Friday, March 23, 2007

How to Promote Your Home Business by Speaking in Public

As an entrepreneur, public speaking has to be one of the most effective ways of marketing yourself and your home-based business. There are countless opportunities out there for you to get yourself in front of your target market. There is no better way to have a captive audience full of prospects. It is the fastest way of establishing yourself as an expert.

You don’t have to be a professional speaker to speak in public. Just doing a reasonable job is better than not doing anything at all.

Prospects are much more likely to engage your services if they’ve seen you speak. Let’s look at the following example. Say you were looking for an accountant. Would you be more inclined to trust someone you had found in the Yellow Pages, or someone you had heard speak knowledgeably at the local Chamber of Commerce?

Look into opportunities in your local area where you can offer to speak for free. Professional associations, networking groups, Chambers of Commerce, educational bodies and Rotary Clubs are all potential public speaking venues. They often look out for speakers for their events, meetings and workshops.

Also research the audience of your home business niche that is going to be at your talk. For example, what industries are they likely to represent? Are they from large or small companies? What would interest them? What angle should your presentation take?

When it comes to finalizing your speech topic, be sure to make it sound enticing and interesting. People often decide whether to attend a talk based on just the title so put some serious thought into this.

Practice is key to coming across in a professional manner and reducing nerves. Write your speech out in full, but never read it verbatim. Have an outline prepared and available for you to refer to.

Check with the event organizer how long you have for your talk. Include timing in your practice runs. There is nothing worse than having a speaker run over time.

Get the most mileage out of your presentation by having some promotional material at the back of the room, for example some business cards, flyers or brochures that people can take with them if they wish.

You can be even more proactive and set up a newsletter before starting to give speeches. At the end of your presentation you can encourage your audience to sign up for your newsletter in exchange for a promotional gift or free e-book. That way you have also added valuable contacts to your database.

Many entrepreneurs swear by public speaking as a way of building and maintaining a steady stream of clients for their home based businesses.

Why not try it today?

Monique

P.S. Click here if you desire to save yourself years of failure and frustration as you look to create additional income from home http://www.mentormonique.successin10steps.com

Thursday, March 22, 2007

10 Necessities for a Home Based Business

When you make the decision to earn income from the internet you will need to go through a set up process to be ready for business.

Following are the basic steps in setting up for home business success.

1. Attitude

The key to your business success is your attitude.

Treat your business like a business.

This is critical whether you are working part-time or full-time. One of my colleagues is a mother who works from home around her family. She has always put her family first whilst at the same time developing her business. She says, "I work part-time, but I have a full-time attitude."

Put another way, "If you have a hobby attitude you will have a hobby income, if you have a business attitude you will have a business income."

You can be successful working part-time and you can be successful working full-time but it is highly unlikely that you will be successful working in your "spare time".

2. Working Environment

A space that you can call your own, free from distractions for your scheduled time.

A comfortable chair and organized desk.
Stationery supplies as required. For example:

- pens
- highlighters
- stapler
- hole punch
- sticky tape
- note book(s)
- a simple filing system
- ring binders
- manilla folders

Consider the value of a broadband connection. Your time is valuable and a broadband connection can allow you to get more done in a given time frame.

3. Schedule

Develop a schedule that works for you, your family (or "significant others") and your business. When you allot a block of time for work then use that time for work. Equally important is to schedule time for your other commitments - family time, self education ( reading, listening and viewing), "health time" (exercise, cooking and eating), and leisure time. During these other times don't work. After all if one of the reasons to work from home is to spend more time with your family then you don't want your working at home time to consume your family time.

You are working for yourself and your schedule (by your choice) is your "boss". When you have people calling you or dropping around unexpectedly or maybe out-of-town visitors may want to catch up with you then you need to make a choice. Are you committed to your own business success? What will be your choice in these situations? Only you can decide what is important to you.

In a family environment you may need to negotiate with your partner and children to have your business time agreed upon, during which you will not be interrupted. Put this schedule prominently somewhere so all family members are aware of your work schedule.

4. Describe Your Business

Be able to describe your business concisely; a powerful one or two sentence description that someone can repeat in describing your business to others. A unique and memorable tag line can also be invaluable for promoting your business.

5. Know Your Product or Service

Once you have selected your product or service to sell, it may or may not be something that you use yourself but you need to know your product intimately. If you are selling ebooks then know the content and its value. If you are selling software then use it know it "inside out". You will develop a reputation of providing quality information and because of your product knowledge you can become the preferred supplier.

It is not practical to use certain products (for example a woman may choose to sell man's shoes or vice versa) in which case the seller won't be a product user, however the seller can still know the benefits and features of the product intimately.

6. Administration

Use good record keeping practices.

This may involve a consultation with a tax advisor who can let you know about the optimal way to set up your financial records and what records need to be kept. Your advisor will also recommend record keeping systems and you can find out what software may simplify this aspect of your business. Additionally your obtain advice on the best arrangement for your bank accounts. You will most likely be advised to have a separate bank account.

You will also need to keep track of your various logins, usernames and passwords. A very handy little software tool for this is Treepad available as either the free Lite version (without password protection) or the commercial Plus or Biz versions. http://www.treepad.com

There are other useful tools for this also from a simple paper notebook to free and commercial password keepers. One popular solution is Roboform that will remember your login details and can automatically fill out your login and other registration forms. http://www.roboform.com

7. Computer Protection

Your computer is the lifeline to your business dealings and must be protected including the data that is stored.

You need a virus scanner, personal firewall, anti-spyware and anti-adware and preferably an email scanner with the ability to delete suspect of spam email from the server before it is downloaded to your computer.

Some suggestions are:

AVG Anti-Virus: http://www.grisoft.com
Spybot S&D: http://www.safer-networking.org
Microsoft Anti-Spyware:
www.microsoft.com/athome/security/spyware/software/default.mspx
Adaware: http://www.lavasoft.com/
Mailwasher Email Scanner: http://www.mailwasher.net

8. A Domain Name

You will most likely need a domain name for your business and one cost effective registrar is GoDaddy, http://www.godaddy.com.

9. Payment Processing

You will need a way to process credit cards; that may be using services such as:
- PayPal https://www.paypal.com
- Storm Pay http://www.stormpay.com
- 2 Checkout http://www.2checkout.com
- Clickbank http://www.clickbank.com or others.

This is the most economical way to get started. Once your business picks up you may need to look into your own merchant account for credit card transactions.

Consideration may also be given to other forms of online currency such as eGold http://www.egold.com

10. Email accounts

Once you have your own domain you can use an associated email account. This can further assist in the promotion of your business and promotes a more professional business image.

As a final comment on continuing in your internet business, conduct your business ethically, provide extraordinary service and be proud to put your name to the products or services that you are selling and you will be on track to developing a sustainable long term internet business.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

How To Develop Unique Content for Your Home Business Website

We live in a sea of information. And information overload is an increasingly common complaint. Part of the complaint arises because we get hit with different headlines that point to the same content. So we waste time on things that have no added value. Bummer.

When you email your list or put up content on your site, and assuming you want to generate loyalty, it's necessary that you have content others haven't seen a dozen times elsewhere.

If this makes sense to you, here are some ideas you can use to EASILY generate fresh content with a minimal amount of time and effort.

First of all, think about a subject in which you are interested. Let's say it's horticulture. Now if you're not aware of it, let me put you in the picture. Most people do web searches from Google's home page and stop there. Not at all creative. Not at all digging for information from which to develop original content.

So let's go exploring...

1 - Google has lots of tools besides just web searches. They let you check the news. (http://news.google.com ) As of this writing, there are 1,680 news items listed by Google on the word horticulture. Bet you could easily do a summary of some of these articles and create your own content. But let's not stop there.

2 - Google also has "groups." (http://groups.google.com/ ) These are folks who like to discuss *your* subject. So now you can go even farther. Look up horticulture in their groups. Now this information is potentially gold. Why? Because you can see what it is about horticulture that lots of folks are interested in.

Think you might be able to do a little research and come up with a free or even a for-profit report that gives them what they want?

Check out Google's other tools, too. You can even get research info from universities through Google. Start here: http://www.google.com/intl/en/options/

3 - Next method: Do this search (keeping in the punctuation as written):

+horticulture +free +filetype:pdf

As of this writing, Google shows 196,000 hits for this query. What you get here are free downloads in pdf format about your subject.

Now you can't simply copy and use it as your own information. You have to create your writing in your own words. But there's no law that says you can't summarize what you find in other people's works. To make the point, you could even call your work something like: "Survey Report: Latest from the Horticulture Front!"

4 - Go to Alexa.com. Do a search on your subject, in this example, horticulture. It provides the exact same results as Google because it's powered by Google. So why bother, right? Wrong. Because Alexa *does* provide value added information.

When you do the search, you don't want to click the link that takes you to the listed site. Instead you want to follow the link that says "Site info." When you do this, you'll find a section called: "People who visit this page also visit." This can be very valuable because it potentially shows *what the marketplace is interested in.* This can enable you to tailor your information product to what people want.

These are just some of the easy ways to branch out your explorations and find gold to weave into golden braids.

Golden searching... :)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

How To Optimize A Trade Show For Your Home-Based Business

Trade shows are an opportunity to meet customers, suppliers, competitors and business partners. They also offer the chance to get some new ideas. You may notice some businesses are using a service or technology you were unaware of, or you may discover a way of marketing that had not occurred to you.

Before you even book a booth at a show you need to consider the people who will be attending and how to target them. If you offer a number of products or services decide which one will be of most interest to these potential customers.

Decide what you want to achieve on the day. It may be to sell or launch a product, or gain leads for new customers. You may want to test a new product idea, re-enforce your brand or meet the media through interviews or a press release. Whatever your objectives set yourself targets to work towards. A number of sales or leads to achieve will keep you working hard throughout the day.

Make sure you have an “elevator pitch” ready. You must not be stuck for words when someone pauses at your stand. You only have a matter of seconds to engage the person and start explaining what your business offers them. Be sure to know your key advantage over your competitors, especially those that are also at the show.

You need to decide how to be different and noticeable. At most trade shows most people wear their best suits and try to look business-like. This gives you an opportunity to stand out from the crowd. You do not have to wear a suit to look smart. If you have identified the biggest benefit you offer you could get posters, badges or even garments printed with 'I can solve your X problems' or 'Ask me about X', where X is the problem you are offering a solution to.

Give some thought to the message you put on your stand. There should be one central theme, not a bewildering array of products or services. You have only a few seconds to attract the attention of those moving past. Make sure your stand is visually attractive and informs potential customers how they can benefit from involving you in their business. Avoid clutter and obstructions. Keep the stand simple. Use product displays that will help you explain and present what you are offering. Make sure you have enough relevant information to answer any questions about your product or service. Keep details of the most expensive products at the back of the stand so you can draw people in with the more affordable ones. Live demonstrations attract attention and show customers how a product can benefit them. If possible have interactive exhibits. People love to touch and feel, and an exhibit can capture attention even if everyone working on the stand is busy with other customers.

The most important, and most often broken rule for working on a display stand is that staff must not talk to each other. They should be too busy trying to attract the attention of passing customers. First impressions count and staff too busy chatting to attend to an inquiry do not suggest your customer service is going to be of the best quality. If you have a number of staff working on a stand organize their breaks so that you have the maximum number available at the busiest times. Also make sure there is some time for visiting your competitors and suppliers.

One way to be different, attract attention and increase the number of business cards you collect on the day is to run a prize draw. Make the prize relevant to your product or service. Put the cards into a hat and make the draw at a set time.

Have a meeting after the trade show to discuss how the day went and establish what you achieved. If you did your homework before the show you should be clear about what counts as an achievement. Giving out lots of literature is not an achievement. Getting someone to promise to telephone or email you is not an achievement. You count your success by the number of sales made, appointments organized, or contact details collected. If you have planned your day well you should find that you made the most of your attendance at the show.

Monday, March 19, 2007

How To Get Maximum Impact Media Advertising For Your Home Business

If you sell a product or service, and want to be successful quickly, you must tell people about it through advertising and marketing.

TV, radio and newspaper are still considered the major media for effective marketing off-line.

However, a lot has changed with these top three marketing vehicles in the past 15 years.

In this article some critical changes are revealed that have occurred and how you can get the maximum impact for your advertising dollar.

Television is primarily an entertainment medium. Research shows the average person spends more time with television than with radio and newspaper combined. For many years, TV was considered the most powerful advertising choice because of the huge audience it provided. Even today, nearly everyone watches some TV every day.

There are three things you must consider before spending money on TV advertising - limited lifespan of your ad, audience fragmentation, and ad avoidance.

Keep in mind that once your ad has aired, it is gone for good. There is no way your potential customer can refer back to it. This fact makes it imperative that you run your ad many times to embed your message in the mind of the viewer. Frequency is important with any advertising, but especially broadcast.

Audience fragmentation is one of the major problems local broadcast television faces today.

At one time, a huge TV audience was split over only a few local channels. Community businesses could reach a large majority of their potential customers very quickly. Large national companies, such as Coke, only had to choose from the three major networks - ABC, CBS or NBC - to reach over 80% of the population.

Today, with cable and satellite TV, this same audience is now fragmented over 200 or more channels. The percentage of viewers on local TV has dropped dramatically. Yes you can run ads on cable and they will spread them out over ten or more channels. This shotgun advertising has not worked well for small businesses because many of these stations have only a half percent or less of the total viewers. And, what are the odds that they will be watching during the 15 or 30 seconds that your ad is presented?

Ad avoidance is also a very rapidly growing problem for TV today.

Because the public watches TV primarily for entertainment, they see advertising as an unwelcome interruption - not unlike the hated telemarketing. This was true 30 years ago but there was nothing a person could do about it except channel surf or leave the room. As you know this was, and still is, often done. Today, with TIVO, pay-per-view, public broadcast stations, and the multitude of satellite and cable channels, the public has shown a willingness to pay for reduced interruption from advertising.

Radio has similar problems. It is also primarily an entertainment medium. As such, advertising is also considered an interruption. Satellite radio is one of the fastest growing industries today primarily because people, again, are willing to pay to avoid commercials. In fact, most new cars have satellite radio built in.

Additionally, radio has evolved into an entertainment source for primarily driving, and background noise at work. If you buy any radio advertising, it should only be aired during drive time.

At home, radio use drops off. People can play CD's or listen to satellite radio. This way they can choose exactly the music or programming they prefer without commercial interruption. The radio industry understands that folks do not want to be interrupted with advertising. Many times radio stations promote themselves by offering "more music, less commercials".

Newspaperes have had their ups and downs, but have steadily maintained their local readership base and strength for local marketing. Even when radio, then TV, came on the scene, people still were loyal in reading their local newspaper.

Unlike TV and radio, advertising in a newspaper is not viewed as an interruption. In fact, one of the reasons people buy newspapers is for the advertisement content. Surveys have shown among 15% and 23% of those buying a newspaper do so primarily for the advertising.

You see, people do want to see and read advertisements. They do want to - and need to - buy products and services. They just want the ads on their terms.

TV's best day of the year is Superbowl Sunday, delivering nearly 40% of U.S. households. In striking contrast, newspapers consistently deliver well over 50% of your community households. They do it every day, 365 days a year. Now that is some serious marketing power.

Another advantage over broadcast that only newspapers can deliver is engagement of the consumer at the moment they are making a buying decision. When a person is reading your ad, it is because they choose to. At that time you have their full and focused attention. And the working life of your newspaper ad is enormous because it is physical and static. Your potential customer can refer back to it anytime they wish, or even cut it out.

You may have heard on TV or radio that newspaper subscriptions and readership are dropping. This is true. But it is not to the degree they would like you to believe.

What they do not tell you is newspaper on line versions are growing much faster than the 7% or so losses in subscriptions. In fact, you will find newspaper web sites are usually the busiest web sites in any community. Be sure you take advantage of this.

Now you can see why today's trend among business people who are in-the-know is away from broadcast and back into the old, reliable newspaper. Most all the major stores are getting back to the basics and finding the print advertising to be the best return on investment. So will you.

Newspapers, of course, should not be your only advertising medium, but it is the solid foundation on which you build an effective marketing plan in today's environment.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

How To Become a Partner, Not a Player When Creating Publicity for Your Home Business

Every business owner should include getting publicity as a part of his or her overall marketing strategy. However, there is a lot more to garnering free publicity for your business than just writing – and sending – press releases.

You want to build a long-term relationship with the media, and become known as a resource, an expert in your industry. That doesn't happen overnight, and it doesn't happen by accident. It takes time, careful planning and a strategy. The good news is that you don't have to spend tens of thousands of dollars, or hire an outside agency to do it for you.

Before you can start creating a buzz and building a successful publicity campaign, you need to know three things:

1. Why do you want publicity in the first place? Are you trying to build credibility? Let people know about your product or services? Create or strengthen your business's brand?

2. What is your message? When putting together your publicity campaign, you need to know what you're going to say and how to say it so that you achieve your ultimate goals.

3. What type of coverage are you looking for? (There are three types: Newspaper/visual, radio/audio, and Television/visual/audio). Of these three types, which is going to be the best way to get your message out?

Once you know where you want to end up, the next step is to create a roadmap that will get you there.

There's a famous saying that illustrates perfectly what you ultimately want to achieve: "If the circus is coming to town and you paint a sign saying 'Circus Coming to the Fairground Saturday,' that's advertising. If you put the sign on the back of an elephant and walk him into town, that's promotion. If the elephant walks through the mayor's flowerbed, that's publicity. If you can get the mayor to laugh about it, that's public relations. And if you planned the elephant's walk, that's marketing."

Here are the "insider secrets" that will help you to become a partner, and build a solid relationship with the media so that you can "plan the elephant's walk" for your business.

1. Do your research before writing your first press release. Think about your story. Who is it going to affect, interest or impact? Is it strictly of local interest, or can you “hook” it to a larger event or happening? Is it a one-time happening, such as your grand opening, or a special event, or milestone? Is it part of an ongoing effort?

2. Create your own "hot list." Now, figure out which media sources are going to be most interested in your story. Start locally. Think of your local newspapers, television and radio stations. Include your local public radio station, college stations and any others that provide news stories in your list. (Special Note: If your story isn’t one that is going to be over in fifteen minutes, don’t forget organizations that publish newsletters! Think about your local Chamber of Commerce or organizations whose members or clients could also become your customers!)

Then think even further outside your "circles of influence." If you live in an urban area, there may be national affiliates like APR, etc that have stringers or offices nearby. Include those in your list.

Now look at online sources. Be thoughtful here. Don’t just send a press release to everyone. Sure, it may get published online, but it may also get dumped into a “news bin” on a thread where it is never seen or read.

In addition to the hundreds of news sources, think about your affiliations. Are you a member of a national society, or organization? If it is relevant to your story, mention that you’re a member, and then send a copy of the press release to them as well!

3. Make it personal. Now that you know which media sources you’re going to send your press release to, get on the phone. Find out the name of the specific person you need to send the press release to. (These is a step a lot of people skip over, but take my advice and don’t, because it’s one of the most important!) Remember the word "relations" in "public relations." Building any worthwhile relationship takes time and effort. You have to give something to get something.

If possible, talk to the reporter or editor personally. Introduce yourself, and let her/him know that you’re going to be sending him/her a press release. (If you're inexperienced at this, you can actually use that as an introduction and let him know that you want to get started off on the right foot). You want to find out the following information:

- The correct spelling of her/his name.
- How they prefer to receive the press release -- faxed or in the mail.
- How far in advance do they prefer that you send the press release?

Always make sure to ask what their deadline is. If faxing your press release is okay, get the fax number, and find out if the cover sheet should be addressed to the reporter or someone else.

DO NOT CHAT. This is not a social call. You are calling to get information, not a date. (Tricks of the trade: Get your Rolodex or PDA out while your talking to the reporter. Note all of the pertinent information so that you’ve got it for the next time. On the back of the card, or in the memo section, write down the date you spoke with them, and the reason for the press release.)

4. Once you’ve found your contact person, stick to them! Unless otherwise instructed, never send the same press release to more than one person in any organization or publication. If there is any confusion or duplicate coverage, it will be blamed on you, and you will lose your credibility.

5. Follow-up. Within a day or two of sending your press release, call and make sure that they received it. If not, be calm, and pleasant, and just say that you’ll send another one. Re-check your contact information, and make sure you’ve got the right address, fax number, etc. And then send it right away.

6. Never just send a press release the day of your event. It makes you look unprofessional, and you probably won’t get covered. The only exception to this is if you’re holding a press conference to make a big announcement that will impact many people.

Always plan ahead and give the media as much time as possible to decide how they are going to cover it.

7. Know Their Deadlines. I can’t stress this often enough. EVERY TIME you talk to a reporter, ask what their deadline is.

When you’re submitting an article or a press release to a magazine, call first and ask about submission deadlines. And then make sure that you send it in with time to spare.

Mark the deadline on your media info sheet, or your Rolodex, but check back with them periodically, because changes do happen.

8. Keep your promises. If a reporter calls you, and you don't know the answer to a question, or he needs something you don't have but you promise to get it -- do it. Always follow through and do what you say you're going to by their deadline.

9. Be professional. Offer to act as a liaison if the reporter needs to speak to other people in your organization or industry, and volunteer to provide additional research or background information. Put together an online pressroom on your Website, as well as offline media kits that you can send along with your press releases, or when needed.

10. Remember what your mother taught you. Be polite. Say please and thank you. If you read an article that a reporter has written and you liked it, send a handwritten a note and let them know. Be willing to provide information, resources or background material even if it doesn't directly benefit you. Building a solid relationship is about more than selling more widgets, and will pay off in the long run.