Cose Small Business Conference

Wednesday, October 19 and Thursday, October 20, 2011

The sixth annual COSE Small Business Conference, is a two-day, first-class conference experience packed with educational workshops, national keynote speakers, a business-to-business trade show and effective networking opportunities.

As a small business owner, your time is incredibly valuable. That’s why COSE designed the conference to fit your busy schedule. Each workshop is carefully selected to deliver immediate, practical tools and information that can be applied to your business right away. So whether you attend for an hour, a day or both days, you’re sure to leave with
valuable new strategies to enhance your business’s success.

101 Tips for Using Your Website and Other Online Tools to Market Your Business

The internet is quickly becoming the #1 way people gather information. If  your internet presence is lacking, you may be missing out. We will discuss messaging, using your website, and other internet marketing tools like search engines, social media, PPCs, and directories. We will also give you an overview of what type of costs you can expect, where to save, and where to spend.

Natalie Morris
Morris MC, Ltd.

Oops! How time flies!

I am sure all of you have experienced the same problem as me. My plan says I need to write a blog every Monday, and send out a post on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter letting everyone in my network know I have completed by blog.

The problem, oops it has been almost 2 months since my last post!

Now I have a ton of excuses, working on other projects, clients come first, family emergencies, lack of hours in my day. But the truth of the matter is for some reason I just don’t see it as a high priority for me. Which is completely insane for a few reasons.

1. I am a social media expert – so people expect to see my social media online
2. I have been able unequivocally track new clients to my social media presence

So I know people are looking for me, and I know it works so why is it not one of my top priorities?

So the question is how can I motivate myself to do something I am not motivated to do?

So I am going to try a few motivational techniques on myself and see if they work. Over the next few weeks I will let you know what does, and what does not work for me.

Have a terrific day,

Internet Marketing – What the heck does that mean?

The world of marketing has changed dramatically over the past 10 years. Part of that change was adding Internet Marketing to the mix.

When the web really got going as a Marketing venue it was treated almost identical to any other marketing venue.

  • Determine who you market is – in a very broad sense
  • Sell your products and services
  • Wait

Now with the onset on Social Media, this formula doesn’t work the same way. In some ways it’s much better, in others it’s much worse.

How it’s better:

  • Small and medium-sized companies can enter into the marketing pool
  • Local businesses can easily reach global audiences
  • Customers can communicate directly with companies
  • Changes can be made instantaneous
  • Target audiences can be very specific

How it’s worse:

  • Large companies that had market dominance now need to share
  • It’s easy to shop price from your home
  • You need someone to be watching conversation about your company constantly
  • People expect an immediate response

So what is Internet Marketing? In a nutshell it’s coming up with a comprehensive plan that takes into account:

  • Website
  • Pay Per Click
  • Natural Listings
  • Social Media

Each one of these areas needs to be handled specifically for that particular media. For example it’s ok to “sell” your product on your website, but it is not ok to “sell” your product on social media.

Also each item above may have multiple venues, for example your Social Media Campaign may include LinkedIn, a Blog, You-Tube, and Google Places. Similarly the Natural Listing may include your website, a blog, directories, and Google Places. As you can see items may overlap into other areas. Blogs will appear both in natural listing and are considered a Social Media venue.

A good internet marketing plan takes into account all internet venues and ensures they work together.  A blog that does not link back to your website, or to your You-Tube account is not going to be as productive as one that does.

More on this topic to come!

Q & A – Social Media tricks of the trade

What are some tricks of the trade business owners can use to optimize their Social Media efforts?

Social Media Leaps is a great resource! If you have the time to learn how to do things, and you have the patience to figure it out, all you need to do is go there.

There are a ton of tutorials out there that can walk you through pretty much anything. However spending a little money having someone who already knows all the tricks to set it up for you may be well worth your time and money. Be sure to think, how will people find me (or my page/group/etc) what terms would they be looking for, what else would your target audience be searching for? For example if you are a moving company, would you visitors be looking for real-estate advice, or packing instructions. Use that knowledge to write using keyword rich content. Fill your profile with keywords that will help someone find you.

What do you do to make it easier? 

For updates I want to appear throughout the week or the month, I use HootSuite. This tool allows me to take an hour of my time and get my updates done for the week and choose which Social Media venue it goes to. There are a lot of other features it offers, like allowing you to follow groups etc. but I don’t take advantage of that.

What tools and tricks don’t work?

I tried tweet glide but never felt comfortable using it. However it has evolved since the last time I used it. Also, I had gotten too dependent on HootSuite, I stopped using the different social media tools, I lost contact with what people were doing, what they were interested in, what was going on in their lives.

What do businesses do that doesn’t work?

They don’t plan. They think they can just jump in. It doesn’t work, they end up wasting more time than they have and get no return.

They treat Social Media like any other “media” it’s not, in fact it’s not really social media, that’s a deceptive term, it’s really “virtual networking”.

If you went to a networking event a week early, placed your business cards on a couple of tables and then waited to get called you would be waiting a long time. Social Media is the same way. If you don’t put the effort into meeting and greeting you will never form the relationships you are looking for. This doesn’t have to be a full-time job, but you do have to be sincere in wanting to build relationships. There is really nothing out there that is unique anymore, you may be brilliant in your field, but there’s probably someone writing a free blog that explains in-depth exactly what you do. The world is swinging back to personal relationships, we have realized the tech in Indonesia isn’t going to provide the same service as the guy down the street.

Share information with people, help them if you can, be friendly, be personable, build relationships.

Q & A – How Can Google Alerts Help Me?

GoogleGoogle Alerts are a great free tool provided by the all-powerful Google.

There are quite a few ways that Google Alerts can help you:

  • You can keep tabs on what people are saying about your products or services
  • You can see what people are saying about you
  • You can see what people are saying about your people
  • And even what your people are saying about you, your products, or your services
  • You can see what people are saying about your competitors
  • You can see what your competitors are saying
  • You can see what people are saying about your industry

But I don’t use social media, so why would I need Google Alerts?

Even if you are not “into” the whole social media thing, that doesn’t mean others aren’t talking about you in social media. Google Alerts gives you the ability to see what people are saying without having to be part of the “fad”. Of course, if you are not engaged in the internet, and a group of people are saying something about you, what are you planning on doing? If you do not participate in social media, and your products and services are getting bad reviews from people who are, what do you plan on doing? Even if you decide to take a traditional route, it’s important that you have a plan.

So I know what Alerts does, how can that help me?

If you know what people are talking about, what they like, dislike, and want then you can use that information to benefit your. If people are writing a blog about how poorly their widgets work, how long will it take before people stop buying widgets and find an alternative solution? If you sell widgNuts but people really want WidgMuts and it’s easy for you to transfer over to a WidgMut maker then why would you continue making WidgeNuts. Google Alerts let you know what people are talking about now. What they want now.

How do I decide what to use in my Google Alerts?

Honestly my best recommendation is to test, measure, and retry.  There are many keywords that are to concise to be helpful, and many that are too broad. I recommend starting with 10-20 key phrases. let them run for a week or two. review them, if you are getting hundreds of hits per day, then they are too broad, if you are only getting one hit a week or less it may be too narrow, or it may be that people are only talking a little bit.

Take your broad words, read some of the alerts and see if you can create more specific search terms from that. Set up the new terms and in a week or so re-evaluate them. After a while you will find a number of key phrases that provide you with information you can use.

Have  a terrific day,

New Year’s Resolutions

It’s funny, for years I thought New Years Resolutions were a waste of time, thought, and effort. I mean really what do they really change.

  • I want to lose 20 lbs, not gonna happen
  • I want to make a million dollars, not gonna happen
  • I want to save the world, not gonna happen

So when I was young, all the resolutions I made, were on the top of my mind for, oh about 2 weeks. By the end of three weeks, I had gained 2 lbs, needed to get $800 worth of repairs done on my car, and another war broke out. So I’d quite, or even worse, just forget about it. Not even make the commitment to quite.

But as I have gotten older I have realized that if taken seriously New Years Resolutions really can work. And if you really put the effort into planning them, they can really change your world!

The trick: or I guess the tricks that work for me:

  • Planning.
  • Having attainable goals.
  • Setting time limits.
  • Managing your progress.
  • Not giving up.
  • Being held accountable.

So what are my resolutions this year? Honestly I’m not really sure yet. My husband and I talked about it for a little while but we didn’t have the time to sit down and really figure out what we want or what the plan is. So right now the plan is to plan, probably tonight over dinner.

We will also do a vision board, although this year mine’s going to be a little different, instead of one great big one, I will do multiple little ones that focus on specific areas of my life.

  • Business last year my goal was to make my business profitable – I succeeded
    And to do public speaking – I succeeded
  • Personal last year I wanted to make more time for me – I succeeded 
  • Spiritual last year I wanted to connect more with nature and the universe – I feel I have succeeded greatly!
  • Health last year I wanted to become a life time WeightWatchers member – I succeeded
  • Fashion last year my goal was to portray a professional image – I succeeded

So this year I will modify them and make my life even better!

Have a happy and successful 2011!


Making the Time

So if you are a small business owner, or if you are in charge of a department, a project, or for that matter, if you are managing anyone while still responsible for your own work you probably have this problem. Just not enough time.

If you are managing people, bringing people onboard can be much more of a time waster than saver… Ok I can’t say waste, because if done properly the person you bring on will be able to provide you will more free time. But in the beginning it can seem pointless. “I need more time… I will hire someone to take over some of my responsibilities… BUT – If I hire someone, I need to train them, which will take more time than just doing it myself!” So what do you do?

Well the best way to set yourself and your new hire up for success it be sure things are well-defined in what you need them to do. A good start is when you work on a project or task you want them to take over, even before you hire them, write down in as much detail as possible what you do to get the task done properly. Of course there will always be exceptions but if you get the majority clarified then the majority of the tasks will run smoothly. You may need to deal with exceptions, or you may be able to describe making correct decisions.

Exceptions: So what is the thought process you go through when faced with an exception?

A customer hires you for your services, but half way through the project he wants to change the scope. What do you do?

  • Determine if it is a big change or little change
  • Determine if it will cost the company more or less to implement
  • Determine if you have the resources available
  • Determine what it will do to the timeline

From there you can put parameters in place.

  • Small Change: If the scope change does not effect the timeline by more than 24 hours, we have the resources available, and it will not cost the company more than 2 hrs of services rendered than the change can be approved.
  • Medium Change: If the scope affects the time line by less than  2 weeks hours, the resources are available, and it will cost the company less than 15 hours of services the scope change will be calculated and a scope quote will be provided for approval to the client.
  • Large change: If the scope affects the timeline by more than 2 weeks, the resources are NOT available, and/or it will cost the company more than 15 hours of services the entire project must be requoted.

Having this information available to a new hire will make his or her life easier as well as giving you more time to get your projects done.

Warm regards,