How Do I Get Started Advertising and Marketing My New Business?

In this article, we will discuss some methods and techniques that a new entrepreneur can use to get started in marketing and advertising their business. Of course, this information is not meant solely for brand new businesses, anyone can use them, but the article will primarily focus on a startup company.

Before we dive into the meat of this topic, let’s take a brief moment to define exactly what advertising and marketing are. For one, advertising is marketing, but marketing is not advertising. This may seem a bit strange, but let’s explore it further. For advertising, it’s simple, advertising is a direct form of marketing with a very straight forward purpose, to get people in the door, to get the phone to ring, or to get them to click to your website. Where the line becomes blurry is when we speak about marketing. Marketing is a far more ethereal concept. But since this is not the main topic of this article, let’s say in short that marketing is the management of perception. In other words, attempting to influence what people think of you, and therefore, how they feel about using your services or buying your product.

For example, the friendliness of your wait staff, or the cleanliness of your office, or the care you take in the landscaping of your hotel, all these things are marketing. And often, they are the most overlooked, because most people think of marketing only as advertising.

With this in mind, let’s begin in earnest to discuss the topic of this article, how you can advertise and market your new business. Well, as mentioned in the last paragraph, let’s start with the free stuff. What should be the simple stuff, but often is not. And this is the perception that you are giving about yourself and your company. Sit down and make a list of all the things that you can change, if need be, about your company now. Things that don’t cost you any more money or much time. For example, the neatness and atmosphere of your office or facility, if you have one. Spruce it up, put a few plants in, invest in a couple of plug-in air fresheners, and do what you can for the outside appearance, the “curbe appeal” if you will. Focus on your staff, are they well groomed, well dressed as appropriate to your customers, and are they outgoing and personable. Smiling and friendly employees, including you, go a long way in closing sales. Be sure that you and your people are quick to respond to calls, emails and the like. Keep in mind that the number one need of all people is to feel important, so if you can project that to your clients, that they are important to you, you will almost guarantee success.

Now, before we move on to another tip, let’s make it clear that this article is not meant to be an in depth exploration of this topic. That would really take a book. This is just meant to give you a few ideas and get those creative juices flowing.

The next thing to think about, and preferably before you have created any of your printed material, signage or website, is uniformity. To put it another way, your business cards should look like your signs, which should look like your flyer, which should look like your website, which should look like the side of your trucks. This is a key component of branding. And building a solid brand that people identify with quality and also with you is hugely important. So no matter what you do graphically, be sure that everything has a nice, uniform look and feel.

Now, a big area to focus on, and one that is relatively cheap, even with a complex application, is your website. Whether you are selling products online or just want to showcase your company, a quality website presence is an absolute must today. One of important reason is that now, over 97% of people do all there research into new products and services online. Even direct referrals will still want to check you out on the web, be it with their computers or their hand held devices. But equally, if not more, important than this is that the internet offers a huge amount of marketing opportunities that can expose you to new customers like never before. With the use of search engine optimization, blogging, social media, video marketing, article marketing, and link building, just to name a few methods, your website can be put in front of a large number of targeted eyeballs at a fraction of the cost of more traditional marketing and advertising methods.

As for advertising, this is a bit more difficult to pin down. Different businesses have different techniques that work for them. What works for a restaurant may not work for a lawn care company. What draws attention for a furniture store may not be as effective for a bar. The thing to do is to do some research into your particular type of business and see what is working for others like you. Also, if you know your target audience, then you can devise some cost-effective methods for reaching them directly, be it through radio or TV ads, direct mail, street level marketing, shows, billboards and so on.

Keep in mind the old marketing creed of AIDA, Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. This is what any advertising and / or marketing campaign should be built around. So no matter what you do, plan it out before hand with these four steps.

Now, not to be too vague, although it’s hard not to be with such a huge and diverse topic, here are a couple of starter points. First, tweak those elements in your business you can control without spending money. Then create a series of visual pieces, a business card for you and anyone else who may come in contact with customers, a brochure, a flyer, vehicle lettering and of course, a quality logo. Put up a good website. Not a cheap do it yourself thing, but a real, professionally created application and tie all yoru other material to it. Promote that site as much as possible, both on and offline. Invest in some internet marketing, both pay per click and in someone to do the organic work of promoting you. You can get quite a lot on a small budget here.

Do not be afraid to consult a professional. A good advertising and marketing firm can help you with all of these things, and with other more expensive methods, such as creating videos, filming your TV commercials, writing and producing your radio spots, strategizing mailing and other campaigns, and more. Promoting your company is a lot like being lost in a dense forest, and sometimes having a guide who knows the way can be of immense benefit, and is often the best use of your marketing budget.

Self-Directed Investing For the Canadian Investor

Are you interested in taking control of your portfolio and becoming a “self-directed” investor within the stock market? If so then here is what you need to know.

An Overview of Self-Directed Investing

For most people the idea of self-directed investing comes with a myriad of misconceptions and fears but with the right information and knowledge, making your own decisions can produce significant results. It is not unusual, for example, for self-directed investors to outperform managed money and certainly with a good strategy you can produce well above average returns on a consistent basis.

In a nutshell, self-directed investing means taking the responsibility and control of the decisions surrounding your investments. By opening a self-directed online trading account, you retain the authority to choose the type of investments you want in your portfolio (e.g. mutual funds, ETFs, individual shares, etc), as opposed to ‘managed accounts’ where these decisions are made by a financial planner or an other financial professional. Managed accounts typically have a fee associated with them. (The industry average in Canada is about 2½% of your portfolio per year.)

Why should we self-direct?

So is self-directed investing for you? Knowing why you want to do something usually means you have spent some time looking at the pros and cons. For self-directed investing consider the following.

  • Pros: More control and the potential for better returns, reduced fees, increased liquidity and greater capital appreciation.
  • Cons: Investors assume the risk – and the emotional stress. Many also lack the time, knowledge, and discipline.

If you list out your pros and cons then you can work towards getting the answers you need to make an informed decision.

How much money do we need to start investing?

Many people believe that to self-direct an account, you need ‘lots of money’ but this is not true. You can self-direct any amount. For example, the new Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA) that allows Canadians over 18 to deposit $5,000 each year beginning in 2009, is eligible to be self-directed.

People with a large portfolio (e.g. $250,000 and above) often start by self-directing only a portion of it. There is nothing wrong with using the TFSA as a starting point. And as you become more knowledgeable over time, you can transfer a portion of your retirement savings plan account to a self-directed account without forgoing the tax deferral status.

Know What You’re Getting Into

Before you open your trading account and start putting your money to work, it’s important to take stock (no pun intended) of a few things. First, understand what you are getting into. Most Canadians express a sense of fear when it comes to making their own investment decisions and investing directly in the shares of companies doesn’t reduce that fear. The root cause of this fear, either consciously or subconsciously, often stems from a lack of knowledge on how the markets work and how successful they can be. People often think of investing in the stock market as gambling yet nothing could be further from the truth. If you were to ask those that have built great wealth utilizing the markets, you would rarely find “gambling” as a description of their activities.

For starters learn the terminology. A great resource is www.getsmarteraboutmoney.ca Developed by the Ontario Securities Commission, this website is a wealth of information on making and managing your own money. Then consider your options for education. If you are a novice investor with little to no experience a good foundation is important. Look for a company that provides a well-rounded learning experience and compliment that with your own reading and research. Think about how you have learned other skill-sets in your life and consider adopting that same process.

Create A Strategy

Part of your education should include the development of goals and a strategy including a trading plan that matches your risk profile. Setting goals means you can quantify your success at any given time against where you want to be. A good strategy will help you achieve your goals no matter what the market conditions are. And understanding your risk profile will protect you from making decisions that go against your tolerance level. Most novice investors get excited about making money because of course that is the point; however that by itself is not a good plan. A good education will teach you three important principles:

  1. Capital Preservation – keeping your money so you can invest it tomorrow and beyond.
  2. Money Management – knowing how to segregate your portfolio and your individual decisions.
  3. Risk Management – learning how to protect your capital if you make a mistake.

All of these need to be a part of your strategy and decision process.

The Conclusion

Self-directed investing doesn’t have to be time consuming and it doesn’t require a million dollars but it does require knowledge — good goals, a good plan and a good strategy.

Network Marketers: Are You Destroying Your Company’s Image On Facebook?

I received an interesting message last week from a Facebook contact of mine, someone who knows I coach/speak within the network marketing profession and that I’ve worked very closely with the top leaders in one particular company for almost 10 years.

She shared that she had been “friended” on Facebook by a few different reps from this particular company. Once they were part of her network – these individuals promptly added her personal info to their email lists (without her permission) and proceeded to bombard her with promotions related to their products and business.

Not only is this practice a big on-line “no-no” (known as spamming) but these consultants also neglected to include an “opt-out” link or any easy way for my friend to get OFF their email list (another big no-no) – which of course, only compounded my friend’s frustration. She reached out to ask if I knew whether reps were being “encouraged” to use these tactics by the leaders in the organization, as it appeared several of them were doing so.

Knowing the company in question (and both the corporate and field leaders to be total professionals with the utmost integrity) I assured her I was certain this was NOT a policy encouraged within the organization, but rather the result of some overly enthusiastic (and likely under-educated) consultants excited to make some new sales.

I shared there were undoubtedly reps from numerous other network marketing/direct sales companies making the same mistake, and encouraged her to not let this experience reflect badly on the organization as a whole. Nevertheless – the damage was done.

My friend removed these reps from her network and confided in me she would never do business with them or the company. Frankly, I can’t say I blame her. Although a relatively “minor incident”, it does make me wonder just how frequently is this kind of business-building behavior happening on sites like Facebook, and how costly it is to a network marketing company’s image overall?

I’m sure we all agree that the internet (and social media sites) provide ENORMOUS power. You can spread a positive message about the value of your products and business opportunity to thousands of people (who might never hear of your business in any other way). When your prospects and customers have a wonderful experience – the resulting “good press” can spread like wildfire, boosting a company’s image and attracting new sales and business for everyone.

On the flip side, when someone has a crummy experience (as did my friend) the compounding effects of bad press on the internet can cause exponential damage. Bad news seems to travel faster and be repeated more on the internet – so even a few instances of “poor business practices” by even a handful of consultants can rapidly tarnish your company’s image- costing EVERYONE in the process.

The internet provides a massive magnifying glass – accentuating the positives (or the negative) aspects of any organization to the world. For that reason – I strongly encourage ALL network marketers to get educated about “best practices” on-line. You can create enormous value for your prospects, build positive PR for your company AND still make lot of sales and money if you truly understand some fundamental keys of “on-line marketing”.

Here are a few important keys to know when networking on Facebook and growing your business on-line.

1. Gathering People’s email Addresses and Blasting Them With Unsolicited Information is Illegal

Otherwise known as “spamming” this practice is illegal and monitored closely on-line. The CAN-SPAM Act is enforced by the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and the Department of Justice has authority to enforce criminal sanctions (and fines up to $11,000) for each instance. Ouch!

One of the most common spamming violations involves “harvesting email addresses from websites or web services” and then using these to contact individuals for commercial purposes (which is exactly what you are doing if you are taking people’s email addresses off their Facebook profile, website or business card – and then adding them to your own email list without their permission)!

Besides the obvious legal issues – you also risk having your own email address or system being “shut down” by your provider. Both internet providers (like your local cable or DSL service) AND email systems (like Constant Contact, AWeber, etc) carefully monitor spam reports and complaints, and if there are too many associated with your email account, they will shut you down making it impossible for you to send and receive ANY email (even legitimate ones) to your contacts, customers and team.

Considering how much time and hassle it is to set up a new email address and notify all your contacts (not to mention the leads and business you’ll lose in the process) this situation is just too costly to your reputation, bottom line and business growth. Don’t do it!

2. Blasting People With Emails They Haven’t Asked to Receive is Highly Ineffective

How do you feel when you scan your inbox and see a handful of spam messages? Most of us feel a sense of annoyance, quickly delete them (or mark them as “spam”) and move on. You can be sure your contacts will do the same. If you are blasting your contacts with email promotions and messages they didn’t ask to receive, you can be sure they will ultimately ignore and delete your messages (but not without first connecting some of those same negative feelings to you and your company in the process).

A smarter (and much more profitable) approach is to create an “Opt-in” or “permission based” email list, consisting of qualified leads which have WILLINGLY given you their emails and contact info. This is the PROVEN way to build a network of prospects on-line that actually covert into paying customers (and even business builders).

These contacts WANT to receive information from you – and generally respond very positively to product offers, etc. A small list of these kinds of prospects will generate many more sales and higher returns than a LARGE list of “spammed” contacts every time.

3. How to Create a Permission-Based “Opt In List” That Builds Good Will and Generates New Sales and Biz Opportunities

My own “opt-in” email list of targeted prospects (which has been the foundation of all my marketing efforts over the years) has generated hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales for me, this is a system you can create too! In one of my current coaching programs, I’m helping network marketers to implement some of the same strategies I’ve used to build a qualified email list and set up a system to generate new sales and income.

There are TWO cardinal rules to keep in mind when using this approach:

~Invest in Building Strong, Personal Relationships With the People On Your List.

People do business with people, so make it your #1 goal to build strong personal relationships with the contacts on your list. Engage them, share about yourself, be authentic and always operate with integrity. Do this well and your contacts will learn to know, like and trust you in a way that leads to long term sales and business opportunities for you and your company!

~Create Value First!

The most effective way to sell products and find new business partners is to CREATE ENORMOUS VALUE for your contacts in the process. This approach doesn’t only “feel good” – it builds a very positive image about yourself and your company while drawing many more leads to you (who, in time WILL buy from you and become more interested in your business opportunity).

The fastest and most effective way to attract qualified leads to opt-in to your email list is to give them something of value (for free!) in exchange for their contact info. My students do this in a variety of ways, including offering:

a) Samples of free products. You don’t want to break your bank account obviously, but people love to get free (or great deals on) cool products! If you can afford to give away some “juicy offer” (a simple sample or great discount on products) you can use this kind of offer to attract qualified leads to join your email list (where you can continue to build a relationship with them, add more value, etc)

b) A FREE subscription to your a monthly newsletter (or ezine). This is a proven tool many network marketers are now using to build strong relationships and provide on-going value to the contacts on their email list. In each edition, you can share some brief personal news, include some useful and relevant tips AND generate some new sales with additional promotions related to your business.

c) Give away valuable and relevant content. People are constantly surfing the internet looking for great “how to” information. One of the most effective methods to build a targeted list of ideal prospects is to offer valuable free content on a certain subject.

You can compile a simple report such as… “3 Common Mistakes Women Make That Age Their Skin Prematurely”…or “3 Weight Loss Myths That Keep People From Getting Fit and Being Healthy”… – tips and resources that would be of interest to your ideal prospects AND give you an opportunity to educate them on the value of what you have to offer too.

You can then create a simple “opt in” form on your website where your leads can join your list to receive the report. Once on your list, you can continue to build a relationship, add more value (such as providing additional tips, your monthly newsletter, special discounts and offers, etc) all while continuing to educate your contacts on the value of your products and business.

Several network marketing/direct selling professionals are already using strategies like these to build a large email list of qualified leads (people who actually WANT to receive your information!) and set up a system that converts them into new customers and business builders.