Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Planning the Budget for your Home Business

Having a budget for your home business is essential to avoid overspending and getting yourself into debt. This article highlights a few key areas to consider to make sure you are prepared financially.

When you first start planning your home business it is important that you make sure you have some sort of budget that you stick to so that you can ensure you will make a profit. It can be all too easy to lose track of your finances and find that you have wildly over spent. Areas that you should think about are mainly the equipment that you need to carry out your job, premises and any extra expenses for marketing.

1. Equipment

The type of equipment that you will require depends mainly on the type of home business that you wish to run. In the main most professions will require you to have a computer, a printer and internet connection as well as any specialist equipment. This is so that you can email clients, carry out marketing and keep on top of your website.

Other professions may also require certain software packages, a fax machine, photo copier or a camera and equipment. It is advisable to have a budget for this and to make sure you stick to it otherwise you could find yourself spending more then you intended.

2. Marketing

This can cost as much or as little as you are prepared to spend. You will find that at some point marketing is an area that you will have to budget for as getting your name out there is incredibly important. Many people decide to have their own website which may cost you some money to set up and maintain. Although creating a website is easy to undertake the hard work begins in then getting your website found by your prospective customers so a samll budget maybe useful to employ an online marketing company.

Others will want to have business cards printed up to hand out to other local businesses and at networking fairs and this will require a budget. It could also be useful to print up leaflets and price lists if your work requires this, so make sure that you factor this and the cost of any postage into your budget too.

It is also worth keeping some money aside for any emergencies that you might find occur. This may be because you are struggling to find work or if you become ill or injured and cannot work for short time.

How Networking can Help your Busines

Networking can be a really great way of marketing your business, as well as meeting people that can offer you help and advice along the way. There are several ways in which you can approach networking and this article will give you a few ideas.

When you set up a home business you will soon realise that there are a number of benefits to networking and therefore marketing your business. You can choose to network either in a more relaxed social environment or more formally at a specific event. The key is deciding which of these two methods you are most comfortable with and which is most suited to your line of work. In this was you can then go on to find more work or pick up information that may be useful to you.

1. Formal networking

When you decide to network on a more formal level it will often be to find potential clients or to meet new colleagues within your line of work. This can seem a little intimidating if networking is new to you but eventually you will relax and find that it can be very useful. There are a number of professional networking events that aim to offer you news and information as well as courses and training. You will also find a number of formal business exhibitions that can offer you a great platform to increase your marketing by meeting potential new customers face to face.

2. Social networking

Depending on your line of work and how busy you are, you may find that social networking suits you much better then the more formal methods above. It can offer you a way to find work, contacts and help and advice for the day to day running of your business.

One great way of online marketing in this way is using forums as they can provide you with a really useful means of social networking online. You will find that people from all walks of life and with different experiences network online and it can be a great way of picking up hints and tips that you may find useful. Look out for forums that are particularly relevant to your line of work as you may be able to find work in this way. You could also try looking at social networking sites online such as Bebo, Facebook, MySpace and Twitter!

Using Link Building to Improve Website Rankings

It is vital for your internet marketing to get any websites you may have to rank well in search engines. This short article will give you a brief introduction to link building and show how it could help you.

Running your own business requires much time and dedication if you want it to be as successful as possible. For this reason it is important that any online content, such as a website or blogs, ranks high in an online search. With competition always increasing it can be difficult to keep your sites above those of your opposition. However there is one great way that may help you to improve your internet marketing rankings and this is something that is often referred to as link building; essentially this aids website optimisation.

1. Link Building Explained

You will no doubt at some point have used a search engine to help you find something online so you will understand that the majority of people will often only look at the first couple of pages of results. This means that for those ranking on pages three and lower they will often be overlooked. This is why link building can be incredibly useful as it enables you to raise the ranking of your website to feature towards the top. Although this is often viewed as being a time consuming way of internet marketing, the results make it worth the effort.

Link building essentially refers to the quality, quantity and relevance of the links that point towards your website. For example if a link to one of your websites is included on a variety of other websites then it will be viewed by a search engine as being of more importance. Therefore any link that points towards your website will be helping to raise the popularity of your internet marketing and therefore improve the ranking.

2. How Does this Work?

In general there are two key ways in which you can approach this. Some websites will ask for a reciprocal link which means that they will require you to place a link to their website on yours and you therefore assist each other. However you can also find one way links which do not require any help from you in this way. Some of these sites may charge for their help so it could be worth finding other small businesses or companies in a similar situation and helping each other.

Despite this sometimes being a slow and time consuming process of internet marketing it can provide you with great results and really help you to get more visitors to your websites and improve your business marketing.

Get Your Business Talked About – Start a Viral Marketing Campaign

You can create a buzz around your products and services through viral marketing, although some businesses are more naturally suited to viral advertising than others.

A successful viral marketing campaign always begins with the development of a quality viral, whether it's a video, e-report, image, or interactive game.

Equally as important as creating quality content is seeding your viral ad. Seeding means distributing your content online by placing it within sites, message boards and communities frequented by ‘opinion formers’ – and trusting that they will see fit to ‘pass it on.’

Effective methods of seeding include:
Approaching blog and web editors and encouraging them to post your content.
Online distribution
Uploading content to video sharing and viral websites.
Twitter promotion
Encouraging Twitter users with a large following to share the content.
Paid for placement
Paying blog and web editors to share the content.
Forum posting
Posting content on relevant forums.

Six Key Elements of a Viral Marketing Campaign

1. Give away products or services
The word "free" attracts attention, whether it's free software, a free trial, or free report. Alternatively, if you don’t have any freebies available, consider holding a competition to draw attention to your business.

2. Make sharing content easy
Viral content needs to share easily if it is to spread. Alongside the viral content on your website, include an 'Email a Friend' button. If posted on your blog add a line of links to the main social networking sites, such as:
Add to: YouTube | Digg | Furl | Blinklist | Yahoo! |

3. Design your ad around common motivations
The desire to be popular, liked and cool drives people universally. Design a viral ad that builds on these motivations – and don’t be afraid to use humour where appropriate.

4. Use existing networks to communicate your message
Try to place your message into relevant social networks. Viral marketing companies are particularly adept at doing this as they generate exposure for viral content through placing it on blogs, forums, email newsletters, social networks, as well as video sharing sites.

5. Ensure your business is prepared for large numbers of visitors
Make sure you have enough bandwidth built into your website. There's nothing worse than creating an excellent viral marketing campaign only for your efforts to be hampered simply because your website couldn't cope with the volume of visitors. By the same token, ensure that your staff, systems and stock levels can cope with the extra demand.

6. Utilise other people's resources
Use other people's websites to host your viral content by constructing it so that it offers a benefit to them and their readers. Article submission works in this way, with websites accepting free articles because of the benefits offered to their visitors.

A viral marketing strategy does not have to include all of the above elements, but combining several of them at once will dramatically increase your chances of success. If you are looking for someone to help you with this a consultant who offers outsourced marketing will be able to help.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Is it Worthwhile to Outsource to a Marketing Company?

Hiring a marketing company can be a great idea for a business who wants to grow or sustain themselves but who doesn't want to (or can't) hire their own internal marketing department. Hiring a marketing consultant or company definitely has its advantages, such as: activity based costing, varied expertise, zero commitment, and being able to pay for results. Let's look at each of these areas a bit closer:

Activity Based Costing

Companies have peaks and valleys with marketing. But salaries aren't this way. You have to pay your full-time marketing staff full time, whether there's something big happening or not. Hiring a marketing company could mean that you're only paying for whatever is going on.

Activity based costing is still something you can budget for. But here's a tip:

Having a variable budget may work well in this case though as your activities could bring about a revenue boost that allows you to allocate more money to further marketing efforts that year1

Varied Expertise

Hiring a marketing company or marketing consultants can give your company access to a wide array of expertise. Need help with your website? Need a business plan? Looking for help securing venture capital? By working with a marketing company rather than hiring a marketing person in house, you could access various sources as you need them. A marketing company offers you executives without your having to pay a marketing executive's high salary. And with activity based costing, you can seek out the services you need as you need them.

Zero Commitment

Unless you're signing a specific contract, you generally don't have a level of commitment with a marketing company. Many firms exist that will work with you as and when you need it. It's smart to work on your marketing efforts throughout your whole fiscal year but of course there will be times when you don't need as strong a focus.

This zero commitment set up can be very useful for a small business or a start-up who is trying to hit the ground running but doesn't have a long term plan yet. And, when you work with a contractor, you aren't dealing with labour laws and tribunals if the relationship doesn't work out. You can end a relationship with a marketing company much easier than ending a relationship with a full time employee.

Pay for Results

Some consultancies even offer guaranteed satisfaction, offering you a "pay for results" plan. This can remove the risk.

If activity based marketing costs makes sense to you, start looking for the right marketing company to deal with. The right terms and the right relationship could be a huge benefit to your business.

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Advice from a 21st Century Marketing Company

Are your marketing concepts current? Or are you still stuck on the dark age concepts of the 20th century? Are you even marketing at all? Read on for some tips from a 21st century marketing company that can help you avoid the traps that come companies fall into.

Don't be Out of Touch

A large number of business owners, both large and small, are so busy managing what their business does on a daily basis that they begin to lose touch with the pulse of their industry and the world of effective marketing. Don't lose touch otherwise you could find yourself archaic. Are you using current marketing concepts? Is your company on the cutting edge? Do you know who your competitors are and how they're faring in the current market place? If you don't, it's time to get in touch with what's going on so you don't miss the boat and get left behind --- enabling competitors to woo away your customers.

Don't Get too Comfortable

Beyond being out of touch with what's happening outside the walls of your office, you could make the mistake of getting too comfortable. Don't take customer loyalty for granted. Don't take employee loyalty for granted, either. Companies need to spread their eggs out so that if one or two of their baskets disappears it doesn't crumble their company. The same goes for staff. Are any of your staff members indispensable? Big mistake! Yes, strive for happy employees with great corporate morale but develop cross functional teams so that your company can cope if an employee falls ill, jumps ship for a better offer, or wins the lottery.

Do Your Homework

Is your company using the same marketing methods that you used in 1997? Yikes! Time to gather some business intelligence. Learn about your industry, your competition, 21st century marketing methods, and formulate a plan to get your company caught up! Seek help if necessary.

Get Some Help!

You're probably too busy running your business to focus on marketing. That's why it pays to hire a marketing company who knows 21st century techniques. A marketing company can help you analyse your existing infrastructure, research your niche for trends and gap analysis, and develop a marketing plan that will help your company to move forward with confidence and the tools necessary to compete and thrive in the current business climate.

There has never been a better time to unleash the power of the internet to help you gather business intelligence and appeal to your customers. A marketing company can focus on these things so that you can focus on what you're expert at doing.

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Are You A Business Owner Who Wants Help Succeeding? Consider Hiring a Marketing Consultancy

If you want to succeed in business, you have to invest in the future of your company. Very few companies sustain success without the help of professional services once in a while. A marketing consultant could be a great asset to your company and one that pays a hefty return on investment. Consider hiring a marketing consultancy firm that does online marketing. But look at hiring an expert who has practical experience offline as well.

Business Analysis

Do you want help analysing your existing infrastructure? A consultancy firm that has enough experience to consult for online and offline businesses can help you look at what's going right, what's going wrong, and work with you to optimise processes and boost productivity both in house and online.

Website Analysis

Are you leveraging the power of the internet? An online marketing consultant can help you tackle the complexities of internet marketing by analysing your site and optimising it. Get a real feel for what's going right and wrong on your site. Fix what's broken and optimise what's ineffective. Your website could go from being an online brochure to a lead generation and customer communication vehicle that serves as a virtual sales person.

Search Engine Optimisation, Social Marketing, and More

Want more traffic? Online consultants can help you get it. Want to run promotions or contests? Looking to leverage tools such as Facebook and Twitter? A consultancy could help you do that.

Business Plans

Need a plan? Got a plan and want to put it on paper so you can approach venture capitalists or angel investors? Get help putting together a winning business plan and this could make a big difference to your ability to get financing. An expert business plan writer could help you position your business as a great potential investment.

Whether you want to hire someone to help you with your marketing collateral creation, to start a new blog, to have someone deal with your press release distribution or for someone to come in and tell you why you aren't making more money (and then show you how to turn a better profit), a marketing consultant could help. Hire the right consultant and you could grow your business substantially.

Look for someone seasoned in business, well-versed in marketing on the internet, and for someone who's geographically close enough to understand the issues and challenges you face in your local geographical area.

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Picking a UK Marketing Agency - Essential Tips

Are you looking to hire a UK marketing company to help you with your design and marketing? Here are some tips to help you find the right company to deal with.

The Web as Your Guide

Yes, it can be smart to use the web as your guide for just about anything nowadays. As a consumer you can find out a lot of information to help you choose a product or service provider through the internet. Search at your leisure from the comfort of your computer without having to wait for return phone calls. Tip: Deal locally so you don't have to worry about time zones. Sure, it may seem like an overseas company is priced right but do you want to wait for return calls because they're in a different time zone? Do you want to deal with someone in the area of marketing that has no idea what it's like in your geographical area?

Find a local marketing consultancy that has a good online reputation. That's another great thing about the web... it tells a story. You can follow bread crumb trails that lead to professional service providers that tell you how well their work is received. Testimonials, reviews, complaints, kudos...they can all show up online. If you are hiring a marketing agency, try looking up the name of the company and / or the principals to see if they have a good online reputation. Finding a lot of information or published articles could be very telling and help make your decision about whether or not to hire them an easier one to make.

Look at Samples

Does the marketing company have an online portfolio showing website design work or other marketing collateral that they have provided to clients? Or, can they demonstrate their expertise by showing you examples or case studies of other work that they have done? This information can help you determine that you are in face dealing with an experienced company with a proven track record.

Sometimes, you'll want a phone call or a face to face meeting despite seeing everything you want to see online. Speaking voice to voice can be very telling, letting you see whether or not you've found the right person for the job of helping your company with marketing. Once you find the right marketing agency it can make a world of difference in your company's ability to succeed. It can help you focus on what you need to focus on in order to grow and boost profit.

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Marketing Agency Services – Branding

How's your brand doing? Do you have a brand? If you're in business, you should develop a brand. The internet can be a great vehicle for helping with branding and a marketing consultancy could be instrumental in helping your company do this.

Companies that become known by their brand can become the de facto standard for their area or even their industry. Having a customer buy from you once is great. If you do branding right, they could buy from you on an ongoing basis and they could refer you to their friends as well. Creating a brand that becomes recognisable will help you develop strong relationships with customers and vendors in your industry.

Branding isn't always easy. It takes work. Most small to medium sized businesses don't have the resources to dedicate a lot to branding. That's why many seek the help of a marketing agency.

Marketing agencies know what it takes to build a brand. And with the internet, an online focused marketing agency can help you do viral branding that helps you reach your goals faster than with traditional marketing methods. Many tools can be used, such as:


Get seen by your potential audience through Facebook fan pages and through Facebook adverts. Facebook is a medium that nearly every successful company uses. If you don't leverage it, you're leaving money on the table. There are smart ways to leverage it, too. An expert can show you the best way to do this.


Are you tweeting as a business as of yet? Leverage Twitter and it could do a lot for your branding efforts. A lot of Twitter followers could have a positive impact on your ability to market to new and existing customers. A marketing agency can help with this area sa well.

Content Marketing

Content is king online. Every online piece of content has the ability to help you with your business development. Content can have positive results in terms of search engine optimisation, branding, and can drive new visitors to your site. Written and streaming content together could do wonders.

What's your branding strategy?

If you need help with branding, talk to a marketing agency who is well versed in leveraging the power of the internet for businesses of various sizes. The result could be increased sales and increased market share in your niche and / or geographical area.