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Posts Tagged ‘Startup’

SmallBiz Strategy Tips from Our 7 Best Blog Interviews of Last Year

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

The holidays are over (for most people anyway) and people are returning to work.  Last year was hectic and I don’t think this year will be much better considering it’s election year. Now before we start running for the underground bunkers or start to wade through the tens of thousands of political articles and interviews, let’s take a look at 7 really good interviews of last year that were on the blog.  [Please note that these are in no particular order, except for maybe how they appeared in my tab list.] I selected these because I think that they offer some new tips and talk about things that aren’t often talked about.

1. Books the new old Google

Turning Sites into Gold: This is an interview of John Nicholson from Marketade. The thing I liked the most about this interview was that Nicholson suggests going to a library and looking at books to get information.  I love libraries (although I haven’t properly been inside one in ages) and I think this is a source that most people overlook.

I remember when I was doing a Linguistics project, my partner and I got all of our information from two very good, but slightly outdated books.  Sure, the internet is a great resource and will probably have the most current information, but how much of that is actually valuable? At least with books, you know that it’s been filtered and scrutinized enough to know that it’s valuable. It may not be current, but it’s probably the best.

2. Law, Perfection and the Internet

The Right Side of the Law: This is an interview with Gregg Hand.  One of the things Hand talks about in the interview is the fear of starting a business. I like his examples of the types of decisions that one has to make when starting a business.  Often it’s stuff that you don’t think about.

Hand also mentions that conditions for small businesses have become more favorable due to the internet. Now this is probably something we all know, but it’s always nice to hear it in words.  The best bit of advice that I think Hand gives in this interview is that things don’t have to be perfect. If you’re starting a business, often you won’t have everything set up just yet and you will most likely encounter setbacks even if you make a habit of starting businesses.  Eventually, you’ll have to jump right in and get started.

3.The Duo of the Elite Group

“Putting Your Money baQ Where it Belongs” : This is a double interview with both the CEO (Brian J. Esposito) and the CTO
(Peter Hermsen) of paybaQ.  Their advice is solid and I liked the acknowledgement about family members and friends un/intentionally bringing you down. I think this is something that happens often, but that no one really talks about.

One of my favorite bits from this interview is the description of the small business community as “elite”.  They mention that small business owners should be proud of the responsibility that they have taken on and I feel like this is a point that should be brought up more often. It takes a lot of work, energy and determination to start a small business, so feel proud small business owners!

4. Platforms and Personality

The Speech AND the Pen are Mightier than the Sword: I’ll admit to a little bit of bias on my part for picking this. I’ve met Jill Foster before and I like her and thinks that she gives great advice.  One important point that she brings up in this interview is that one doesn’t have to use all of the social media platforms that are out there.

A lot of the things that I’ve read online make it seem like small businesses have to use every single platform that they can find. I know that’s a bit silly, but that’s the impression I got. Jill is the only person I’ve seen so far mention the fact that one shouldn’t use all of them.

Another good piece of advice that she gives is to make sure that your business has a personal feel to it. Big businesses like Target or Walmart  have a certain feel to them, but it’s impersonal and not the type of feeling that y0u want a customer to get from your small business.

5. Juggling Jobs

Talking Employedpreneurs & Steps to Success for Businesses with Tai Goodwin : What I like about this interview is that it focuses on people trying to start a small business while having a job.  Goodwin gives some great pieces of advice such as putting in systems to manage your small business while you work at your other job.  Goodwin also talks a little bit about different business models and suggests trying something other than the traditional one-to-one model.

The piece of advice I liked best from this interview is that it’s important to be flexible.  Having a vision is good, but often, due to the way the environment changes, you may need to update it. Customers and markets tend to change quickly and you’ll be in better shape if you can adapt faster to keep up.

6. Products and People

Small Business Interview with Sophie Kovic from FlockStocks : My favorite piece of advice from this is bit about choosing a product that doesn’t vary much because then you’ll have less trouble.  Another great piece of advice is to trust the people who work under you. You cannot manage everything. Let go when necessary and trust that when you go on vacation, the people whom you leave in charge will work things out.

7. Coordination and Background Knowledge

Reach Your Best Insights: This is an interview with Pierre DeBois.  One piece of advice I liked from this interview is the fact that online and offline activities should be coordinated. It’s like picking colors, you has to choose ones that go together. Another thing that DeBois talks about is going beyond Search Engine Optimization. Yes, that is important, but there’s things beyond that which Small Businesses should do too.

One of the points that DeBois brings up is the fact that Small Businesses need to think about what goes on in the background that’s essential to either the customers or the business itself.  Reading all of these articles and tips for Small Business owners, I get the feeling that it’s something that’s often not touched on.

All of these interviews offer valuable advice for Small Businesses and should be reviewed as you owners start drawing up your plans for the coming year. If you have any tips or interviews to add to or contest, leave a comment. 🙂

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Posts Tagged ‘Startup’

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 ‘Startup’

A Conversation with Candice Cabe of “Day2Night Convertible Heels”: Venturing Into the World of Start-Ups

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

I had the pleasure of talking to Candice Cabe, who is the CEO of an innovative startup called “Day2Night Convertible Heels.”  Her company focuses on simplifying life for women who want to be both practical and stylish.  Her business targeting women-on-the-go, and is quickly plunging into the entrepreneurial world.  We spoke briefly about her ventures, as well as what it’s like to be a small-business owner in today’s quickly-changing world of business.  Thank you, Candice for speaking to me and sharing your experiences with our readers.  We wish you the best of luck in the future!

Tell us a little bit about your business and what makes it unique.

We invented a high heel shoe that converts from high heels down to lower heels.  It is a new kind of technology.  The shoes have interchangeable heels so that women can wear the same pair of shoes but adjust the heel height.  It’ll be the first time that women can wear fashionable and much more comfortable shoes at the same time.

What prompted you to start this business?  Was there a problem you aimed on solving?

The main problem is that women love to wear high heels, but usually after a few hours of wearing them, their feet really start to hurt. They’re usually forced to carry extra shoes with them in their bag to wear to work in the morning or to go out at night.

One of the stories that I tell a lot is that I was packing for a trip – I had to go on a corporate trip down to Miami for a few days and I was told to pack lightly and not check baggage.  I was trying to fit all of these shoes into my little tiny suitcase and I noticed that I ended having three pairs of shoes that looked similar but all had different heel heights, depending on what I was going to be doing.  I knew that immediately when I was getting off the plane, we were going to be chartering a boat and going on that for a few hours, so I was going to need small heels.  Later, we were going to be walking around the tradeshow for a few hours.  I needed to look appropriate in my suit and wear medium-height heels.  Then we were going to go out for a fancier dinner at night so I needed to have high stiletto shoes.  All my shoes looked the same but had different heel heights.  Also, they were taking up so much room in my suitcase.  I thought that it would be so nice to have a travel shoe – one shoe that you can wear to multiple occasions.

What are your short-term goals for the next year?  What kind of things is your business focusing on?

Right now we’re working on refunding and financing.  We’re trying to get some money in the door to finish prototyping.  We are also going to have to invest in getting a mold made.  Once we have a mold, we’ll be able to mass-produce the shoes in China.  We’re also looking for a shoe designer and a shoe manufacturer.  We already have one, but we’re looking for an alternative one.  We’re also trying to close some deals – we’re hoping to do a licensing deal with an existing shoe company.  We’re talking to companies like Steve Madden and zappos.com.  It would be great to get a licensing deal with a larger shoe company.

What do you see as the biggest challenges for small businesses in today’s society and economy?  What do you see as the best solutions to these challenges?

Funding, for sure, is number one.  Another one is building a team and getting people to work for straight equity instead of money is difficult – so getting people to either quit their jobs or to work for you full time.

The biggest thing that I’ve done is just talk to everybody I know or everybody I can think of.  I go to a lot of networking events and tell people what I’m trying to do and what I’m struggling with.  People always want to help, especially if you specifically tell them what you’re struggling with, which makes it easy for people to introduce you to other people.

From your experience, what are the best ways to advertise yourself?  Do you make use of tools like social media?

We have been using a lot of social media tools.  We use Facebook and Twitter and we have our own website.  We’re working on search engine optimization, for example Google keywords.

Where do you go to find advice or to get information that is relevant to your business?  Where would you recommend that other small businesses in the community go?  How do you connect with other businesses?

There’s a book that I’d like to recommend to people.  It’s called The Four Steps to the Epiphany.  That’s a book that is helpful for this kind of business that can help business owners get some customers and prove that people want things in the way that you’re doing them.  It’s a good way to get information to people.

Have you had any problems with demonstrating trust to your potential clients or customers?

People seem to be pretty good with trust.  Sometimes people have issues with our particular product.  They are reluctant to believe that the product will hold up well and be sturdy enough and strong enough.  What we’ve done to reassure customers is have a couple of videos on our website demonstrating the shoes, how they’re worn, and how they work.  In the future, we’re hoping to get a lot of customer reviews, feedback, and testimonials from people.  Communication is very important.  We’re trying to put ourselves out there so that people can better understand what we’re doing.

If you could choose a dream spokesperson to represent your business, who would it be?

My dream spokesperson would be Carrie Underwood because we would love to have a celebrity that would be able to wear our shoes.  I think that a lot of people would follow suit.  She’s a rising star and an American Idol and holds a lot of credibility for young women in America.

What do you see as the future for small businesses like yours?  Are you seeing any trends or changes developing?

I’m in the startup world of Boston, which is a really big startup community and city.  It seems that more and more young folks are starting businesses right out of college.  Instead of graduating college and immediately trying to find a job, people are thinking creatively and taking entrepreneurial courses or looking up to other young startups.

Do you have any parting comments or words of advice to our readers and the small business community?

If you have an idea, you should act on it.  Ideas can be a dime in a dozen, but it’s really about execution.  I think that if people put all of their effort into starting a business…if they’re passionate about it and tell everybody they know about it, then almost anyone can start their own business.  I encourage people to start their own businesses and try to ground themselves with people who have done so and been successful.  It’s good to have mentorship from people who know how things work.

I hope you enjoyed reading this interview and I hope you gained something from Candice’s words of wisdom and many insights into what it’s like to own a start-up.  What do you think of her ideas?

Feel free to leave feedback here or contact Candice through her site: http://www.convertible-heels.com/Day2Night.html

Support her business here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2072356942/day2night-convertible-high-heel-shoes

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Posts Tagged ‘Startup’

The Right Side of the Law: An Interview With Gregg Hand

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

I recently had the pleasure of talking to Gregg Hand, founder and owner of the exciting new law firm Hand Law Offices. Friendly and embodying the entrepreneurial spirit, Gregg is a great guy who has much to say and just as much to teach. After our interview, I feel that it is a privilege to share his wisdom with both the potential and current small business owners out there. I hope that you all get as much out of Gregg’s words as I have.

What areas of the law do you focus in?

I focus on small business counseling and litigation. This mainly involves small businesses that don’t have their own inside counseling centers and need help with issues such as how to handle certain customers and deal with lawsuits. You can think of me as an adviser who is there to come up with answers to these types of problems.

When and why did you start Hand Law Offices?

I started Hand Law a little over one year ago in January 2010. In the past years, I have worked in many large D.C. law offices and I’d finally had enough of them. I don’t mean to say that I disliked what I was doing. My problem was more a matter of how these big businesses are run. I didn’t like being told what to do, being constantly monitored, and having to report up the corporate chain even when they didn’t care what I was reporting. I really wanted to do things on my own.

What was one of the biggest challenges you faced and overcame in launching your law firm?

Actually, there were a few challenges I had to go through. Although I am a member of the D.C. bar, I wanted to do my work in Maryland, where I live. But since there are different licensing requirements for every state, I had to take a whole new bar exam to practice here.

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. What computer should I use? What internet should I use? How should my business cards look? In the end, though, you just need to stir up your courage and take a leap of faith.

Probably the main hurdle I had to get over was figuring out how to find customers. With so many options out there, I needed to figure out how to do my website. I also had to figure out if I was going to just do a website or also create a blog for it. I had to decide how I was going to stand out and market myself. These are just of few choices I had to make. That being said, it’s kind of fun. After all, by being your own boss, you get what you want.

How do you advertise yourself to get your clients?

Other than my website and blog, I have Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin accounts. Of course, most people are more likely to Google you than anything else. However, I think it’s most important to keep in touch with my contact groups. I prefer to get the bulk of my customers through referrals from past and present customers. After that, it’s more a matter of figuring out how to supplement word of mouth through social media.

Have you found that demonstrating your law firm’s trustworthiness to potential clients and website visitors has been a challenge?

Actually, the trumping card for me is just the opposite. Sometimes the referrals I get can be duds. My website is not really for online service so much as it is to allow potential customers to find my contact information and let them know a little bit about me. I like to try a more trustworthy and conservative approach. I mainly want the customer to feel comfortable talking to me over the phone or in person.

What do you do in your down time to relax that allows you to recharge your batteries?

I have three kids, so that keeps me kind of busy. I also like to play the guitar and am taking lessons. The thing is that, with a startup, you’re usually going to be doing more than a nine-to-five workday. The fear of failure to succeed in a startup is definitely a good motivator that keeps me going. However, my schedule is more flexible than if I were still at a big company, so I can take the time that I need to get other things done like if I need to pick up one of my kids from school. Other than that, I enjoy doing what I do.

What trends do you see in the business world that you think are important for small businesses to take note of?

Lately, there has been a shift in the business world. With the internet, things have become a lot more favorable for small businesses. Since people now have the ability to compare businesses with one another, startups have been given a fair chance to compete against large companies because they can operate from around the world just like everyone else.

If you had two lessons that you’ve learned from your business that you could pass on to others about opening their own service businesses, what would those be?

My first lesson is that good enough is fine. Sometimes you simply don’t have the resources to be perfect. You’re better off taking a leap of faith and seeing how it turns out rather than spending forever agonizing about it. Don’t spend too much time over-analyzing everything. After all, it’s not like you’ll make some sort of intractable mistake. What does your gut say? Go for it!

My second lesson is that, in general, people have good intentions. Sometimes people need help and propping up along the way. For example, if a customer has not payed your bill for a while, it doesn’t mean they are trying to stiff you. You need to realize that, even if this is your most important bill, it isn’t necessarily theirs. You should take the time to remind them of it, but understand that everyone has their own priorities.

Just before we wrap up, do you have any parting thoughts or guidance for our readers and the small business community?

The most important thing is to let everyone know that you’re starting out. Don’t be afraid to tell people about your new business. If people can help you out, they will! In fact, I’d say that this should be put even before the hard stuff like setting up a website. Plant your seeds early.

Thanks to Gregg Hand for a great interview! If you have any questions for Gregg, feel free to leave a comment below.

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Posts Tagged ‘Startup’

We’re So Money…Or I Mean, We So Need to Figure Out the Money Issue

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

Our little enterprise at KikScore is growing.  We have a long list of customers and are in process of integrating with several different channels.  That’s the good news for our business.  The bad news is that we’re just starting to charge for the service and we constantly throwing in our own cash to feed the growth.  Like it or not, we need to make a decision about funding.  And it’s looking like our choices are pretty familiar to other growing startups: Friends and Family vs. Angels vs. Venture Capital vs. Self Funding.  After talking to several capital sources and other startups, here’s my analysis of these choices:

Friends and Family:  First thing, you don’t actually be related or friendly with this investor group.  It’s a group of people you know that have money.  You may get money from this group, but it may not enough to fully fund the venture and the investors may not be completely clear on the risks of a startup investment.

Angels:  This group is certainly aware of risks of their investment and have ready access to capital.  But they are generally less willing to fully fund a venture (compared to Venture Capital), but are still in your business.  So you now have a boss, but not the free-flowing cash to stock up your office with cool gear and get a SuperBowl ad.

Venture Capital:  You get the money and the contacts.  But everyone is going after investment from the top VC outfits…and they are generally looking for a business that has a strong balance sheet, several partners and a lot of buzz.  In other words, a business that doesn’t need the money.

Self Funding:  You’re  the boss, you control your business completely.  And you’re constantly kicking in money. 

After contemplating the options, we’re sticking with option #4…unless you want to just gift us some money with no strings attached.

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Posts Tagged ‘Startup’

Super Bowl Ads – 6 Steps for Small Businesses and Startups to Get In the Game?

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

The Super Bowl was Sunday night and thank goodness the Steelers lost.  Didn’t you just get the feeling when they had the ball at the end of the game that they would yet again pull out another victory.  Good job Packers to play strong defense at the right time to cut that off.  I hope someone from my beloved Browns takes a few lessons from them for next season and maybe we can win a few more games!

Well this post is not about the game, but those commercials.  You have heard about the hype.  There is the yearly run up to each Super Bowl where huge brands (and late stage startups with lots of VC money to blow like Groupon) go “all in” usually to the tune of $3 million bucks for a 30 second ad.  Is it worth it?  Really?  Thinking back over the last decade I was trying to remember what were the best and most memorable commercials that still leave a mark on me.  I could only remember two.  Somewhat surprisingly each commercial was from the career placement and job advertising industry.   They were from CareerBuilder and Monster.com and I included them at the top of the post and below.

So what do these two ads have in common.  Dead simple delivery and execution and story that everyone can relate to.  It helps that they use two main ingredients that are so often successful to any campaign: little children and animals (especially cute ones!).

The point of this story is really not so much about these commercials, but that these days any of us can now try to compete at the level of these large brands in order to spread the word about your product and business.  Here are some steps that can help:

Story Counts Advertising is viral now so take the time necessary to create a good story that is engaging and means something not just to you, but to your audience that you are going after.  Make sure that story is simple in your ad and that people can relate to that story in a real world practical way. Tara Jacobsen from the Marketing Artfully blog has some good tips about making your story funny for your video ad.

Your Own Video Camera Now take that story and it is as simple as getting a decent video camera from Best Buy to film your own commercial. Even better is that most computers now come with video editing software that is easy to use or if yours does not there are a number of vendors online that provide editing software for low prices.

Crowdsource Actors/Actresses Try to look somewhat professional when you are filming. But that does not mean you have to pay big bucks for known actors and actresses. This only means put some real thought into props, actors, actresses that can include employees, friends or even your own pets.  Your costumes for the commercial are as close as your own closet or even the nearby Salvation Army store.

YouTube Once you complete your video ad, upload it to YouTube.  That is your first step and then make sure you title the clip in a way that grabs your audience’s attention.  Also remember to use keyword tags that are relative to the content, your product and company so that the video ad will appear in relevant search results.  This is a key component that will help drive traffic and page views so take the time to think about how people will search to get to see your video ad.  Here is an excellent article from Mashable on Top 10 YouTube Tips for Small Business.

Distribute Your Video Ad After the video is uploaded, create a blog post around the video and give that clip a story and some context in your blog post.  Also post the video on your blog, your website and even try to submit it to other video distribution sites through Tube Mogul.  This helps get your video in as many places as possible. Remember the more places the higher the chance more people will see your video ad.

Social Media Channels Do not stop at your website, make sure you use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other bookmarking sites to get the ad out. That way your followers, customers and friends can help you distribute that ad!  If you video is funny or has a viral element to it, that will give the community even more reason to pass it along to others.

So using the above 6 steps is your first step to advertising with the big brands.  All you need is a video camera, a little creativity and some of your own co-workers, friends, family and pets.  Any startup, small business or even non-profit can use these tips to get the word out about your product, company or cause.  Now I am not promising you huge overnight success with these steps, but what you will get is the beginning of the process for pushing your brand out there.  And isnt Super Bowl advertising all about just that.  So on a slightly smaller level you can do what the big brands do all by yourself.  Who knows, if you are creative enough you may just land yourself a hit on YouTube!

Let us know which Super Bowl ads were your favorite and what video ad you would put together.

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Posts Tagged ‘Startup’

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

Monday, January 24th, 2011

As a small business or startup there is a constant challenge of developing a brand for your business.  Unlike large companies like Coke and Apple, small businesses and startups do not have the resources to invest the time, money and effort to build a brand through advertising.  So these businesses are left to rely on my scrappy tactics to develop and grow their brand.  Of course with all of the large, medium and small competitors, it can be difficult to elevate your small business above the noise that is out there.   Here are a few tips that can help your small business build your brand and show that you can be trusted to deliver for your customers:

1. Give Each Customers an Experience: Think about the great brand experiences that are out there today.  There are product experiences like Apple and Zappos.  Then there are city experiences like Las Vegas.  All evoke a certain type of experience when you interact with those brands (yes, I am calling Las Vegas a brand!). So when your business interacts with your customers, treat them to an experience.  What type of experience you may ask?  How about “white glove” treatment from beginning until end where you make every effort to anticipate your customer’s wants, needs and desires.  This is not an easy thing to accomplish, but just making this type of effort will ensure you try to create a good customer experience for your customers.

2. Every Interaction Should Make an Impression:  So this is taking point #1 above and breaking it down.  Think about your customer’s touch points for your business.  Now think about how you interact with your customers at every touch point.  Is it the first time they reach your website? The first time they call your office?  An email inquiry about your product or a meeting at a trade show?  A conversation over Twitter? Now try to aim to make every experience with your customers one that they will remember.  I am not advocating something over the top. I am merely advocating taking special care of the customers at every interaction with your business.  For example, talk to your customer, listen to them, and take the time to say that you value them as a customer. Always remember find a way to go the extra mile to help your customers life a little easier or happier.  That is why every email should be thought out, every entry point to your website considered so you can get into the mind of a customer and make a good impression at every point with them.

3. Help Your Customers & They Will Talk About Your Business: Building on points #1 and #2, if you make an impression and give customers a great experience, you will give your customers reasons to talk about your business, service or product.  What better way to build your brand by having your customers be your brand messengers to potential customers and leads that are out in the community.  That is why the more you go out of your way to build up credibility and trust with your customers by repeatedly beating their expectations, the easier it is for those customers to tell the world about buying from your small business.

4. Promote Your Customer’s Successes:   We have found at Kikscore one of the best ways to help ourselves and our brand is by promoting our own customers.  We have done that by finding every opportunity to promote our customers through various avenues like our blog, on Twitter and by supporting them at every opportunity.  One of ways we have done that is by giving our customers a forum on our own blog to tell their own small business success stories.  What can you do?  Take your customers’ successes and help them tell the world.  If your product, service or company was involved with that success, that is even better for you.

Bottom line: Sell yourself by promoting your own customers!

5. Always Aim for a Consistent Message & Customer Experience: One of the biggest enemies of a strong band is an inconsistent message and uneven customer experience.  Do you treat customers differently?  Is your product simple to use, but your marketing copy and help materials complex and too wordy?  How about your customer service – is it very responsive over the phone, but slow or non-existent on Twitter and Facebook?  The key is to make sure that the way that your customers interact with your business and startup is in a consistent manner across all channels.  This consistency is critical to ensure a brand that does not create mixed messages with customers.  A cohesive and consistent brand is hard to create, but it is imperative to achieve to build a great brand.

While small businesses may not have the same resources as large companies, they do still have the ability to build a strong band without paying a huge sum of money.  But the monetary investment is replaced with a huge human investment in time, effort, messaging and customer service.  That human investment if deployed carefully and deliberately across all parts of a small business or startup can pay major dividends. The trick is studying your business, your customers and the touch points and then developing a branding plan and executing on it.

These are just some of the ways to develop a great brand for your small business or startup.  Let us know if you have any tips in the comment below.

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Posts Tagged ‘Startup’

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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Posts Tagged ‘Startup’

Lessons from Arnold Schwarzenegger: The Mental Game is Key to Success

Monday, November 29th, 2010

I have to admit when I was growing up back in Ohio I idolized Arnold Schwarzenegger. Yes, I used to get Muscle & Fitness magazine and I watched every Arnold movie from Conan the Barbarian, Commando, Predator, and of course through all of the Terminator classics.  At that time I looked up to Arnold mainly because I was (ok now dont laugh) big into weightlifting and well the movies were just the movies – pretty cool for any teenage kid.

It is funny that nearly 20 years later my wife sent me the video below which is a recent interview of Arnold where he discussed his approach to the success he has had a different phases in his life.  It wasn’t until I watched the short 10 minute video that I realized that Arnold reinvented himself three separate times and was wildly successful in each instance. First, as the bodybuilder and multiple Mr. Olympia, then as a huge action movie star and finally as Governor of California.

The punchline for the video and largely this post is that Arnold said the difference between himself and others in each of the three major  roles in his life was the mental game.  As an example, he said there were plenty of weightlifters when he was competing to win bodybuilding competitions that were just as big as him, trained just as hard as he did, but the difference between Arnold and these other folks was their approach to mentally winning. Arnold always envisioned success and winning as well as achieving his goals.  His goal was not just to be a good bodybuilder, but it was to win Mr. Olympia repeatedly.  And so as opposed to other bodybuilders who were just good at training, Arnold continually envisioned mentally winning Mr. Olympia.  And he won it not just once, but six consecutive times! In the video he says the difference between himself and others was not being physically bigger or having more defined muscles, it was instead the mental aspect of training, focusing and envisioning success at all times.

This was Arnold’s approach to the mental game:

a) constantly envisioned success and accomplishing the near and short term goals he laid out for himself;

b) was always mentally focused on that success and accomplishing those goals;

c) carried that focus into everything he did and his approach to training and executing his plans; and

d) was relentless in his pursuit for the success that he set out to achieve.

For startups and small businesses there are strong parallels and lessons learned from Arnold’s approach that he has taken in his life to succeeding not once, but in three completely separate areas as diverse as bodybuilding, acting and being elected as to the highest office in the largest state in the United States.

Watch, listen, take notes and start acting on the Arnold’s guidance! You will not regret it.

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Posts Tagged ‘Startup’

Video: Sir Richard Branson on Marketing and Business

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

Here is a very good short 6 minute video of the great entrepreneur, Sir Richard Branson, on marketing and business.  As always he has some great tips and stories that small businesses, entrepreneurs and startups can learn from for our businesses.

Please check it out and let us know your thoughts.

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