Archive for Sales Consulting

Keeping an Eye on Your Advertising Effectiveness

Slowly but surely, majority of businesses now understand the importance of marketing. Even the businesses with minimum resources are aware of the concept and significance of marketing. But there’s one thing that still goes without being noticed by many of them, that is advertising effectiveness. Many businesses have no idea on how to measure the success of their marketing campaigns. As a result, they keep running advertisements and marketing campaigns without really knowing if it is effectively working or not. Keeping a check on your advertising effectiveness is very important, or you may be wasting your resources on something useless, without even knowing it. On the other hand, measuring the accomplishment of your advertisement or marketing initiative is not as simple as measuring the increase in sales or inquiries.

How do we know if a commercial is effective or not?
A commercial that turns out to be extremely popular, doesn’t guarantee to be effective. For the reason, that the effectiveness of a commercial can be judged by evaluating its achievements and not by the hilarity in it. Therefore, if a commercial or any other marketing material that was meant to bring in more customers or to build a strong brand image is not effective unless there’s a positive change in the number of enquiries or the brand awareness. In fact, sometimes the storyline gets so interesting that it overrides the intended message in customer’s minds.

Setting objectives:
It is very important to jot down goals or objectives before initiating a marketing campaign. Most of the time, advertisement is targeted at generating sales but other equally important targets could be customer loyalty, product awareness, persuading customers or brand recognition. When setting objectives, make sure these are unambiguous and measurable, especially if you are delegating the project to some outside company.

Evaluating effectiveness:
Many companies test their ads or infomercials on a sample group of targeted customers to see the reaction. For small businesses that may not be possible but you can get the help from your family members or friends and ask for their opinion, the earlier you spot an ineffective medium, the better. If, after spending plenty of time and resources the end result is not impressive, don’t waste more resources in distributing, publishing or making it public. Getting the accurate feedback is the key to constructive evaluation. Also, if you are trying to asses on the basis of increase in sales or revenue, don’t rush into the process as soon as the commercial goes on air; you need to give it some time to develop.

William King is the director of UK Wholesale Suppliers, Distributors Dropshippers and Wholesale Trade Suppliers, Dropshippers Distributors. He has 18 years of experience in the marketing and trading industries and has been helping retailers and startups with their product sourcing, promotion, marketing and supply chain requirements.

The Pros and Cons of Third Party Sales Leads

Are Third Party Sales Leads Killing Your Brand?
In an effort to grow their businesses faster, and simplify the marketing process, Sales and Marketing Managers have succumbed to the simplicity of acquiring third party sales leads. But what are you giving up when you no longer generate your own leads? The consequences may be more severe than you know.

Being in the Spotlight – Generating an Online Brand
Whenever a web-based sales lead is generated, somebody, somewhere, had to visit a website and fill out a form. The question is, whose website is it? Which website is being branded? When a company relies too heavily on third party leads, they forego their own branding in favor of the third party website. Today, there are countless companies that have no web identity, because their websites are not actively marketed to generate sales.

Your Own Lead Will Out-Perform a Third Party Sales Lead
While third party sales leads provide a simple and quick solution for generating sales, you should not abandon hope of generating leads yourself. When you generate your own lead, your money goes much further than you may think. By marketing your company, you brand your company. People remember your links, bookmark your website, pass on your email, and recommend your company. When you are fully vested in third party leads, you loose the enormous benefit of establishing an online identity.

So what is the big deal about generating your own sales lead?

  • What is really happening with your third party sales lead? When a lead is generated you get your copy, but does someone else also get your copy? Is your lead resold after it has aged? Will some email house in China start sending spam to your leads? Odds are, your sales leads are not as unique as you think.
  • When was the last time a third party sales lead made your phone ring?
  • Imagine, for example, that 10% of your leads convert to a genuine sale. What happens to the other 90%? Many of these people simply are not quite ready to buy, or they are shopping around. When they are ready to buy, do you want them to come back to you, or go back to the third party website where they originally submitted their request?
  • When friends or family members recommend websites and pass on links to each other, is it your link, or a 3rd party website link? Who gets the bookmark? Through branding effects and peer recommendations, a moderate volume of sales leads can be generated for free with a higher closing-ratio than non-referred leads.
  • What value does your website have? Does it do anything more than show your office hours and a contact phone number? If you tried to sell your company, would your website be an asset?
  • Do your sales leads accommodate you, or do you accommodate the leads? If you generate your own lead, from your own website, you can collect any information that you need, in any fashion that you need it. Give your sales team information that they can really use to size up a prospect, rather than giving them the information that someone else thinks that they need.

All things in moderation…
The answer is that you probably do need third party sales leads, but you also need to generate your own leads. Depending on the size of your company, it may be a daunting task to acquire all of your leads by yourself. Third party leads should only supplement your self-generate leads, and not vice versa. Easier said than done? Not really… turn to search.

  • (1) The nature of web search yields a high-interest sales lead. This is not a casual click, the potential customer is actively seeking your services.
  • (2) When friends recommend websites and pass on links, it is your link and not the 3rd party web link. Through branding effects and peer recommendations, a moderate volume of leads will be generated at no cost.
  • (3) The website that customers look at should have the same message and company name that is used by the sales rep., reducing customer confusion, and increasing closing rates.
  • (4) Search-based PPC campaigns are completely flexible and can be turned on or off, or scaled up or down, almost instantly. You can turn PPC campaigns off over the weekend or holidays, when your sales floor is unavailable. There are no minimum budget requirements, campaign durations, or prepay.

So your website is not a conversion funnel?
If your website is efficient, and can readily generate leads from search traffic, then your set. However this is not always the case, in-fact, very few websites are designed as a lead conversion hot-spot. That’s okay; here is a simple, low-cost solution.How it works:
Have your web design team build a custom website for your company, mimicking the basic colors, layout, logos, etc. of your primary corporate website. This can be a near-duplicate of your primary corporate website, but suited to convert search engine traffic, and it can be just a few pages in size. This micro-site can be a canonical domain or sub directory of your primary website, or a new domain all-together, whichever works best for you and your designers. Next, you can begin to build PPC campaigns with your favorite search engines, such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Start off conservatively, so that lead costs do not get out of control.

Before long, the inquiries coming off of your own website will become the most coveted by your sales team. Your phone will start ringing, as visitors to your lead generation website make inbound phone calls as well as generate web-based leads. People will start to bookmark your website, and sales based on referrals will pick up. As long as you’re going to be spending money generating sales leads, why not also brand your company and let your money go further? Put yourself in the spotlight, and wedge out your own place on the web.

About the Author:
Chris W. Sharp is the founder and President of SharpNET Solutions, and industry leading Internet markering company since 1999. You can visit SharpNET’s corporate website for additional articles and Internet marketing services at

7 Tips to Be a Successful Online Marketer

Copyright (c) 2010 Titus Hoskins

Perhaps a quick introduction and a handy disclaimer is the best way to start this article on Internet marketing. Mainly because you should know who is talking and you should definitely know what you’re getting yourself into…

I have been a full-time online marketer for over 5 years now, and I run 9 or 10 sites on the wwww – wonderful world wide web. I make a very respectable living and I enjoy every minute of it. But if you’re under the impression that all you have to do is to slap some content together and place it on a web site and watch the money roll in; then you are sadly mistaken. Don’t get the wrong impression, you can become a successful online marketer, but it will take a lot of time and work on your part. It just doesn’t happen overnight, at least, this has been my experience and we can only write about our own experiences and views.

Over the years, I have also found it helpful to get pointers from someone who is actually doing what we want to do. So below I have put together 7 Tips for becoming a successful online marketer.

1. Knowledge Up

The whole concept of online marketing may seem quite simple, just place some content or product onto a website and you’re in business. The reality is quite different. It may take you years to learn all the complex techniques and tactics to compete in the online marketplace, which is becoming more and more competitive as more companies and individuals discover its great potential. Sure we have all heard stories of people who come up with a great idea and make an online fortune very quickly. People also win the lottery… but if you want to become a successful online marketer you first have to learn your trade.

You have to acquire all the knowledge you can on Internet Marketing. Read articles and ebooks, take online e-courses, study and examine successful websites and/or marketers… there is a wealth of marketing information on the web. Just find it and use it. When I was first learning all the ropes, I made tons of mistakes but I was fortunate enough to come into contact with some successful online marketers who were actually doing what I wanted to do. People like Marlon Sanders, Ken Evoy, Corey Rudl, Neil Shearing, Brad Callens… I quickly became acquainted with these individuals and learned everything I could from them.

This was not out of the ordinary or hard to accomplish, since all these marketers have comprehensive affiliate training programs to show even the most novice webmaster or marketer the ropes, most of these programs are free because these marketers want to teach you how to sell their products. This is a very simple way to get a quick education on how to market online. I personally liked the numerous free ebooks offered thru Ken Evoy’s SiteSell program… many of these will drive you bonkers, especially if you’re new at this game, but only because they are so comprehensive and thorough – all the information can be a little overwhelming to say the least. But if you can work you way through some of SiteSell’s free marketing manuals and ebooks, you will get the basic knowledge to further your goal of becoming an online marketer.

2. Find Your Niche Market or Subject

Unless you already have a product or business you wish to market online, then your first task will be finding a good niche market or subject which you can explore and exploit on the web. Best advice, find something that you already have a strong interest in such as a favorite hobby or past-time, an area where you already have special training or something you always wanted to study and examine. This niche market or subject will take up countless hours of your time, so you have to really pick something you like doing. The major point here, if you’re doing something you like, it won’t seem like work.

No matter which subject area you choose, you must check out the commercial viability of your topic. In other words, if you want to be successful, there must be enough commercial interest in your market or subject. There must be enough people searching for your product each month so that it’s viable. Use a program like WordTracker or Google Adwords Keyword Tool to find the number of searches made each month for a keyword. Keywords are words or phrases web users type into search engines to find what they’re looking for on the web. You must have plenty of good searchable keywords relating to your subject in order for it to be workable.

Another Keyword tool I like using is Microsoft’s Detecting Online Commercial Intention, which tells you the probability a certain keyword or site will have enough commercial potential customers who will purchase a product or service.

3. Google Up!

Google is the most important player on the web. While you shouldn’t ignore the other search engines, I would suggest you learn everything you can about how Google both indexes and ranks pages on the web. Getting a number one or even a top 5 listing for your chosen keywords in Google, can make or break your online business. Google simply sends/controls the majority of the quality search traffic on the web, get those top rankings in Google and you will succeed.

Now Google gives webmasters many valuable webmaster tools and devotes a whole section to help webmasters with their sites. One valuable resource which is loaded with helpful information is Google Webmaster Tools. Use it! Also, if you’re just starting out, another good resource is Google’s “Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide”, which is a handy pdf file you can download.

Always, keep in mind, Google is only like any other company supplying a product and in this case the product is their SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages), so the higher the quality of your content and pages – the higher your rankings in Google will be. Of course, seasoned webmasters know quality one-way backlinks is one of the most important keys to getting high rankings in Google. But it all comes back to quality, if you have quality content, people will bookmark it in all the social media sites, and related webmasters will link to your quality content. This does really happen, so creating high quality content should be your first and most important SEO strategy.

4. Building Your Site

Regardless of what kind of site you’re building, you must follow some very simple SEO rules. Make sure your site’s structure can be easily navigated by both your visitors and the search engines. Try to keep your site’s hierarchy simple, with all your pages reachable from the home page. Most webmasters only use three levels – homepage, topics and sub-topics – with all pages linking back to your homepage and no more than 3 clicks away from it. It is also a good idea to have a sitemap link on each page so that you don’t leave your visitors stranded. Check with Google’s Starter Guide for more information on how to create a proper lay-out.

Personally, as an online marketer I seek out the top searched for keywords in my niche, and then create pages around that keyword or keyword phrase. This ensures you’re getting targeted visitors/customers to your pages. You can have hundreds of these keyworded pages on your site and connect all these pages together in a thematic arrangement so that the search engines can easily find and rank them.

As for choosing a domain name, I also try to get my main targeted keyword in the domain. This helps tremendously with your search engine rankings because every backlink will have your main keyword in the URL. This will tell the search engines exactly what your site is about. Again, if you’re brand new at this, I would suggest you use a program like WordPress, which is free blogging software you can use to create a blog site. Another option, is to purchase or buy a SiteBuildIt hosting package from SiteSell, but this is more than just hosting, it’s a complete online marketing system you can use. It will take you step-by-step through the whole creation and marketing of your site or business on the web.

5. Promoting Your Site

This is probably the hardest part of online marketing, but it is something which is essential to its success. Too many webmasters/marketers build a fantastic site and then sit around and wait for the visitors/customers to pour in. Sad fact is, unless you actually get out there and promote your site you will get very little, if any traffic. Of course, there are exceptions, some sites instantly attract visitors and acquire countless backlinks just by word of mouth, but for the most part this simply doesn’t happen.

You have to actively promote your site and URL. One method that I use is article marketing – writing simple helpful articles and distributing them all over the web. These articles have keyworded links back to your site. Simple and effective way to get your site out there. Another free way to promote your site is to tie it in with all the social media and bookmarking sites, so use Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube… to promote your site. Videos also have become very effective recently and you should be taking advantage of their great potential. So too is using a simple social bookmark program like the Addthis Button, which lets your visitors bookmark and build your backlinks for you.

Google seems to be paying special attention to how many social bookmarks/links your site is receiving. It is a simple form of voting for the quality of your content if actual web users see it and bookmark/recommend it to their friends. The more Tweets, Diggs… your content gets, the higher it will rank in the search engines, besides all those links bring in targeted traffic, which is what you want.

6. Monetizing Your Site

There are countless way to monetize or make money from your website once you have a steady flow of traffic coming to your site. We are not talking about tons of traffic here, a site getting just 100 or 200 visitors a day can prove very profitable. Personally, I like choosing affiliate programs which give a residual or have a re-occurring element to their payments. Make one sale and get paid for years to come, I am still receiving monthly payments from sales I made 5 years ago. So if you decide to place affiliate links on your pages, try to go with a company or program which gives you residual income for the life of the referred customer.

I also like promoting high-end affiliate products simply because the commissions are obviously higher. Why sell a $20 item, when you can sell a $2000 one? Of course, there are countless strategies to marketing online, if you sell 100’s of that $20 item, you still end up in the same place. As for finding affiliate products to promote I like using the major affiliate networks like Commission Junction, LinkShare, Shareasale, ClickBank, Affiliate Window… these networks are totally professional, do all your tracking and give you valuable information on how to market online.

Another very simple way to monetize your pages is to use Google Adsense, now the payments won’t be as high as with promoting affiliate products but using Adsense is a simple and quick way to monetize all your pages. I also find Adsense very consistent and totally reliable, besides getting that check from Google each month, always puts a smile on my face.

7. Track Everything That Moves

Another major key to online marketing success is having extensive tracking in place. You must track where your visitors are coming from and what keywords they’re using to find your site. And what they do once they hit your site. I like using Google Analytics for tracking all my content but I don’t just depend on Analytics, I also use all hosting stats such as Awstats, Webalizer… I also regularly check my site’s traffic logs and daily visitors.

All this tracking tells me what’s working and more importantly, what’s not working. Check your bounce rate and the amount of time people spend on your site as these are more than likely ranking factors. Also check how fast your site loads, Google is said to be making this another ranking factor which they use to rank your pages.

Carefully reading of your site’s stats and logs will show you which keywords are profitable and making you money. Then you have to simply fine-tune your marketing to target those lucrative keywords or phrases. Keep building your rankings for those keywords over a period of time and you will be successful.

Bonus Step: Persistence Brings Home The Bacon

I couldn’t finish this article without mentioning another key element to succeeding on the web – persistence. Maybe it’s just me, but it took me around three years before any of my sites became really profitable. Now most marketers and webmasters become profitable in much shorter periods, but I still believe it takes time to build a solid online business. It takes time to build up your customer base, it takes time to build up your rankings in all the search engines.

Guess, what I am saying is this: if you expect overnight success, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. But if you take a long-term strategy and build your site and marketing up over a matter of months, more likely years, then you have a much better chance of becoming successful. Mainly because, you’re not just building a site, you’re building an online business that will take some time to become established and it may even take more time to become prosperous. Be persistent and you will succeed.

About the Author:
The author is a full time online affiliate marketer who operates numerous niche sites, as well as two sites on Internet Marketing, where you can get valuable marketing tips for free: internet marketing tools or try here free internet marketing tips. Copyright (c) 2010 Titus Hoskins.

Online Brand Management: Optimizing Facebook

Copyright (c) 2010 Enzo F. Cesario

We’ve previously discussed the Web’s amazing tendency to take very good ideas and adapt them to techniques largely unrelated to their original intent. Nowhere is this more currently prevalent than in the realm of Social Media Networking.

SM sites were intended to allow people to present a profile and keep in touch with interested parties. In essence a combination of email and webpage, they exploded in popularity with the sort of overnight success prevalent on the Web. Of course users drive popularity, and where there are users, there is a captive audience – and businesses are always keen to adopt a potential audience.

Now Web writing and development résumés often need to include Social Media Networking experience, and businesses have their own Facebook pages. The Web is ever sensitive to the principles of competition and advertisement, so in the wake of this upsurge in popularity and usage come the techniques and principles of Social Media SEO.

Search engines rate all websites based on their internal criteria, and this increasingly includes Social Media pages such as Facebook. With that in mind, let’s consider five key ways you can apply SEO techniques to Facebook in order to drive interest.

Method 1 – Respect Your Audience

We’ve covered the power of individuality on the Web. While it is true the Web offers exceptional degrees of anonymity and collective activity, at the end of the day every user has his/her own judgments to make, and will make those judgments known via clicks and comments. There are websites solely devoted to expounding on peoples’ bad experiences, such as the popular Not Always Right. Rest assured that if you stick to sales pitches and infomercials, your work will be forgotten or derided quite quickly.

Instead, focus on promoting interesting, non-sales material on your Facebook page. Comment on interesting developments, or explain a personal angle from one of your employees that helps people connect with your organization. Some of the most profitable sites on the Web don’t make any major sales pitches, so take advantage of the chance to have a conversation and keep people interested.

Method 2 – Identify and Use Your Keywords

We’ve talked about keywords before, and they remain relevant still. Search engines are able to provide more precise listings based on effective keyword usage, and good placement in a search return is often dependent on how your keywords relate to user searches.

Keyword usage requires research. It isn’t a matter of simply plugging in all the buzzwords in every awkward conversation – this is a good way to get sites to blacklist or penalize you in their rankings. Take the time to really examine what key roles your business works toward, and then research the keyword usage of related activities. Pick out those keywords that seem most relevant, and then work them into your site as naturally as you can.

However, keyword use doesn’t always require focusing on the content and writing portions. Your Facebook profile includes an ‘about’ section. Putting your core keywords here is a good idea but keep it concise; more than two or three keywords risks diluting the impact of your message.

Method 3 – Remember Reciprocity

The interesting thing about your Facebook page is that your company website doesn’t host it – Facebook does. This puts your content in two distinct places on the Web, potentially doubling the coverage you can receive during Web searches. Take advantage of that by remembering to provide links from each site to the other. Your company homepage should be linked from your Facebook profile, and vice-versa. This will increase traffic to each site by bringing in visitors from the sister sites, and takes less than a minute to implement.

Method 4 – Harness Multiple Media

Broadband is common now. Perhaps it was still acceptable to lack significant video content in an online venture ten or even five years ago, but modern broadband connections cost customers less than the first dialup connections, and can channel extraordinary amounts of video and audio.

Given the social nature of Facebook, it’s an appropriate page to include ‘related’ content to your venture that isn’t strictly relevant in the normal sense. Consider a site focused on pet care and related products. Rather than tying in a sales video, post the latest adorable kitten video from one of the many cat websites on the Internet. Tag it with keywords related to your focus by all means, but the key here is to give people additional reasons to visit your site and help drive your numbers.

Method 5 – Learn From the Best

A writer once commented that every good story has already been written – what remains is for the good writer to borrow judiciously. If there is one thing the Internet is good for, it is copious amounts of free information. Take a look at popular Facebook sites and take notes on what they’re doing. You do not exist in a bubble, but rather a network of ideas and interactions. Consider adopting different approaches that others are making work, or putting your own spin on them for even more success. Creativity drives much of the Web, so feel free to experiment.


About the Author:

Enzo F. Cesario is an online branding specialist and co-founder of Brandsplat, a digital content agency. Brandsplat creates blogs, articles, videos and social media in the “voice” of our client’s brand. It makes sites more findable and brands more recognizable. For the free Brandcasting Report go to or visit our blog at

Local Search – Sales Leads

Sales Leads - Local SearchThere is a new trend happening (well not all that new).  I have been hearing about it at my networking events and reading about it on various blogs and recorded webinars.

It is called local search which translates into Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for local companies.

Certainly SEO is not new. Local contractors and business owners have been doing it for years. Depending on the SEO company chosen to do the work the results have been mixed.

If you have been trying to sell a Search Engine Optimization job lately you have probably heard words like….

  • “I have been burned in the past.”
  • “Cost too much.”
  • “No results from my past experiences.”
  • Worked for a while.”
  • “Not cost-effective.”

The list of why not to do a local SEO projects grows longer as more companies enter into the space.

What is new is the number of “PROFESSIONALS” entering this field. As an example Ad Zoo is basically an MLM focusing on local PPC search. They do a great job of getting you to the top of page one by just managing your PPC budget and tying it to a specific geographic location. Now you and I can do this without them but local business people don’t have the time to spend learning these PPC systems and why should they when we could do it.

The newest trend is lead production using organic search. These types of companies are terrific for the local businesses because they only get paid if they produce a local lead! So they assume all of the risk and they spend all of the money needed to get a site listed and maintained on the major search engines. One such company is Atlanta Internet Marketing Company.

Here is a company that either a posts a local website to generate leads for your local business or they will manage your PPC campaign for you.

There is hope for local business owners. This new class of professional lead generators could greatly help your bottom line and increase your sales.

Athletes Use Steroids – Entrepreneurs Use This

Years ago, I saw a seminar where the presenter was saying the only difference between where you are now and where you want to be is knowledge.

His argument was that if Bill Gates lost all his money tomorrow… he could get right back up there again quickly because he had knowledge which people would pay for.

Well, I kind of agree with that.

And I kinda don’t.

Because I know plenty of people who have heaps of knowledge that aren’t raking in the cash because they don’t take the right action and don’t have the right mindset.

I believe knowledge is to entrepreneurs what steroids are to athletes – only it is good for you and has no side effects.

But they both give you an unfair advantage.

Of course, even if an athlete takes steroids, if he doesn’t take action or have the right mindset – he’s not going to win.

So I would say the 3 things successful entrepreneurs have in common (and I’ve met plenty of them ) are…

  • Knowledge
  • Action
  • And mindset
    However today I want to talk about the knowledge problem and how it holds us back.Now there are a few problems which exist in business. And they generally revolve around people… systems and money.Let’s look at people… if you can’t get the right staff, you probably have a knowledge problem in terms of not knowing how to attract them… how to set up systems so you have developed relationships with potential staff members before you need them… how to set your company up as “the place everyone wants to work at” and so on.

    If you can’t get things done because you are always doing $15 an hour work, you have a knowledge problem. And you need to learn how to set up systems so everyone else does this work and you can focus on what you do best. (if you haven’t read Michael Gerber’s E-Myth, I highly recommend it).

    Make sense?

    And it’s the same with money problems.

    If you can’t get more customers, you have a knowledge problem –

    If you can’t get your ads to work, you have a knowledge problem –

    While knowledge may be the total solution. And while there are plenty of people out there with lots of knowledge and little to show for it… if you combine knowledge with action and the right mindset, you have an unbeatable combination.

    So go and learn something 😉

    Scott Bywater

    P.S. Please note, I am not encouraging the use of steroids in any shape or form – simply trying to make a point that in business it’s easy to get an unfair advantage without breaking the rules.


    Scott Bywater is a successful direct response copywriter and heads up Copywriting That Sells, a direct response advertising firm. Want to learn how to get more customers – then get your hands on his popular 17 page ebook “7 ways To Increase Your Turnover… No Matter What The State Of The Economy.” It’s been downloaded by over 8,247 business owners over the past five years and you can get your hands on it now at

    The Art of Working A Room — Networking Skills for Small Business

    Copyright (c) 2010 K. MacKillop

    Mastering the art of effective networking marks the difference between merely successful entrepreneurs and captains of industry – the better you are at networking, the more power you wield. Networking serves many purposes, from building your customer base to providing and receiving needed resources from contacts in the business community, and anyone planning on growing a startup should devote time to sharpening their networking skills.

    For many experienced entrepreneurs, networking events are the most productive way to spend their limited business-social time. For others, entering a room full of people seems overwhelming, especially if they don’t know anyone else there. There are a few simple rules to follow to be successful working the room, and anyone with a little willingness can learn to be a master of networking.

    Begin With the End In Mind

    Before you attend any networking events, plan your objectives. Whether you have a specific business problem you need to address, or you are looking to add three solid business contacts to your network, or you need two new client leads, going in with a plan will make the time you spend networking far more effective. Attending without set objectives is far more likely to result in a lot of time spent with very little payoff.

    As you become more involved in your business community, you will likely find that there are enough networking events to completely fill your calendar. There is no need to attend every event. Some organizations will meet your particular needs better than others. Try out different venues, and evaluate the outcome based on a simple rule – you should obtain at least three new contacts, leads, or pieces of useful information for every hour you spend networking. If you find yourself attending a weekly event with the same people and you are not garnering any new information or leads, consider reducing your attendance to once per month and trying different events to improve your results.

    In addition to setting specific objectives, prepare topics to discuss, knowledge to offer, and questions to ask to keep the conversation going. If there is a specific referral or information that you need, make a note so you don’t forget. Take your planner with you to hold business cards and take notes as needed.

    Working the Room

    Every networking event you attend will fall into one of three categories: you know everyone there, you know a few people, or you don’t know a soul. Each circumstance requires a different approach. If you know everyone, be sure to make contact with them all. Limit your conversations to a few minutes each. If possible, make introductions between professionals you know who have something in common or complementary skills or businesses.

    If you know only a few people in the room, start by catching up with each of them. Ask them who else they know and to introduce you around. Be sure you do the same by introducing the people you know to each other. Be prepared with business cards to exchange and make a habit of giving two to each new contact – one to keep and one to pass on as a referral. When you receive cards from new contacts, take a moment to note any interesting personal or business information about them to add to your contact database. If someone you meet does not have a business card, write down their information in your planner…whatever you do, never let a potentially good contact go to waste.

    If you don’t know anyone at a networking event, start by looking for people standing by themselves. No one likes to be on the outside looking in, and generally these other folks will also be uncomfortable because they don’t know anyone. Once you have chatted for a few minutes, take your new contact with you to meet another loner, and another, until you have a group that everyone else in the room wants to join. Showing that kind of leadership will make you the go-to contact in your business community and will increase the odds of growing your business through referrals.

    If the event you are attending has a “special guest” invited, most attendees will be clamoring for their attention. If the press is present, you should be talking to them. Meeting the state Senator is exciting, but knowing the local business reporter will get you more exposure and, thus, more business. Pay attention to what people are talking about and be just as interested in what you can do for them as in what they can do for you. Set an objective to be the best networking contact in your industry or area, and work every room with that intention in mind.

    What to do (and not to do) at networking events

    Some basic do’s and don’ts of networking events:

    • Do dress one step up from how you expect everyone else to be dressed.
    • Don’t make critical judgments of others based on how they are dressed.
    • Do carry more than enough business cards, at least one pen, and your planner or notepad.
    • Don’t answer calls, texts, or emails while talking with others. If you must use your smartphone, excuse yourself and step outside.
    • Do listen to what other people need and take note – if you can help them, it will improve your reputation as a great contact.
    • Don’t talk too much about personal things, especially if they are negative. Even if you are on the brink of divorce, your kid was suspended from school, and your dog bit the neighbor, nobody in the networking environment needs to know about it. Same goes for medical issues.
    • Do review your notes from the last event and follow up as appropriate.
    • Do not bring up negative issues in front of uninvolved contacts.
    • Do make a point to chat with the bartender and servers – you’d be surprised who they know and who they might end up to be.
    • Don’t drink alcohol. Avoid eating unless absolutely starving. Food in your teeth and garlic breath is not the image you are striving for. If you must eat, take a break and be sure to check yourself in the restroom before getting back to networking. Don’t try to talk to others while they are eating. Seriously, grab an energy bar on the way – why waste limited networking time on a snack?

    Effective networking skills are a powerful tool for entrepreneurs, and the ability to work a room is one of the toughest to master. Use common sense and make a point of evaluating your performance after each networking event. The more self-aware you are, the easier it will be to become the go-to contact in your area and industry.

    About the Author——————————————————————————————————————-

    K. MacKillop, a serial entrepreneur with a J.D. from Duke University, is founder of LaunchX and authors a blog focused on starting a business. It is a complete business startup kit containing everything you need to turn your idea into a successful business. Visit for a free Business Readiness Assessment and get on the road to starting a business today.

    39 Free/Low-Cost Tools for Marketing Your Small Business Online

     Copyright (c) 2010 Stone Reuning
    SEO Advantage

    Thousands of free online marketing tools clamor for attention, with new ones popping up every week it seems. You know you should be doing more to reach out to your customers, but just researching which tools to use can be a vast time investment, even if they don’t require a big financial outlay.

    Here find compiled a list of the most popular (or most useful) low-cost or free small business marketing tools. You might be using some of them already, but you’re sure to find a couple that will round out your small business marketing toolkit nicely. And if you’re just starting out marketing a new business online, this list may help point you in the right direction.


    The Open Directory

    A staple of the SEO crowd, this directory can be tricky to get into but well worth it for the link juice it passes along to your site.

    Yahoo! Directory

    It’s not free – this directory will set you back a couple hundred bucks a year – but it’s well worth it for inclusion.

    Best of the Web Directory

    This directory has been around a while and can pass along some good PageRank to your site.

    Niche directories

    Find the directories in your industry that pass along good link building opportunities. Some examples to get you started: for ad agencies, web developers, printers and other graphics professionals; for small businesses and businesses that serve them; for the accounting industry; for alpaca breeders, and so on.

    Press Release Distribution Services


    The most bang for your buck from an actual wire service, Marketwire’s prices are lower than PR Newswire and Businesswire. This newer service is built for powerful online exposure, and you’ll enjoy the full online distribution with any geographical AP wire distribution. (Sometimes you can get statewide wire distribution for nearly the same cost as only your local metropolitan area.) It’s great for building inbound links – just choose the SEO Enhanced option.


    A good-performing free press release distribution outlet, PRLog press releases rank really well and for a really long time if they are written with SEO copywriting best practices. Press releases include three links, though they are URL based (starting with http) rather than text anchor. PRLog also lets you create your own newsroom where all your press releases reside, as well as an “about us” page and product showcase area.


    A relatively new PR-for-social-media site that promises to let you create and share press releases easily and for free and syndicate content to Google News. Lets you include HTML in your press release, so you can use keyword text anchor links. The site is marketing itself quite aggressively and will likely build a big presence quickly. The only catch is your release will disappear off the site after 30 days if you aren’t a paid member ($50/month for your own press room).

    Email Marketing


    AWeber makes it easy to start building your email marketing list, if you haven’t already. For less than $20/month, you can build unlimited newsletter lists, send unlimited email blasts, and email unlimited autorespond messages to up to 500 subscribers/list. (Then it’s $29/month up to 2500 subscribers.) Also offers a recurring 30% commission – a pretty good affiliate program for a service you’ll appreciate enough to recommend to others. (Disclosure note: the link above is our affiliate link. We’ve been using the service for 3 years now, after trying out Constant Contact and researching about 20 other providers! Most either do autoresponders or email blasts/newsletters – not both.)

    Content Sharing Websites


    Create a lens around your business area. A good one with lots of information will even rank in the search engines and can bring traffic to your web site.


    Share your expert content like white papers and articles. You can make them available for free or sell them. You can submit documents in PowerPoint, Word, PDF and many other file formats.


    Post your presentations and documents online for others to view and share. This is a great way to get exponential exposure for your sales or marketing materials – or share documents privately. See some tips for getting more visibility with SlideShare.


    Does your product or service translate well visually? Use this popular photo sharing site to get more eyeballs.

    A video-sharing alternative to YouTube, lets you embed links in your descriptions and create a TV station showing all your videos in one spot.

    Social Networks


    Create a page for your business. Feed your blog in. Start a group. Get fans. Advertise to targeted users if your products appeal to the Facebook crowd (which is basically everyone nowadays). See using the new Facebook business page layout to learn more. Stop by our page and become a fan, too!


    Take a second look at this medium for social networking. According to MarketingProfs, more than half of users are 35 or older. Explore using MySpace for your business.


    Like a virtual Rolodex. Build your professional profile, link up with other professionals, join groups or even start a group. Participating in Q&A’s related to your profession is a great way to build credibility and visibility.


    Build your own social network around your business. You may even get your network into the search engine results pages. Learn more about using Ning for business.

    Read “Utilize Social Media to Gain Additional Exposure for Your Site” for more information about social networks and how they can drive targeted traffic to your site.

    Social Bookmarking


    Getting your content on the home page of Digg is one way to bump up your web site’s traffic by thousands within minutes. This can result in valuable links to your site. Start with this beginner’s guide to Digg.


    Build friends and send them your articles to rate. More thumbs up will get your article shown to more people outside your network and can result in thousands of visitors every day. Tips for using StumbleUpon.


    Even if your content gets buried on Digg, it can flourish on Reddit – which can be a catalyst for jumping to the home page of other social bookmarking sites. Learn more about the types of topics that do well on Reddit.


    Your own blog –

    Write great content relevant to your business area that people will find useful. Use it to link to deep pages on your site to help them get indexed in the search engines. Build your thought leadership and let your customers get to know your business better. Try WordPress for an easy-to-use platform that’s also search engine friendly.

    Others’ blogs –

    Read and comment on other blogs in your industry. Use your comment signature to link back to your blog or web site. Build relationships online and spread the link love from your own blog to others’.


    Micro-blogging. Update your status daily or a couple times a week. Use keywords in your posts and profile to help gain followers on Twitter quickly. Link to your unique content in your updates and take advantage of the multitude of new applications created to help you manage your Twitter experience.

    Affiliate Marketing

    Post Affiliate Pro

    Traditionally links generated through affiliate marketing have not been helpful for search engine optimization – until Post Affiliate Pro, that is. This easy-to-use affiliate program lets you set up a referral program in minutes and keeps your links simple and search engine friendly.


    Claim your blog at Technorati to make sure it’s indexed in the blog search engines and have your updates broadcast across the network.

    Your Own Web Properties

    Create A Knowledge Center

    Build a content area on your site where you can add articles regularly. This can be as formal as white papers or case studies, but it can also work with less formal articles, as long as they further your company’s thought leadership position and credibility. They will also boost your search engine rankings if you contribute regularly and ensure your site architecture is optimized. See how we’re doing this with SEO Advantage’s new knowledge center.


    People are going to look up user reviews whether on your site or elsewhere – might as well take advantage of the user-generated content for additional search engine visibility. You’ll also rank higher in trust with your efforts at transparency.


    Voting/polling/surveys. A tool of engagement that lets you gauge interest, measure customer satisfaction or just provide some fun. (People love to give their opinions.)

    Awards and Contests

    Enter them and host them. Winning an industry award can add to your credibility, and giving them out can get you lots of press coverage and links. Get creative.

    Search Engine Optimization

    Make sure your site architecture is optimized for maximum exposure in the search engines. Create link-building campaigns. Add to your content regularly. Enlist the services of a search engine optimization company to guide your efforts or handle implementation completely.



    Designate the keywords you’d like to keep track of, and Google will send you alerts of news and pages indexed on those topics “as it happens” with Google News Alerts. You can also enter multiple terms at Google Trends to compare the general level of buzz around those terms.


    An “online magazine rack”, this site aggregates content and organizes it. Select your topics and have the latest content delivered to you, or just browse the site when you’re in research mode. Also, be sure to submit your site so it shows among the related content.


    Find keywords with a more comprehensive tool than free pay-per-click research tools, which may skew results. A free trial will give you an idea of how it works.

    Yahoo! Pipes

    See who’s talking about your company or brand by pulling together RSS feeds from different sources around the Web using the beta Yahoo! Pipes. This handy video shows you how.


    You need to measure all your online marketing efforts. If you’re looking for a free analytics package, try Google Analytics or Yahoo! IndexTools. (Which is better?) However, you’ll probably want some help implementing and interpreting your analytics package to get the most from it – ask your SEO company if they offer this.


    About the Author:

    Stone Reuning is president of SEO Advantage, a search engine optimization company that helps businesses harness the revenue generation potential of their websites. Referenced in books such as “Writing Web-Based Advertising Copy to Get the Sale” and the BusinessWeek bestseller “The New Rules of Marketing and PR”, offers information to help small businesses compete online.

    The Boiling Frog Syndrome

    Copyright (c) 2009-2010 Scott Bywater
    Copywriting That SELLS

    Have you heard the anecdote of the boiling frog?

    If a frog is placed in boiling water, it will jump out right away. However if it is placed in cold water and then slowly heated over a period of time, it will not perceive the danger and will slowly boil to death.

    And I think this is an important metaphor which we can all learn from in our business lives…

    For instance, you may have set out in your business to charge a certain fee for service or achieve a certain objective.

    And then you meet a client who laughed at your lofty ideals… so you dropped them a little.

    And then you found it hard to get customers, so you drop your goals a little more.

    And then the economy gets tough, so you drop your expectations a little more.

    And then it goes around and around in a spiral and you feel as though you are going around in circles.

    Essentially, you have ended up as a boiling frog… your business dying right before your very eyes… but because it has all happened so gradually… you don’t even realize it until you’re a dead frog.

    I’ve seen this happen to many business owners over the years.

    Not knowing what to do… we just sit there and accept things… and because it is gradual… we accept far more pain and frustration than we would have accepted at first.

    You may be in the position above. Or you may have an extremely successful business, but whatever the case I believe everyone, including me, suffers from the boiling frog syndrome at some stage in their business lives.

    To find out if you are suffering from the ‘boiling frog’ dis-ease, reflect back on your business ideals when you started and ask yourself…

    1. Would I have chosen the same clients as I have now when I first began.

    2. Would I been happy earning the money I am now when I first got started in business?

    3. Is what I have now what I set out to create?

    4. Did I set out to work the number of hours I now work for the income I now receive?

    If you answered no to any of the questions above, then it’s time to JUMP out of the boiling water and claim the business you deserve.

    Start charging what you’re worth. Start getting the clients you deserve. Start working more effectively and earning more money with less time. And start earning what you deserve.

    Of course, you need to take action in order to create these sort of breakthroughs.

    Scott Bywater is an income boosting, results focused direct response copywriter and the author of Cashflow Advertising and More Customers Made Easy. His popular ebook “7 ways to get more customers” has been downloaded by over 8,247 business owners over the past five years. You can get your hands on it by heading on over to

    Sales Consulting

    Sales ConsultingI love my job. My mission statement says “…provide immediate sales results…” When I walk into a new business I get a chance to tweak their sales process just enough to do just that.

    I get to make an immediate positive sales impact on their business.

    What make me especially good at my job is my 25+ years of sales, sales training and especially sales management experience. There is rarely a time when I can’t look at a company’s sales process and pick out the areas that can easily be tweaked.

    I was doing just that this week when towards the end of the meeting the business owner was making detailed notes and he was inserting his words into my process. It dawned on me that I wasn’t clear in what I was saying.

    He substituted the word “qualify” for “probing questions.” 

    “Let’s qualify the prospect to make sure they can purchase our product.”

    That’s great and definately needed but that doesn’t mean that they WILL buy your product. That is where the salesmanship comes into play. There is a difference between qualifying questions and probing questions. Qualifying is a fundamental task, probing questions are part of the actual sales process. Just that small tweak, that understanding that there is a difference is why many companies need a sales consultant.

    Business owners and C-level executives get stuck on what they perceive is ultimately important. Typically they are right they need this particular information – HOWEVER that is not the “end-all, be-all” of the conversation.

    Just this small tweak delivered by a Georgia Sales Consultant can make the difference of converting a prospect to a customer:

    “Prospects become customers for their own reasons not yours.”

    I love my job.

    David Peterson – President: Atlanta Sales and Consulting

    Atlanta Sales Consultant / Georgia Sales Consultant