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Posts Tagged ‘marketing’

Learning from the Past: KikScore’s Top Twelve Blog Posts of 2011 for Small Businesses and Startups

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

It’s been a great year for KikScore! We’ve gained partners, garnered press, interviewed tons of great startups, and released our first white paper. Sounds like a winning year to me. That’s why we put together a list of our top blog posts for 2011. By highlighting some of our beloved posts, we can reflect on what KikScore has accomplished through the year as well as go over some information that we believe is important enough to bear repeating for small business. We hope you enjoy!

#12: 5 Ways to Develop a Killer Brand for Your Small Business and Startup

If you are looking to establish a good brand name for your business, then this post is for you. Although it’s daunting to see big businesses with huge budgets for marketing and advertising, there are cheaper and more effective ways to build your brand. This post goes over the different ways in which you can deal with your customers and make their experiences so great that your brand will practically build itself.

#11: 7 Questions A Small Business or Startup Should Ask Themselves Every Day

It’s critical to ask yourself important questions. Even if it is just to make sure that you know the answer instead of just thinking you know the answer. This post discusses several questions that you need to ask to make sure that your business is headed in the right direction.

#10: The Day in Pictures & Tweets at the 2011 SmallBizSummit

Just as the title says, this post is a compilation of pictures and tweets from the 2011 SmallBizSummit. Here you can find great quotes and images that focus around how all small businesses should act and what they should do. Take a look and feel like you were there yourself.

#9: 5 Reasons that Startups & SmallBiz Must Engage Their Customers

If you think that this list is already beating up the idea of paying attention to customers, then you aren’t thinking like a business should. This next post builds upon the ways to really engage customers and see results. Give it a read and try the advice for yourself. We promise you won’t be disappointed.

#8: Web Design Contracts – Protect Yourself & Your New Business

This guest post, written by Gregg Hand, is of vital importance when preparing to set up a website. We’ve all heard the speech about why we have to read the fine print before signing a contract. However, now that you’re helping to make a contract with a web designer, you must be twice as cautious. If you’ve never had to make this type of contract, this post can help you with a set of helpful advice on what to look out for.

#7: Top Ten Reasons Small Businesses Fail Series

(Procrastination; Competition; Marketing; Clients; Employees; Versatility; Location; Cash Flow (Followup); Closed Mind; Planning)

Here is a series of posts that we’ve worked on throughout the year in an effort to help small businesses understand what they must avoid. Some say that learning from the past is one of the best ways to prevent certain future events. There’s at least some truth to this saying, so we hope that this series will help your business avoid the easily avoidable.

#6: KikScore SmallBiz Interviews’ Greatest Hits & Top Strategy Tips for Entrepreneurs (Part I and Part II)

These posts use quotes from businesses that KikScore has interviewed in the past regarding lessons they’ve learned and challenges they’ve faced. Each quote has years of experience in ingrained in it, so they’re worth the reading.

#5: Championship Sports Teams…What Do They Teach Us for the Small Business & Startup Arena

Bringing together two seemingly different dynamics, this post talks about how the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks and the NHL’s Boston Bruins’ respective teamwork reflect how teams in small businesses must act. Just as in sports teams, the members of your business must be willing to work together and take risks. Take a look and see for yourself just how true this is.

#4: 3 Tools for Boosting Your Business’ Image

This post goes over some tools that all businesses can use, so we think it is worth making the cut. Each tool is free and KikScore utilizes all of them. What are they, you ask? Well there would be no point in referring back to the article if we just said it here, so you’ll just have to look at the post for yourself.

#3: Nonprofit or Going for Broke: Ways to Demonstrate Your Business is Legitimate & Trustworthy

Rather than discussing all small businesses, this post gives advice to nonprofits. Whether for profit or not, all businesses suffer from trust issues. If you are having issues with your nonprofit or even just looking for a way to make it better, this post can help.

#2: #SmallBizChat Highlights – Tips on How to Make Your SmallBiz Website Look Trustworthy and Credible

Here we recap our great experience of being the guest of honor for #SmallBizChat on Twitter. It was a great way for us to take and answer different questions about how small businesses deal with online trust. A slideshow is included in the post, so feel free to check it out.

#1: Shoppers Trust Businesses Who Share More Information – KikScore Online Trust Survey Finds

Another important hallmark of KikScore’s year is the recent issuing of our first white paper, which is discussed in this post. It took a lot of time and a lot of research, but it came out great. If you are interested in online trust and how it impacts small business, take a look at this post and KikScore’s white paper.

We’ve had a great year all-in-all and we anticipate that 2012 will be even better! We appreciate everyone who has worked with us and taken the time to help us this year and we hope you all have a great 2012!

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Posts Tagged ‘marketing’

Five $5 Dollar Marketing Strategies with Fiverr

Monday, September 26th, 2011

Efficient marketing has been and will always be a key function of business, especially when dealing with small businesses. Most small businesses do not have the financial capital to support a full-fledged ad campaign and have to find other, relatively cheaper marketing tools and techniques to find their target market and attract customers. In this day and age, the internet provides many cheap and free marketing tools, such as blogging, e-mailing, and operating social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. These are great tools to exploit when marketing, but another trending site to utilize is www.fiverr.com.

Fiverr is a social marketplace website that allows for the purchasing and selling of a magnitude of services for only $5. Yes, you read it right: only $5! This website is an excellent source for inexpensive outsourcing of a wide variety of different services. The services provided on the site, called “gigs”, range from video marketing to advice to SEO building. While you may find some offbeat and bizarre services offered, such as “I will cry and put any text on a paper” or “I will be your girlfriend/wife or anything else on facebook for one week”, this website is actually does offer many great opportunities for small businesses. Here are five marketing tactics that you can implement through fiverr:

1. Video Marketing

Making videos is extremely time consuming and requires a lot of technical work for your company; instead, for only $5, you can outsource this work to a freelancer on fiverr and with your vision and guidance, he/she will make you a commercial within 2 weeks! In fact, it was too great of a deal to pass up so we at KikScore capitalized on a fiverr “gig” and had a professional video made. All we needed to do was provide the freelancer with the text and photos we wanted to use, and they put the entire video together. Check it out below!

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2. Writing

In addition to have a video made of virtually anything, whether it is a professional commercial or an animated cartoon, there are also a bunch of talented writers on fiverr, both business and song writers. There are many people offering to write jingles or raps on your company and what it provides and those funny and creative tunes can definitely bring in new customers! In addition to song writing though, there are also many “gigs” offering to write press releases or just articles on any topic.

3. Market Research

While I wouldn’t solely rely on fiverr freelancers for an extensive market research report, I would use their service for some basic research. For only $5, you can pay someone to conduct brief research for your business while you focus on more productive business tasks.

4. Graphics, Banners, and Logos

Similar to making videos, oftentimes designing new banners or graphics for your business’ website requires expensive graphic design work. Instead, you can outsource that work to the fiverr community, where there are a good amount of awesome, professional graphic designers.

5. Search Engine Optimization

SEO optimization is extremely crucial for all small online businesses. All businesses strive to be on the first pages of search engines like Google and Yahoo!, and employing effective SEO optimization techniques is necessary. On fiverr, many sellers offer “gigs” that will improve your business’ SEO, whether it is by social bookmarking, promoting your links on social media outlets or different directories, or helping you build a LinkedIn following.

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Posts Tagged ‘marketing’

Blurring lines: Facebook’s new additions and changes

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

Thanks to ahans for the pic!

Have you seen Facebook’s new features? They have features similar to Google and Twitter now. Recently Facebook has introduced lists that are supposed to sort close friends, family members and coworkers into lists.

Exactly how do they do that? I have absolutely no idea, but wouldn’t that be confusing? I mean if you’re like me and hardly use Facebook(I keep forgetting about it, like Twitter) then how does Facebook know who you consider to be close friends?

That’s not the only thing that’s confusing. Facebook  is allowing users to do Twitter status updates from Facebook. Now, in theory this might sound great but,…isn’t practically everyone on Facebook on Twitter too? Not only that, but people who follow you on Twitter and are your friend on Facebook will get the exact same status update. I don’t know about other people, but I’d find that annoying.

The other thing that Facebook is going to do is make its pages feature obsolete. This means that there won’t be a need for two separate Facebook identities.  Yeah, that’s great, but what if you’re a company? I’m pretty sure that you and your employers want to keep your personal profiles separate from your company one. Plus, if they become one big profile some people might get tired of all of the business-related updates and just not read your updates. (I personally know people who’ve done this because someone hasn’t made a separate page for their public profile.)

Yes, these all sound practical, but Facebook isn’t even giving users enough time to get used to the new features before they add the next one in. Facebook is rumored to be moving towards further integrating music and videos. This does not look like it’s going to stop anytime soon and my feeling is that soon these three will either merge or will become so indistinguishable from each other that soon you won’t know(or care) which one you’re logging into.

So what does this mean for small businesses? Well, if you want to be on Facebook, you have to do it without a specific page. Or you might have to find another platform all together.

Thoughts?

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Posts Tagged ‘marketing’

“Putting Your Money baQ Where it Belongs”: A SmallBiz Interview with the CEO and CTO of paybaQ

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

Today’s small business interview is with the founder and CEO of paybaQ, Brian J. Esposito, and the CTO, Peter Hermsen. You may remember Brian from his last interview with us when we talked about his Inc. 5000 company, AVEYOU Beauty Boutique . However, his enthusiastic entrepreneurial spirit inspired him to launch a new business, paybaQ, which focuses on helping people deal with their microloans online. Brian and Peter proudly gave us their business story and shared many tips that contribute towards the success and prosperity of small businesses.

Tell us about paybaQ and who you focus on serving?

BRIAN J. ESPOSITO: paybaQ was established in 2010 to fulfill a need: to address and solve the age old problem of personal undocumented microloans. The paybaQ platform allows users to document, arrange payment between two or more parties, and establish a positive personal Generosity Rating (Giver) & Responsibility Rating (Receiver). paybaQ’s purpose is to eliminate the awkwardness of borrowing or collecting personal microloans. Through our secure and simple system you will not only become more responsible, but possibly save a relationship from becoming spoiled.

“Money doesn’t have to be the root of all evil, it could grow into something good”.

Your paybaQ hub has everything you need to organize and monitor any transactions you perform with paybaQ.com.  Here, you can easily review account details and history, as well as view detailed reports on your transactions. You also have access to any reminders for transactions that have not yet been completed, and you can integrate your account with social network profiles to easily add contacts you may be lending or borrowing money from. No more wondering when you are going to be paid back; with paybaQ, you can set the terms of the microloan and easily remind the borrower(s) through email, text message, and/or through private messaging that monies are due. Lending and borrowing money has never been so hassle free. Although our top priority is creating more responsible individuals, privacy and security of our site and system is of the utmost importance.

Now you can do that all on the go with our iTunes app: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/paybaq-mobile/id454232420?mt=8.

How did you get started dealing with microloans online?

BE: This was an idea that I have had for a few years.  Especially when the financial crisis hit in 2008, I realized the timing was perfect to launch.  Money, family, friendship, and responsibilities are at rocky paths when it comes to lending or borrowing money for any reason.  Even when times are good these transactions could always have the tendency of going bad.  paybaQ’s system has all the necessary pieces in place to try and avoid those situations from happening.

What was one of the biggest challenges you faced and overcame in launching paybaQ?

BE: The biggest challenge was where to begin.  The paybaQ model has so many different pieces that it can branch off to.  During our initial meetings, brainstorming’s lead to hours of great ideas, but no real progress.  We finally figured out that we had to scale back all those additional concepts and get paybaQ off the ground and running on its core principles.

What tools would you recommend for small businesses in the online world?

BE: Small business should be required a specific set of tools to protect themselves, their families, and more importantly their employees and customers.  In the online world these tools should include SSL Security, Privacy Policies, Hacker Proof Services Monitors, PCI Compliance, Review/Feedback Services, and additional items that can be added to your site to increase trust and credibility.  There are only a handful of companies that have earned instant trust in the consumer world; for the rest of us, it will be a constant uphill battle to convert potential customers into actual customers.  That all begins with how you treat your current customer base and how your image and brand are perceived in the consumers eyes.

Security is of growing importance to all small businesses for a number of reasons. What are the most challenging issues at your company with respect to security?

PETER HERMSEN: Providing timely access to data by members while deterring unauthorized access.  We recognize the challenges faced by the commerce community with respect to security and privacy.  No matter what you do to secure your data, someone will try to figure out a way to crack it.  That’s why we partner with Authorize.net.  With them as a partner, we don’t have to worry about keeping any credit card information on our site.  We only maintain a balance of loan tokens, which have no value to anyone with the exception that they allow users to register loans.  In fact, we give the first 5 credits for free.

Based on your expertise, what two or three things do you think small businesses should be doing concerning online marketing?

BE: It’s very important to stay fresh and relevant.  I always say the minute you stop doing something, your competitor hasn’t.  Keeping this in your mind at all times will fuel you to keep striving for greatness.  Being the biggest is not important, but being the best is.  It is also important to understand marketing and its results.  Very few things are an instant success.  You have to keep with it.  Of course this is within reason.  You can’t keep pouring good money after bad.  Every business has different expectations and needs.  With ours, due to our position we are happy gaining a customer a day, but of course that does not apply to everyone.

If you had to pick two lessons that you’ve learned from launching and maintaining your business, what would they be?

PH: Launching a business and developing the software are definitely different things.  From the development side, the business waits (patiently) while development carries on.  Now that we’ve launched, we’re just learning about maintaining.  There are hurdles which must be crossed as you transition to a production site.  We made it past them, but have definitely learned that no matter what, you always have to plan on software taking longer than anticipated.  Also, when working in a new financial venture, you find that potential financial partners enter with good intentions; then, when they don’t fully understand your premise, withdraw gracefully.  Unfortunately, the development team engages with creating software to support partners, and have to start over when a new partner is introduced.  Unfortunately, there aren’t any standards. Google Checkout, PayPal, Yahoo, private payment gateways; all of them are different.

BE: I’ve learned to not give up on a vision or dream.  I’ve learned even your closest friends and even sometimes family members will try to deflate you. I haven’t figured out if these are malice words or if they are just trying to protect you from failure.  Failure is great, failure is better than anything you can learn in school or from a book.  Some of the greatest lessons and creations were born from failure at some point.

How do the folks at paybaQ let loose after a busy day working?

Due to our partnership with The Hearst Corporation for the rights to use Wimpy from Popeye, we like to let loose on Tuesdays for Hamburger night.  We will travel around our area in search for the greatest hamburger.  When paybaQ really takes off we may increase our distance a bit.  “I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a Hamburger Today:” © King Features Syndicate, Inc.  Hearst Holdings Inc.

Do you have any parting thoughts for our readers and the small business community?

The small business community is an elite group.  We are made up of people who took a risk and went after our passions.  Everything in life has ups and downs.  It is important to find a balance so you can save on the ups to get you through the downs.  Unless you are a 1-person operation your actions and decisions can have great affects.  Remember you have employees, vendors, suppliers, and customers that may depend on you.  This is a great amount of responsibility you have taken on, and you should be proud.  Our group will continue to be the backbone of our economy and we must prove to the world that we deserve that role.

Thanks to both Brian Esposito and Peter Hermsen from paybaQ for a great interview! If you have any questions or comments for them, feel free to write them below.

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Posts Tagged ‘marketing’

Turning Sites into Gold: An Interview with Marketade’s John Nicholson

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

I recently had the privilege of speaking with John Nicholson, co-founder of the consulting company Marketade. A savvy businessman and all-around great guy, John uses his experiences to help others with some of the most important problems that online businesses face. My interview with John has taught me a lot and I want you all to be able to benefit from what he has to say.

Tell me a little about Marketade?

Marketade is basically a boutique web consulting company that I started with my partner and co-founder, Karan Gill. While Karan works on web development and design, I focus on search marketing, web analytics and conversion optimizations. Both of us used to work at GEICO; I was in marketing and Karan was in IT. GEICO is very metrics focused and innovative with its brand and web presence. We’re able to take the skills and processes we learned there and use them to help small to mid-sized businesses.

When and why did you decide to create Marketade?

Karan and I started Marketade two years ago. We had each come up with the idea of creating a consulting company and after talking decided it would be best for us to work as a team. We felt that our Fortune 100 skills could help small and mid-sized businesses compete with much bigger competitors – which was an exciting idea for us.

What was one of the biggest challenges you faced and overcame in launching Marketade?

Business development and finding new clients. As an entrepreneur, you’re always running around with too much to do. This makes it really difficult to not get completely wrapped up in client’s requests. You have to be disciplined with your time and reserve some of it to develop your business. One thing that we did in this area was create a newsletter. Since we use this to write in-depth articles, our newsletter is a great way to show off some of our expertise. In fact, we got our biggest deal to date through a reader of our newsletter.

How do you advertise yourself to get more clients?

We don’t really advertise in a traditional sense. We think the best way to grow your business is through word-of-mouth from happy customers and that’s where we’ve focused. As I mentioned earlier, we do have a newsletter. We also use Twitter a little bit.

We’ve also gotten a few clients just from working at Affinity Lab, the co-working space in D.C. where we are based.

Have you had any trouble proving your business’ credibility and legitimacy to potential customers and website visitors?

Yes. We know that a lot of people come to our website and leave quickly, even though they’ve come from highly relevant search phrases. We attribute this at least in part to not providing our credibility. Our GEICO experience helps, but is not enough.

Lately, this issue has been on our minds as we redesign our site. People want to know who is behind the organization, so we’re planning on playing up our bios more. We’ve also recently become a Google Certified Partner and plan to promote that. And working out of Affinity Lab also has credibility, so we’ll play that up more too. One of our clients recently told us that it made a big difference just knowing that we had an actual address in D.C.

When you’re not working on Marketade, what do you do to relax?

I’m a pretty big sports guy. I enjoy soccer, tennis, yoga, and I recently got into surfing. I enjoy eating at ethnic restaurants. I also read a fair amount. Most of what I read is nonfiction and contemporary.

Based on your expertise, what two or three things do you think small businesses should be doing concerning online marketing?

One thing, which I’ve written an article on, is that small businesses need to optimize their website title tags. The title tag that appears on the top of your browser is a huge factor in Google’s organic search scoring method. Most people just put the name of their business. What they don’t realize is that they need keyword-rich title tags that include their profession service areas and/or location. Although it isn’t a particularly exciting form of marketing, it is drastically underutilized.

Another important thing is for businesses to take the time to understand what words people use when talking about their business. There is a Google Keyword Tool that allows you to see how often people search using a certain term. I often spend hours on this when working with a new client. It helps immensely not just with SEO, but with how visitors will interact with your site’s content. You have to know how to speak the language of your visitors. Business and technical jargon just doesn’t resonate.

Related to this, most businesses need better writing on their sites. There is too much focus on the next big thing – whether it’s video or social media – and not enough focus on good writing. Always remember that people on the web are in a rush and want to be able to skim content easily.

What tools would you recommend for small businesses in the online world?

The Google Keyword Tool I mentioned earlier is a great one. Google Analytics can also be really helpful. Don’t worry if you’re a non-technical kind of person; it’s pretty intuitive. Even if you only use it to get a better idea of where people are coming from, it can make a big difference. Both of these tools are free and they are great for helping businesses figure out how to increase conversions.

If you had to pick two lessons that you’ve learned from launching and maintaining your business, what would they be?

One lesson would be thinking in the long-term concerning business development. I know I mentioned this earlier so I won’t go into it, but it is essential for businesses. You need to make sure you set time aside for this instead of just focusing on what is immediately in front of you. That’s the only way to grow.

Another lesson is to realize the importance of time management and project management. These are especially important when starting up because you have to wear so many different hats as a small business owner. I make an effort to track almost every moment of my day. I always ask myself “Where is my time going and is it in line with what I’m trying to do with my business?” Unfocused time is a killer. Tools aren’t the key here, but they can help. We use Harvest and Basecamp to track our time and manage projects.

Do you have any final thoughts or words of wisdom to share with our readers and the business community?

Don’t be afraid to take the “old school” route when doing your research and learning new techniques. Go to the library and get a book instead of just looking online for articles. The problem with the rise of social media and SEO is that it also gives rise to a lot of useless information. A lot of “top 10″ type articles are not saying anything particularly new. They’re just regurgitating old information. If you’re passionate about something, go out and get a book written by a professional in the field. Don’t just rush over to blogs or to Twitter. After all, it’s also nice to disconnect after a long day of being in front of the computer.

Thanks to John for a great interview and a lot of great information! If you have any questions or comments for John, feel free to write them below.

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Posts Tagged ‘marketing’

KikScore SmallBiz Interviews’ Greatest Hits & Top Strategy Tips for Entrepreneurs: Part II

Friday, June 17th, 2011

KikScore has had the pleasure of interviewing many small business owners over the past few years, asking these entrepreneurs about all areas of their businesses and what has spurred their growth, while also throwing in light-hearted pop-culture related questions.

In Part I of this two-part Greatest Hits series, I highlighted the top five lessons learned from these interviews with regards to establishing a successful small business. If you missed Part I, click here.

In Part II, I will present five of the most important challenges faced by these small businesses that our interviewees shared with us. These issues are extremely pertinent to all small businesses and it is vital for small businesses to overcome these challenges in order to succeed.

Here we go, the five most common challenges faced by entrepreneurs and their small businesses:

5. Keeping Up with New Technologies

“As the cost of running business with a physical store or office is comparatively high due to the monthly rental fee as well as the consumption of electricity and the hiring of manpower, more and more businesses like us tend to create their presence on the Internet. Without a significant competitive advantage, a retailer will be forced to raise a white flag in this cruel and heartless battlefield.” – Margaret Chan, founder of Cherry’s Brandname Gallery

In today’s world, technology is rapidly changing and businesses must keep up with latest innovations in order to stay modern and be successful. Companies have to start utilizing the internet, for both its e-commerce capability as well as a marketing and advertising tool. Social networks such as Facebook and Twitter are essential to small businesses, as millions of users check and use their personal accounts on those websites multiple times each day.

4. Lacking Adaptability

“While it is important to hold on to your vision, it should never be at the expense of building a sustainable business model. Your business plan whether it is one page or fifty, should be an evolving document that scales to put you in the best possible position to serve your clients and generate revenue.” – Tai Goodwin, founder of Launch While Working

Another challenge entrepreneurs also face is the ineptitude to alter or adjust your business plan. The business world is full of surprises and unexpected circumstances.  In order to run a successful company, businesses must be flexible and able to adapt to the changing environment around them.

3. Fear of Failure

“Another challenge I had was more of a mental one, which was the fear of ‘Can I start my own business?’ There are so many company decisions that we take for granted until we have to make them ourselves.” – Gregg Hand, founder and owner of Hand Law Offices

Two weeks ago I mentioned how the number one piece of advice for having success as a small business is keeping the long-term goal in perspective and never giving up or losing hope. Therefore, one of the challenges faced with starting a small business is dealing with the fear of failure. You cannot be afraid that you’re going to fail and act hesitantly because then you will fail; you must be confident with all of your decisions and maintain the passion with which you started your business. Owen Wilson’s character in Wedding Crashers puts it best when talking to his partner, “Your goddamn negativity! I don’t need it! I’m an idea man. I thrive on enthusiasm. Don’t take the wind out of my sails. I need you.”

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2. Finding Customers

1. … and then Gaining their Trust

As a small business I believe our biggest challenge is gaining trust in a potential new customer.  If a shopper sees a Macys logo or a Best Buy logo they are not going to question is this a secure company/site.  As a brand that is growing, we are not mainstream and are years away from becoming a staple in the beauty industry.  We overcome that challenge by gaining one new customer at a time.  Proving to that customer we are legitimate business, that is not going to sell their name to any third parties, is going to ship their order, their most private and intimate information is in a very secure area, and if there is any problems whatsoever with their order we will do everything we can to correct it and make it right.” – Brian Esposito, CEO of Avenue You Beauty Store

In order to be successful, you must generate revenue from customers and unless you develop a brand-new product or have a revolutionary idea, you are most likely going to enter into an industry that already has a fair share of other competitors. There lies the biggest challenge of small businesses: finding customers and then keeping them. Finding customers as a small business relies on effective networking and marketing, and especially positive word of mouth. Whether it is online or in newspapers, spreading your name and attracting publicity is a must for businesses to find customers. In addition, promoting your credibility and trustworthiness is a necessity to ensure that once you land a customer, he or she will return.

This is the service that we here at Kikscore provide for online businesses. We show your potential customers that you can be trusted, allowing shoppers to review your record of reliability and creditworthiness through the Kikscore Trust Seal and the KikReport. After overcoming all these obstacles, you’ll be “so money”. More information regarding Kikscore and its trust seal can be found at http://www.kikscore.com/more.html and http://www.kikscore.com/confidence_badge.html respectively.

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Posts Tagged ‘marketing’

KikScore SmallBiz Interviews’ Greatest Hits & Top Strategy Tips for Entrepreneurs: Part I

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

KikScore has had the pleasure of interviewing many small business owners over the past few years, asking these entrepreneurs about all areas of their businesses and what has spurred their growth, while also throwing in light-hearted pop-culture related questions.

In Part I of this two-part Greatest Hits series, I will highlight the top five lessons learned from these interviews with regards to establishing a successful small business. Many of these innovative and impressive business owners shared related advice and acknowledged similar trends in the e-commerce field. So without further ado, here are the Top 5 Things You Should Do When Starting a Small Business:

5. Keep your website simple and easy to navigate

- “My advice to people about an online presence is to keep it simple and clean and VERY easy to navigate AND to have a Content Management System (CMS) so you can update your site yourself.” (Whitney Zimet, owner of I Am The Maven)

- “Spend the money to get a good website.  We went with a woman who did “websites for small businesses” but she really wasn’t experienced in sites with a retail/shopping cart component.  So, the site looked okay on the surface, but I later learned that she had used very amateur programming on the back end, making it enormously difficult for another web programmer to make changes.  This also limited our SEO.” (Kimberley Stewart from OnBoard Outfitters)

4. Have a flexible business model, being able to adjust quickly to a changing environment

- “Never think what you’re doing today is what you’ll be doing 10 years from today. Markets change and products evolve. Learn to adapt quickly.” (Michael Alter, President of SurePayroll)

- ”Be willing to change.  Always look at your business in a new way.” (Rick Shoop, owner of Oregon Seafoods)

3. Utilize social media outlets

-”Another trend is tapping into more social media platforms and applications.  Combining sites such as Facebook with applications developed by Wildfire you are very quickly able to promote coupons, contests, and/or sweepstakes.” (Brian Esposito, CEO of Avenue You Beauty Store)

- “Take full advantage of all social network and free Internet advertising. 50% of our sales come from social networking sites, the chain reaction you can achieve from them is priceless.” (S.J. Trotter, owner of www.exclusiveclothingretail.com)

2. Establish a safe and secure online presence

- “Apart from that, customer’s satisfaction is also of utmost importance to online business. Exceptional customer service results in greater customer retention, which in turn results in higher profitability. We therefore strongly believe that customer loyalty is one of the most crucial and major contributors to sustainable profit growth. Over 60% of our profits are from customers who came back and made their purchases more than once within the 3-month period.” (Margaret Chan, owner of Cherry’s Brandname Gallery)

- “In 2010, much of our energy will be focused on improving the website and making sure our customers have confidence in shopping with us. KikScore is a great tool that helps us demonstrate that trust online.” (Madalyn Duerr, owner of Tufted Topper)

1. Keep the long-term goal in perspective and never give up

- “Most importantly: Don’t let anyone tell you no. You are your own best advocate and no one is going to do the work for you. Don’t let obstacles prevent your idea from ever being tested – you have to go out and do it.” (Andrew Shelton from Trackpack Coolers)

- ”In my opinion the most important ingredient in a business’s success is the passion of the person or people running it.” (Mark Sarpa, CEO of Frecklebox)

- “Stay far from timid, Only make moves when your heart’s in it, And live the phrase ‘sky’s the limit’” (The Notorious B.I.G.)

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Posts Tagged ‘marketing’

Advertising Evolves to Become More Effective and Relevant Amidst Privacy Concerns

Monday, January 17th, 2011

If you own a house in the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area or any state where door-to-door soliciting is legal, there’s a good chance you’ve had your fair share of canvassers come knock on your door. If the canvasser introduced himself as Mike and tried to say something about a free estimate for windows before you told him to get lost, we’ve probably already met. Like myself years ago, most canvassers are teenagers in high-school, attracted by the commission-based pay and opportunity to work outside. A backlash against door-to-door marketing has grown as disenchanted workers and homeowners accused companies of exploiting unskilled youth labor and invading personal privacy. Minors are barred from canvassing and telemarketing in many states, according to the US Department of Labor

Since beginning college at American University, I’ve left the unfortunate trade of canvassing in favor of unpaid internships that do not induce ego rot caused by constant rejection by cold-call leads. The state of advertising has evolved since, becoming more personalized by utilizing the personal information that most Americans make available online. Cold call marketing, such as through telemarketing and canvassing, is being replaced by personalized ads on the internet. Business owners are no longer left to shoot in the dark. Facebook has pioneered this front by allowing businesses to create ads (using this simple form) that appear to users based on personal information posted in their profiles. Although I’ve discovered a few good bands through these ads, aimed specifically toward me because I like 50+ artists, most are no more relevant than anything I’d expect to hear from a telemarketer. Despite Facebook’s efforts to deliver relevant ads, promotions for Methadone treatment and Doom Metal bands still make their way to bewildered consumers.

Those who have seen Steven Speilberg’s film adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s Minority Report remember a scene where Tom Cruise is immediately identified by ubiquitous retina scanners when walking into a mall, and bombarded with personal advertisements. “Hey, Tom, you really look like you could use a Guinness.”

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YouTube Video

With the consistently growing presence of advertisements in our culture, this dystopia may be an accurate prediction of the future for consumers. Is Facebook already crossing the line by utilizing users’ personal information to direct advertisements? Or is this a better alternative to being harassed by telemarketers and canvassers?

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7 Posts from 2010 That Will Help Your Business Now – 2010 KikScore Blog Greatest Hits

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

As 2010 winds down, we wanted to share with you a few posts that if you only have a few minutes on the KikScore blog we want you to read.  As many of you know, we pride ourselves on publishing good content that covers small businesses, startups, entrepreneurship, while telling the first hand accounts of small business that sell online and trying at the same time to be a little humorous and even including some references to sports and pop culture.

So here are our greatest hits that we hope you check out:

1. Should Start up Companies and Small Business Release Their New Software Early or Wait Until Its Perfected? – This is our post that discusses the age old dilemma for startups on when is the right time to launch your product.  We had some very personal experience on this issue.  I am sure there are many startups that are facing this very issue right now so that is why it made our list.

2. Issues Escalation and Support Guidelines in a Startup Environment – This is a very detailed and thoughtful post about the process needed to approach the inevitable support issues that get escalated to your service department by your customers.  The post frankly applies to many different types of businesses, from small, medium to large but is especially fitting for startups.  It is a must read especially for software startups.

3. Lessons Learned for Small Business from Sandra Bullock’s Heartbreak – Everyone probably remembers the shocking news that came out this spring about Sandra Bullock’s husband Jesse James and his infidelity.  This post is especially helpful to small businesses and startups that are looking to partner with other companies or use new vendors and contractors for key business operations.  It gives key information and tips to help with conducting diligence before you make these important decisions.  And we do this by tying it all back to Sandra Bullock and Jesse James marriage!

4. Our two posts on reviewing your business on Memorial Day (Check that BBQ and Your Business’ 2010 Goals) and Labor Day  (5 Steps to Help Close 2010 Strong) – Every business should take the time to periodically conduct self-assessments to measure progress.  These posts give detailed tips on conducting the self-assessment for your business at key times of the year and the Labor Day post also outlines concrete steps for taking the learnings from your analysis and acting on those learnings.

5. Building a Startup Company and Having a Family at the Same Time – Ever wonder how entrepreneurs, small businesses, startups balance work, life, family and crazy schedules.  We all face this issue frankly and in this post we discuss tips on helping to find that work/family balance.  To be honest, this is a post worth re-reading throughout the year to keep yourself grounded.

6. Manly Cupcakes and Tips on Finding, Understanding and Appealing to Your Target Market -  This is a straighforward post that appeals to all businesses and startups.  The reason why it is one of my favorite posts of the year is that every company should ask these key marketing and customer demographics questions  about your product, customers and market.  These questions and your answers to them will keep your business and startup more sharply focused and successful.

7. How Do You Judge a Website? -  This post is important for every business because it frames the way potential customers, leads, partners and even investors get their first online impression of your business.  It is a valuable post that businesses can come back to in order to remind them that no matter what you do, these key features of your website will drive the way key influencers view you, your business, your website and your product.

We hope you enjoyed all of our posts this year and we look forward to a great year of content in 2011.

We would love to hear your favorite posts as well as any feedback on our content.  Also let us know if you want us to cover any particular topic and we would be happy to consider writing on a certain subject, especially if it helps the small business, startup and entrepreneur community.

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Great Videos For Small Business & Startups from the 2010 GrowSmartBiz Conference

Monday, November 15th, 2010

My wife and I were so looking forward to attend the 2010 GrowSmartBusiness Conference in Washington DC. We previously covered the reasons that the small business and startup community should have attended this event.  Unfortunately for us we had to miss the great conference due to the stomach flu making an appearance in our household.  So this post is as much for me as it is for the entire small business and startup community.

Just a simple following of the #growsmartbiz hashtag on Twitter will show you that the conference was a huge success.  But the organizers went a step further.  They have put most of the content online in the form of the speakers videos from the day.

So here is a tally of the links you should visit to watch and learn from some of the wonderful speakers from the 2010 GrowSmartBiz Conference:

1. The lunch keynote from Raul Fernandez, Chairman of ObjectVideo, Vice Chairman, Monumental Sport and Entertainment is here.

2. The marketing and innovation session was given by Barry Moltz, author of “Bust a Myth” and it was titled “How Social Media Has Made Customer Service the New Marketing.”

3. Another great session was “Reinvigorating Small Business Innovation” with small business experts Jason Falls, Steve King, Jeremy Epstein, and Duncan Alnay.

4. The final session that included the Marketing Keynote with Rohit Bhargava, Ramon Ray on 6 Rules for Tech Success, Rieva, Lesonsky, 3 Top Small Business Trends for 2011, Shonali Burke on PR & Small Business, and Jill Foster on Public Speech 2.0 in an 140 Character  World.  Check out all of these great videos here.

I sure hope we can make it next year.  What a great conference and thanks for the fantastic content!

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