All posts by Rich Thurman

Software for Webinars

T

here is a lot of software to choose from when it comes to conducting webinars. Before you look at the products, write down the features you want the software you use to have, as well as how much money you can afford to spend on the technology that you choose.

Using this software for your webinars is a great choice because it's not expensive. And it has a lot of features that make marketing easier, such as automatic recordings and playbacks so you can record a webinar once and resell it over and over again. They offer a $1.00 trial for a week. Check them out here:  https://smallbusinesscommunity.org/go/instant-teleseminar/

GoToMeeting

This webinar software is a little more expensive but it has the ability to set up webinars easily as well as charge for attending the webinars. It offers top-notch professional features that enable you to run truly professional conferences. However, the space can be more limited without paying a lot more money. Check them out here: http://www.gotomeeting.com/

Zoom.US

We use Zoom exclusively for Webinars and recommend that our clients do the same.  They are priced right and allow you very cool functions like integration with Facebook Live.  Check them out here:  https://smallbusinesscommunity.org/go/zoom/

Adobe Connect

With different plans up to 500 attendees, whiteboards, screen sharing, easy recording capabilities, and a relatively low price compared to other similar services, this is a winning choice for pretty much anyone who wants to do webinars. Check them out here:
http://www.adobe.com/products/adobeconnect.html

Anymeeting

This free service offers the ability to conduct webinars without having to spend a future. You can upgrade to get more features. Their screen sharing lacks some bells and whistles and the host has to download to use it, but it is sufficient. Check them out here: http://www.anymeeting.com/

ClickWebinar

This very modifiable service allows you to set up webinars that don't look too cookie cutter. But, it's harder to monetize this software than some of the others; however, there are always ways to work around it. Check them out here: http://www.clickwebinar.com/

These various software choices come with many differing benefits and price points. Most of them have a free trial version that you can test out. The best software in the world isn't good enough if you cannot figure out how to use it comfortably.

Common Webinar Mistakes

I

t may help you to know some of the most common webinar mistakes made. You want to avoid making too many mistakes but don’t allow fear of mistakes to stop you from going forward with planning and hosting a webinar. Webinars are an excellent way to get qualified leads, build expertise, and develop buzz about your business.

Not Practicing

It's important to practice your presentation as well as handing off the mic/controls to others who might participate. Understanding how everything works before the big event will make everything go more smoothly.

Lack of Preparation

In addition to practicing, it's important to prepare for your event. Make sure that your microphone works; ensure that you have a quiet space. Get your presentation ready, and study up on any questions that people might ask so you're ready with some answers.

Not Setting Up Landing Pages

When you're serious about selling something or providing information about anything, it's important that you care enough to make a sales page or landing page for it. Its the best way to get more conversions.

Skimping on Professional Assistance

You can't do everything yourself at all times. Sometimes you are good at one aspect of webinars but not others. Why not outsource some of it to other people so that you can focus on what you know best.

Setting Too Broad of a Topic

You want to narrow down your topic to a very small area, because you do not want to overwhelm your listeners. The viewers will shut down when you throw too much information at them. Plus, a narrow topic is easier to market and you can be more assured of attracting your target audience.

Not Understanding What Your Audience Needs

Your job is to solve your customers' problems. You can't do that if you don't know who they are and what they need. When you focus on problem solving, you will come up with a better topic.

Failing to Market Your Webinar

There is just no such thing as "build it and they will come." You really must do something to get the word out. Use social media, blog posts, articles, guest articles, a blog tour and whatever else you can use to get the word out.

Forgetting to Test Out Technology

Even though issues may happen no matter how much testing you do, test it out anyway. The more tests you conduct, the more likely things are to go smoothly. You cannot ever know for sure how the webinar will go, but testing helps make you more comfortable.

Not Having a Webinar

The biggest mistake that you can possibly make is not having a webinar. Once you do it a couple of times, you'll be hooked. They can be as small and cozy or as large as you want them to be. You can have them often or rarely; it's totally up to you.

You're going to make mistakes sometimes. But there is no reason to reinvent the wheel when it comes to webinars. Someone has had a webinar before you, and they have perfected the best way to do them. Find a template and start planning for your success today.

Common Online Marketing Mistakes

W

hen it comes to online marketing, everyone starts off thinking they know how to do it. But, the truth is, online marketing is not very different from other types of marketing. The tool is different, but the way you go about it really isn’t. You still need to understand who your audience is, what your product or service is, and know how to explain to your audience why it will solve their problems and why you are the one to offer it.

The following mistakes can lead to problems with getting more business.

Not Sticking to One Brand

Don't try to be someone different online than you are offline. Don't try to recreate your brand for every social media network. Keep the same brand image, slightly changed up for each network's platform and features, but keeping the same colors, values, and ideals as you have on your website. You want your customers to know who you are, no matter where they connect with you.

Not Watching Your Competitors

You don't want to copy your competitors, but watching them will help you stay one step ahead of them. It might even alert you to some cosmic change in the marketplace if you are paying attention. Be aware of what type of products and/or services your competition provides and be ready to do them one better.

Not Having a Goal

It's imperative that for each type of marketing you do, you have a goal in mind. Whether it's content marketing, pay-per-click marketing, or social media marketing, having a goal to reach will help you know whether or not you've accomplished your mission. Plus it will help you know how to move forward.

Not Having a Domain Name

Not only should you have a domain name, but you should also have an email @yourdomainname if you want to be taken seriously as a business owner. You can easily set up your own email address with your webhost provider, sometimes at no additional charge.

Not Having Diverse and Regular Content

It's no longer enough to simply put up 500-word blog posts and expect to get a loyal following. Today you need longer blog posts, video, podcasts, infographics, memes and more to ensure that you are reaching all parts of your audience. Everyone learns differently, and it's your job to educate them in the way they learn best.

Not Having an Email List

It's surprising how many business owners there are who don't realize the importance of building an email list for successful online marketing. But it's true; some people don't build an email list, and they should.

Not Having Well-Written Content

You can't just slap anything up and expect it to be successful when it comes to content marketing. You need original, unique content that speaks directly to your audience. In addition, you need curated content from other experts which you comment on.

Not Focusing on Benefits over Features

It's tempting to discuss all the features of your product or service instead of the benefits. All marketing messages, even on your "about us" page, need to be focused on your client and how your products or services benefit them. That can be difficult to wrap your brain around sometimes, but it is imperative in order to get more conversions.

Don't make these mistakes with your online marketing. If you really want to be successful at online marketing, learn from those who have gone before you, and do not try to reinvent the wheel.

Choosing the Right Business Entity

W

hen you start up your business you’ll want to figure out your tax-related business identity. There are a few choices depending on where you live. In the USA you can choose to be a sole proprietor, partnership, a limited liability corporation (LLC) or a corporation. Each has different rules, regulations and tax consequences. It will depend on your individual business and what works best for you.

Some types of businesses are required to be in a certain category, but a large share of businesses can run as sole proprietors or LLCs easily.

Sole Proprietor

This type of business set-up means that there is just one owner who is totally responsible for everything. It's the easiest way to start a business, and how most people get started as long as they're not in a category that requires another entity.

One problem with this type of business is that if something goes wrong and a customer or other person is harmed in some way and brings a lawsuit, they can win your personal funds and even take your home. Taxes are easy in the USA with the schedule C on personal income taxes.

Partnership

If you are running a business with another person, then you may want to form a partnership. You don't have to in order to run a business with someone else, but it can offer another level of protection for both parties in the event of a disagreement or even a lawsuit. Income taxes are simple and somewhat like the schedule C reporting, with an additional information return filed. This type of business can be difficult at times, but it's just as easy to set up as a sole proprietorship.

Limited Liability Corporation

Many people like to form LLCs because they have the opportunity to file taxes as a partnership, corporation, or even as a sole proprietorship. The LLC is mostly just to protect individual business owners from personal liability if something goes wrong and a lawsuit happens, or if the business goes under.

Corporation

There are many types of corporations such as an S Corp and an INC. These are the most expensive types of entities to form, and have many requirements such as having a board, separate taxes for the business and owners, and other issues. You'll definitely need to work with a CPA and perhaps a corporate lawyer to help you form a corporation and keep compliant with the laws.

The business entity that you choose will make a difference in how you file income taxes and run your business on a daily basis. You'll need to speak to a financial expert such as a CPA to help you determine which entity is best for you.

Why You Need a Business Vision

T

here is a saying that goes like this: “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” When running a business, if you skip steps because you think they don’t matter (because you just have a “small” business or a “sole proprietorship” and it’s just you), then you’re not going to be able to build a sustainable business that will provide the security and future that you desire. A business vision allows you to think big in terms of your dreams, but to also think big in terms of how you can reach those dreams.

While your first goal is likely to turn a profit, there are other things that are important to care about too. Any successful project actually starts with the end in mind. Even if you build houses for a living, the thing you should concern yourself with is the end result of the livable house, not the first nail you hammer. Without a clear picture of the end result, you won’t even know where to put that first nail.

Therefore, starting with the end in mind will help you create a business that is successful because you’ll know where you’re going.

Helps You Create a Sustainable Business

If you have a vision, you can have a long-term business that grows and evolves as time moves forward.

Creates a Business Not a Job

If you really want a business that lasts longer than week to week and month to month, you need a vision.

Helps You Develop a Growing Business

If you want your vision to grow, you will need to know where you’re going so that you can create a plan to get there.

Allows You to Live Your Passions and Do What You Love

While the first thing a business wants may be to earn a profit, the first thing most people want is to live a happy life doing what they love. By creating a business vision you can do both.

Knowing Your Vision Helps You Choose Like-Minded Contractors

If you know what you stand for, you can tell those you interview for positions so that you can ensure that together your visions align.

Your Vision Signifies to Others What You Stand For

Your business vision will let customers, contractors and employees know what you stand for, above money, well into the future.

Your Vision Helps You Know Your Exit Plan

A sustainable business always needs an exit plan. After all, someday you will want to retire, and having a vision can assist with ensure that comes true.

Your Vision Helps You Create Systems

Knowing the end point in mind, you can work your way back to today and create a system to reach your goals.

Your Vision Helps You Market to Your Audience

If you know where you’re going, and why you’re going there, and who your market is, you’ll be able to create more targeted marketing messages.

Helps Your Offerings Become More Unique

Your business vision enables you to create unique offerings throughout your product funnel, ultimately leading to the big dream vision you have for your business.

It should be clear that having a business vision isn’t optional if you want to be successful. Don’t fail to plan; instead, develop your business vision to align with your beliefs, values, and goals so that you can accomplish your dreams.

Nine Common Video Marketing Mistakes

A

s you embark on making videos for your audience, be sure to avoid making these mistakes. Some of them might seem advanced in nature, but if you start off right, you won’t have to reorganize or go back and edit anything. You’ll be glad that you did things right too, from the start.

Not Being Concerned with SEO

When publishing videos, the point is to market your business. But, you cannot ignore the details like creating a keyword-rich title and tags. Plus, it's imperative to put it in the right categories and provide a full description of the video, so that viewers know what to watch and why it's relevant to them.

Not Linking Out to Your Website

Not only should you link out to your website but you should also consider making special landing pages for your YouTube viewers to come to. You may even want to make a special landing page for a specific video, to help your audience make good choices when it comes to buying your products and services.

Not Targeting Your Audience Appropriately

When you make any one video, you need to know exactly who it is directed toward. This is where creating individual audience profiles will help. If you know which member of your audience you're talking to, you'll be able to direct every word of your video to the better.

Not Giving Thought to the Thumbnail You Choose

YouTube lets you chose a thumbnail that best represents the content of the video. You want to choose one that gets people's attention, and you should be thinking of this before you even create the video. What thumbnail will get the most attention from the right audience?

Not Including Strong CTAs

A call to action is one of the most important aspects of any marketing that you do. Whether it's a blog post or a video, you need to include a call to action such as subscribe, give me a thumbs up, or go to my website. It needs to be something you say to your listeners to move them toward the next step.

Not Including Closed Captions

The reason you want to add closed captions is because some people who are deaf like watching videos too, and also because the captions will help with social media. Here is a video that explains how to create them. You probably do not want to use YouTube's automation until it is perfected:

Not Allowing Comments

The worst thing you can do is to create a video that gets a lot of comments, become overwhelmed and then turn them off. Social media is meant to be social, so you need to not only allow comments but also to encourage them. Then take the time to respond to each comment too.

Not Creating Playlists

Playlists allow you to create a "greatest hits" list so that your audience can know what to watch on various topics. This will also help your videos rank higher and get more views. Just go to uploads, select some videos, then click playlists, and create a new playlist.

Not Promoting Your Own Videos

It's important to take the time to promote your videos as well. Share on your own social media networks, providing a fresh blurb for each share, and then ask your friends and family to share. Don't forget to embed the video on your website, and send out an announcement that you've uploaded a new video to your newsletter subscribers.

Finally, another big mistake is not putting up videos on a regular basis. Making videos can take a long time when you are doing it right, but putting up more videos more often will pay off big time with more views, more engagement and more sales.

How to Position Yourself as an Expert

O

ne of the best ways to improve your value is to become an expert. Positioning yourself as an expert requires knowledge, skill and perseverance. If you don’t have those things right now, you can develop them as you move to position yourself as an expert. So don’t worry if you’re not there yet; you can get there.

Determine Who Your Audience Is

Knowing who you want to work with and help is very important, because you will be able to create better services, products, information and education for them if you know who they are.

Decide upon a Niche

Once you know your audience you can narrow down your focus to one problem your audience has. That is your niche. If you can solve a major problem that your audience has, you're golden.

Develop Your Brand

Once you figure out who your audience is, and what your niche is, you can start developing a brand. Is the brand going to be you, or is the brand going to be the solution? One will always require your presence, and another might be salable. It's up to you.

Get a Professional Website Created

You can't present yourself as an expert with an amateurish website. It needs to be professional, and unless your expertise is web design it's not likely you can do this for yourself. The words on the site, the design of the site, the images on the site, all need to be created by individual experts.

Set Up Your Social Media Profiles

As you brand yourself, you'll need to set up each of your social media profiles so that your brand works throughout the internet. While each social media site has its own personality, yours should show through.

Start Blogging and Getting Your Ideas Out There

Even as your website is being perfected, you can blog to show your expertise. Write your blogs directly to your audience to educate them about their problems so that you can start offering your solutions.

Write White Papers

A white paper is a good intro to organizing information to educate your audience about their problems and your solutions.

Make Videos

Creating "how to" and informational videos and posting them on YouTube is a great way to position yourself as more of an expert.

Write eBooks

As you gather more material, you'll eventually have enough to put together an eBook without too much work.

Publish on Kindle

You can publish your book and sell it via Kindle free. It's a great way to get new customers.

Consider Publishing a Paper Book

Once you've successfully published a Kindle book, you might want to take it a step further as you get a large following and publish a paper book. You can do this with print on demand via CreateSpace.com and Amazon.

Go to Live and Online Events

Networking at live and online events will help you get used to the idea of being at these events so that eventually you can present at them. It will also help you build relationships.

Present at Live and Online Events

With your books you have a platform for your message, and you can now take that and speak at live events, both online and offline.

Get Active on Social Media

Don't just set up social media profiles and be invisible. You want to participate, share your knowledge and connect with others so you can build relationships.

Get on a Speaker's List or Two

Contact different groups and offer speaking services to them. Create a "one sheet" with the information about the types of talks you give.

Keep Going

Don't stop; keep going. Each thing that you do will build on the next thing, and before you know it you're positioned as an expert and the sky is the limit.

Becoming an expert is a process. At first you will feel as if you'll never make it, but everything you do builds on the next thing and eventually it will snowball to true success. Once it happens, part of you will feel as if it happened overnight, but in truth everything you did above built on the next thing and finally people started seeing you as an expert.

What Constitutes a Fruitful Task?

W

hen people start their own business they often think it’s going to be all dollars and doughnuts, not realizing that it’s also work. To produce dollars to buy doughnuts, productive billable work will need to be accomplished, or sellable products will have to be made and sold. In business there are tasks that produce results and some that are out-and-out wastes of time.

But, how do you know when something is a fruitful task and something is just a time waster?

There are a few major ways business owners waste time:

Busy Work

Many business owners spend a lot of time doing things that feel like work, but aren’t really productive. How many times can you edit and rewrite that blog post? How many times can you redo your website, or scour social media before you realize it’s not productive?

Social Media

It’s a great way to market your business but it can be distracting, so you need to time yourself and have a specific task in mind before getting on social media during work hours. Create a list of actions that you will take and stick to those and nothing else.

Email Checking

You need a business email and a personal email. Check your personal email only off business hours, and check your work email at specific intervals throughout the day with specific actions in mind. For instance, don’t read all those newsletters you signed up for every time; set aside a specific time for that.

Phone Calls

Meetings and phone calls seem productive, but are they really? They are if you have an agenda and stick to the agenda and don’t waiver off into other territory and just start chatting mindlessly. If you’re not good at doing that, try to eliminate as many phone calls and meetings as possible by using project management software.

Outside Distractions

The TV, email notification beeping, friends calling and so forth are all distractions that you can reduce or eliminate during work hours if you make it your goal. If your goal is to earn money, just ask yourself before you do anything, “Is this task getting me closer to my goal?” If the answer is no, stop doing it.

Ask yourself the following questions before doing any activity:

  • Is this activity planned and scheduled?
  • Is the project defined with a deadline?
  • Is the activity goal producing?

If you can answer yes to the above questions, then it may be a good task to keep doing and not a time waster. However, if you can answer no to the following questions, the activity is likely not fruitful and is a time waster.

  • If you stop doing this activity will it affect your business?
  • Is this activity billable?
  • Will this activity produce income?

The great thing is that you can choose not to waste time; once you have identified actual time wasters, you can seek to eliminate them from your day. Once you accept that some of what you’re doing is just busy work and not actually work that will move you toward your end goal of producing income, you’ll be able to stay on track.

Top Apps to Help You Run Your Business Lean and Mean

W

hen it comes to running a lean business, the name of the game is efficiency. You want to use apps that increase your efficiency and help you do more in less time.

PayPal

This is a no-brainer today, as many people like paying for their online purchases via PayPal. There are other online payment processors and certainly you need more than one, but PayPal is going to be the one most people choose to use.

Link - https://www.paypal.com/

Go Daddy Bookkeeping

This is single entry bookkeeping that helps you keep track of income and expenses automatically. It connects with FreshBooks, PayPal and your bank to help eliminate data entry issues.

Link - https://bookkeeping.godaddy.com/

FreshBooks

This is an invoicing system with some project management, budgeting, and accounting features. You can use it with many other types of bookkeeping apps like Go Daddy Bookkeeping, but also with some others that you might like. It offers time tracking and the ability to manage a team's work.

Link - http://www.freshbooks.com/

Basecamp

This is project management software that is low cost, and people love it. It helps arrange tasks, reminders, and more. Your clients can sign in too, or you can just use it to manage a team of contractors.

Link - https://basecamp.com/

TeamworkPM

This is another project management tool to use that will do all the things Basecamp does. It is more designed for working with teams and clients who don't like signing on to anything and prefer using email.

Link - https://www.teamwork.com/

Microsoft Office 365

Using MS Office is almost essential when working from home. Although you can use some free services like OpenOffice.org, MS Office is still the main one that most people use. And you'll need it. Instead of buying the software outright you can use the online service for a monthly fee. What's wonderful about that is that you do not have to worry about updates.

Link - https://products.office.com/

Dropbox.com

This is a file sharing and storing solution that works great with your clients and team. It's not expensive and they even have a free version. They have also developed a project business version.

Link - https://dropbox.com/

Evernote

This is free software that enables you to keep track of notes from the web, voice, photos, and more, even handwritten notes. This is great for planning and organizing new products and services.

Link - https://evernote.com/

Hootsuite

If you manage social media for others, or yourself, using a service that allows you to automate some issues will cut down on the time that you use for doing things.

Link - https://hootsuite.com/

Zendesk

If you have a lot of customer service issues, this is a great way to set up a ticketing system. Ticketing systems will save you a lot of time and effort.

Link - https://www.zendesk.com/

Mozy

This is a backup system that will save you from disaster. Saving on an external drive is not good enough; it's safer and better to save your computer's files in the cloud. Then if you lose your entire home, computer, external drive and all, your work is safe.

Link - https://mozy.com/

WordPress.org

Starting a website with WordPress.org self-hosted website is very important. And, outside of special platforms like membership sites (for example the New Rainmaker platform) and personalized websites, it's free.

Link - https://wordpress.org/

AWeber

Whether you use AWeber or another autoresponder service is not as important as actually using one. The time you can save, plus the ability to easily stay lawful in your communications with others, is amazing.

Link - http://www.aweber.com/

You don't need every one of these apps to run a lean business as some of them do the same thing. Choose which apps work best for your niche and the way you have designed your work flow. Remember that the more efficient you can become using apps, the leaner your business can become.

Structure of Successful Facebook Ad Campaigns

T

o create a successful Facebook ad campaign, it’s important to follow some sort of structure so that you will not miss anything important. Remember that even experienced pilots use a checklist to ensure that they do not forget anything that is necessary. You aren’t in charge of 300 souls, but you still want to use a checklist to ensure that you don’t miss out on anything.

Define Your USP

A unique selling point or a unique selling proposition is what makes you different from others who may be in the same market as you. It's important that you define this for yourself.

Know Who Your Audience Is

Who wants what you have to offer? Who needs your solutions? You need to know so that you can properly segment your audience, not to mention create better products and services.

Pick Representative Images

When choosing images it's important to choose some that get attention but also are representative of the tone, image, and market you want to represent.

Develop Ad Titles

Write different advertisement titles based on the audience you want to attract. You may have several sub-segments of your audience that will respond to titles in different ways. 

Write the Ad Copy

Based on your USP, the titles, your goals and images, write the ad copy that you want your audience to click on. You may need to hire a copywriter due to the fact that space is limited and you want it to be set up right.

Make Different Combos

When you make your advertisements it's important to make various combinations of ads. You don't want to run just one type of ad; you want to choose different combinations so that you can see what works best.

Segment Your Audience

The segments you choose will dive deep into the different audiences that you have, and also help you better define your audience. You can segment by age, targeted groups, locations, and even specific people.

Determine Which Formats

You can choose marketplace ads, post ads, sponsored stories, and also Facebook objects. These types of ads offer different benefits determined by your goals, so the type of ad you choose will be very much dependent on what your goals are.

Choose Bidding Strategy

Whether you choose PPC or CPM will make a difference. When you're new it is recommended that you choose CPM to maximize your budget and get a better ROI.

Set Your Budget

How much are you willing to pay based on your bidding strategy? You can set up a daily budget which you can easily pause and restart as you check the results.

Test Everything

You cannot be sure if your campaigns are working if you aren't testing everything.

It is imperative to structure your ad campaigns so that they fit in with what you're blogging about and talking about on social media, and that align with where you are and what you're doing right now in your business.

1 2 3 9
>