Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Know How to Play Pick 4 For Your Chance at Instant Cash

Many individuals have been attracted and engrossed in the lottery games. These offer lucrative winnings for small wagers. While it is considered to be gambling, there is very little to lose and is well regulated. The chances of developing a gambling problem with lottery is relatively small. To most, it is considered as a form of entertainment while hoping to get a chance to gain some extra instant cash on the side.

There are various forms of lottery games. There is the Pick 3, Pick 4 and many variations of the 6-digit lotto games. The more numbers you play with, the smaller the odds are at winning. This is why the pick 3 and pick 4 are among the most constantly played games. These offer small prizes as compared to the bigger lottery games. However, the chances of winning is bigger. Generally, as long as you are at least eighteen years old, you can have the opportunity to purchase your own ticket at any authorized retailer in your state.

If you would like to know how to play pick 4 to get your chance at winning, this is quite easy. The rules are simple and the stakes are quite small. First, you must decide on four digits that you would like to use as your personal combination. This can be a significant date or perhaps just something that you like. It can be any number between 0000 and 9999. Using the betting slip, you should then diligently plot your chosen numbers and present it to the retailer for them to provide you with your official ticket. In the event that you can not seem to decide on the combination, you do not have to worry. You can opt to use the Quick-pick option that every authorized retailer offers. With this, the computer will randomly provide you with a four-digit combination using a software generator. As soon as you have paid for your wager and the ticket has been given to you, you must inspect it for accuracy and duly sign the back to ensure your ownership of the ticket.

Various combination game plays that you can opt to do for each game. Some offer more chances of winning as your combination can be able to match the drawn numbers in any particular order. However, if you opt for this, the prize at stake would be smaller than that of a straight combination where it should match the drawn numbers in precise order. There are different guidelines on how to play pick 4 combination boxes. You should be diligent in understanding the terms for each one for you to avoid any inconsistencies or inconveniences.

Knowing how to play pick 4 is just as important as knowing when to wait for the results. These are drawn twice each day, seven days each week. There is a midday draw (often after lunch hours) and once each evening. The results are also posted on the retailer's boards as well as in the local papers. So that you can be able to check if you are the lucky winner for that draw. The actual prizes vary on fixed or pari-mutuel rates that you would need to know depending on the state that you are playing in.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Skip Traditional Retailers and Shop Online

Shopping online rather in traditional brick and mortar retailers is growing at unprecedented rates. Although most traditional retailers also have a website however those that do not are currently have one or even plans of one are losing out on a very large market share.

The primary reason people are turning to the internet for their shopping is pricing. The internet is the never ending source for competition on any given product that is widely distributed. Any person with access to the internet and is somewhat internet savvy cay easily compare pricing for the same product within minutes. Unless the seller itself resides in the same state as you there is often no sales tax charged on your purchase. Currently, the ability to avoid paying sales tax by purchasing from sellers out of state is under review by many states so this bonus may not last for long. The only downside to online shopping pricing is that there are often shipping fees however this is often supplemented by the marginal discount provided on an item.

To ensure your experience is the best while shopping online there are many rules to follow: - Only shop at websites that state a phone number and address for contact. - Never send cash, checks, money orders, or any other form of payment that is not insured. - When choosing shipping always insure the item and understand that shipping times are estimates. - Remember that if there is a chance you need to return the item you will have to pay to ship the item back to the online retailer. - Take caution when dealing with individual and auction type purchases.

Online shopping will surely not replace traditional retailers altogether. Many people are impulsive shoppers and when they want a product they want it sooner than many items can ship or even ship affordably. Retailer websites also assist customers in picking items out and checking inventory before they take the time to do so in the store. This often gives the customers a better experience and the retailers to up sell the customers rather than focus on the initial sale.

When deal hunting look for small business retailers that are willing to take a smaller margin to help their business grow. These businesses truly appreciate your business and tend to go over and beyond for customer service because your purchases are what truly pays their bills. I have personally found the quality of service is much better dealing with smaller businesses than major corporations.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Information Marketing - How To Give Away Free Products And Make A Fortune

Many people are afraid to give away their products for free. Giving away products for free as a 'loss leader' can be a highly effective strategy for building a targeted subscribers list that you can follow-up with and build relationships.

Giving away a free product allows you to build up a relationship with your subscribers. Especially if your product helps them solve their problems. And that's valuable. Offer a short, lean report that gets to the heart of their problems and offers tons of workable solutions, and you'll have many happy subscribers.

Some other free products you can give away include audio recordings, videos and even complete membership sites. You can have a membership site that has a free subscription, and an upgrade to a premium option, so that's how you can potentially make money with that idea.

Typically you should create a simple website to give away your free product. This simple page should have an opt-in form for visitors to opt-in to your list. Once your subscribers have confirmed their opt-in, you can send them to a One-Time Offer page that offers a paid product that is an upgrade to the free product or that complements the free product well!

You can use this system to build an operational business model that pulls in leads and sales for you. Just send the traffic and your system will be churning these out for you day and night. Give something away for free, and your subscribers will reciprocate you by responding to your emails!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Getting Your Business Cards Online

Instead of going to a local print shop, here are some reasons ordering online is better.

Cost Effective

In most cases, purchasing business cards online is a lot cheaper than buying them from a local printer. In addition, when you order online, you don't have to burn gas driving to and from the print shop. You can order your cards right from your computer and have them delivered to your front door. Shopping online also gives you the chance to compare prices so you get the best bang for your dollar.

Saves Time

After working all day, managing a family and dealing with other obligations, most people would prefer not to spend their free time standing in line just to order business cards. Ordering business cards online makes life a little easier by eliminating the need to go to a local print shop. With just the click of a mouse, you can order all the business cards you need.

Around the Clock Service

If you work unconventional hours, it is almost impossible to squeeze out the extra time to go to a local print shop to order business cards. Unlike traditional printing places, online shops are open all day, every day. There's no need to worry about rearranging your schedule. You can simply order your business cards online, when it's convenient for you.

No Standing in Line

Remember the last time you decided to make a quick run to the print shop and ended up spending your entire lunch hour standing in line? Things like this never happen when you order online. You can buy what you need in minutes and still have plenty of time to enjoy your lunch.

Professional Results

The quality of online cards is just as good, if not better, than the quality of cards made at local print stores. When you deal with online printers, you have a better chance of getting exactly what you want because they have more template and card styles to choose from. If you don't like the templates, online sites will allow you to upload your own business logo for your cards.

No Meddlesome Salesperson

After a long day of working, the last thing you want to do is deal with a chatty salesperson trying to peddle pens, stationary and other junk you don't want. When you shop online, it's just you and your computer. You don't have to be bothered with anyone else.

It's a mistake to ignore the marketing impact printed cards can have. They're the easiest, most affordable way to market your services. Ordering your business cards online will save you the time, money and the hassle of waiting in line and dealing with those pesky sales associates.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Information Marketing Primer For Helping and Healing Solo-Professionals - Part 8 - Teleseminar

Your Information Marketing business should include both written and audio content in your area of expertise that addresses the needs of the target audience you have chosen to serve (see part two of this series). Later in this series, I will talk about combining audio and written content for a powerful back-end information product. (Back-end information products are more expensive products that people buy after they have bought your less expensive products.) 

One of the best ways to share your expertise is through audio. I wrote about this subject earlier when I suggested turning your free or special report into a free audio recording. 

People want to buy from people they know, like and trust. Hearing you speak the solutions to their challenges helps people make a deeper connection to you. 

Now, you are going to move from a free audio teleclass that is an introduction to your work to a content-rich teleclass or teleseminar for which you will charge. 

You will follow many of the steps I outlined for doing a free audio (see part five of this series) but there are additional steps and considerations.

Here are the steps to follow: 

  • Decide on your topic. You may choose to do a single teleseminar or a series of teleseminars on the same subject.
  • Give your teleseminar a compelling title.
  • Write your content. It is best to script your beginning and end and outline the "meat" of the teleseminar. Don't have more than five major talking points and be sure to include teaching examples. Remember, make these calls as content rich as you can, answering the "what, why and how" of your solution to a problem or challenge your target audience has.
  • Your teleseminar should be about an hour and no more than 75 minutes. Remember, if you decide to put this audio onto CD's, CD's can hold about 80 minutes worth of audio.
  • Choose a date and a time to hold your teleseminar.
  • If you have not done so already, sign up for a free conference call service like Free Conference Pro or No-Cost Conference. Make sure to print off a copy of your call-in information and the codes that are needed to operate your conference (e.g., codes to mute/unmute lines, record the call and end the recording, etc.). Keep it near you before and during the call. If you can afford it, you can book companies that will host and record the call for you. By the way, most free conference lines will allow you to have up to 200 callers on the line at the same time.
  • Promote your teleseminar (see some ideas below).
  • Have your webmaster create a database to capture the names and email addresses of those who are signing up for the call if you are not using a shopping cart system or a system like AWeber.
  • If you do not have a shopping cart, there are other alternatives to have people pay for the teleseminar like Pay Pal or
  • Only give out the call-in information to those who have signed up and paid for the call. If you will be listing your teleseminar on promotional sites, only provide the sign-up link along with the day and the time of the teleseminar, not the call-in numbers (and if anyone else is promoting the call for you, make sure to tell them this too).
  • Make sure to let people know that you will provide them a link to the recording of the call if they cannot attend live...this will up the rate of people signing up because listening live is not the only option. Also, after the call,  provide the link to everyone who signs up and pays.
  • Send reminders of the call a few days before, a day before and the day of.
  • Make sure to get on the line at least 15 minutes before the call to make sure everything is working well. Expect some people will call-in early and it's up to you if you want to acknowledge them. You will hear the entrance chimes when they come into the conference; these chimes also sound when people exit. There will more than likely be a code to turn these off, so be sure to do so when you start the call.
  • Mute all callers before you begin. When you are first starting out, you don't want to be fielding Q & A, so there's no need to leave the lines open because of the background noise.
  • Remember to turn on the recording for the teleseminar. 

Note: I have a back-up recording system downloaded onto my computer that I turn on the minute I get on the line just in case something goes wrong with the bridge line recording (rare but it can happen). I use EZ Phone Recorder. 

What should you charge for your call? To start, you can charge about $20.00 for an individual hour long teleseminar. If you are offering a series of three calls, you could offer them at a special price of $50.00. 

Promote your teleseminar in a solo email blast to your list, in your E-zine and on your blog. Also post it on teleseminar sites. There are free sites like TeleSeminar Nation and Seminar Announcer and some that are paid sites. Stick to free for right now. There are also ones that offer a basic free listing and a paid upgrade like Also, consider asking colleagues in complementary professions to promote your teleseminar. You can also list your teleseminar on Craig's List.

Monday, October 13, 2014

10 Tips for Shopping Online for Clothing: For a Safe and Pleasant Transaction

As many women would say, shopping for clothes can be lots of fun! We've all had our doses of retail therapy in the past... and with the vast selection available online to us ladies, shopping for clothes on the Internet can be even more fun.

Shopping on the Internet however can be a tricky business, especially if we do not take our precautions and make sure everything is in order. One need not fear though! With a little care shopping online can be a breeze! This article will walk you through ten tips, which if followed correctly, should help make your online shopping experience a safe and satisfactory one!

1. Although shopping for clothes online is a fun experience, it might prove to be a little bit tricky at first because you cannot actually go into a changing room and try on the items before buying them! If you find yourself wanting to buy from a new store, one which you have never bought from before, you might be a little unsure about the size to choose. Most reputable online fashion store do have size guidelines which you should definitely consult to help you choose the right size; however what I suggest doing is the following. When buying items online from a new store take it easy: buy one item first! Once the item arrives you would have an idea whether you have made the right choice, or maybe you need a smaller or larger size. That one item will give you an idea of the sizing of the particular store, so after having 'tested' the sizing go ahead and buy more!

2. I like to describe the feeling I get of a website as the same feeling I get when I meet a new person. There is usually either good chemistry or otherwise. It's really the same with website and online stores. What kind of feeling do you get of a website? Does it look professionally done? Does the design and navigation make your online shopping experience easier... or is it terribly difficult to find what you're looking for? Is there an 'About Us', or a 'Company Info' page? These elements usually give you a general feel for a website, and give you hints on whether to decide either to trust the website enough to purchase from it, or move on.

3. Whilst browsing around the website, look out for signs and logos which may indicate certificates of security and reliability which the website might hold. Common names to look out for are VeriSign and (Better Business Bureau).

4. Before actually making the purchase take a note of the websites customer service email and/or telephone number. Making sure that you have somewhere to refer to queries to should you need to, before actually making the purchase, will help you put your mind at ease.

5. Check the store's privacy policy and customer service page before making the purchase. It is important that you are aware of the store's return policies, delivery charges and shipping times.

So there you have the first 5 tips that can help make you online shopping experience a fun one.

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Importance of Play in Child Development

Play is universal throughout the animal kingdom - whether it's a puppy chasing its tail, or young birds swooping through the air. The importance of play to youngsters should not be underestimated. Play is an essential part of growing up and researchers believe it's critical to ensure children reach their full potential in life. Research in animals show that brain connections develop during periods of play, and there's no reason to suppose the same is not true of young humans. Parents don't always understand the importance of play however, and in today's competitive world, the temptation is to stop your children "wasting time" and to put the time to what they believe is more constructive use.

For a child, however, there is no more constructive activity than play. When analysing the importance of play, particularly if you're tempted to introduce a more "worthwhile" activity such as flash cards, educational computer games or dancing lessons, you should take into account the following points:

Play allows a young child to be "in charge." Think about this - in their everyday lives, they're small and powerless, always being told what to do, and how to do it. Without an adult around, they're running the show!

Play helps children learn about the world in which they live. They can investigate and discover, test their theories, spatial relationships, explore cause and effect, societal roles and family values. Such is the importance of play, that there's virtually no area of life about which it can't teach a child something.

Play builds self-esteem. Children will often play at something they know they can do well, at which they can be successful.

Play builds social skills. Children will begin playing with inanimate and non-threatening objects, like cuddly toys, bricks etc, so practising their interactive skills. Later, playing with other children will build on this foundation as they learn to share, take turns, assert themselves and begin to empathise with others.

The importance of play with parents shouldn't be underestimated either, as research shows that children whose parents play with them ultimately develop superior social skills.

Play also provides the opportunity for children to work out their feelings. The importance of play in dealing with difficult or unpleasant emotions is immense. A child who's worried about going to the dentist, for example, may deal with the anxiety by setting up a clinic for dolls with toothache.

Play helps with language development. Think of the vast number of words a toddler uses during play, many of them repeatedly, enhancing their language skills.

Play allows children to grow beyond their years. They can pretend to be all sorts of things in play - a doctor, a surgeon, a civil engineer even !!(think of those bricks)

Finally, don't forget to consider the importance of play in stimulating your child's creativity and imagination - making a castle in the sand, or a car garage out of a shoe box, taking an order in their own (imaginary) restaurant or dressing up as a king or queen - these all allow children to stretch the limits of their world and experience the fun in make-believe.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Information Marketing - Infomarketers' Strongest Retention Tools

For Infoprenuers, there are three tools that help you retain customers in your subscription program. Here are some pointers on what those three tools are and how to use them.

As the President of the Information Marketing Association, I host a monthly coaching call for info-marketers who have questions and are trying to launch their infopreneur business. Here is a question from Jay in Boston about Info marketer's strongest retention tools. Since this is a common question, I decided to prepare an article about this challenge to help you.

There are three tools that should be integrated into an Info-Marketing business. Those are utility, savings, and content and personality.

Utility are things that people build into their businesses. Things like the free or toll free numbers that people call for more information. You teach people that strategy and then you help them sign up with the actual provider. If they drop your continuity then they lose the ability to use that system. Or you are actually providing it for them. So they sign up, they upgrade from one price to another and they get all of that built for them. All they have to do is call in and then you teach them how they can integrate it in their business.

The one thing that Jimmy V. and Travis Miller have is that they are providing a radio show ad. So if they go a month or two with those ads and suddenly you drop out the program, the member will have to go figure out how you are going to get radio ads to replace the other things they were getting for their businesses. Where as with newsletters, if you send three or four of those monthly newsletters out and you try not to send a fifth, you have customers calling you, "Hey, where's your newsletter?" While the newsletter is a tool they enjoy, the radio commercials are integral to their business.

The good thing is, what you know, you normally teach the business owner, but you kind of boil it down and you give it to them on a website that they could sit an employee down for a day or two, when the employee is just hired and they learn the process. That will give you unlimited access to this staff-training program. Another good benefit to create is a training program for employers to help your customer get your training implemented. If I hire somebody, I want to be able to sit him or her down in front of that system. So that becomes part of the utility of my business. It becomes part of my employee-training program. And every time I hire a new employee, I have to have that program to help get the new employee accustomed to my business.

Next are discounts. Savings and discounts can come in the form of exclusive access to vendors that they would not have access to otherwise or even know existed. (One of things that we are doing with the Information Marketing Association is creating an insurance program that covers our members in case they give advice that somebody decides they want to sue them over.) So, let's say you tell somebody to implement a particular business strategy and they implement that and don't get the results you promised. A lot times they could file a lawsuit against you. Well, this is what that insurance will cover. Like my personal E & O policy is over $6,000 a year for the premium. Well, this is going to be $400 a year, because it is a group program for the association. I know not all of the IMA members have that type of coverage, but for the ones who do already, that is a huge savings and more than justifies the price of being a member in the Information Marketing Association.

Personality is when people want to know what's going to happen next. Like how after the election, many people were wondering what did Rush say about the election? When Sarah Palin was nominated, what did Rush say about Sarah Palin? Everybody wants to know what they have to say about it. That is what you want to do within your business is have people say, "I wonder what he thinks about that?" So they kind of tune in to hear what you have to say about it. It is these three principles that help make good businesses great and help to establish more buyers, more members and more profit.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Getting Out the Word - Small Business Edition

At this very moment there are AT LEAST 9 other companies competing for YOUR customers.
How will you convince them to buy from you?

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers - ever wonder what did he do with them once he'd picked them all? Marketing is the process of picking, preparing, and pricing a product (or service) to promote for purchase. Peter may very well have gone into the salsa business, opened a produce stand, or a restaurant. But how did he draw customers in and get them to buy his spicy product?

The success of any business depends upon its ability to attract, and retain, customers. When you started your company you decided many of the marketing strategies needed to bring a product or service to market. These strategies include how your business solves a problem or fills a need, and who your target market is, then you open the store. Now it's time to drive traffic to your front door.

Promotion is the process and the product of "getting out the word". Rarely does a product or service arise that does not require some type of promotion to generate sales.

There are three major strategies to connect with customers. Although each method can be effective independently, utilize a combination for a well-rounded marketing plan. A multi-channel approach utilizes Advertising (the production and placement of ads) with the personal interaction of Sales, and the least expensive - yet least controllable channel, Public Relations. Armed with all three, savvy business owners construct an arsenal of promotion tools. Your must determine which form of which method to use when and with whom - then evaluate cost effectiveness by a cost per response ratio.

Advertising is, in its most simple form, the practice of informing the public about your goods or services - and compelling them to make a purchase. You control the message - which should be consistent with your identity, the placement - which should be targeted, and the frequency and timing - which should be often enough to remind your customers of who you are and what you do. Many believe that the average person must be exposed to an ad piece seven times to be motivated by it. The message should produce awareness and effectively maintain a positive image of your company, goods and services - while persuading the public that your goods or services outperform competitors.

Getting the 411

When it comes to deciding where to spend advertising dollars, start with the basic Yellow Pages ad. All directory ads have one thing in common - they supply information to a consumer who is ready to buy a product or service. Therefore, directory ads represent the one time when you need not convince the consumer to buy - you just need to convince them to buy FROM YOU. Your ad will be surrounded by competitors' ads for the same or similar goods and services.

So, how do you convince the customer to hire you? First, your ad has to be seen. Second, your ad has to scream experience and reliability. Getting noticed is priority, so make sure your ad is under the heading that is most commonly sought after for your product or service. You don't want an Air Conditioning business listed under Retirement Homes. Often there will be multiple categories for an ad under, so look through the book before you place the call. Multiple listings should also yield a discounted rate.

Size matters! The bigger the ad, the more noticeable it will be, and the more information you can include. Look at competitors, look at your budget and then purchase the largest space you can afford. Content must-haves include products/services offered, years in business, licensing, any seals or other reliability sellers, logo, location, phone number, hours and website address.

As with all your advertising monies spent, keep a record of which promotions return the best - so make it a point to ask new customers how they heard about your business - track and repeat the winners, dump the losers. The directory ad is just the beginning.

What's black, and white, and read all over?

That old riddle is not far off the mark. Truth is, newspaper ads are location driven, and reach a broad audience. The broader the audience, the more difficult it becomes to target your specific customer. Difficult, however is not impossible and newspapers are often a fine tool for getting out the word.

Carefully select the title, section, size, frequency, content and design of your ad - and the offer is crucial, so test a few different ones.

Remember that dailies are short lived - today's news is tomorrow's recyclable. Frequency is often the solution to this challenge. Repeat ads build recognition and credibility. As the number one media for local advertising, competition in the newspaper arena is nearly as fierce as in the case of directory ads, so consult a marketing expert for help with the intricacies of newspaper advertising. A professional advertising agency will design and place ads for you. Leaving the important design decisions to your newspaper sales rep is NEVER a good idea.

Local Yocals

Local magazines, co-op mailers, and freebies are usually mailed or made available on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis. They target convenience by hitting small segments of households or businesses within a limited radius - and they're usually more affordable than daily papers. If your product or service is location reliant, this type of ad should be in the mix. Include an incentive coupon or such to drive initial sales. If you live close to your business, watch what comes in the mail daily - examine each piece and think like a it something you normally open and read? What prompts you to buy? If you're not interested in a publication, others may feel the same. Be critical and be selective. Most mailers of this type are printed on a higher quality paper stock than newsprint, and color reproduction is often improved to give you more options for creating an attention grabbing ad. On the downside of these publications, they're often unsolicited and therefore readership numbers are harder to gauge than subscription publications.

Hitting the Big Time

Regional and national consumer magazines and trade journals have a longer shelf life than newspapers. Major magazines have extensive reader demographics, and allowing extremely targeting placement. If you're a local business, most nationals have small target ranges, and if you have a website, in many cases you don't even need to remain local only! Keep in mind that the audience size you select will impact the ad cost just as much as the size and type of ad you place. One drawback to monthly publications - lead time. Often you may wait months to see your ad in print. Research a few publications, compare rates and readership, then decide if your budget allows for magazines - the caviar of publication ads.

Get To the Point, Please

Targeted, response rate driven, and design unlimited, direct mail is often the most attractive form of print advertising for any size business. Costs are controllable and response rates measurable, and repeatable. Choosing your mailing list is the first step. If you've developed a list of prospects, and repeat customers, start there. If not, renting a list is as easy and affordable.

Most direct mail packages include an envelope, sales letter, flier and a response card. The complete package cost will depend on quantity, paper, ink colors, and level of personalization. Professional design is a great way to ensure a consistent look, effective copy, and a better deal with the printer. Most design firms will have a relationship with a local printer. Advertising pros can help ensure your mail pieces are cost-effective and achieve results. Direct mail doesn't have to cost a small fortune. Numerous formats of direct mail pieces offer low cost without sacrificing creative options. Postcards are the most inexpensive form of single mailing, offering a multitude of paper and design options.

Self mailers also offer significant savings over the four piece mailer package. Three or four panel fold outs can be designed to include a letter, response card, flier and envelope all in one. While economical in production and printing costs, one drawback to self mailers is their uncanny ability to resemble junk mail. Make sure the outside copy compels the prospect to open the mailer. In this arena especially, it's highly recommended that you test a small portion of your list, no more than 10% of your names, with any one content. Changing your outside copy can be as inexpensive as a black plate change. Code your tests and mail several at once to different random samples, then record the response rates, analyze the results and go with the most effective. You'll want to see response rates in the 3-5% range to judge any direct mailing a success.

Before responses start coming in, make sure you're prepared to follow up leads quickly. Fulfillment, whether it's information, a sales call, shipping a product, or performing a service, will indicate your company's level of customer service. Don't create a fantastic piece, mail an expensive list and then, fail to follow through. Scale your mailings to fit your company's capabilities.

When creating a brochure or catalog, professional photography and copy writing are critical. Once you gain the interest of a prospective customer, you now have the responsibility to wow them with a fast following of a great piece. Brochures can be bi, tri or quad folded, printed on paper that looks and feels good, and must be designed to close a sale. Testimonials, examples, locations, service guarantees, everything that's good about your company product or service is here on the brochure.

Catalog page counts, paper quality, overall piece size, image quality, four color vs. black and white, photos vs. illustrations must be decided prior to design. It's an extension of your brand, so be consistent.

New Tool of the Trade

The Internet is the most required form of advertising in the new economy. The internet affords even the smallest company the opportunity to compete with the big boys by increasing access to otherwise unreachable markets.

When you're really ready to get out the word about your business, there's no better tool for advertising across town, or around the world, than a website. You cannot grow your business exponentially without a web presence.

It doesn't really matter what type of business you're in, a website will work for you. Your competition is or will be there, so decide now - will it be your place or mine that customers visit for information, service and convenience - and ultimately, to spend their dollars. The capabilities of the web for instant gratification, visual stimulation, and information make innovation achievable for even the smallest of businesses and tightest of budgets. Whether you operate a restaurant, retail store, wholesale company, a hotel, or any product or service oriented company, there is an effective, online marketing plan for you. Look at your goals for the next year, next two years, or next five years. If they include opening new markets, improving customer and vendor communication, or reducing overhead, while increasing sales, then you have no choice but to include the internet in your plan and budget. A professionally designed website will help you achieve your business goals.

Setting goals will help ensure your web development dollars are well spent. You can expect increased revenues to recoup the cost of developing and maintaining your site if you plan wisely. A dynamic, up-to-date site will receive more traffic, and achieve its marketing goals faster, than a minimalist or non-existent web presence. The value added by an internet presence is unmistakable. Many firms stimulate in-store sales via their website, or encourage a completed sale via the site or by Email, fax or phone. Plus you'll increase your customer base via exposure to new markets and via viral marketing. Your site will enable you to respond faster to market trends, new products, customer requests, vendor confirmations, and keep your company on the cutting edge. In today's new marketplace - customers demand this level of response. The possibilities are endless, and the technology is constantly changing, as are the preferences and tastes of the market you serve. Call on a professional to tie together your goals with the latest technology and trends. A professional advertising agency will take the time to discuss your goals, business model, customer base, and budget with you - and develop a complete plan that is consistent with your brand identity, in line to meet your future expectations.

Back IN the Box

Once you're online presence is established, the natural progression is to incorporate Email marketing. Now deemed as one of the fastest growing and best performing advertising forms, Emails can accomplish a multitude of tasks. As a customer service tool, it provides many of the functions of a traditional call center: order summaries, confirmations, shipping updates, billing info, past due and backorder notifications. Customer inquiries can be handled via incoming Email. As a marketing tool, they should coordinate with your marketing mix.

First, keep it all in the family. Don't prospect for customers with Emails and run the risk of blacklisting yourself. Develop your own permission based list of addresses.

ALWAYS have a Reason for the Campaign - while it's important to be in the spotlight with customers, be careful you're not wasting their time. Consumers want information that is useful. So whether you're sending a Newsletter, Coupon, New Product Announcement, or an Order Confirmation - make sure it's news they can use. And try to sweeten the offer - keep Emails specialized and offer deals, info and specials not readily available through other means. Offer "Secret Sales", "Limited Editions" and "First to See" promos. Always offer your best products or your top selling services.

When designing and writing your Emails, mix it up. Keep graphics and layouts ever changing to add interest. Be sure to keep the images small so they're quick to open and draw on the screen. Pay special attention to your subject line. Avoid SPAM trigger words, and write a subject line that's broad and clever. Personalize your messages: use buying habits or preferences to target your efforts. Or, at least use their name. Be clear with your call to action by providing "Click Here" links. Test - Test - Test different ideas and keep track of responses. A professionally Email is critical, employ the services of a writer and graphic designer. Emails greet your customers just as a salesperson would. So, put your best face forward.

Taking Up Cyberspace?

Just like opening a retail store on a busy highway or in a crowded mall is important for traffic and sales, optimizing your website and advertising it on busy, crowded search engines is important too. You pay top dollar rent for prime commercial real estate, and search engine marketing may cost you some coin as well. But if you design and host your site with a professional team, you can bank on high level marketing tactics for drawing traffic to your site. The use of keyword optimization within your site, and externally via pay-per-click ads, viral marketing techniques, and a full-service, well-rounded, marketing plan will ensure your site is not just taking up cyber-space.

SEO (search engine optimization) is cost-effective when handled correctly. The challenge is to find prospects who are thinking about your product/service at the exact time that you're there to sell. Search engines make it possible to target prospects at that very moment. Develop your website with keywords, meta tags, titles and descriptions that coincide with your content, and then submitting to search engines and directories is important to get you noticed.

Add content that's useful and specific to your industry. Search engine spiders will read through all the content and other data to index your site for display when a person types in a search term or phrase. Selecting the top terms is part of the challenge, placement is important and relevance is a must.

Purchasing Pay-Per-Click or Search Words on an engine can be as complicated as brokering stocks, but your professional ad team will weed through the mix and prepare a plan for your business and budget.

Ride the Wave of Air

Any discussion on marketing is not complete without the queen and king of advertising mediums: radio and television. While these venues have long been out of reach for small business owners, the growth of cable TV stations, and satellite radio have opened up more market possibilities and makes these venues more affordable than you might think. Before exploring each medium individually, let's point out two golden rules for the success of radio or television campaigns. First, place ads when people are listening or watching. Second, keep ads placed tightly together for the best results. Repetition is important as it's so easy to switch the station or leave the room during the commercials. Plus, if the audience misses the address, phone number, or web address, they just can't replay the ad. Make sure commercials run close together in a time slot that has an audience in your target demographic.

Radio often allows negotiable rates for ads. You may be able to barter airtime by offering your products or services as contest prizes. Radio listeners are often quite loyal to their favorite DJs, making endorsements very effective - having the personality read your commercial is equal to an implied endorsement and often as effective. Use your radio campaign to support your print campaigns. For example, announcing your coupon in the newspaper or watch your mailbox for our offer. Since radio is not very effective with in-depth, complicated ads, it does boost other marketing techniques quite well. Placement is key, so be sure you know who you want to reach with your ads. Radio sales people will try to sell you a package plan that splits your ads up - BEWARE! Just as placement is key, frequency is super important as well, so although you may be tempted to go with their package since you seemingly get a lot of ad space for the dollar, look very closely to be sure your ad will be heard by the same audience four, five or six times . Concentrating your ads around the same run times on the same station within a short time span will not only get your message heard, it will also make your company look bigger than it is since the audience assumes you're running ads even when they're not listening. Once you've decided on a frequency plan, get your commercial written. Simple, creative, conversational ads with clearly defined benefits and a crystal clear call-to-action are a must for an ad. Stand out commercials get your message across and get the audience motivated.

All Hail the King

TV - the great American pastime is certainly the golden child for advertising campaigns. More people spend more time watching television than pay attention to any other medium. TV offers proven persuasive power - it simply works. But with most golden opportunities, there's a cost involved. And with TV, it's a big cost! Let's summarize what you should expect for your money:

1. Instant validation

2. Target audience reach

3. Diverse audience reach

4. Creative opportunities

Now about the cost...a 30 second commercial during prime time may cost 10 to 30 times more than a comparable radio spot. That's just the cost of the spot, that does not include writing, talent, set design or location, filming, and editing services. Cable TV may offer some bargains as compared to broadcast television. Often you can target a specific niche even better in the cable arena. When you advertise on television, you open up a world of creative possibilities. You're competing with other stations, the refrigerator, the rest room, and umpteen other distractions during the commercials of any show, so it pays to create an ad that grabs attention instantly and remains in the mind of the audience. Don't settle for the TV station's in house production, get a professional agency to help you create the best ad for your money, one that not only captivates, but is in line with all your other marketing.

Like radio, TV ads are fleeting, and you have to repeatedly hit your target market. Count on five to seven exposures for it to stick. Make sure to buy spots during times and programs that suit your product or service. Most stations offer packages, "fringe" time spots, and adjacencies for less than pick and choose times - these may work for you.

If your budget allows the addition of television advertising, by all means, contact a professional. Properly executed, your TV ads can and will be the crowning achiever in your marketing arsenal.

Get Directly to the Point

One tried and true method for growing a business is to employ a sales force. Of course, as the business owner, you are constantly employed in direct sales for your business. You talk to family and friends, people who enter your storefront, or call you on the phone, you pass out business cards to anyone who will take one. What you do every day is a combination of sales and networking: the practice of connecting. Let's say your brother needs his house painted and one of your customers is a painter. Your painter's wife wants a new puppy, and you uncle owns a pet store. These types of personal connections are the backbone of the small business.

Make the Connection

Formal networking starts with joining a club, association, or business group. Some groups are designed specifically for networking, others for business to consumer relationship building, and still, some others are service oriented, so choose with care. When you consider the groups in which to invest time and money, consider who your target market is and whether you will reach that market via that group.

Once you join, explore every opportunity to make connections. When attending events, focus on the quality of relationships rather than the quantity of contacts. Grow relationships since the better contacts know you, the more apt they are to recommend you. A good first impression - firm handshake, good eye contact, active listening - is as important as fast follow up. Show an active interest in the contact whether they're a potential customer, or a potential referral source. Build your network of connections this way and as you do, continue to connect via a newsletter, Ezine or postcard mailing. Send connections timely and business appropriate clippings, or news stories. Build your network well and you'll have an ever increasing sales force at work.

The Host-ess with the Most-ess Business

Hosting events is a fantastic way of keeping in touch with existing contacts and for making new ones. When you look at the cost of hosting an open house, seminar, sporting event, or party, and the buzz it can create in the marketplace, it's a surefire advertising method that's sadly too often overlooked. Seek out co-sponsors and donations of goods or services from contacts. This will not only cut your costs, but it strengthens relationships. When planning an event, keep track of costs and be ready with a follow-up campaign for converting the leads into sales.

There's No Business Like Trade Show Business...

Trade shows are another good way to make sales happen. If you plan to exhibit, you must plan well, execute well, and finish well. Pick the right show, set clear goals, create a dynamic display, and man your space with people who are aware of your goals and can engage the show visitors. Draw a crowd to your booth with demonstrations, contests, and giveaways. Have plenty of attractive, accurate printed materials on hand, and be ready to do business. An advertising agency can help you create the right display, promotional pieces, and printed collateral to make your company shine at the show. As with all forms of networking to build sales, follow-up is key to your success. Make sure you're getting the names and numbers of the prospects at the show, and contact them immediately after the show concludes, whether by email, phone or mail. The better you follow through, the more successful your trade show marketing investment will be.

Use the Force...

Every business needs to gain a edge over the competition. The statement "there's enough business to go around for everyone" is often made by a soon to be out-of-business owner. Sales don't happen by accident. Good salesmanship is critical for the small business owner, since in many cases, he or she cannot compete with big business on selection, price, or delivery. Training a sales team to represent who and what the business represents is critical. Every person who represents your company is a salesperson for you. They must know the company mission, philosophy, rules, policies, merchandise, services, pricing, delivery standards, and target customer. Businesses should employ creative techniques when training for sales. Stepping away from the traditional, expected method of "May I help you?", and into a new, out of the box method of customer contact is crucial to getting the edge. Become memorable, go beyond expectations, adapt the message, use showmanship. The best part of a sales force is that they're people. And people are flowing and adaptable. Once you print a business card, produce a commercial, host an event, it's done. But with person to person contact, each situation can be customized to fit the customer - right at that moment - making your sales team a force that can make your business stand out above and apart from the competition.

Stop the Presses!

While direct, personal sales may very well be the most controllable of all marketing techniques, Public Relations is likely the least controllable, but arguably one of the cheapest ways to get out the word you want people to hear. That's because public relations, by definition, is all about influencing opinions. As a business owner, the opinion you want your buying public to have is that what they need, you have, and you have it faster, better, cheaper than anyone else. Relating to your buying public is part of what you do everyday, but there are some important tools that a PR firm will use to create positive buzz.

Just the Facts

Probably the most basic tool in your marketing arsenal is a press kit. Think of it as a company introduction and overview. Use it to introduce your business to the media and to potential investors and employees. Post a copy on your website. Your kit should be current, accurate, and should include: company statistics (years in business, number of employees, locations, sales figures, client list), history, owners/shareholders bios and photographs, a press release, contact list, and a cover letter. You may want to use your kit to introduce your executives as experts in a particular field, and therefore make them available to the press as a source.

Extra Extra Read All About It

More than just a part of your press kit, press releases are good ways to keep media contacts current on what's happening at your business, and to announce important, timely and newsworthy events. It's important that press releases are written properly. Your subject should be newsworthy, meet the needs of the target paper or reporter, and remain somewhat neutral in tone. Being pushy or self-serving will not get your news published. Keep your information basic, accurate and on one page. Once you have your press release completed, send it to newspapers, magazines, trade publications, TV and radio news sources, and to the publishers of newsletters that cover your industry. Used effectively, press releases are a powerful public relations tool for marketing your business.

It's in the Air

Public relations involves many different ways to promote a positive spin on a product, service or company. Yet one thing these methods have in common is their cost. For the most part, gaining a positive public image can be one of the least expensive ways to market. Attaining news coverage by supplying information is one way, but actually creating the news is a great way to get the word out about your business. Companies and individuals create news every day by using publicity stunts, authoring books, appearing on talk shows, making public appearances, performing community service, and sponsoring events and teams. Most of these methods are free, or inexpensive ways to get publicity.

Tying it All Together

The success of a business depends upon its ability to attract, and retain, customers. We've covered the three major strategies Peter (and you) should be using to connect with customers. However, before you start throwing time and money into advertising, direct sales, and public relations efforts, you have a little more work to do.

Your company, products and services are identified by your brand. Your brand identity includes your logo, your color scheme, your packaging, your trucks, invoices, your store or office environment, and all of the elements that the public sees. It's your image. And in keeping with your brand image, consistency across each and every marketing effort you put forth is vital. Your customer must see your company as a cohesive, well oiled machine that has its act together. Everything from employee uniforms to advertisements, to labels, must portray a consistent look and feel. A consistent marketing strategy across all channels boosts confidence, and revenues. That's exactly what a full service creative advertising agency offers clients -- consistency of brand identity across all marketing efforts.

When a company picks, preps, prices, and promotes products and services using cohesive, targeted advertising, a trained, creative sales force, and grasps every opportunity to encourage positive public opinion, that company has constructed a well-rounded arsenal of promotion to get out the word. Get the customer in the door, deliver what you promise, do it better, faster and more memorably than your competitors, and customer retention levels will soar, as will sales, and profits. A happy customer is a repeat customer. And a loyal customer will tell others about you... and're getting out the word.

Peter, with all his peppers, would be proud.