Small Business Marketing Ideas: Discover Your Niche

Small Business Survival: Wage War on the Competition with New Marketing IdeasIn these difficult economic times, small businesses are closing their doors everyday. But there are a wealth of low-cost or free marketing possibilities still available to aid small business owners.The low-price offers of big retailers like Target and Walmart on items from clothing to electronics in an effort to dominate the market has forced countless small local retailers to shut down. When small businesses lose the competitive battle against these massive companies, hard-working entrepreneurs lose their shirts and irreplaceable establishments are lost by local communities. I live in a remote community of 10,000 people and I have certainly experienced this. It has been a terrible blow to watch people I know suffer. Our community has lost many businesses near-and-dear to our hearts and we are left with few shopping options.So, how is a small business to make its mark n these difficult times?Business owners who run a physical business location are fighting an uphill battle, particularly if they offer anything which is sold by corporate giants. To carve out their own niche in the marketplace, they need to be well-versed in their product or service, endeavor to be unique in their approach while delivering the finest customer service to attract and retain customers. Certainly a massive undertaking, but one that will pay off.Determine what your large competitors don’t offer: that’s where you, as the small business entrepreneur, can find your niche, or your targeted segment of the marketplace.1. It is clear when visiting chain stores that they do not place value on customer service.
2. Every location looks the same.
3. If they don’t carry what you want, there is nothing they can or will do to help you.Find a better way to serve the market in at least 2 and possibly 3 of these ares.1. Provide the FINEST service possible to your customers. Always keep an employee available in the store or at the register to answer questions. Hire friendly and courteous people to answer incoming calls. Try your best to learn the names of your frequent customers and address them by their name. That’s a great way to endear yourself and your business to your customers and will encourage shopper loyalty!2. Make your location a destination-a pleasant place to visit. Paint a mural inside. Provide free water and cups. If you are in the food business, hand out samples. Isn’t it fun to visit Trader Joes to taste the new food they are sampling each day? Setup a comfortable sitting area for people to relax who have come along with their friends to the store. Set aside a little area of the sales floor for a kids corner with toys and possibly a TV or DVD playing. If your customers’ children are being entertained, they will spend more time at the store and visit your business more often. I personally have chosen to shop at a specific store because my children enjoyed coming and I could look forward to a half hour of uninterrupted alone time to concentrate on what I wanted to buy!3. You are hopefully in the business you are in because you are excited about your product or service and interested in helping others learn more about it. Make yourself available to your customers. Give them tips and suggestions. Display signs that say “if you can’t find what you need, let us know and we’ll order it for you.” Now there is something Walmart and Target can’t provide. A personal touch.How Google & The Web Can Expand Your Reach1. Google is pulling out all the stops to entice small local establishments to develop an internet presence. Sign up to be listed on the Google Local service. If you serve a very specific market niche, your website can jump to the top of the search page for Your Town and your exact product or service. Just this easy-to-execute, low-cost marketing strategy can attract plenty of new shoppers.2. For a minimal cost, get listed on local directories and your city’s Chamber of Commerce website.3. Try getting connected to Angie’s List.4. Make sure your business is listed on Yelp with stellar reviews! Yelp has a great reputation among consumers and is a trusted source for finding local business options. Place a link to your website on Yelp and provide directions so those searching on Yelp can find your location. Ask your loyal customers to write a glowing review for your business. You can even create a promotion or coupon that you email to customers when they write a Yelp review for you.5. Setting up a website and keeping it updated is not hard to do or cost-prohibitive. These days, a professional-looking WordPress page can be created in just a few hours. The only expenses include monthly hosting fees and purchasing a domain name. You can use GoDaddy or NameCheap for these services.6. Once you have your domain and site setup, another way to generate income is through affiliate marketing and adding Google AdWords to your site.7. Your company can build an email list by placing an opt-in box on your site. Use the email list to send promotions, special offers and coupons to your customers. This will promote good will and increase customer loyalty.8. Get online visitors, or traffic. To establish a stronghold on the top of the search engines, you need to get a high-ranking and then stay highly ranked so online surfers will come across your website when searching for your particular niche. Some of the factors for staying at the top of Google and other search engines include: the online age of the site, the total backlinks to your site, the price and relevance of your offerings and how often you update the site’s content.

Auction Listings Are Vital to the Success of Fundraising Auctions

Fundraising Auction Tip: You should always provide potential bidders with a printed Auction Listing of both your Live and Silent Auction items at any Fundraising Auction. A printed Auction Listing is vital for several reasons:

An Auction Listing informs bidders of the order of sale, and what is coming up next. If you keep your bidders guessing, they will simply not bid.

If bidders are not 100% certain of what they are bidding on, they will not bid. A printed Auction Listing should answer any and all questions about what is being sold in order to encourage bidders to bid as much as possible.

Bidders often need time to plan their bidding strategies, especially on multiple and/or larger value items. A printed Auction Listing helps them to do that.

Couples often need time to consult with each other about what they are willing to spend on something. A printed Auction Listing helps them to do that.

Potential bidders need to know the specifics, the benefits, and the restrictions on any item they are going to bid on, especially on travel and/or other higher value items. A printed Auction Listing should answer all of their questions, in writing.

After bidders see that they have lost an item to another bidder, a printed Auction Listing makes it easier for them to re-strategize on what else they can bid on.
Printed Auction Listings generally come in 3 forms:

Printed in the Event Program or Auction Catalog.

Printed on loose sheets of paper and hand-inserted into the Event Program or Auction Catalog.

Printed on loose sheets of paper and hand-delivered to all attendees, or left on each dinner table in the room.
Auction Listings cost practically nothing to produce and they can make the difference between the success and failure of a Live and Silent Auction. You should never conduct a Fundraising Auction without one.

A Case Study

Let me share a real-life experience with you. Once I was hired to conduct a Fundraising Auction for a nationally renowned organization. The event was held in a major hotel, in one of the country’s largest cities, with several hundred “black tie” participants attending. It was an extremely professional event, with the music, singing, lighting, speeches, and awards all perfectly timed and choreographed. Everything was done to perfection… exception the Fundraising Auction.

Although I had signed an agreement to serve as their Auctioneer nearly one year in advance of the event, no one bothered to contact me for any advice or help. Approximately one week prior to the Auction date, I contacted the group to see if they had replaced me with another Auctioneer. But they said that I was still their man.

Upon arriving at the event I asked for a copy of the Auction Listing. I was told that there were none. I’m not sure whether they felt that the Auction Listing wasn’t necessary, or whether someone forgot to have them printed. This was never made clear. When I asked what I was to use at the podium, I was told to copy the list of Live Auction items from a committee member’s computer. It took me about 30 minutes to copy three pages of hand-written notes in order to prepare for my role as their Auctioneer.

I knew that they had created a PowerPoint program showing the various Live Auction items. When I asked whether the PowerPoint slide order corresponded to the order of sale I had copied from the committee member’s computer, I was met with a blank stare. The committee member left to check the slide order, and returned to let me know that the slide order did not correspond my notes, and he provided me with the correct slide order… hand-written on a paper napkin. This forced me to re-arrange my three pages of hand-written notes before taking the podium.

There was a Live Auction Table with descriptions of the Live Auction items that were to be sold, but the table was not clearly marked, and it received significantly less attention than the Silent Auction Tables, which were clearly identified. Since the Live Auction Table was located adjacent to the “Raffle Table”, it appeared that most people thought it was part of the raffle and therefore paid very little attention to it.

According to the event program (which did not include an Auction Listing), I knew approximately when I was to begin the Live Auction. At the designated time the Master of Ceremonies announced the start of the Live Auction to the several hundred people in attendance, and introduced me as Auctioneer. As I approached the podium I realized that photographs of award winners were still being taken… directly in front of the podium where I was to stand… which required me to stand aside for several minutes until the photographers were done. Can we say “awkward moment”?

As the photographers cleared, I approached the podium and began my Live Auction introduction. Approximately one minute into my introduction, the “Raffle Committee” approached the podium and stopped my Live Auction Introduction in order to pull the 8 or 9 Raffle Winners. These drawings lasted about 5 minutes. Upon it’s conclusion I was allowed to resume the start of the Live Auction.

When standing at the podium two intense and extremely bright spotlights were pointed directly at the podium. The lights were so bright that I literally could not see the center 1/3 of the room. I could see the tables on the right, and on the left, but was totally blinded when looking straight ahead. It took perhaps five minutes before the spotlights were turned off.

While at the podium and describing Lot #1, I had to ask someone to start the Lot #1 PowerPoint Slide… because apparently no one was assigned that job.

So with only the Auctioneer’s verbal description, and a PowerPoint slide, it appeared that few people in the room had any idea about what we were selling… or when we were selling it… until it was announced by the Auctioneer. As a result, bidding was extremely light and the final results fell several thousands of dollars short of where they should have been
The learning experience is this:

The Live Auction is where you place your better items, and where the real money should be made at any Fundraising Auction. Let bidders know as far in advance as possible what you will be selling, and the order of sale, so they can get excited about the Auction, and plan their bidding strategy accordingly.

Auction Listings are absolutely vital to the success of both Live & Silent Auctions. In my opinion, revenues at this Auction fell thousands of dollars short of where they should have been, because no Auction Listing was provided to the guests.

If bidders are not perfectly clear on what is being sold, including both the item’s specifics, benefits, and restrictions, they will not bid.

When you have a committee of volunteers, especially volunteers having full time jobs and/or very busy schedules, the services of a professional Fundraising Auctioneer can help to keep the committee on track.

And once you retain the services of a professional Fundraising Auctioneer… use the services that you are paying for.

Best Home Based Businesses – How to Pick a Winner

The best home based businesses are now and again categorized by some folks as the kinds with the most lucrative pay out structure. Many others might explain to you that the best home businesses are the types which have the most excellent products. While still other people will point to a company’s proven numerous years of experience in addition to nonstop expansion as the standard of the best home businesses.It is pretty important to be aware that all these factors do add to the success of a home based business. Careless business practices, dishonest pay structures and poor products or services is a definite road to disappointment for virtually every home business or organization. It is additionally crucial to understand when you are hunting for the “best” in terms of home businesses, you may want to look a little deeper than radiant testimonials and corporate pie charts.Whilst looking for the “best” home business which might be a match for you, you will also want to ask yourself this particular question…”Just how should I build my business”? What happens right here is that a lot of people while hunting for the best home business, end up making the identical miscalculation as numerous other folks have done in the past. Investing the majority of their efforts researching the “what” of a business instead of the “how” of a business.Allow me to clarify. The “what” of a home business that is actually shown and marketed to probable opportunity seekers is the “remarkable products and services” and the “awesome compensation plan” and of course the “amazing track record” of the company and the management team. What, in this picture, is going to earn income for you? Please don’t say, “these products will sell themselves”. Despite the fact that truly awesome products and services will probably account for a number of sales, you are not going to have the ability to develop a substantial business upon this.At this time we need to have a look at one of the most under appreciated facets of selecting the “best” home business…the “how”. Just how do you propose to sell your awesome products and services so you can capitalize on that unbelievable pay structure and build up the company’s already remarkable track record? It is at this point where you need to realize that you will require a marketing and advertising system in place to promote your product and opportunity.An effective method for online marketing and advertising will produce revenue…end of story. The components of a fundamental online marketing system may incorporate, at the very least, a capture page, sales page, and an effective email series of messages. Applications such as these will locate and inform those that are currently looking for your offer.There are also effectual traditional strategies that a first-class internet marketing system will certainly make use of. The elements of an offline marketing and advertising system might include newspaper ads, post card mailings, letter mailings and 800 numbers. Again these types of techniques will come across, instruct and draw the folks who are interested in your offer which in turn will result in a number of sales.Another key area that needs to be considered is training and support. When considering the “how” of home business, there most definitely needs to be the presence of quality training, instruction and support. Most of the “training” that happens in the home business industry nowadays is you having to make a list and go tell everybody you know how “breathtaking” this product and opportunity are, or you are given a website that you are expected to “drive traffic” to.If you are accurately taught the “how” to marketing and building your home business then you can choose just about any “what” (home business) that you want. Sure, you must consider the company, products and track record of any opportunity that you consider. But in terms of which one is “best” would have to be the home business in which there is an proven marketing system that will help you be successful.Obviously some of the best home based businesses are the ones that have an effective marketing system already in place to help new people coming on board. Although automation in these systems is significant there is still the aspect of the human touch of a good marketing system. People don’t partner with companies, products or systems…they partner with people, especially people who care about the success of others.