Thursday, July 30, 2009

Tell Google, Yahoo! and Bing that you are important!

By quickly filling out a listing on these 3 sites (Google Listings, Yahoo Listings and Bing Local Listings), you instantly let the major search engines know that your business is important, and they show it to more potential customers.

Google Listings: Free listing - Local customers already search Google for the products and services you offer. Create a business listing to be sure they find you. Free updates - Keep your address, phone number, hours of operation, and more up-to-date. Even create coupons and display photos and videos, all for free. Free insights - Use the power of Google's data to learn where your customers come from and what they search for to find you.

Yahoo Listings: A Local Basic Listing displays your information in Yahoo! Local Search results when customers search for businesses like yours in your area. Add or update your business' name, contact information, and category. You can also add information such as hours of operation, accepted payment methods, services offered, and products available for sale. Leverage the power of Yahoo! Local, a leading destination for motivated customers looking for local information online.

Bing Local Listings (Formerly MSN): Bing Local lets users find businesses near them, or near where they want to go. Because listings are returned in search results, businesses don't have to search for new customers—the customers have already found them. It's free - It's like free advertising! The more information you provide, the easier it is for customers to find you. It's fast - Improve or update your listing anytime to suit your needs. There's no schedule or hassle. Reach your customers - Customers are already searching for what you provide. What better time to reach them?

Tell Google, Yahoo! and Bing that you are important!

Discount Dining!

O.K. so, your expense account has taken a big hit in this rough economy, but your clients don't need to know that. You can still afford to treat them, a deserving employee or two or even a co-worker to a nice meal. Your secret, you savvy frugalist, you? It’s Discount Dining, FREE websites that offer discounts to your favorite local and chain restaurants, including some high quality ones that are sure to impress your hungry guests.

At Restaurant.com, purchase $10-$25 gift certificates for your favorite restaurants for just $4-$10 – you can even print them for same-day use. Sign up for their free newsletter and get exclusive savings that is at least two to four deep discount offers a month. (Be aware of the fine print, some of the restaurant offers require a minimum purchase – be sure you are going to spend that before purchasing the certificate).

OpenTable.com provides a fast, efficient way to find available tables that meet desired criteria for cuisine, price and location at a specified time. When you make reservations through OpenTable.com, you earn at least 100 points toward the 2,000 you need to get a free $20 off coupon at any participating restaurant.

DinnerBroker's mission is to use technology and the Internet to make the fine-dining experience more enjoyable, accessible and affordable. You’ll get an instant 10 to 30 percent discount on off-peak hours when you make your reservations through their system. In addition, you’ll earn points towards free gift certificates and have the ability to purchase discounted gift cards.

Don’t forget to take advantage of the dining reward programs offered by many credit cards, airlines and hotels. Purchases, hotel stays and air travel can gain you points towards your favorite dining destinations. Check out the Rewards Network, they offer dining and hotel programs in partnership with major airline frequent flyer programs, several of the nation’s largest bankcard issuers, numerous key players in the loyalty marketing industry, and dozens of national corporations.

Discount Dining!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Free Stuff From VistaPrint

Vistaprint offers small businesses everything they need to market their business. They offer high-quality printed marketing materials, promotional products and marketing services such as copywriting, design, websites and postcard mailing. Every month Vistaprint offers a choice of FREE business cards, rubber stamps, calendars, postcards, tote bags, t-shirts and business stationary. Yes, I said FREE! Ok, so the weekly e-mails can be a bit annoying but who cares, it’s FREE!! This week I ordered a free tote bag and all I paid was $4.41 shipping. The retail value of the tote is $12.99! On top of the free products they also offer free Webinars, On Demand Marketing Tips, Expert Advice and More. Check it out in their Marketing Learning Center. So, what are you waiting for, get your free stuff now!

Free Stuff From VistaPrint

Monday, July 27, 2009

Resources for starting up and maintaining that DREAM of YOURS (A.k.a. Your Business!)

SCORE informs and assists small business owners with national workshops, counseling and more. SCORE is America's premier source of free and confidential small business advice for entrepreneurs.

The U.S. Small Business Administration has more than 1,100 branches nationwide, their Small Business Development Centers help new and existing entrepreneurs with marketing, finances, legal issues, free regular workshops and much more.

For those businesswomen out there, check this out: Make Mine a Million $ Business RACE.

Resources for starting up and maintaining that DREAM of YOURS (A.k.a. Your Business!)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Free Publicity!

You're a small-business owner, an expert at and in everything (or at least it feels like that). You’ve figured out the majority of it: customer service, marketing, management, finance, and product development. When it comes to PR however, well, not really. You wrote an awesome press release and spent valuable time making follow-up calls – and nada…. nothing.

Getting media attention is a top priority, you know, but you can't afford a publicist just yet. The good news is you may not need one.

Journalists are turning to alternative sources to find stories. With layoffs and cutbacks journalists have turned to these handy source sites to find leads. Sign up for a "source" account and get their inquiries e-mailed to you directly.

HelpAReporterOut.com will send you up to three e-mails a day with 15 to 30 inquiries or listings in each one. If you see something you'd be a good fit for, send a note to the reporter.

Profnet from PR Newswire offers quite a few avenues for promoting your business, but you’ll have to pay for this one. You can create a profile that journalists can see and also browse specific listings.

Bonus PR Helpers:


PublicityHound.com
10 Powerful Ways to Boost Business With Free Publicity

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Using Voice Mail Messages As A Sales Tool

The telephone is an integral part of business communication, especially sales. Today, knowing the correct way to use voicemail can mean the difference between success and failure. What is so frustrating about voicemail is it gives the decision-maker the opportunity to reject you before you even get a chance to talk to them! If you're starting to feel like a failure because people won't return your messages, try these seven tips. There is no guarantee that any of these methods will get you calls back a 100% of the time, but they will definitely help improve your odds.

Speak Clearly When Leaving Voice Mail Messages
When people listen to voicemail messages there are often a whole host of distractions and most messages do not get returned because people are overwhelmed. Therefore, it is essential that you be clear. While you might be familiar with your own name, don't assume others are. When you leave a message say your name slowly and clearly. In fact, it's recommended that you leave a distinct pause between your first and last name so that the listener isn't confused. Spell your name if it is difficult, unusual or of foreign origin. Speak more slowly and clearly than normal, don't slur or run your words together. The person you are calling is not as familiar with your material as you are and will quickly become irritated if you make them replay the message because they could not understand it.

Identify Your Business During the Message
If your business name does not offer a description of your business (and you're not yet a household name), be sure to offer convincing descriptors that tell people what you really do.

Tell Them Why You're Calling At Least Once in Every Message
Many callers are under the misguided impression that keeping the reason for their call a secret is a gripping reason for the prospect to call back. They are very wrong. Today's customers are smarter and frankly, don't have the time to play guessing games. Plan your message before you place your call. Tell them why they'd want to take the time to call you back.

Make "The Connection" During Your Message
If you've met before, were referred by another person or have a common acquaintance, be sure to tell them. Don't expect them to hear your name and remember that they met you. Be precise about your personal association and you'll have given them another reason to call you.

Eliminate Minimizers From Your Speech, Especially The Word "Just”
Examples:

"Just a little reminder about how our Virtual Tours can help build your business."

"I'm just calling to follow up on our meeting yesterday"

"Nothing important. Just wanted to a follow up on yesterday's presentation."

Repeat Your Contact Information At Least Twice in Every Message
Be sure to leave your name and phone number both at the beginning and end of your message. If the person you are calling missed your number at the beginning they will not have to listen through the entire message again to get it and your chances of being called back increase significantly.

Speak With Energy, Enthusiasm And Confidence
Sit up straight or stand when you leave the message. Visualize yourself as being confident and self-assured. Use powerful body language, including hand gestures. It may look goofy, but it works! And, don’t forget to smile! Place a small mirror on or next to your desk and look into it when leaving voicemail messages. A smiling face leaves a much brighter-sounding message.

Don't Sell Anything IN Your Message
Because people are continually bombarded with advertisements, many people have developed a strong resistance to the sales pitch. The person you are calling may reject you unless you happen to catch them at a moment when they have need or desire for your product.

Determine Needs, Provide Solution
This is an outstanding technique to use as a follow up to a sales presentation. In your initial meeting with the prospective customer ask questions to determine where their "needs" are. Make a list of these "needs" and how your service or product can provide specific assistance for each need. When you leave a follow up message, be sure to mention one of your prospect's "needs" and hint at how you can provide a solution. If calling more than once, refer to a different problem each time you call.

Examples:

"Mr. Roberts, this is Mary Smith from Real Vision Studio at 888-541-8595. I'm calling to offer some solutions as to how our virtual tour services can give you a more professional visual presentation on your web site and get rid of that frustrating flat slideshow that was bothering the company president. My number again is 888-541-8595."

"Mr. Roberts, this is Mary Smith from Real Vision Studio at 888-541-8595. I'm calling with an easy, cost effective way to help you provide visual information to your web site visitors. You seemed concerned about this in our last meeting and I wanted to discuss some of the ways we help our customers meet this challenge. My number again is 888-541-8595."

Close Their File
Making sure your voice is not hostile or impatient; leave a polite message that conveys the message that you will not be calling anymore.

Example:

"Mr. Thompson, this is Mary Smith from Real Vision Studio at 888-541-8595. I've been attempting to reach you for the last several weeks regarding the estimate you asked us to send you on June 24th, but we have not received a call back. We don't want to bug you or congest your voice mail with unwanted messages, so would you please call me back and let me know if you would like me to close your file? My number again is 888-541-8595."

Make Sure YOUR Outgoing Voicemail Message Is Professional
When people call your voicemail do you sound friendly, honest, energetic and sincere or do you sound irritated, bored or uninterested? Follow these steps to prepare a successful voicemail message:.

Script your message. Writing it out will help you say exactly what you need to say. You'll also be less likely to make a mistake when reading from your script.

Practice, Practice, Practice your message before you record it. Say it over and over again out loud to become familiar with the words.

Smile while recording your message. A smile will make your voice sound warm and welcoming.

Stand up while recording your message. This will definitely add energy and animation to your voice.

Get feedback from family, friends or colleagues. Does your message sound as good? If it doesn’t, do it again!

Include a unique selling proposition, a phrase that articulates a key benefit to your customer. For example:

"Thank you for calling Real Vision Studio, Your Online Marketing Specialists. We CAN Spin Your World! Leave your name and number at the tone and we'll get back to you as soon as can.”

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Get More Referrals!

Marketing is a critical step to any business plan. Many companies focus there marketing efforts on seeking new customers, but forget to go after the important referral. Getting referrals is easier and less expensive than marketing to new customers, and referrals are often more loyal customers. If you ask for a referral you are likely to get one. Here are some tips to help get more referrals for your business.

~When handing out your business cards, hand them an extra to give to a friend or co-worker that may your services. Do this with your brochures as well.

~After completing a job well done communicate a thank you personally or via e-mail. Say something like this: Thank you for your business, please tell your friends about us.

~When sending out mailings to your clients attach two coupons for your business, one to print for your customer and a second to print for a friend.

~Provide follow-up via several methods. Do not just send an email, Spam filters often re-route these. Send email, make follow-up calls, and send traditional greeting cards through the Mail. Many times more traditional forms of follow-up are sometimes the most effective way to connect with a client. Sending a sincere thank you note is a great way to follow-up with a customer. Do not fill your message full of advertisements, coupons, and sales offers. Share how much you value your customers business and how you will be supportive of his or her future needs. Personal contacts are a great way to keep your name in front of your customer, hence yielding more referrals.

~Offer a small incentive if possible if a client refers others. You may also ask your client if they know of any friends, co-workers or business acquaintances that would like to be sent discount coupons. Always send a thank you note when you receive a referral.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Grow Your Business with Professional E-Mail Marketing

Are you looking to grow your business with e-mail marketing? Do you need help keeping track of clients?

Here are some easy, effective, and affordable ways to reach your customers using professional, email-based communications. The best part is they all have FREE trials! Even when the free trial is over you will find them very affordable and effective!

Recommended: AWeber - "Creating an Email Marketing Campaign? We Can Help. AWeber Creates Lasting Customer Relationships For You With Email Newsletters, Autoresponders, RSS to Email and Other Email Marketing Tools."

Constant Contact - "We've helped more than 275,000 customers use Email Marketing and Online Surveys to grow their businesses."

Vertical Response - "The easiest way to build, target, send and track email marketing newsletters, online surveys and direct mail postcards."

ResultsMail - "Allows you to quickly and easily design attractive, attention-getting email newsletters, promotions, advertisements, press releases, and other mass email messages."

Organization Equals Dollars!

Do you know that you could save hundreds of dollars just by getting organized. Organization is easy to learn, staying organized maybe hard to do. But once you get used to it, you won't be able to live without it.

Calendar for jobs to complete? Check. To-do list for home? Check. List of clients that owe you money? Wait. Where is it? You're a smart, successful entrepenuer so you're a multitasking genius. But even geniuses can drop the ball when there are too many up in the air. So below we've found the best online organizers – to help you get your many to-do lists (and your sanity) under some sort of control.

Zoho.com helps you organize your life with loads of handy applications – like an easy-to-use calendar, an online word processor, server space, and an invoice-making application so you can bill clients from anywhere.

Having problems keeping up with your family's extremely busy schedule? With Microsoft Outlook-sync and customizable lists, Cozi.com gathers up appointments and color codes them by family member so you know where everyone is in just a glance.

The Things application for Macs and iPhone consolidates and prioritizes lists and tasks and e-mails you reminders. It's like a virtual assistant who doesn't require a paycheck.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Keeping Up With Economic Conditions

Your intuition is sharp. You pick up on undertones most people miss. But when will all this economic turmoil end? All the different predictions in the air would cause Nostradamus to scratch his visionary head.

According to the National Association for Business Economics, seventy-four percent of economic forecasters predict that the recession might be over by the end of the third quarter. But you've heard that before.

In these market conditions you need to be on top of your game and in the know. The following sites will help you stay up to date on key economic indicators:

While the number of job losses dropped in May, the unemployment rate rose again – to 9.4 percent. Visit the Bureau of Labor Statistics's Editor's Desk to follow current conditions.

MarketWatch keeps track of the bankruptcies and profit gains.

The twenty, still-unsold homes in your market area aren't the best way to gauge the market's current condition. HousingPredictor.com provides housing news and statistics per state and per city, as well as info on current booming markets.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

What is Jobvana?

The Social Marketplace! Start a business, grow a business, market your passions! Increase your exposure, build credibility, and leverage our web presence, all FREE!

Jobvana is a network that utilizes user provided content. Their mission is to increase your value by creating a market for the skills you have, enjoy and want to share.

Check it out here: http://www.jobvana.com

View Real Vision Studio's & Web Wizard Creation's Profile here: http://www.jobvana.com/profile/3330/

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Can Social Media Sites Cost You Money?

Imagine your customer seeing an embarrassing photo of you. How would you feel? Do you ever want a business client to read your comments about a bad day at work? How about your personal problems?

If you use Social Media for both your professional and personal life, you need to be careful! Here at Real Vision Studio, a Detroit Virtual Tour Company in SouthEast Michigan, a full service virtual tour provider for RTV, we need not only maintain a level of business decorum for ourselves, but for the reputation of RTV. RTV is a global company and maintains several national accounts that we are affiliated with, hence the need for professionalism.

Below are some excellent articles that provide examples of how (not) to use social media appropriately, while maintaining your reputation.

~How to tweet your way out of a job

~Social media can get you in trouble! Be careful what you tweet!

~How not to embarass yourself when using Facebook as a business tool.

~Be careful what you post