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The SBC Small Business Newsletter

presented by the Peak Small Business Center

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January 24, 2002

Table of Contents

Welcome

Quote of the Week

Special Notice

Staff Article - How to Work With Us
Technology Tip of the Week

Guest Article -  The Internet Marketer's Mini-Checklist

Parting Comments

Unsubscribe Information


Welcome

Thank you for subscribing to the Peak Small Business Newsletter! We take our obligation to provide you with useful information very seriously. As a result, we always welcome your input on articles or other information you would like to see presented here.

For those of you who prefer the html version, you can find both the Small Business and Home Business versions on our website at the following locations:

Small Business Newsletter -
http://www.peakconsultinginc.com/newsletters/sbnl_jan2402.htm

Home Business Newsletter -
http://www.peakconsultinginc.com/newsletters/hbnl_jan2402.htm

If you still prefer to receive the html version in your email inbox, let us know by emailing us at mailto:cary@peakconsultinginc.com with "html" in the subject line.

If you have suggestions for future content, or have issues that you would like to see specifically addressed, please send an email to let us know. Our staff articles are focused directly on issues raised by you, our readers. We want to give you what you want to see!
 


Quote of the Week

If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking.
--Gen. George S. Patton


Special Notice!!!!!


We have added seven terrific new ebooks to our site that are free for you to download. These are outstanding books that you can also freely distribute to whoever you like. Download yours today at:
http://www.peakconsultinginc.com/download.htm

We have also added a new page dedicated to marketing tools. You'll find only best-of-breed resources listed there. Please visit it and see what you think.
http://www.peakconsultinginc.com/marketing_tools.htm
 


Staff Article

How to Work with Us
by: SBC Staff


We have added a substantial number of subscribers since we last addressed this issue, so we thought it might be a good time to review what we can provide to you and how we utilize your input.

WHAT WE DO

We are a full service business and systems consulting firm, but
our primary website is a resource center that offers free and low cost resources to small and home-based businesses. We spend thousands in cash, manpower and other resources every month to join and review web-based programs, to find useful resources for our visitors, and to provide free and low cost technical support and advice to those who need it. Our visitors range from individuals running a home-based business to rather large corporations. (The term "small business" has many meanings today. A lot of small businesses aren't very small! We have one "small business" client that does $135 million in annual revenue).

We post a lot of resources, reviews and articles on our website, but that is not where our major efforts are directed. Our primary focus is to help you one-on-one. If you have a problem you need help with, whether it is related to systems, business strategy, taxation, marketing, or anything else related to business, you can ask us for help by filling out one of the many forms available on our website or by sending us an email. We will contact you by email with a solution to your problem or a roadmap that will help you find the ultimate solution.


HOW YOUR INTERACTION HELPS US AND OTHERS

Every question or request for information or assistance that we receive has the potential of generating a new resource on our website, an article for our newsletters, a review of another program available on the web, or an alert to other visitors. Our site will grow and become more valuable to our visitors as a result of your interaction with us. While we can and do anticipate many problems our visitors might have, we look to you to tell us what you need to succeed in your business endeavors. If it is at all possible, we will provide it for you, but YOU have to tell us what it is you need.

We also ask that you provide us with information related to your experiences with various programs you have participated in. If you feel like you've been ripped off, we want to know! If you believe you've struck the mother lode, we want to know that, too! Give us your own review of your favorites and your dogs. With your permission, we will publish your reviews on our site. The only thing we ask is that your submission be a review and not an ad! Your review could be on an advertising source, an affiliate opportunity, a web-based service or anything else related to web resources or programs.

We will be adding a special page or pages to our site within the next week or so to make it easier for you to submit your reviews and to prompt you for information that will make your review more interesting to our visitors. We'll give you the URL(s) in an upcoming edition of this newsletter.

HOW WE HELP YOU AVOID FUTURE PROBLEMS

There is, to put it lightly, a ton of hype on the web. There are many programs that are either worthless or counterproductive to your efforts to succeed. We have looked at, joined, purchased, or otherwise evaluated many different programs and resources so you won't have to. If you're considering using a service for marketing, business automation, or anything else, check with us first to see if we have done an evaluation or are in the process of an evaluation. Even if we have not completed an evaluation on a specific program, we probably know people or companies that have participated in them. We can save you time and money.

If you are considering purchasing new software to automate your business, entering into a transaction that has uncertain tax ramifications, looking to sell or purchase a business, considering an outsourcing arrangement, attempting to find financing for your business, or any other major transaction, check with us. We have decades of experience in all these areas and can offer you free assistance that will make the process easier. Of course, if you want to hire us to help you, that's fine, too! But there is no obligation on your part to receive free assistance.

WHY WE OFFER CERTAIN PAID PROGRAMS

As mentioned earlier, we spend a lot each month to evaluate various popular resources available on the web. To help underwrite these costs, we do offer participation in some of the better opportunities we find as an affiliate of the opportunity. Only about one in 15 of the opportunities we evaluate are ever good enough to receive our recommendation and that ratio seems to be getting worse as time goes on. That is an indication of just how much crap there is out there. When we find an opportunity that is worthwhile, we are more than pleased to offer it to our visitors.

NEW RESOURCES WE ARE WORKING ON

We are currently in the process of putting together a comprehensive review of more than 140 programs we have joined and evaluated. We will publish summaries on our website and provide a downloadable ebook that contains all the details. This information will be updated at least quarterly as we complete reviews of additional programs.

We are also working on two book projects that should be complete within a month or two. We can't give you the details at this time, but one is geared toward small businesses and the other toward home-based businesses.

We will, of course, continue evaluating recommendations for new resources submitted by our visitors. If you have recommendations, please send them to us.

HOW YOU CAN HELP US WITH THIS NEWSLETTER

Send us recommendations for articles you would like to see and the type of articles that are most helpful to you. Do you want to see more articles on business strategy, marketing, program reviews, taxation, web development, or what? Let us know so that we can better service your needs. We're here to help YOU!

To make it real easy for you, you can just send a blank email to:

mailto:cary@peakconsultinginc.com

or
<a href="mailto:cary@peakconsultinginc.com">AOLers Click Here</a>

and put one of the following words in the subject line:

  • marketing

  • strategy

  • reviews

  • taxation

  • technical

  • rotation

  • other

If you prefer we continue to address all these areas equally, select "rotation." If you have other subjects you would like to see addressed, select "other" and tell us what it is in the body of the email.

Our goal is to provide you what you need in as personalized a manner as possible and we will do whatever it takes to do that. It's a lot more work for us, but YOU ARE WORTH THE EXTRA EFFORT!

Copyright 2001, all rights reserved


Marketing Tip of the Week

If you aren't using autoresponders in your marketing efforts, you should consider doing so. Evidence shows that your prospects need to be exposed to your message multiple times (6 to 8) before they will purchase. An autoresponder can help you achieve this with minimal effort.

When you place ads in various places around the net, include an autoresponder address in the ad for the prospect to obtain additional information. When they send for the information, your autoresponder puts your campaign on autopilot. Most commercial autoresponders will allow you at least 52 follow-up messages, which should be more than enough to get your message across. Of course, each message will give your prospect an opportunity to unsubscribe from your autoresponder.


 


Guest Article

The Internet Marketer's Mini-Checklist

by: Michael Fortin

Throughout my online travels and particularly in my marketing consulting practice, I encounter many a netpreneur who wonder about the reasons why they are not yet successful. "Mike, why am I not getting as many hits" or "as many sales," they ask. It's a question of which I am asked all too often, it seems.

I can appreciate their frustration since I've been there. It took me years to achieve what I'm experiencing today and a lot of it is the result of pure trial and error. But a lot of it is also based on simple, common sense. The reality, however, is that so many people, enticed by the overblown hype and promises of the web, expect some "get rick quick" solution. I wish there was one.

So I often reply with a checklist, which I will reprint in this week's editorial. It is far from being a comprehensive list -there are many more tactics, techniques and strategies one can implement beyond what the list suggests. Additionally, for many it might appear as an appropriate roadmap for the newbie webmarketer; some tend to even scoff at its simplicity.

But surprisingly, its simplicity is the reason why it is also so easily ignored by the more experienced. I ask that you take a good, hard look at it. Answer it truthfully and completely. How many of the tactics suggested did you really implement? How many have you abandoned after only a few attempts? And how many tactics do you put into action on a regular basis?

Think about your answers.

Granted, some of these may not apply to all situations. But generally, I have found that those who complain the most have not implemented a fraction of these or lack a clear plan of action through which some of the most profitable among these should be repeated on a periodic basis. The latter is crucial.

My colleague Jim Daniels of http://www.bizweb2000.com/ is the master when it comes to developing and maintaining a rigorous marketing plan. (Jim printed his own in a recent issue of his very informative BizWeb Gazette as a template that's worth its weight in gold.) So let me ask you at this point, isn't it time you too have one ... And stick to it, consistently?

So here is the checklist:

* Are you subscribed to ezines and websites (like IMC's own at http://www.successdoctor.com/IMC/) on Internet marketing, and do you read/visit them on a daily basis?

* Have you implemented most if not some of the ideas you've learned in them? What were your results? Good? Bad? Why?
What ideas worked best for you? What ideas worked least? Do you or did you track your results? How? Do you review and analyze them on a daily basis? What are they telling you?

* Do you constantly educate yourself on your industry and your specific area of expertise? In fact, do people look upon you as an expert in what you do? Do you *love* what you do?

* Do you follow a daily marketing regimen? Consistently? If so, what did you do this week? And the week before that?

* Did you bid on keywords on http://www.Goto.com/? Which ones? Did you try other pay-per-rank engines? Did you use their keyword suggestion tools and looked at different variations?

* Do you have an affiliate program for your products? If not, have you implemented another form of "viral" marketing?

* Does your website have tools to help make it "sticky"? For example, do you maintain a discussion forum? A site-specific search tool? An archive of informative content?

* Does your business model strive for quantity or quality? In other words, do you seek bigger profits or market share? Are you achieving it or do you seem to be achieving the other?

* What areas of your business need improvement? An even more important question to ask is what do YOUR customers think?

* Do you tweak and test your website copy on a constant basis?

* Do you maintain an opt-in list or regularly publish an ezine? Do you remain in constant contact with subscribers? Does your marketing include increasing your subscriber base?

* Do you continually research your customers, your product category, your industry and especially your competition?

* What makes you unique? What's your USP (i.e., your unique selling proposition)? In other words (and think about this), what's your single, most marketable, competitive edge?
Do you communicate that edge in all that you do?

* Did you submit your site to the major search engines and niche-specific engines? Do you monitor your rankings?

* Have you written articles and submitted them to newsletters read specifically by your target market? Do you periodically write and distribute press releases? How many? To whom?

* Do you market and advertise offline? If so, where?

* Do you have good, compelling email signature file? And do you use it with every piece of correspondence you make?

* Do you participate in newsgroups? Message boards? Forums? And especially those frequented by your target market?

* Do you offer one, two or three products? In other words, how focused are you on your niche or on your perfect customer?
In fact, who is your perfect customer? Do you know your product's demographics (e.g., age, gender, employment, etc), geographics (e.g., location, country, city, etc) and psychographics (e.g., interests, culture, lifestyle, etc)?

* And do you have any backend products or services with which you can upsell your customer base? If not, do you (or could you) offer products from non-competing strategic alliances?

* Is your ecommerce system a well-oiled machine? Do you accept credit cards on your site? What other payment options do you provide? Do you have a customer support number or email?

* Do you package or bundle your products in order to increase their perceived value? Do you offer alternative packages (maybe with different price points or additional services)?

* Do you have a top level domain name (yourname.com)? Does it invoke the core benefit if not at least the nature of your site? Is it easy to pronounce? Spell? Remember?

* Do you have any strategic marketing alliances in place? In fact, how many alliances do you have in place? Do you keep in constant contact with them? What about joint ventures? Cross promotions? Referrals networks?

* Is your site easy to navigate? Read? Download? Do you provide your visitors with good, fresh, updated content? Most of all, do you give visitors a reason to come back?

* Have you implemented an automated referral system on your site (like IMC's http://www.letemknow.com/) that visitors can use to easily refer your site to others?

* Do you have testimonials on your site? A strong guarantee? A bonus offer? A privacy and security policy? An FAQ page?

* Do you sell advertising on your site? In your ezine? If so, did you develop a media kit for potential advertisers?

* Have you advertised online? In which ezines? On which sites? Do you constantly tweak your ad copy and track your results?

* Have you participated on online talk shows? Chat specials?
Have you expanded your mind in terms of looking at different places, as many places as possible, in which you can market your site and where your target market likely congregates?

* In fact, do you try to keep your site, its address or its offers in front of your target market's eyeballs? How often?

* Does your site copy invite people to surf deeper into it? Or is it laced with external links that drive people out?

* Do you conduct contests? Draws? Surveys? Does your site capture, with permission, the email addresses of your visitors, especially on the first page, "above the fold"?

* Do you swap ezine ads with other publishers? Or in the very least, do you have a reciprocal linking strategy in place?

As you can see, this list can go on. But in my experience, just the above could open some eyes. For example, with my own copywriting service (see http://SuccessDoctor.com/writing.htm), my clients must fill out a similar (but more extensive) list of questions before any work commences. As I found, simply answering it has been quite insightful for many.

Ultimately, you would be surprised to find out how much it pays to go back to the basics. Regularly. Consistently.

________________________

About the Author
Michel Fortin, of http://SuccessDoctor.com/, is a marketing professor and a highly sought-after consultant whose advice has helped countless clients earn millions in record time. His latest book, "Power Positioning Dot Com," reveals how to keep your business or product indelibly carved into your prospects' uppermost consciousness at all times -see http://successdoctor.com/pp/.
 


Parting Comments

We hope you have enjoyed this issue of the Peak Small Business Newsletter and found it useful.  Please visit our website at http://www.peakconsultinginc.com to check out all the resources we provide. 

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