’t open your page within ten seconds — that includes mobile devices — they’ll try a website where they can. If you’re taking your own photos to include on your website, remember that huge files require huge download times. Make sure to reduce the image sizes to a few kilobytes rather than a few megabytes.
You can master the skills to build a fabulous website a lot sooner than you think! Check out the details of our WordPress Course Outline
Social media seems to be on everyone’s lips today, especially if you work in the area of websites and internet marketing. The biggest names on the Internet at the moment: Google, Twitter and Facebook area all into it, but what does it mean for your business and it’s website?
I’ve just had the pleasure of spending several hours on a Sunday learning about TwitterFeed, an application that allows you to connect your blog (that’s what you are currently reading) to Twitter and Facebook accounts (and Pages for Facebook). This article is a test to see if it works. If it does, then a new tweet will be created at any nominated Twitter accounts and also on any nominated Facebook Pages.
If it does work the greatest benefit is that you don’t need to create all the Wall comments (facebook) and Tweets manually because TwitterFeed will do it. All you need to do is write the article.
8 hours later… Yep, it worked. A tweet at www.twitter.com/ezylearn was created with a link to the article and a post in our Facebook Page was also created. What does it mean? Simply that when you write and publish your blog post, announcements are automatically made on any Twitter profiles and Facebook pages you manage.
Do you have a website? Want visitors to tell their friends about it? Social Bookmarking is the new way of spreading the word about your website (ie. business). I wrote an article in July 2008 (click here to see) about how quickly word can spread, especially when website visitors can let all their friends know about your website using websites like Facebook, MySpace and other not so well known but still important websites like dig.com, reddit.com etc. Continue reading Use social bookmarking and email referrals to make yourself popular
A landing page is a web page that contains specific information on it that will appeal to website visitors who are looking for something specific.
For example, if I send an email newsletter which promotes Microsoft Excel Training and I insert a link to my home page (eg: www.slisar.com.au) then people who click on and follow the link from the newsletter may be a little disappointed. Why? Because they were expecting to find information about Microsoft Excel Training but now need to navigate around my website to find the information.
You could put special links on your landing page that “funnel” website visitors to exactly where you want them to go and thus acheiving your website goals. Notice that the URL of the above “landing page” contains keywords that are used to search for the service offered? This is one aspect of Search Engine Optimisation and makes your website attractive and “Relevant” to Search Engines.
After creating some specific landing pages I can create ads on Google Adwords, Microsofts adCentre or promote these ‘landing pages’ in email marketing campaigns so that when people click on them, they get a very specific response and are funnelled to the webpage that you want them to get to.
Creating these pages is possible using the 123ezy website builder and I have used this technique to successfully attract thousands of people to my websites and online services. If you need some help with your website design or Internet marketing, please contact me in Australia on 0413 007 481 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org