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Is Google Your Sugar Daddy?

google marketing networking
Show Me the Money: A thorough understanding of how to use Google can help you – and your business – earn more.

We been speaking about referral marketing a lot lately, and in a recent post about marketing action plans, we talked about why you should include referral marketing and/or networking as a marketing strategy in your marketing plan. That may seem silly to some people, since networking doesn’t always translate to sales straight away, but we’ve discovered another reason why you should include it in your marketing plan: Google!

Google Outlines My Referrals

We were recently at our web stats using the Google Analytics app for Android, when we discovered that even Google separates the traffic to your website from other websites as ‘referrals’. This really highlighted the fact that you can be receiving referrals online from any news or content you make available on the web.

How to Create Great Online Content

The most accessible way to create good content online that will drive independent referrals for your business is to maintain a blog. If you publish a few posts each week that are highly relevant and highly targeted to your readers (your customers), the more likely they are to tweet, like or share your content with their friends, families, and colleagues.

Use YouTube

You could even take it a step further. Maybe you’re an IT consultant and you’re looking for other ways to connect with your customers and provide them with informative content – why not create a few YouTube tutorials that you can embed in your website and share on your social media platforms. With a little care, and some thought to the execution, you’ll set yourself apart from the other IT guys who only talk in gigabytes and mainframes.

Move Up the Google Rankings

The other upside of creating regular content is that you’ll move your way up through the Google ranks, which in turn, will bring you more referrals from Google, too. SEO also plays a big role in your Google rankings, but only so long as you’re creating the content people want.

If you truly want a Google Sugar Daddy, then you need to keep pushing relevant, informative content online, so you can engage with your customers and clients online.

Thinking about starting your own Bookkeeping business – or any other kind of business? We cover more about the powers of Google and how to market and advertise your business in our Small Business Management Course

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But Networking Isn’t Making Me Any Money! Putting Together a Marketing Action Plan

marketing action plan networking
With a Marketing Action Plan, you’ll be able to isolate which marketing strategies are working best for your small business.

In the marketing module of our Small Business Management course, our students learn about marketing action plans, and throughout the course come to create their own marketing plan for their soon-to-be business. We also talked about referral marketing and networking in our last post, in which we outlined what every business should be doing to grow their customer base. For this reason, it should also be included in your marketing action plan.

What IS a Marketing Action Plan?

A marketing action plan sets out all of the marketing strategies for your business, including your goals and how you intend to achieve them. For consistency, and so that you can see and measure how each of your strategies have performed, we recommend that you include any of your networking activities in your marketing action plan.

Aside from being able to isolate what strategies — networking, advertising, email newsletters, etc — have performed the best at delivering your marketing goals, including your networking activities in your marketing plan, with a schedule, will also help to keep you accountable and ensure you actually put the time into networking.

The Money Comes Later

Because networking is often seen as not being immediately revenue generating — after all, many times you’re drinking tea and coffee and eating biscuits, while you chat with other business owners — it can be tempting to let your networking go by the wayside. But you shouldn’t — just as you shouldn’t let your other marketing activities go by the wayside, whatever they may be.

Share the Load

It’s also good to include details about each of your marketing strategies, so you can delegate it to another member of staff to project manage. So if one of your marketing strategies was to send a weekly email newsletter to your database, you could include information about the copywriter you’re employing to write the copy and the information would need to be sent to them each week.

You should also include the cost of employing the copywriter and the cost of distributing the emails each week. We use Feedburner — our preference for a variety of reasons; namely, because it’s free and we use it to distribute our blog. Feedburner also comes with the stability of being a Google product (we’re currently creating more content for a Google course, by the way). Learn more about Feedburner in our WordPress training course.

By including this information, you’re able to accurately measure how successful your newsletters strategy has been compared with, say, advertising in your local paper. Since you’re also including your networking activities, too, also include any membership fees or the cost of meals in your marketing plan, too.

Continually Changing

Just like a financial plan shouldn’t be a static document, your marketing plan should also evolve with your business as you grow and develop your customer base — and even your product and service offerings, too.

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If you’d like a step-by-step guide on creating a marketing plan for your business, we cover marketing plans in our Small Business Management course, in addition to financial planning, web design, and other important aspects of owning and operating a small business.

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Pimp My Business: Networking How-To’s and an Apple Case Study

networking2
Once you start networking it becomes easier and more natural.

We recently wrote a post about referral marketing and how it can genuinely grow your business. We talk about different marketing strategies in our Small Business Management course, and particularly the different mediums – newspapers, online, etc – that you can use to advertise your business, but referral marketing is one marketing strategy that doesn’t cost a lot and that you can – and should! – begin today.

Apple: A Case Study for Using Referral Marketing

Besides driving sales, getting people talking about your business, its products or services (or creating ‘awareness’) is the goal of pretty much any marketing campaign. Consider Apple, for example. As a company they came back from the brink in the mid-2000’s when they launched the iPod. Apple had always created far superior products to IBM, but it wasn’t until Apple really pushed themselves as the trendier, far superior alternative to IBM and Microsoft-based products that they could become the company they are today.

The success of Apple is not just that their products were better (because they always were), but the way they marketed them to their customers, which relied heavily on referral marketing. Apple knew that once someone tried an iPod, they’d tell their friends about it and they’d, in turn, tell their friends about it, and so on.

Basic Networking How-To’s:

That’s basically what happened. And you can do the same for your business, even if you don’t have Apple’s marketing budget (or even their technological know-how). It starts with networking, so we’ve put together a few networking How To’s to get you on your way:

  1. Find your tribe: Whether you’re looking to connect with other local business owners or perhaps you’re specifically looking to connect with other bookkeepers, you need to find your tribe and make connections with them. You’d be surprised just how many other business owners are out there, just like you, looking to connect with others. Check your local newspaper, the noticeboard at your local shopping centre, gym or café. There are also a number of great online tools that facilitate networking – meetup.com is one of them, and a personal favourite of ours.
  2. Use social media: Social media is another great way to connect and interact with your customers and clients. But it’s also a great way to connect with other movers and shakers within your industry. Twitter and LinkedIn are especially great platforms for cultivating online connections with people in your industry. It’s important, however, not to treat Twitter as your own personal spamming platform. Your Twitter feed should be interesting and informative – and show that there’s a real person (or group of people) behind the Twitter handle, rather than a robot pushing out links to your website.
  3. Follow up – When you meet a new person, always ask for their business card and always offer yours. Remember that networking is not about selling, and in fact, you may not actually sell anything to that person, but if they like you, they may just refer you to their friend or colleague who is looking for your services. The key to getting to this point – where this other person is referring you to others – is being genuine. Take an interest in that person’s business and follow-up with them. Connect with that person on social media, send them email – follow up!
  4. Get outside your comfort zone: Instead of always going to your local networking group, try a group somewhere else. Business Networking International, or BNI, is a global networking organisation that is always looking for new members. It is very structured and not for everyone, but its huge success is partly because of the structured way they operate. Find a chapter near you and see if it works for you (tip: you may try a couple of chapters before you find your tribe).

So what are you still reading this blog post for? Go forth and pimp your business! Network, people!

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Small Business is about Doing

It's time to roll your sleeves up: our Small Business Management Course gets you working on a real life business idea.
It’s time to roll your sleeves up: our Small Business Management Course gets you working on a real life business idea.

As Australia’s leading provider of online training courses, we deliver all kinds of different training courses – and we’ve recently branched into providing online induction training courses to business. But where EzyLearn’s flagship course, the MYOB training course, teaches practical skills in using one of the most popular accounting software packages, it is a completely different kind of course to our Small Business Management Course – and for good reason.

Thinking as if You Own A Business

Our Small Business Management Course is designed to make you think like a business owner. Where our other software-based courses are designed to systematically guide you through a particular software package, our Small Business Management Course needs to be different.

As a business owner, you’ll be thrown curve balls from many directions – especially when you first start out – and the key to surviving them is being able to think objectively and without bias.

You’ll need to be able to problem-solve and sometimes develop new approaches to existing business practices or activities. Running your own business means having a plan, but not always operating to it.

To complete the course, you need to be able to demonstrate that you possess the required skills to successful operate your own business – by researching, thinking and writing.

A Real Business Idea with Tutor Feedback

The Small Business Management Course is deliberately structured so that as you work your way through the course content, you’re applying the exercises and skills you’re learning to a real-life business idea. Then, once you’ve complete the course, you’ll go live with this business idea.

The course gives students an unusual and unique advantage over other soon-to-be business owners because our students get feedback from a tutor that they can then apply to their business strategies.

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This is what makes our Small Business Management Course so popular – because you’re learning with your real business idea, where other business courses merely have student complete exercises or answer questions in relation to hypothetical business scenarios.

If you would like to learn more about our small business management course, visit our website or enrol here.

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Why The Business Name You Choose Is So Important: Interview

Choosing a business name that is Google-friendly is important.
Choosing a business name that is Google-friendly is important.

Our Small Business Management Course teaches students everything they will need to successfully start and operate their own small business, which includes how to write a business plan. Throughout the duration of the course and particularly, when it comes to writing your business plan, you’ll need to think about what you’ll name your business. So what does make a good business name?

What’s In a Name?

For this post, we spoke to a business owner whose business has a rather distinctive name: CIA OPS’s Principal, Robert Crane. CIA — or Computer Information Agency — OPS is a Sydney-based technology consultancy firm, which focuses on assisting businesses and individuals improve their productivity using technology and smart business practices.

The name CIA OPS perfectly encapsulates everything Robert’s business does — provide his clients with information about computer-related technology, such as how to streamline a business’s processes for use with cloud-based software or training in Microsoft Office 365 — but at the same time, it’s also a conversation piece.

“Everyone’s heard of the CIA, as in the USA’s Central Intelligence Agency,” Robert says. “So when they hear CIA OPS, they immediately ask me more about my business and what we do.”

Interesting – and Easy to Remember

But because the name CIA OPS has already aroused people’s curiosity, they’re more engaged and interested in what Robert has to say. The fact CIA OPS is also easy to remember is another added bonus.

“Even if they forget the ‘OPS’ part,” Robert says, “They always remember the ‘CIA’ part and the fact we work with computers, which makes it really easy for them to find me Google.”

Is it Google-Friendly?

Which brings us to another important consideration you need to make when it comes to thinking of a business name. Thinking of something quirky and interesting which also represents what your business does is one thing, but ensuring it’s Google-friendly is another altogether.

Google has, in many ways, fundamentally changed the way we do business — and as a result, it has changed the way people select their business name, too.

If your business name is too obscure that it becomes too hard to remember, then it won’t work; if it’s too common that it returns hundreds upon hundreds of Google results, it won’t work, either; if it’s too long, too short, too boring — won’t work, won’t work, won’t work.

“You really need to think about what you’ll call your business, because that is one thing that’s hard to go back and change later,” Robert says. Make sure you check to see if the business name you’re thinking of using is being used already, or is too similar to someone else’s — which could land you in hot water, as you will lean in the intellectual property and general law module of our Small Business Management Course.

Robert’s advice: “Avoid names that include the words ‘solutions’ or ‘networking’ — they’re boring, too common, and pretty obvious — you know, all businesses hope to provide some sort of solution, for instance.

“Be original, give your business name some real thought, and test it out on your friends and family first,” Robert advises.

Being that your business name is so important, we recommend that our small business management students start thinking about potential names as soon as they start the course, so than when it comes time to finishing their business plan, they’ll have something in mind.

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If you would like more information about our Small Business Management Course, click here. For information about the other courses we offer at EzyLearn, click here.

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It’s the New Year – Resolve to Start that New Small Business Today! – free success tip video

It's never too early to make the resolve to start your own business - don't put it off any longer!
It’s never too early to make the resolve to start your own business – don’t put it off any longer!

If you or someone you know is looking to start a new business, up skill to provide additional services to existing clients, or partner with us to build a training business, our Small Business Management Course provides you with essential information for operating a new small business.

We also offer online courses in Reach Accounting, Xero, and of course, our flagship MYOB course as well as online courses in Microsoft Office (Word and Excel). You may recall from a previous post that we sell enrolment gift vouchers for our online training courses, so if your friend or family member (or even yourself) has been seriously considering starting a new small business, why not help make 2014 the year that dream becomes reality by giving them an enrolment voucher!

Small Business Management Course at Last Year’s Price

Since it’s still the festive season, we’re giving you the opportunity to lock-in your 2014 Small Business Management Course at 2013 prices.

As you complete each module within our Small Business Management Course, you’re working your way towards writing the business plan for your business, which you can then use to secure financing or as a model for the future growth of your business.

We take you through every facet you’ll face when it comes to owning and operating a small business, from researching the market and undertaking market activities, through to customer service.

Our Small Business Management Course includes training videos featuring real-life business owners, so you can see how each module practically applies to a real-world small business. Take, for instance, the video below with David Hall, the ‘Customer Service King’ and Director of Sydney’s The Clean Plumber.

 

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The New Year is the time for making resolutions — resolve to start your new small business today and enrol in our Small Business Management Course! Or if you’d like to gift a training course to your friend or family member, contact us and secure your 2014 training courses at 2013 prices!

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Is the Death of the Bookkeeper Imminent?

Happy New Year to all our readers! And take comfort in knowing that we think the death of the bookkeeper is FAR from imminent! Read the post to find out.
Happy New Year to all our readers! And take comfort in knowing that we think the death of the bookkeeper is FAR from imminent! Read the post to find out.

All right, so it’s not the most joyful heading we could have gone with on New Year’s Eve, but it’s not actually meant to conjure up doom and gloom! We have  researched and developed new online training courses for Reach Accounting and Xero, which have now been added to our suite of training courses that include the flagship MYOB training course. In the process we’ve spoken to a number of accountants to see what software they’re using, to ensure we’re providing the training courses you need to get a bookkeeping job. This is good news because you can then rely on us to inform you what more you may need to offer clients.

Throughout this process, we’ve come across a number of accountants who are using BankLink, an accounting service we’ve written about previously, which streamlines and automates the data entry portion of managing a client’s account.

The ‘In-House’ Extra Employee

For many accountants the BankLink software, which was acquired by MYOB in June of this year so they could further extend their reach into the accounting space, is being billed as an “extra employee” that never makes mistakes and is comparatively cheaper than the additional in-house bookkeeper or admin person headcount.

The big question for us is: Does this spell the end of the bookkeeper? For instance, think of the way personal computers did away with the need for the office stenographer working in a steno pool? The answer is that this is indeed possible — but this is only if data entry is the sole service you offer. Like most professionals today, the more specialised you are and the more services you can offer, the more likely you are to experience career longevity.

At the end of the day, software is only as good as the person who uses it. If you’re a highly experienced bookkeeper in a particular industry or possess a number of highly sought-after accounting skills, you’ll find BankLink a dream come true in that it eliminates the tedious, time-consuming data entry from your job.

BankLink: Giving You More Time

With more time on your hands, you’ll be able to grow your client-base — a goal for most small businesses and previously only available if you miraculously grew a spare set of hands, or employed a spare set of hands, at least. You may even be able to move your business out of the narrow bookkeeping space into the small business management space.

With the number of new small businesses increasing, the key to their individual survival in a highly competitive marketplace is good management — and who’s more suited to that job than someone with a thorough understanding of account keeping?

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So while BankLink may spell the end of tedious, time-consuming data entry, for the experienced bookkeeper it presents more business and career opportunities — not less. Upskill and enjoy greater career success as a result.

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CIA Provides Secrets about Linkedin

LinkedIn: The Living CV

I’VE WRITTEN A NUMBER of posts about the power of LinkedIn to replace the traditional resume, but after speaking with an expert from CIA (Sydney-based company, Computer Information Agency or CIAOPs) I learnt some new secrets about Linkedin. Robert Crane, CIA’s Director, shared some tips as to how and why LinkedIn is a fantastic tool to help you get a job AND find more customers.

Robert-Crane-Digitar-web-linkedin-secrets
Robert Crane is the Director of Computer Information Agency

Here’s what Robert had to say…

One of the greatest advantages that Internet based technologies can provide is leverage. Nothing could be more the case than with social media. Unfortunately, too many businesses and professionals fail to see the potential that it can provide themselves and their businesses. Probably the most effective social network for business is LinkedIn.

You may be surprised to know that LinkedIn in has been around for over a decade. It was around long before Facebook and Twitter as a source of connecting business people together. LinkedIn allows you to create a personal or business profile to which you can add all kinds of information.

[quote]Many professionals use LinkedIn as a “living CV” where they can post their career and achievement records for others to view.[/quote]

Sharing that information with others help them grow their potential network and makes it easier for others to locate people with the right skills.

The True Power of LinkedIn

This is where the key technology of search begins to reveal the true power of LinkedIn, for not only can you share your information with others, independent parties can search LinkedIn and locate individuals with the skills they need. This is reason why so many HR people use LinkedIn to locate and target individuals with the skills they require.

[quote]Posting resumes and trawling employment website is now ‘old school’. Indeed, the highest quality applicants are signed up via Linkedin even before a job is offered.[/quote]

Is It Too Late for You?

This means that if you are not using Linkedin your competition probably already is. So what can you do to catch up?

  1. Firstly, you’ll need to create a LinkedIn account and then fill in the information about yourself. The more professional information you provide the better. It is also important to include a professional headshot as part of the profile so if you don’t have one of these go out and get one.
  2. Once you have all your information entered start looking for people and associates you know who are already on LinkedIn. When you find them send them an invite to ‘connect’ with you on LinkedIn.
  3. Once you network starts to grow make sure that Linkedin becomes an ongoing part of your business strategy. Don’t let the information you have entered get stale. Revisit your account regularly and ensure it is always as current as possible. As you meet new contacts look them up on LinkedIn and ask them to ‘connect’ with you. Always be looking to grow your network and don’t be afraid to ask people in your network for introductions to others on Linkedin.
  4. When you start to feel comfortable with Linkedin use the testimonial feature to ask business contacts and clients for referrals. These referrals can be directly posted on your profile for all to see.
  5. Nothing lends credibility like endorsement so always continue to seek them out and grow the number that you have. Once the endorsements start to flow make sure you direct other information about your business to your LinkedIn information. Use it on your website, business cards, etc.

Other Powerful LinkedIn Uses

The more you work with LinkedIn, the more powerful you will find it. When you need something you can ask your network of contacts, you can search their skills for what you need, and you can join any number of special interest Linkedin groups on the very topic that you are seeking assistance on. Because Linkedin has become such a worldwide tool for business, chances are you’ll find the person or business you’re looking for, if you know how to use it.

Jump On the Social Media Bandwagon

I went to a seminar recently and heard Nick Bowditch from Facebook speak. He said that the businesses engaging with, and using, social media will be the ones still around in 5 years. Perhaps it’s arrogant to think that social media is so mighty, but given the speed with which technology is moving these days, and the ferocity of competition, it’s better to build a profile, reputation and brand that people know, like and trust — and social media is the opportune way to do this.


Social Media and Digital Marketing online training course_comp

Are you in business as a bookkeeper, tradesperson, retailer, trainer or real estate agent and want to stand out from the crowd? We can teach you the online marketing techniques to help you do just this! Check out what’s included in our comprehensive Social Media and Digital Marketing online training courses.