Ten New Year's Resolutions for 2010 (Part One)
A happy and prosperous 2010 to all my readers. As always this time of year, here are my 10 New Year's resolutions for business owners and self-employed professionals.
Update your Web presence. Look at your business website and make at least five changes that will make it more attractive, fun and "cool" to prospective customers. Post some content-rich articles answering commonly asked questions about what you do. Put some videos on your website (and post the videos on YouTube) demonstrating in an entertaining way how to do (or not to do) something. Start a "blog" or discussion group where your customers can talk to one another about the stuff you do, with you as the all-knowing "moderator." Most importantly, hire a search engine optimization consultant and learn what you can do to get your website higher in the Google search rankings.
At the same time, delete things from your website that are boring, difficult to access or not driven by your customers. If you are a lawyer or accountant, nobody cares what you look like or where you went to school, so get rid of the website photo and biography. Put up your fee schedule instead because clients do care about how much you are going to charge them for your services! Also, a little free advice on commonly asked questions wouldn't hurt.
Don't have a business website? Create one! People expect you to have one, and it dings your credibility if you don't. Make sure your Web address appears on all of your business cards, stationery, telephone answering message, the signature line on your e-mail messages, and all offline marketing materials (such as the stenciling on your car or van).
Find three new places to sell stuff online. E-commerce is evolving rapidly right now, and the goal is "ubiquity" — promoting your goods and services in as many places as possible. Are you selling on eBay but are not happy with recent changes benefiting buyers and bigger sellers? Learn how to sell on Amazon, Yahoo and other online retail sites that still treat the "Mom and Pop" retailer with respect. Start listing your stuff on some of the "eBay clone" sites that many smaller eBay sellers are migrating to, such as www.bonanzle.com, www.ebid.com and www.ubid.com. If you sell antiques and collectibles, look for collectors associations online — they usually have a website and will post your ads for free if you agree to become a member or write a couple of articles for them.
If your market is primarily local, list your goods and services on the Craigslist site for the region or subregion nearest you (just stay away from the "personals" section).
Learn the meaning of "marketainment." As people are increasingly bombarded with media 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year, and as their attention spans grower shorter and shorter, they expect more from you than advertising. They want a show! And you have to provide it for them. Whenever you're selling anything, online or otherwise, you are in "show business." Your message must be memorable, entertaining and "fun" in order to stick in people's heads.
Create a "blog" and post it on your website. Create a crazy, offbeat instructional video and post it on YouTube. Get involved in discussion forums on eBay, Craigslist — heck, anywhere there are people who share your interests, passions or personality. If people like you, they will want to know more about you and what you do. Show people you share, or at least empathize, with their fears and passions (what turns them on, and what keeps them awake at nights), and they will like you. Oh, and don't forget to talk about the stuff you're selling online that will either turn them on or help them sleep better at night.
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