October 26, 2002
Table of Contents
Quote of the Week
Featured Resource - PC Flank
Staff Article - 15
WAYS SMALL BUSINESSES GET INTO TROUBLE - PART 2
Guest Article -
IS YOUR AD KILLING YOUR BRAND?
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Quote of the Week
To dream of the person
you would like to be is to waste the person you are.
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Hopefully, you use a firewall to secure your computer. (Even at home! Please
don't leave yourself open to attack). But even if you are using one, are you
sure it works? PC Flank has a number of tests online to help you find out.
This link is to an article on the PC Flank website regarding personal
firewalls vs. the PC Flank tests, but if you'll look in the left border,
you'll see the links to all the tests. Check this out. The site contains a
lot of interesting information in addition to the tests.
by: Cary Christian
I hate getting angry, but the stupidity level is getting awfully high these
This isn't really new, in fact, it's getting old. This past week, two
successful businessmen with a lot of integrity lost their websites because
of s p * m complaints. (Pardon the spelling, but these idiotic filters will
probably kill the newsletter if I don't do this)! Neither of these gentlemen
would EVER send out a s p * m email. NEVER! And they didn't this time.
It seems like every day a new anti-s p * m organization is popping up and a
new filtering tool is introduced. And what is the net effect? More s p * m
in our inboxes! When are these cretins going to understand that the only
people they are going to filter and put out of business are decent people
who are trying to follow the rules? S p * m m e r s are usually very
technically competent or at least have studied their craft enough to
understand how to get around all this garbage. They're laughing all the way
to the bank while the rest of us suffer, filter and try every new tactic
that comes along to foil them.
These two businessmen I'm talking about had their domains highjacked. They
didn't send out any s p * m. Someone else did using their domain. This could
happen to YOU. Easily! And what happens then? Anti-s p * m organizations and
your ISP are all over you in a heartbeat, you lose your business, and the
s p * m m e r just laughs and moves on to someone else. No due process. No
chance to tell your side of the story. You're just dead in the water. Is
that fair and just? Does anyone really care?
It's time someone did something that has a chance of working. I'm tired of
all these holier-than-thou organizations spouting off and basically doing
nothing to cure the problem. Are you? Are you willing to join me and other
like-minded professionals to push for change? (There are going to be
literally tens of thousands of us. Please join us!) If so, email me. If
you're willing to do nothing more than lend your name to a petition or send
a supporting email, even that will help. We welcome your support. If you're
willing to lend your voice to our effort when the time comes, please click
this link and send me a blank email to the following address:
(P.S. I'll receive at least 50 s p * m emails per day to this address after
the s p * m bots finish harvesting the email address from our site. Isn't
that just too cute?)
I wrote several articles over the past six months about the Enron / Andersen
/ Worldcom et. al. debacle that has crushed confidence in our stock markets.
I also wrote about the new fraud bill that seems to have so much promise.
The act included an increase in SEC funding from $438 million to $776
million. President Bush also vowed to increase SEC funding when he addressed
the nation on corporate responsibility in July of this year.
But The New York Times reports the White House has backed off the budget
provision and is now urging Congress to provide the agency with $568
million, 27% less than the new law authorized. According to the Associated
Press, Sen. Paul Sarbanes, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee,
recently warned Bush that the SEC's "effectiveness will be seriously
compromised" unless it gets more money.
With consumer confidence at its lowest in years and investor confidence in
just as bad shape, what are these politicians thinking? Will we ever learn?
We rush to provide a fix when times are at their toughest, then back off as
the bad memories fade a little.
Please, write your Congressman and tell him to keep the pressure applied to
corporate fraud. If you want a sample communication to send, let me know and
I'll provide it to you.
Thank you for listening!
SMALL BUSINESSES GET INTO TROUBLE - PART 2
by: Cary Christian
In Part 1 of this three-part series we looked at five ways small businesses
get into trouble related to money problems. This week we are going to review
five strategic problems that plague small businesses.
Small businesses do not normally have access to all the resources that large
businesses do, either quantitatively or qualitatively. This is normally a
matter of money in that the small business cannot afford the more expensive
resources that are available.
But more frequently, it is a matter of improper emphasis. A small business
owner must understand when higher quality resources are required and when
they are not really necessary. In most cases, large businesses require more
in the way of resources. A small business can remain competitive if they
know when and where to spend their money on resources most effectively.
1. Failure to plan.
Too many small businesses operate "by the seat of their pants." For example,
when a large business rolls out a new product or opens a new division, time
is spent studying the situation, doing a market study, determining the
financial and personnel resources required, and planning the activities that
will create success. Entrepreneurs tend to simply decide it's a good idea
and put the wheels in motion with no planning whatsoever.
The result is that a lot of resources are wasted pursuing activities that
would not have been pursued if adequate planning had taken place. Small
businesses simply do not have the resources to waste in this manner.
All aspects of business operations must be planned from the beginning, and
planning must continue to enable the business to adjust and make changes
when and where required.
2. Thinking the "rules" don't apply to small business.
People go to business school for a reason. There are business concepts and
techniques that have been proven to work and that are generally accepted as
good business procedure. While many concepts covered in a business school
education SEEM to apply only to large enterprises, this is not the case. The
"rules" may have to be adjusted to scale, but they apply nonetheless.
Solid business operating concepts are solid whether they are viewed in the
context of the small mom and pop organization or a multinational company. It
may take some work to determine how a particular concept might apply to the
smaller enterprise, but if you look intently enough you will find a way to
adapt the concept to small business. Good business is good business,
regardless of size.
This does not mean that an entrepreneur must obtain a business school
education in order to be successful. What it does mean is that an
entrepreneur must take the steps necessary to understand solid business
concepts, even if that means hiring a consultant for guidance.
3. Failure to anticipate problems.
Most entrepreneurs are optimists. They wouldn't be in business for
themselves if they weren't. This is a positive and desired frame of mind or
trait of an entrepreneur. But it can be carried to the extreme.
A small business owner must understand that problems will occur. He or she
must also make every effort to anticipate them. The entrepreneur must look
down the road, anticipate problems that might occur with any business
strategy and develop a plan to deal with these problems immediately when
they occur. Failure to do so has ruined more than a few very profitable
Markets change. People change. Technology changes. The small business must
stand ready to change as well.
4. Lagging behind the technology curve.
Small businesses do not normally need to spend millions of dollars on
technology like their larger counterparts do. But they do need to stay in
touch with technological change that offers an opportunity to become more
efficient, productive and effective.
In most businesses, people costs are the largest cost the business incurs.
Anything that makes employees more productive and efficient is going to pay
for itself relatively quickly. Failure to adopt these technological
improvements will end up costing the business a lot of money in the long run
and will tend to make the company less competitive over time.
Your customers and vendors may also expect you to adopt new technologies
that make it easier for them to communicate with you and do business with
you. If you do not meet their needs, they will find someone who will. For
example, if your competitors are providing online services that are
important to customers, you'd better be providing these services also.
Better still, commit to be the first to offer such advanced services. It's a
lead you may never relinquish.
5. Failure to identify customers as a business asset.
Assume you spend $200,000 on a new advertising campaign and pick up 100 new
customers as a result. Each customer purchases a $500 product resulting in
$50,000 in new sales. If the story ends there, your advertising campaign is
a complete flop. You just paid $2,000 per customer to obtain $500 per
customer in sales.
Assuming your business is such that customers can represent repeat business,
the results might not be so bad. If the $500 product is something a customer
might buy every year, your $200,000 expenditure has created a $50,000 a year
annuity that might continue indefinitely. If you have other complementary
products the customer might also be interested in, the picture starts to
look very good indeed.
The key is to identify your customers as an asset to your business. Small
businesses get into trouble when they think of customers in terms of being a
one-shot deal. Small businesses must embrace customers as their most
important business asset, keep them extremely happy, and keep them coming
back for more for many years to come. The cost of obtaining a new customer
might not be $2,000, but it is more expensive than most entrepreneurs think
and every effort must be made to get the most out of this asset.
Next week in the last part of this series, we are going to look at people
problems that get small businesses into trouble.
Copyright (c) 2002
IS YOUR AD KILLING YOUR BRAND?
by Karon Thackston © 2002
It's funny to me how companies spend thousands of dollars to develop a brand
only to wreck it when they create their advertising campaigns. They pour
over colors, fonts, logo designs, Web site creation, USPs, and target
audience analyses. But then, when it's time to bring their message to
the public, it all falls apart.
Case in point: a local technical college in my town has recently begun to
run a television campaign. This institution previously had an image of
providing cutting-edge training on technically based vocations. They have
spent the last several years touting how high-tech their facilities are, and
how leading edge their curriculums are. That's why I can't image what
happened during the production of this ad.
The background music is slow and rather classical. The pictures are of
smiling students carrying books, and of one of the oldest buildings on the
campus. The copy did do its job. The copy mentioned how the workplace was
changing and becoming more advanced day-by-day. It talked about how even the
simplest of jobs now require at least some technological "know-how." But the
clash between the copy and the imagery was painfully obvious.
What would I have done differently? I would have chosen each element with
the express purpose of supporting the brand. The music would have been more
upbeat and modern. The images would have been of students working at
computers, or in engineering labs. The closing shot would not have been one
of the oldest, stodgiest building on campus, but of the new stucco and glass
building they added 2 years ago.
The end result *could* have been an ad that completely portrayed the
innovative and advanced curriculums offered by this technology-based school.
The copy, the visuals, and the music all working in harmony would bring
about a much larger response, and would also reinforce the brand this
institution has worked so hard to create.
When you create advertising pieces for your company, look for the branding
aspects of each, individual element. As you work through the process, ask
yourself these questions:
o What identity am I attempting to portray?
o Do the graphics reinforce that identity?
o Does the music support my brand?
o Is the copy descriptive of aspects related to the brand?
o Do the colors fall in line with how I want to be viewed?
o Is the medium itself appropriate to my brand?
When the final product (whether it be a piece for TV, radio, the Web, or
print) is completed, show it to several people who are unfamiliar with your
organization. Ask them to describe the "essence" of your business based on
this one piece. If your combination is put together right, they'll be able
to do just that.
When you pay close attention to each element you'll have a powerful end
result. When everything works in concert, you will have a much more
beneficial campaign that works to contribute to your branding efforts rather
than destroy them.
Copy not getting results? Visit Karon online at
or let Karon teach you to write like a pro! Boost your sales and your search
engine rankings with The Step-by-Step Copywriting Course. Not just an
ebook... a complete course including LIVE feedback. Get yours - and 3 FREE
bonuses - today!
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