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society of word of mouth conference

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Minimum wage went up today

The federal minimum wage increases by 70 cents on Thursday, to $6.55 per hour from $5.85. The increase is the second of three increases to take effect under legislation enacted last year that raised the minimum wage after it had remained unchanged at $5.15 an hour for nearly a decade. The increase will raise the minimum wage in 25 states; the other 25 have minimum wages higher than $6.55.

pitfalls to start ups

The road to startup doesn’t have to be rocky: Being aware of these all-too-common mistakes can help you avoid them.

Every day, literally thousands of regular, sane and normal people take the plunge and start their own businesses. As they survey the hazardous landcape, little do they know how easy it would be to avoid the traps that so many of us have fallen into.

If you’re in the initial phases of starting your own business, then I must warn you: Avoid these mistakes as if your life depended on it. Because it does–your financial life, that is.

Let’s look at the pitfalls I’ve seen entrepreneurs have to dig themselves out of all too many times:

  1. Buying a job rather than a business. Yes, you’ll have to be involved in the daily operations at the start, but remember that the ultimate goal is to grow your business into much more than just a job where you work hands-on every day. Work on the business, not just in the business.
  2. Being a great plumber but having no idea how to run a business that sells plumbing.Your former jobs are all an apprenticeship to running your own business. Be an apprentice in all areas, not just in the trade or profession of your business. Most important, be sure you’ve paid attention to all aspects of business in your past jobs, no matter what they were, so you’ve done your basic, “how to run a business” apprenticeship.
  3. Taking on a business partner. Most people give away equity upfront to a partner. Yes, there are examples of partnerships that work, but most don’t. Unless you’re absolutely sure about your partnership, hire people to help you out instead.
  4. Starting a business from scratch rather than buying an existing operation. Starting from scratch may seem cheap, but it’ll cost you the most expensive asset you have–time. Buy an undervalued company, and build it up, rather than start from scratch.
  5. Thinking the business idea will make the company. It’s the people who make a business successful, not the product, not the service and not the new invention. Focus on building a great company as much as you do a great product.
  6. Thinking too small. Many startup entrepreneurs want to generate a wage for themselves and nothing more. Instead, aim to build a profit, aim to build something large, and aim to build something great. If you shoot for the stars, you may fail, but at least you’ll make it to the moon.
  7. Competing on price and price alone. This is by far the fastest way to send yourself into bankruptcy. Business is about profit, and having a smaller revenue with a larger profit margin will always beat out winning tons of business but earning almost no profit. Learn marketing and sales so you can get out of the price wars.
  8. Trying to cost-cut your way to success. By saving a wage and doing the work yourself, you forget that nobody’s out there drumming up new business for you. Focus on bringing in the business, not saving a few pennies.
  9. Hiring cheap employees. You get what you pay for. Getting the right people is crucial, so don’t just hire anyone. Wait until you find the right someone.
  10. Focusing on only one area of your business. Business success involves three main areas: sales and marketing, finance and administration, and operations. You have to keep all three working and growing in unison, not just the area you’re good at.
  11. Not testing or measuring anything. Knowing your numbers is vital. In fact, you can’t manage what you don’t measure. Measure everything from day one, from how many new prospects you have to how many sales you make.
  12. Doing the work once and getting paid once. The key to success is to do the work once and establish a long-term, income-generating relationship. Learn to structure your clients, your business and your income that way, and you’ll build a great business.

You might have noticed there are 12, not 11, pitfalls to watch for. That’s because a good business will always deliver what it promises, but a great business will deliver more than promised.

being your tech support

Spending all your time doing tech support for your own work environment

This one has inflicted me a lot in the past. Since I found the solution I am no longer troubled by it. I have classified various versions of this:

Techsupportis geekae

Geeks like me are natural tinkerers. With Linux and Windows we are constantly tempted to install the latest version of software, drivers, kernels etc. (This is also known as emergitis with Gentoo fanatics).

The trouble is that it is very easy to get tempted down this path and all to often things go wrong. I have in the past lost many days of bootstrap time doing this.

My solution in the end was to buy a Powerbook. It is hard for me to bring the mac down. I’m sure if given enough free time I can do it, but I feel like I can just focus on my work. If you are a diehard linux guy Ubuntu has many of the same “It just works” features that OSX has.

Techsupportis Virii Windus

I have heard so much about how windows users spend so much time repairing damage from virus and spyware attacks.

Save your self a lot of energy and do one of the following:

  • If you are a windows techie, lock the machine down once and for all
  • If you are a geek linux or mac
  • If you are neither of the above, just get a Mac. They aren’t as expensive as they used to be.

Summary

If you are a writer, write!. If you are a programmer, code! Do what you need to do and dont get distracted by all the technical noise that surrounds us all.

yahoo seo – support

Everything you need to see great results from your advertising.

For more details on each feature, and to view visual examples and demos, click the tabs below.

See what Yahoo! advertisers are saying about Yahoo! Search Marketing…

  • “The geo-targeting feature was exactly what we had been waiting for; it lets us target our specific markets.”—Veronica Muth, Search Marketing Manager, Telogis
  • “The new features provide us more granularity and analytics; the new platform delivers big in this area. It also makes for much more effective use of the time we spend managing our campaigns.”—Bruce Telkamp, Senior Vice President of Marketing, eHealthInsurance
  • “I’ve been using Yahoo! ever since I put my business online, and Yahoo! Search Marketing drives most of my rentals.”—Stewart Hines, Owner, Hilton Head and Myrtle Beach Home Rentals

social networking for your business

Social media marketing is a fast-growing innovation, tapping into the rising influence of user-generated communities such as blogs, wikis, networking, and bookmarking sites.

By joining these active communities, you can build relationships and promote your products and/or expertise.

Generally, online social networks attract members who bond over shared interests and opinions. That creates a clubby and trusted group of virtually connected friends or associates. So when a member or blogger recommends your product, commends your service, or endorses your comments, it results in powerful “word of mouse” referrals.

Alternatively, if you make the effort, you can develop your own following on social media sites as an opinion-maker, authority, adviser, industry analyst, or wry observer.

As a result of getting noticed in all the right places, you can generate leads and convert those leads into sales.

Tip: However tempting it may be, don’t assume a fake identity to talk up your company (unless you’re being an obvious jokester). It’s bound to boomerang.

User-generated communities aren’t just for kids anymore

Don’t think this strategy only suits niche markets. Social sites are exploding across the Web.

The most popular categories tend to be communities where you create and share information, such as MySpace, Facebook, Friendster, Bebo, Squidoo, and Tagged. Or it can be those where you bookmark useful or fun sites for other users, such as Digg, del.icio.us, or StumbleUpon. Visit this page for a broad list of social networking and media sites.

Visitors to social media sites jumped a staggering 774 percent between 2006 and 2007, according to a 2007 comScore study. And the Pew Internet Study reports that some 50 million Americans are reading blogs. What’s more, adult interaction in social media is significantly on the rise.

Choosing your online megaphone

For small-business owners, the social media horizon is broad indeed.

Like much of search engine marketing, social media marketing doesn’t cost much in dollars. But it does require time and effort to:

* investigate sites;
* create and monitor content;
* track traffic and referrals;
* refine efforts to improve results, and
* keep at it until you have an impact.

Here are some proven ways to start stirring the pot. You’ll learn more as you go.

1. Contribute to a community whose members mirror your customers. By checking into the comments, forums, and profiles of a community, you can determine member interests, locations, and a rough sense of demographics. Once you’ve identified a community that matches your preferred customer, there are a number of ways to get noticed.

For example, Irina Patterson runs an event-planning business from her home in Miami. She often posts on the local craigslist and, she says, gets great results. “It is a community that responds almost instantly. You can pose a question, share a resource, ask for a barter deal or ask for advice. You can target specific geographic areas, which is important for a service business like mine.”

Patterson makes sure her posts link back to her company Web site.

2. Become a commentator on a well-trafficked blog in your industry or field. Don’t ignore the blogosphere. According to Technorati, the blog search engine, nearly 97 million blogs were being published as of mid-2007.

Get familiar with a few blogs compatible with your business. A good start is a search on Technorati as well as visits to your industry or professional associations and trade journals to see what they serve up.

Make sure you’re up-to-speed on the blog’s tone, issues, and attitudes before you chime in. When you start generating reactions, you’ll know you’re hitting nerves.

3. Create a viral video campaign. Online videos are now cheap and easy to create and upload, notes search engine marketing consultant Susan Gilbert at JoomlaJump.com.

Produce a video of two to three minutes that dramatizes or explains your online site or your market niche and yourself. Then upload the video to MSN, YouTube, or other video communities to drive traffic to your Web site, Gilbert says.

If you link the videos to community pages on social bookmarking sites, you create a little network that search engines will find. Next thing you know, you’re getting referred traffic and, potentially, more customers.

4. Join a professional networking site (or two). These can be hit or miss, depending on what you market and how you work the community. For professional services such as PR and consulting, it can generate leads. Check out examples such as LinkedIn, ZoomInfo, Facebook, and Biltmore Who’s Who. Then branch out to others.

5. Launch a blog. This is the most obvious idea, and, no question, online templates now make it easy to create a blog. Run a search and you’ll find options. What’s hard is to gain traction and keep posting lively content (with a link to your company site, of course). See these tips for starting a blog.

6. Become a dedicated gamer. Game for this? Depending on your wares and customer profile, engaging in the multi-user online gaming community can be a rewarding way to draw traffic and viral referrals, says Marian Sabety, at Wyndstorm, a social network technology marketer.

One of the largest is World of Warcraft, but new ones pop up frequently.

Unless you are already pulling lots of traffic, first gain experience with some of the above tactics before starting a blog. Once you have the hang of it, you’ll know more about leveraging the power of a personal blog.

Finally, remember to add value rather than to merely advertise your product. To make social media marketing work, you must enjoy being part of the community.

a book to change your business

From Publishers Weekly
The world is changing ever more rapidly, and the rules of marketing are no different, writes Godin, the field’s reigning guru. The old ways-run-of-the-mill TV commercials, ads in the Wall Street Journal and so on-don’t work like they used to, because such messages are so plentiful that consumers have tuned them out. This means you have to toss out everything you know and do something “remarkable” (the way a purple cow in a field of Guernseys would be remarkable) to have any effect at all, writes Godin (Permission Marketing; Unleashing the Ideavirus). He cites companies like HBO, Starbucks and JetBlue, all of which created new ways of doing old businesses and saw their brands sizzle as a result. Godin’s style is punchy and irreverent, using short, sharp messages to drive his points home. As a result the book is fiery, but not entirely cohesive; at times it resembles a stream-of-consciousness monologue. Still, his wide-ranging advice-be outrageous, tell the truth, test the limits and never settle for just “very good”-is solid and timely.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Book Description
You’re either a Purple Cow or you’re not. You’re either remarkable or invisible. Make your choice.

What do Starbucks and JetBlue and KrispyKreme and Apple and DutchBoy and Kensington and Zespri and Hard Candy have that you don’t? How do they continue to confound critics and achieve spectacular growth, leaving behind former tried-and true brands to gasp their last?

Face it, the checklist of tired ‘P’s marketers have used for decades to get their product noticed -Pricing, Promotion, Publicity, to name a few-aren’t working anymore. There’s an exceptionally important ‘P’ that has to be added to the list. It’s Purple Cow.

Cows, after you’ve seen one, or two, or ten, are boring. A Purple Cow, though…now that would be something. Purple Cow describes something phenomenal, something counterintuitive and exciting and flat out unbelievable. Every day, consumers come face to face with a lot of boring stuff-a lot of brown cows-but you can bet they won’t forget a Purple Cow. And it’s not a marketing function that you can slap on to your product or service. Purple Cow is inherent. It’s built right in, or it’s not there. Period.

In Purple Cow, Seth Godin urges you to put a Purple Cow into everything you build, and everything you do, to create something truly noticeable. It’s a manifesto for marketers who want to help create products that are worth marketing in the first place.