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The SBC Small Business Newsletter

presented by the Peak Small Business Center

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July 5, 2002

Table of Contents

 

Welcome

Quote of the Week

Administration

Featured Resource - FREENETLEADS

Staff Article - THREE KEYS TO AN EFFECTIVE BUSINESS PLAN

Marketing Tip of the Week

Guest Article -  IMPLEMENTING A SUCCESSFUL P. R. CAMPAIGN

Parting Comments

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Welcome

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Small Business Newsletter!

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Quote of the Week

We don't need lists of rights and wrongs, tables of do's and don'ts: we need books, time, and silence.

- Philip Pullman
 


Administration

We want to wish all of you in the USA a very happy Independence Day weekend! We hope all of you are taking a few well-deserved days off and spending that time with your family and friends.


WE STILL NEED YOUR FEEDBACK!

We're going to keep the following addresses here for awhile for those of you who have home businesses and might be interested in receiving a "home business" version of our newsletter. Please let us know. Many of you have responded, but we know there are more of you out there who operate home businesses and would find more relevant information in our home business newsletter than in this one. A simple blank email will do, as follows:

mailto:s2home@peakconsultinginc.com  - to switch to a home business version and unsubscribe from the small business version.

mailto:both@peakconsultinginc.com  - to receive both versions of the newsletter.

 


Featured Resource

FREENETLEADS

This is a brand new multi-level list building program that is perfect for those of you who need to build an opt-in list but do not want to start a newsletter or if you just need free leads to market to. It is totally free to join and it is very easy to get people to sign up using free advertising such as free safelists. You can sign up here:

http://www.peakconsultinginc.com/FreeLeads.htm

 


Staff Article

THREE KEYS TO AN EFFECTIVE BUSINESS PLAN

by: Cary Christian

So you need a business plan! And you probably need it fast. It seems like everything in business these days is required yesterday, if not earlier!

Perhaps you need it to obtain financing from your bank or maybe to help you attract new investment capital for your business. It's also possible you have vendor relationships that require one.

Whatever the reason it is needed, there are three key requirements that must be met if your business plan is to add value to your efforts. Let's take a quick look at each of these requirements.


IT MUST BE PROFESSIONAL

You've seen advertisements for relatively inexpensive software that you can use to crank out a business plan fast and, admit it, you've thought more than once about whipping out the credit card and purchasing one. While you can produce a business plan with such software, this course of action could be a terrible mistake!

Before we go any further, there is one major caveat to the above statement: If the business plan is presented only to satisfy a contractual requirement that you present one, and no one is going to actually read it, then it may not matter what you use to prepare the business plan.

This occurs sometimes, for example, when bank covenants require you to present a business plan annually. If your loan is current, they're not likely to pay much attention to it. If your loan is not current, or you are expecting problems, you'd better pay more attention to the plan. It could be used against you at some point.

Before you blow off a particular business plan as unimportant, make sure you understand the consequences first.

Getting back to the requirement that a business plan be professional, remember first and foremost that the plan you present is a reflection of your business. In some cases, you have no idea who may eventually see that plan, so you always need to be concerned with what it says about you and your business.

Understand that thousands of small businesses do buy and use software programs to prepare their business plans. As a result, most bankers and venture capitalists will have seen the output of those programs hundreds or thousands of times. If you use such software, your business plan is going to look just like everyone else's. It will have the same layout, similar terminology, and will come across like a mass-produced product rather than something you put a lot of time and effort into.

There are only two ways to get a truly professional quality business plan:

1. Hire a professional to do it for you, or

2. Do it yourself manually after learning how it is done.


IT MUST BE COMPLETE

There are some sections of the business plan that will be very easy for you to complete. Businesses generally have little difficulty putting together financial forecasts, descriptions of their businesses, the markets they compete in and other sections that basically describe how your business is structured and operates on a day-to-day basis. But this is background. None of these items represent the "plan."

The business plan presents your financial forecast information and then EXPLAINS HOW YOU ARE GOING TO GET THERE! This is the part people struggle with. This is also the part where people rely too much on canned software and end up describing their marketing environment and specific marketing tactics using generalizations. Generalizations won't fly! They'll be spotted a mile a way and cause your business plan to lose credibility.

Don't shortcut these important sections. Give them more effort and work than any others if you really want your plan to stand out.


IT MUST BE REASONABLE

This is the more obvious requirement of the three. If your business plan makes wild claims, or presents forecasted financial information that simply is not supported in any way by your historical results of operations, your plan will have no credibility. Strive to be conservative. Lay out goals that you can actually reach and then ACTUALLY USE YOUR BUSINESS PLAN AS A GUIDE TO GET THERE!

And that's the most important part of the process. You are not simply creating a business plan to acquire funding. The exercise of creating the plan gives you an invaluable opportunity to review your business, your goals, and gain a much better understanding of what is possible and what is wishful thinking. Create the plan with the idea in mind that it will be a living, breathing document that represents your game plan for the next few years. Change it and modify it on a current basis when circumstances require it so that it can always function as your guide.

Copyright (c) 2002
 


Marketing Tip of the Week

The effectiveness of different marketing methods gets a lot of debate these days. People are always saying this type or that type of marketing no longer works and should be ignored. Sometimes they are right, but in many cases the application of a large dose of creativity can change a frog into a prince!

This is especially true of free marketing methods. Many times free marketing programs are rendered obsolete simply because they become too popular. In other cases, technology makes them obsolete. For example, automatic submissions to FFA and Classified Ad sites are almost worthless because everyone is using automated submitters. As a result, no one ever actually visits the site to read any of the ads posted.

But you should be careful before branding a particular free marketing method obsolete. If they no longer appear to be useful as they were originally intended to be used, think about using them to fuel other marketing methods.

For example, everyone knows you're not going to sell anything by advertising using safelists (maybe a few sales here and there, but certainly not many). But people who use safelists to give away desirable viral marketing products or to sign up people to an autoresponder course find themselves creating quite a bit of excellent traffic using this "dead" source of marketing!

The problem is that people are too accustomed to using marketing to go for the direct sale. In MOST cases, marketing efforts should be geared toward creating a RELATIONSHIP that allows you to market to people MORE THAN ONCE. When you adopt this focus the number of effective free marketing methods available to you will increase.

 


Guest Article

Implementing A Successful PR Campaign:
P. R. Does Not Stand For Press Release!

Todd Brabender
Spread The News Public Relations, Inc.
www.spreadthenewspr.com
 

There's no denying that the Internet is allowing more and more entrepreneurs to start their own businesses and effectively market their new products. However, there seems to be an increasingly common misconception when these businesses try to generate media attention and publicity for their products.  Over the past several years, I have had more than a few clients come to me seeking "a PR" to get people interested in their products/businesses. That's right "a PR". Contrary to what some people think, PR is NOT an acronym for "Press Release" - it stands for Public Relations. PR is much more than just a press release and that distinction is very important to understand.

I often cringe when I see articles from well-intentioned "marketing" experts that say, in effect: "simply write a press releases, pitch it to the media and just sit back and reap the benefits." Unfortunately, it is far from being that simple. That statement pre-supposes that the media release is written well - containing all the right elements and newspegs to catch the media eye - and that it is pitched and maintained in the correct media market, which is often the downfall of many amateur PR campaigns. By all means, a press release is an integral part of a PR campaign. But a press release alone does not a PR campaign make. A successful PR/publicity campaign for your business product, website or whatever should include many, if not all of the following:

An interesting, quality, newsworthy product that the media (and its audience) will find merit in;

A concise, articulate media release or story pitch - not a glorified ad - detailing the benefits of your product/business/website and what effect it will have for it's users;

A supply of media "supportives" - product photos (digital & hard copy), possible review samples, etc.;

An extensively researched media list detailing all applicable media outlets whose editorial profiles match your product/business profile. Here's an important detail -- the targets of your pitch should be "name-specific" not just "title-specific" media contacts. By that I mean the media market research you compile should give you particulars like Sally Jones-Cooking Editor not just Tribune Newsroom or Managing Editor;

A solid, trustworthy media contact vehicle that gets your release/media kit directly into the hands of the appropriate reporter/editor/producer and allows them to respond easily to your pitch. (As always, beware of press release distribution services that often times indiscriminately spew your release to hundreds of untargeted media outlets with little or no results.)  Research to find out the preferred method of receipt of your media targets - don't just assume an email will suffice. Whether it's by snail mail, email, fax or phone calls, the media can't run your story if they don't hear about it. For one reason or another, some media may decide not to include your product/business in a placement -- but don't let them say they weren't made aware of it;

Meticulous media relations to immediately fulfill media requests (photos/interviews/product samples) and extensive media contact follow-ups over several months to generate as many placements as possible. Many times, media outlets can't immediately respond to an initial pitch due to tight editorial deadlines and the time it takes to wade through a multitude of similar media pitches. I have found, without question, that the media interest continues to increase as you re-introduce the pitch and gently "rattle the media cage" over the course of the next several weeks/months;

Some sort of media tracking capabilities -- whether it's your own media follow-ups, Internet research, or a professional broadcast/print clipping service. Having "hard copies" of the placements generated by your PR campaign can be invaluable in the further marketing of your business/product. Media placements are a unique validation of the market acceptance for your business/product and can help you convince new customers of that fact.

Think of launching a PR/publicity campaign like flying a kite. The press release (which aptly details your product/business) is the kite. But if your kite doesn't have the proper amount of string, a good tail, a strong wind and the expert manipulation of the kite flier - it has very little chance of getting off the ground. But if all theses elements are in place - a PR/publicity campaign can send your business soaring like a kite on a breezy Spring afternoon.

Todd F. Brabender
Spread The News Public Relations, Inc.

Generating publicity & media exposure for innovative
products/businesses/websites.
(785) 842-8909

mailto:todd@spreadthenewspr.com
http://www.spreadthenewspr.com
 


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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