Does Your Small Business have Local Internet Strategy

Sponsored Post (Brought to you by RevLocal)

Here is a quick question for you. Let’s say you are looking for a restaurant to go out for evening dinner with your friends or family. Where would you turn to find out? In the old days your answer would have been Yellow Pages (remember those thick books you used to keep?). Not anymore. These days more and more people are turning to web sites such as Google Places and Bing Local to uncover local businesses. These Online business listings, along with review sites such as Yelp, are becoming the new “Yellow Pages” of the Internet age.
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SohoOS Provides Free Tools for Small Business Owners

Those who are regular readers of this blog know that I am a big supporter of small businesses many of whom feel that they are at a disadvantage when competing with large corporations. I firmly believe that not only can small businesses compete with their larger rivals,but can beat them at their own game. We showed some of the techniques you can use to beat large competitors in earlier post.
In my view large corporations gain advantage against smaller rivals with economies of scale and having better access to capital and business tools. However, the Internet is changing the playing field in favor of small business owners. SohoOS is one promising start-up that aims to level the playing field in the area of business tools. SohoOS shares our vision of helping small business owners effectively compete with and beat their larger rivals who hold unfair advantage.
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Create Great Looking Online Retail Store in a Flash with Goodsie

Do you want to start an online retail store, but are always afraid of effort and money required to do so? I have come across a cheap and elegant solution that has the potential to help you with it.  The solution comes from a start-up called Goodsie. I checked out their web site and was very impressed with its functionality and ease of use. You do not need to have computer programming knowledge to use this software, which is a great relief to many of us who do not have that skill or don’t want to deal with that hassle.

While online retail stores have been around for some time, small business owners have been at a disadvantage against their larger rivals due to their lack of skills and money required to build and run online retailing. You can use Amazon or eBay, but you are likely to be drowned out amongst thousands of businesses who are jockeying for the top position. That is why I strongly believe in having your own online store with a unique identity that you can control. Goodsie lets you do that easily.
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Coming Revolution in POS and Credit Card Processing Systems

Rejoice, Small Business Owners!! There is a revolution underway in the way small businesses process credit card transactions and use Point of Sale (POS) systems. This is going to help small business owners in a big way by leveling the playing field with large competitors. We have always maintained that it is possible for small business owners to beat their larger rivals by finding a niche and focusing on customer service. Now, you are getting extra help in other areas where large businesses used to have an edge. A company called Square has introduced a portable credit card device that can process credit card transactions on-the-go with just a mobile phone. Last week, they took it one step further and introduced a free POS app on iPad that will modernize the point-of-sales system for small business owners. According to Square, this new app replicates and enhances the features of cash register systems, such as order taking, inventory management and customer data analysis significantly.
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7-Step Action Plan to Deal with Negative Publicity on Social Media

For small business owners dealing with social media is equivalent to a relationship with a spouse or girlfriend. You cannot live without it nor can you (sometimes) live with it! Just like the other relationship, you still have to deal with the situation, whether you like it or not. Even if you do not want actively use social media for business marketing, you have to stay engaged to make sure your business image is not being tarnished, which can hurt your business.
You can overcome your social media fears with the 3-step approach we described earlier. We also showed best practices you can use to get the most out of social media. In this post we will show how you can deal with negative comments customers may post about your business on social media.
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Social Media Best Practices for Small Business Owners

For many small business owners getting on the bandwagon of social media is a novel and scary experience. They recognize that they cannot avoid it because that’s where their current and potential customers are. But at the same time they are scared due to lack of knowledge and experience. We showed 3-step approach to overcome social media fears in the earlier post. In this post we will show how you can get the most out of social media by following the best practices.
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50 Interesting Online courses for Small Business Owners

Continuous learning and improvement is essential for small business owners. However, for many of us going to college or getting an MBA degree is not an option. After all, there are only 24 hours in a day! Online courses can help overcome this barrier by enabling us to learn at our own pace and convenience.
I came across this list of online courses offered by well-known universities and other private institutions that I wanted to pass along. Many of these courses are targeted to help you learn or improve specific skill set, which would be helpful for anyone who doesn’t want to go through the entire coursework of university degree.
Here is the link to the course listing.
Let us know which courses you like the most for the benefit of other readers. Happy Learning!

Internet Advertising – A Must for Small Business

In our previous post we argued that if you are not using Internet and Social Media for marketing you are wasting lot of advertising money. Not only that; but you are also missing an opportunity to reach large number of customers who are increasingly on the Internet. The central tenet in selecting an advertising platform is that you should advertise where your customers are and these days your customers are spending more and more time on the Internet as opposed to traditional platforms such as television and newspaper.
Advertising on the Internet can take many different forms. They are suitable different businesses and budgets. You should look at all the possibilities and select the ones that fit your style, budget, capability and customer preference.
Below we have identified several avenues for Internet advertising along with their characteristics and trade-offs they present.
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10 Questions You must Ask in Customer Survey

In the previous post on “How to Hold onto Your Existing Customers” we mentioned that regular customer feedback is one of the important tools you should use to keep a pulse on your business and understand how your customers perceive the value they are getting from you. The customer feedback also will raise any red flags that you need to address before they get out of control and the business is deteriorated significantly.
There are several avenues you can use to get customer feedback. If you have a web site for the business you can use the online poll using free survey tools such as Surveymonkey , Free Online Surveys. If you have a physical store you can use a simple typed form that customers can fill in while they are waiting. Even social media sites such as Facebook have poll utilities you can use to get customer feedback.
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Does Your Business have Social Media Strategy?

If you don’t have a strategy to deal with Internet and social media you might be in a danger of losing lot of business. Just look at this article in Detroit Free Press past Saturday. To summarize the article – a student from Western Michigan University claims his car was illegally towed from his apartment complex by the tow truck company. He created a Facebook page to fight with the towing company and attracted 11,000 “fans” on the page; who joined him in the revolt saying they too had similar complaints against this company. The result was that that towing company lost half of its commercial accounts.
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