Small Business Marketing Plan – Increase Your Business Profit Without Breaking Your Marketing Budget

Most small business owners fail when it comes to their small business marketing plans. They’ve got excellent technical skills in their line of work, but that just doesn’t translate to having effective marketing skills.As a result, profitability of many small businesses has been declining over the years. Ever increasing competition is making it more challenging in many ways. For those businesses that aren’t losing money, most are not producing the profit they could be if they knew how to market themselves properly.These business owners usually just copy what they see other businesses doing, or they follow the advice of some media sales person. The problem is they copy the wrong types of businesses, and the media sales people typically only know as much about effective marketing as the business owner does.Without the right kind of marketing system in place, the success of any business is by pure chance. To help remedy this situation, below are seven things a small business can do to increase profits while spending less on marketing.1. Use the power of free stuffEveryone likes getting free stuff and you can use that to your advantage. If your business lends itself to giving away free samples of your product, do that. It helps get people hooked on it. Business profits have boomed on this marketing model.As Chris Anderson author of the book titled, “Free: The Future of a Radical Price” says, “You can make make money giving things away.”  In his book he talks about how businesses are giving away products and services they used to charge for, and in return, a percentage of their customers are buying something else. As a result, they are making more money than ever.When you give something away, you often activate a universal law called the “Law of Reciprocity.” It says that when people get something free, they feel obligated to do something for you. Obviously it doesn’t work every time, but it does work enough of the time.But there is another way to give away free stuff that can greatly benefit your business. When you do it right you get something very valuable in return: customer contact info…which leads us to the next tip.2. Start capturing customer contact info and use itOne of the biggest mistakes small business owners make is not tapping their current customer base. They let customers visit their business (online or offline) all day long without ever trying to capture their contact info so they can continue to market products or services to them.You likely know how expensive it can be to get a new customer. But you can market to your current customers for little or no cost. Capturing and using customer contact info can mean the difference between a profitable business and one that barely gets by.Your business has more customer value in it than a customer can possibly digest in a short visit so if you aren’t continually marketing to your customers, you are throwing money away!You can make customer contact capture easier simply by using the power of free from tip number one. Simply start a monthly drawing to give away something free and print some registration slips visitors can fill out. Also have people register online on your website.Tell customers they only have to register once for all drawings and you will contact them monthly via email to let them know who won. Of course you will always include an offer for a product or service!What do you give away? Anything with a perceived value makes a great free item. Free items do not have to be expensive. Buy something on sale at WalMart or at eBay and offer it. You can also offer free informational reports that help people solve their problems. People are always looking for ways to solve problems they are having.Of course, once you capture this information you have to do something with it. If you’re too busy to take on any more work, then the next tip will help you out.3. Use automated tools to keep in touch with customersOnce you have a customer list, I recommend you send a minimum of 25 “messages” a year to it. A message could be an email, direct mail piece, fax, or phone call.If you don’t use an automated tool to do the work for you, you’ll likely be too busy to get the job done. When you automate, your messages go out regardless of how busy you get (the more messages that go out, the busier you’ll get).One tool you can use is an email autoresponder, which is a web-based system that sends out emails when someone signs up. It sends out emails at intervals you set up. You can also set it up to send an email on a specific day, such as a holiday.The great thing about an autoresponder tool is that you enter your messages in the autoresponder one time, then it automatically sends emails to your list. You can also broadcast messages any time you want.Using this tool, keeping in touch with your customers is easy and it will help keep the competition from creeping in and stealing your customers because they’ve forgotten about you and the services you provide.4. Stop marketing like you’re a big business.Marketing a small business like it’s a big business is something almost every small business owner does. They just copy the marketing they see being done at large companies with big brands. This kind of marketing is called “brand identity,” “brand building,” or “image” marketing.This is a HUGE waste of advertising money for a small business. You simply don’t have the resources you need to support a successful branding campaign.Brand advertising typically has no “call to action,” (they don’t ask you to do anything). They just give you features of the product or service, or they entertain you without asking you to do anything.Brand advertising is usually benefit free. The viewer has to determine if there is a benefit to them. It may contain a list of features and the user will have to assign their own benefit to each feature. It is usually focused on the product or provider of the product instead if the customer.A successful marketing campaign for a small business is created around direct response marketing techniques.5. Use old fashioned direct response techniques in new waysThe kind of marketing plan that works for a small business is direct response marketing. It doesn’t require a huge marketing budget to use effectively. It can be used for all types of products and services.And the good news is that you don’t even have to hire an advertising agency to do it since it doesn’t require creativity. All you have to do is learn the basic structure of direct response marketing and you can easily increase the sales your business makes.Direct response sales copy always asks the reader or viewer to take some sort of action i.e. “Call in the next 5 minutes, and we’ll include a free set of Ginzu steak knives!”.It may ask for the sale directly if a full “sales presentation” was done (one-step advertising), or it may ask them to request more information (two-step advertising). It will at a minimum, ask the reader to take some form of “traceable” action so you know if it is working or not.There should always be a headline for written advertisements! Never put your company logo at the top of a direct response advertisement. That’s brand advertising.Whenever you create an advertisement in any form always look at them from the customer point of view. Look it and ask “Who gives a crap?” about everything in it. Do you think the customer cares about your logo. No! They care about what you can do for them. Put in benefits and not features. Let the customer know what’s in it for them. A successful direct response ad for a small business includes several things:
An offer to buy something
Sufficient information for the consumer to make a decision to act now (or directions on how to get more info)
An explicit “call to action” sooner rather than later
A clear way to respond such as a telephone number or web page
A means of tracking the response.
Direct response advertising is not just used for mail campaigns. You use it in all forms of media: print, web, mail, and broadcast. Take a look at all the advertising you are currently doing no matter where it is and start making the change now.6. Use the Internet to advertise for freeEven though websites as we know them have existed since around the early 90s, only 49%* of small businesses currently have a website *9/08, Barlow Research. It’s surprising how many businesses do not understand how powerful this marketing tool is. If you don’t have a website, get one because there is no better source of free advertising!The Internet has hundreds of “Web 2.0″ websites where you post “content” for free. The content can be text, videos, or audios you create and it can lead people to your business. Plus, it helps establish you as an expert in your is one such place you can post content. There was no charge to post this article. All I had to do is write it, post it, and then you found it.You can put links in the “author resource” section, to drive traffic to a page on your website. The articles you post in EzineArticles can rank extremely well in Google search results with a little help from you.You also want to get your business listed in places like Google Local if you do local business. Once again this is absolutely free.Once you learn how to do use the Internet for promotion you’ll have a head start on the future of advertising and you get customers for free!7. Outsource routine marketing tasks so you can work on the growing your businessOne of the biggest problems small business owners have is that they get so consumed by working IN their business, they don’t have time to work ON their business. So no growth can occur.When it comes to marketing yourself on the Internet, there are ways to use “virtual assistants” to do most of the work for you. A virtual assistant is someone you hire on a full or part-time basis who does the work for you.But a virtual assistant is not a direct employee so you don’t provide benefits or have the normal hassles of an employee. They are usually located somewhere in the world that has low-cost wages so they are very affordable. That’s the beauty of the Internet and the communication it provides.Virtual assistants aren’t just confined to small business marketing plan tasks though. They can do almost anything for you: reservations, schedule appointments, answer phones, customer service, send flowers, buy a present for your spouse, find someone to fix your car, website development, accounting, software development, writing, graphics, or anything you need.There are lots of resources on the Internet that can help you find a virtual assistant.Create Your Small Business Marketing Plan Now!Use these seven marketing tips to start building your small business marketing plan right now. If you procrastinate, your busy life will get in the way of business growth. Even if you only take a little of the advice you’ve been given, you’ll find it can have a big impact on the profitability of your business.

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Bipolar Disorder and Social Security Disability

Bipolar disorder is a mental disorder characterized by highs and lows; one who has the condition can experience the lows of depression to the highs of mania. Such mood shifts may only occur only a few times a year, but in some cases, they can happen as often as several times per day. In some cases, bipolar disorder even causes symptoms of depression and mania at the same time. Due to the symptoms experienced by those with bipolar disorder, people with the condition often find themselves unable to work/maintain employment. This being the case, they may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits based on Bipolar Disorder. Here, bipolar disability will be discussed in more detail in etiology as well as in relation to applying and qualifying for Social Security Disability benefits.About Bipolar DisorderSeveral factors seem to be involved in causing and triggering bipolar episodes. Some of these factors involve the following:Biological differences. Physical changes within the brain;
Neurotransmitters. An imbalance in naturally occurring brain chemicals;
Hormones. Imbalanced hormones may be involved in causing or triggering bipolar disorder.
Inherited traits. Bipolar disorder is more common in people who have a blood relative with the condition.
Environment. Stress, abuse, significant loss or other traumatic experiences.The exact symptoms of bipolar disorder vary from person to person. For some people, depression causes the most problems; for other people manic symptoms are the main concern. Symptoms of depression and symptoms of mania or hypomania may also occur together, which is known as a mixed episode. Signs and symptoms of the manic or hypomanic phase of bipolar disorder can include the following:Euphoria
Extreme optimism
Inflated self-esteem
Poor judgment
Rapid speech; racing thoughts
Aggressive and/or risky behavior
Agitation or irritation
Increased physical activity
Increased drive to perform or achieve goals
Increased sex drive
Decreased need for sleep
Inability to concentrate
Frequent absences from work or school
Delusions or a break from reality (psychosis)
Poor performance at work or schoolSigns and symptoms of the depressive phase of bipolar disorder can include:Sadness
Suicidal thoughts or behavior
Sleep problems
Low or increased appetite
Loss of interest in daily activities
Problems concentrating
Chronic pain without a known cause
Frequent absences from work or school
Poor performance at work or schoolBipolar disorder requires lifelong treatment, even during periods when you feel better. The primary treatments for bipolar disorder include medications; individual, group or family psychological counseling (psychotherapy); or education and support groups. A variety of medications are used to treat bipolar disorder, including Lithium, anticonvulsants, antidepressants, antipsychotics, Symbyax, and Benzodiazepines.Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits Based on Bipolar DisorderSocial Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a federal program designed to pay monetary benefits to qualified applicants who have worked long enough and paid their social security taxes. Based on medical evidence, work history, and education history, the Social Security Administration determines whether or not applicants qualify for benefits and how much each applicant can receive. The Social Security Administration (SSA) sets forth specific criteria when qualifying applicants for benefits. With regard to bipolar disorder specifically, the medical evidence must be consistent with SSA’s classification within the following criteria:12.04 Affective disorders: Characterized by a disturbance of mood, accompanied by a full or partial manic or depressive syndrome. Mood refers to a prolonged emotion that colors the whole psychic life; it generally involves either depression or elation.The required level of severity for these disorders is met when the requirements in both A and B are satisfied, or when the requirements in C are satisfied.A. Medically documented persistence, either continuous or intermittent, of one of the following:1. Depressive syndrome characterized by at least four of the following:a. Anhedonia or pervasive loss of interest in almost all activities; orb. Appetite disturbance with change in weight; orc. Sleep disturbance; ord. Psychomotor agitation or retardation; ore. Decreased energy; orf. Feelings of guilt or worthlessness; org. Difficulty concentrating or thinking; orh. Thoughts of suicide; ori. Hallucinations, delusions, or paranoid thinking; or2. Manic syndrome characterized by at least three of the following:a. Hyperactivity; orb. Pressure of speech; orc. Flight of ideas; ord. Inflated self-esteem; ore. Decreased need for sleep; orf. Easy distractibility; org. Involvement in activities that have a high probability of painful consequences which are not recognized; orh. Hallucinations, delusions or paranoid thinking; or3. Bipolar syndrome with a history of episodic periods manifested by the full symptomatic picture of both manic and depressive syndromes (and currently characterized by either or both syndromes);ANDB. Resulting in at least two of the following:1. Marked restriction of activities of daily living; or2. Marked difficulties in maintaining social functioning; or3. Marked difficulties in maintaining concentration, persistence, or pace; or4. Repeated episodes of decompensation, each of extended duration;ORC. Medically documented history of a chronic affective disorder of at least 2 years’ duration that has caused more than a minimal limitation of ability to do basic work activities, with symptoms or signs currently attenuated by medication or psychosocial support, and one of the following:1. Repeated episodes of decompensation, each of extended duration; or2. A residual disease process that has resulted in such marginal adjustment that even a minimal increase in mental demands or change in the environment would be predicted to cause the individual to decompensate; or3. Current history of 1 or more years’ inability to function outside a highly supportive living arrangement, with an indication of continued need for such an arrangement.Keep in mind that the depression symptoms which meet the criteria for receipt of benefits may develop as a result of the disease process and/or the medications prescribed and used, or the residual effects of procedures used to treat the disease.The medical evidence supporting one’s argument that he or she may meet these criteria, and therefore qualify for disability benefits, is crucial to obtaining a favorable finding. Physicians are considered experts in their field of practice, and their diagnosis, treatment and prognosis concerning a person’s condition are key to determining if someone who suffers with bipolar disorder qualifies for Social Security Disability benefits.

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How to Find a Perfect ‘Automatic Business’ Online

Are you not tired of surfing the net for that perfect automatic business online? Everybody wants to make easy money online or learn how to make money online. Most people (about 97% I believe) then give up and move onto other things, disillusioned with the whole work from home online thing.The truth be told there are countless lucrative and legitimate online business’s that can make you a stack of money, most people have found them in fact, and then have given up after a month or two when they have failed to make their millions. Mind you, beware as there are also countless scams out there.Most online opportunities that claim to make your rich overnight are either non existent or using highly exaggerated figures to get you to sign up with them.You actually need to find yourself an automated or automatic business to join up with. You must find that perfect online opportunity to invest in so that you can work towards a future of financial freedom and personal success. Make sure that the business that you choose does all the selling for you, so that you can spend your time with marketing and generating leads. Most of us are not good sales people and haven’t had the relevant training, so leave the selling to the experts and concentrate your efforts on learning to market and you won’t go wrong.You also need to invest in an online business that will train you on an ongoing basis. With the ever changing technological world that we live in, it is imperative that we have up to date education at our finger tips at all times. You should be forever the student and devote some time each day to your personal development and training, and if your online marketing business doesn’t provide that for you, then you are in the wrong business.Most important, before you sign up with any online business venture, you have to have your head screwed on right. Do you have the mindset to go at it alone? Do you have the motivation and perseverance to keep going, even when two weeks go by without seeing one new lead into your system? If you are the type of person who gives up easily, battles to manage your time or jumps from one opportunity to the next, then I will have to point out to you that this internet marketing thing is just not for you.

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How to Advertise Your Business Online Cost Effectively: Advertising Ideas for Your Small Business

Learning how to advertise your business online without losing your shirt can be mind-boggling with all the internet hype you see online these days.Quite obviously, if you’re a small business owner, you can’t afford to dish out thousands of dollars to purchase your own website, and Google pay-per-click will gobble up your money in no time!Pay-per-click is especially dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing.Everyone who has been successful with paid advertising has admitted that you just have to be willing to “waste” a lot of money in the beginning until you figure out how to track your success and tweak your ad…… The idea behind pay-per-click is that you need a strong capture page to attract attention… but that’s not enough!Once you attract attention, the visitor clicks your link (and you pay) – but then you need a strong sales page to finish the deal – or you’re out some big bucks!So what do I suggest for how to advertise your business online without paying thousands of dollars on pay-per-click?Blogging is the new way of how to advertise for free, since the average buyer is looking more to be entertained than to be sold. And there’s no better entertainment and your own personal story-telling or video!Naturally, for the purpose of making the blog about how to advertise your business online, you’ll want to include links that go to good capture pages and sales funnels.Even if you learn how to advertise for free using a blogging system, you’ll need to setup a capture page, sales funnel and shopping cart. But your reader is drawn to your product initially by being attracted to your blog.How to advertise your business online using a blog… (learn what attracts people to your blog)The fastest action comes from social media, and the long-staying action comes from ranking your blog on Google. Contrary to popular belief, some of the top sites you’ll see on Google are blog sites…… but it depends on what you’re searching for.For example, my own personal blog is currently ranking top of Google for “Easy Money Making Blog”.What makes your blog rank highest?1. An authority domainWhat is that? Anyone can buy a domain (that’s the name of your blog.. most people just use their own name dot com. However, as businesses come and go, so do domains. The ones that Google will pay particular attention to are the ones that have been in operation longest – so domain age is a big factor.2. Social “likes” & commentsThe easiest way to explain this is that you need to build popularity on your blog for it to rank. Social commenting and tweeting will help a lot, so it’s best to syndicate your blog through Facebook, Twitter and other social sites each time you create a post. This will start the ball rolling.3. BacklinksWhen you have a good site, other sites linking to it (“track-back”) will help the popularity of your site. The more popular the site linking to your site, the more popular your site will become.But when you’re learning how to advertise your business online using a blog, you need to begin with keyword research…Google’s keyword external tool is actually not as easy to use as it used to be, so I prefer to use keyword research software. This will tell you not only how many people are searching for a particular phrase, but how much completion there is for you to get ranked.For example, the keyword phrase in this post, “how to advertise your business online” gets over 200 searches monthly, and the keyword phase “free advertising ideas” gets over 1000 searches monthly.If you’re trying to rank on Google for free, it’s mandatory that you frame your blog post around a keyword phrase that gets very little competition…Then, simply put that phrase into the “tag” section on your blog. The “long tail” phrase (several words) is notoriously easier to rank.For how to market a product, the more specific your phrase, the easier it is to rank.And, your blog visitor will also be more likely to be very interested in your offer. For example, if I’m looking to but a hairspray that works well for curling fine hair, I would be much more interested in reading a post about “hairspray for curling fine hair” or even “best hairspray for fine hair” as opposed to “best hairspray”.If you’re looking for how to advertise for free, blogging isn’t completely free, as you do have to pay a monthly fee for hosting.However, if you use the system often enough by blogging daily, you’ll find that blogging is the most cost effective way of how to advertise your business online available today.

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Are You Over-Investing in Your Insurance?

There are some people who are looking for the cheapest life insurance policy to fulfil their protection need. However, at the same time, there are people who like to invest the maximum fund in the insurance schemes.When posed with the question why, they simply reply more investment means more returns. The question here is- is it prudent enough to invest out-of-the-limit in insurance schemes, even if these schemes belong to unit-linked category? The simple answer is no.Insurance is not an investment tool exactlyThe core purpose of having any insurance is to have protection against contingencies. To offer the financial protection, insurance companies are charging some amount out of the premium as fee and the rest of the amount is utilized for creating the pool of funds to protect those in need. To do this, insurers have various kinds of propositions so that every person interested in insuring himself is able to find a plan that suits his financial state.Initially, plans were largely traditional in nature that offered guaranteed minimum returns over a period. Many people did not find this idea of insurance lucrative enough and preferred other investment tools to earn comparatively higher profit. So the insurers came up with ULIPs that is unit-linked insurance plans, to be able to give better returns or market-linked returns to customers. The basic fundamental of providing protection remained the same.Take inflation into consideration to understand whether it is right to over-spendTo better understand the concept, take inflation into consideration and calculate the financial returns you would get over the period. Would the returns received be considerable enough to fulfil at least some of your needs? No. You find that you would basically be using your own funds that get added to the small percentage of profit your investments are able to accumulate over a period of time. Saying that does not imply that insurance is of no use. It is just that the system of insurance works to provide you much-needed, timely protection that you would not be able to avail by yourself. So, it always makes sense to have insurance, but one should not over-spend on it to have huge returns.How should you decide whether you are over-spending?There are many general rules that insurance dealers follow to make buyers understand the estimate of their needs. The basic question is- how much life insurance you really need? To check what you are spending is enough or more than what you are required to spend, read and calculate the recommended sum insured.Insurance equal to ten times your annual income. For instance, you earn Rs. 10, 00,000 annually you should buy coverage of Rs. 100, 00,000.
Insurance equal to 5 times your annual income plus total liabilities. If total liabilities are Rs. 70, 00,000 and annual income is Rs. 10, 00, 000. Estimate comes to Rs. 1, 20, 00, 000, that is Rs. 50, 00,000 (510, 00,000) plus Rs. 70, 00,000.
Insurance equal to 300 times your monthly expenditure. Say you spend Rs. 50,000 per month, your coverage should be equal to Rs. 1, 50,00, 000 (50,000300).
Insurance equal to the amount your family needs. Family needs do not remain constant for a long time. The expenditure today can increase tomorrow if kids pursue higher studies. If your children are in their earning phase of life, expenditure may not increase, rather decrease. Like this, take an estimate of various needs on a yearly basis that are not in a scene in the present but need could crop up after some years. Add up the immediate liabilities surfacing at the event of demise and what your family will need for ongoing needs for the number of years you would like to protect them financially.By using the above methods you get rough estimates about how much sum insured you should have. If one of these estimates matches with the collective sum insured of all your life insurance policies with a difference of even a few thousands of rupees, you are on the right track. However, if the collective amount of the sum insured of your policies is much more than these estimates, you need to look into the matter.Neither it pays to be underinsured nor does it pay to be over-insured. Assuming an insurance plan as an investment plan is fine to a certain extent as it offers tax benefits and keeps your financial goals in place but allocating maximum funds there is not a wise decision.By investing more than what is required you are converting your investment into expenditure. To extract maximum value out of your money, invest in insurance only what is required and the difference can be used somewhere else to maximize the returns.

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