Small Business Marketing Book Review – People and Your Business

What if somebody told you one critical key to business success was to practice the principle of the Golden Rule in your business? The idea seems to somehow run counter to so much of what we’ve been taught about business, doesn’t it? Yet, what if that same source convinced you through case-study after case-study that application of the Golden Rule in business actually leads to success?

Let us introduce Frederick Reichheld and his book The Loyalty Effect. While not a small business marketer, but rather an expert business consultant, what Reichheld teaches us about loyalty is worthwhile reading for any small business owner or manager.

Did we say “worthwhile”? Scratch that; pencil in the phrase “urgently essential”, instead. This book is that vital to a small company.

The Loyalty Effect focuses on three groups of people critical to business success: Customers, Employees, and Investors. For most small business, the investor is the owner, so for our brief review in this article we will focus on Customers and Employees.

Reichheld is a definite advocate of customer retention. He convincingly demonstrates time and again that small percentage increases in customer retention have huge impacts on profits. This read will be a just-right fit for those of you having problems focusing on the right customers. If you will take the time to trudge through this book, and really understand most of its principles (we found Chapter 8 to be the toughest) then not only will the marketing of your business improve, but so will your profits.

Isn’t that the reason for all this focus on marketing, anyway?

And Reichheld really opened our eyes to how important employees are in retaining customers. If a company treats their employees right, those employees become more efficient and productive in their daily tasks. Profits go up, retention increases.

Reichheld stresses again and again that a company’s prime mission needs to be creating customer value. Most of you in small business realize this, but it’s reaffirming to see hard-and-fast facts to back up what many of us intuitively know. Customers don’t come to a small business looking to boost our profits; they arrive seeking value. If we consistently create value, profit will come.

Another key point for small business owners is the importance of leadership. If you need to go down to the bookstore and browse through The Loyalty Effect before you buy it, flip over to page 246. Reichheld has studied several large and successful businesses, and concludes here that most of them had leaders with an “intuitive grasp” of how important loyalty is. This is critical for business success, regardless of business size. While not written to be a rah-rah inspirational book, Reichheld’s arguments and his examination of the role strong leaders play in forming great companies reinforces just how important to the bottom line it is for a small business owner to be a good leader.

So much of Reichheld’s book seemed familiar; akin to common sense…after we read it. Treat employees well and they’ll perform well for you; we’ll that’s pretty basic, now isn’t it? But we tend to forget, we tend to think we need to cut corners or just “improve efficiency” and that’ll lead to greater profits. In the short term it very well may, but Reichheld argues effectively that in the long run it’s only by creating value for our customer that we build profitable businesses.

Remember, People is the third element–along with Brand and Package–of any small business marketing success story. Taking a week or so and reading Frederick Reichheld over lunch or before lights out at night is a great way to hone your “people productivity”.

© 2006 Marketing Hawks

Ingredients of Small Business Marketing

A business may be small, but the efforts of operating it is not. Small business owners often wear many hats – financing, product development, marketing, sales and customer support. While major corporations have sufficient resources to kick off a thoroughly planned marketing campaign, small business marketing is often on a budget. Marketing a small business should not be limited to a single channel because of the size of your business. Customers will always go through the three phases of a purchasing decision making: 1) aware of the products or services, 2) collecting enough information before the purchase, 3) and action of purchasing. The ingredients of effective small business marketing provides the information they need at each stage of a purchasing process.

Reach the Customers

Most small businesses target local market. Your business, of course, should be listed on local phone directories. Ads on local newspapers and flyers will bring you business from your local communities as well. Distributing business cards is always one of the most popular and inexpensive ways for small business owners to market or advertise their services and products. For instance, some landscaping companies distribute business cards door-to-door in newly constructed communities. If your services involves with artistic design (interior design, web design etc.), color business cards or custom business cards are more effective. They show the artistic tastes of the designers.

Provide Information About Your Products and Services

Awareness of a product or service is the start-point for customers to make a purchase. They will further research and compare similar services or products before they make contact for possible purchase. Now that you need a brochure or a website to present your business with product details, testimonials etc.. If business card design makes a good first impression, brochure design and brochure printing (or booklet printing if you prefer) are effective for converting leads into sales. Brochures that you send out will get more attention if you enclose a personal note with personal touch to introduce yourself and your company. A professional Web site serves as an online brochure to promote your products or service so that the prospects can get the information about your business 365 days a year and 24 hours a day. Affordable Web hosting costs as little as $25-$50 a year.

Call for Action

Once customers have made up of their mind to purchase your services or products. The brochure or the website should offer clear direction for further actions. The advantage of a website over brochure is that you are able to update as frequently as you want, offer discount or incentives for customers who make purchase in a certain timeframe. When they’re ready, a transaction is just a few clicks on a website powered with online shopping carts.

How to Find Small Business Ideas That Match Your Assets and Skills (Part One)

Finding the right small business opportunities ideas that suit you most and with big potential markets before investing your hard earned money is crucial. This step is one of the most important steps you need to perform. Although this step can be a difficult one, it also can be a rewarding one. For that reason you need to be careful. It is the foundation of your business and you need to get it right the first time to save time money and effort.

Business ideas are everywhere you go. But, how do you discover the small business opportunities ideas that suits your skills set, your personal objectives, can be profitable and will be HOT for years to come?

Finding a niche idea needs some search and it’s not hard as you think. The following methods will show you tons of different niche marketing ideas that you can choose from to start your niche business.

Rule of thumb

People like to learn almost about anything. They like to learn about your expertise, other cultures, other people, all sports, products, services, history, health, fitness, etc…. People like to learn about things that are meaningful to them, and they like to explore new horizon. Give them what whey want and you will be in your way to success!

1 – Create a Business About What You Already Know and Then Become the Expert!

“If you work on something you love, you don’t have to work a single day in your life.”

Take an honest look at what you are good at. What hobbies or interests do you have or have you had in the past? What did you learn in your day job? Are you a good cooker? Do you raise kids? Etc…

Try different things and discover what you really enjoy doing and what makes you happy. Ask friends and family for their opinion and they will tell you on what you are good at.

If you don’t have any expertise or hobby to turn into a business (what is very rare) you can turn your problems or challenges into profitable business also.

Most of inventions in the word came out of problems and challenges the inventors were having in their lives.

“There is a great marketer that I know who turns his high blood pressure sickness into profitable business. You see the picture!”

The best way to make good money online is to create value in others’ lives. Give a solution for any problem to make others’ lives easier and they will give you their money.

You see! You can turn anything into a business just don’t under estimate any subject.

Make a list of all what you enjoy doing or what problem you came a cross. Don’ think about how you are going to make money doing those things yet.

If you are really passionate about starting a business of your own and still having hard time trying to figure out which small business opportunities ideas are right for you because you don’t find a subject that you can easily talk about. You still can find a way to start your business.

Here are some places where you can pick up ideas to help you find your way.

2 – Getting Small Business Opportunities Ideas From Magazines.

Magazines are a good source of small business opportunities ideas. Publishers don’t publish magazines that don’t make money. To earn profits, magazines must have subscribers and advertisers. Make sure the niche magazine you prefer has been around for a year or so. That way you know there is an existing market to your niche.

You may look for the repeat ads in magazines. People don’t advertise products if they do not make money doing it.

3 – Visit directories and Online Portals and You Will Find Plenty of Small Business Opportunities Ideas.

Directories are good places where you can get ideas. Search beyond major industrial sectors and look at sub-categories within each and see which one much your ability, your skills or you like most.

Visit dmoz.org, Yahoo.com or any other directory of your choice. Drill down some categories and sub-categories to find potential niche markets. These sites have huge categories lists, which you can use for ideas.

Online portals are also good places where you can pick small business opportunities ideas. Go to eBay.com and drill down through the categories. Each category is broken down to sub-categories. Click on the category of your choice and see how many sub-niches are available for you to choose from.

Amazon.com is a huge online retailer that sells a huge range of products such as ebooks, music, video, DVD, electronic goods, etc. It’s divided into a large number of niches. There you will find huge choice of small business ideas. Make a few notes of potential areas you might consider.

4 – Visit forums.

Forums are also good places where you can pick excellent business ideas. Look for the most asked question. Find out what forums’ users common problem. Ask questions to find out what they are thinking, what they are craving, and what irritates them. This way you can pick a good idea and go with it.

5 – Use Lycos Search engine.

The top 50 list of Lycos is a great way to find what people are searching for. They also keep archives. Here is the URL: http://50.lycos.com

If you’re just starting out don’t try to compete with the top 50 that are listed, but with a little imagination, you can come up with sub topics based on what Lycos tells you. If you keep looking long enough, you might even find some patterns and be able to figure out some of the future top searches.

6 – Ask For Help.

– Ask questions, life is about asking questions, not about knowing answers. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you don’t understand something.

– Ask for help when you are having difficulties. Most people like to help others and will willingly offer information and assistance particularly when the individual is grateful for their help.

– Search for free info products using your favorite search engine and you will find plenty of quality free ebooks, reports, magazines, newsletters, etc… that can help you find great business ideas.

You still don’t find any subject that you know to talk about to turn into profitable business! Ok, if you are passionate about starting your home business you still find a way…

Learn About What You Like to Do.

When visiting these places find out what are some things you don’t know but have burning desire to learn more about. Collect as many information as possible about your topic of interest and start learning. The net is offering wealth of FREE and low cost information designed to educate people about any subject they want.

As you can see, there is a wealth of tools and places where you can go to get ideas for your niche. Just take action in whatever way makes sense for your situation and your life. If you take action you will never fail!

Spend, as much time as you can, think carefully about your topic to make sure it is the right selection. You’re planning a business. So, don’t rush it.

Create a list of at least 20 potential niches ideas. Write down as many information as you need about all small business opportunities ideas you consider.

Now, you are ready to go to the next step. Your next step is to make sure which ideas are profitable to turn into wining business.