Small Business Marketing on the Internet

Advertising on the internet can be very expensive for small businesses. Search engine marketing can need a lot of money and the bigger firms can outdo the smaller companies in no time. How does one find a solution to this situation? Is there a more affordable way of marketing for smaller companies who don’t have big budgets for advertising?One of the major challenges of marketing your business online is being available to the user when the user needs you. Advertising on the internet serves this purpose to an extent, but there are limitations to it.1. There is no guarantee that your customer will notice your advertisement.2. Those who do notice the advertisement may not be your target audience.3. Even if they are your target customers, they may not be in the frame of mind to register the message about your business.4. Only sustained advertising which is expensive can give you a chance to be noticed by your target audience.However, small businesses that do not have fancy budgets to spend on advertising cannot afford this kind of marketing. This makes reaching the target audience even more difficult. What does one do then? Try and leverage the internet.Challenges of advertising on the Internet: Advertising on the internet has a lot of challenges. Some of them are:1. It is very expensive.2. Established internet marketing agencies that can advertise for you may not find your scale of operations or budgets lucrative.3. There are a lot of scams and fly by night operators who earn their money at the cost of your business.4. There are billions of websites that you are competing against and you need to get noticed among these websites.What happens then to small businesses that are looking at getting noticed by their target audience on the internet? Search Engine Marketing can help such businesses to get noticed and grow their business. Over 60% of the people use search engines before deciding on anything.Advantages of search engines for a business: 1. People look for your products and business when they search on the internet. If you are available to them at that time, it will help your business grow.2. Instead of you trying to get to your customers, they try to find you.3. It is the best time to reach your customer when he is searching for you because then he is most receptive to your message.4. While advertising on the internet is expensive, being on the search engine and appearing among the top search results when your customer needs you need not be very expensive.To leverage the power of search engines, for most growing businesses, it makes marketing sense to outsource SEO to a credible and ethical SEO firm. You gain from their resident SEO expertise, results achieved last for months after the SEO effort is stopped and the biggest gain is that you are able to make search engines market your products and services.

Rep V. Direct: How to Best Organize a Sales Team

Sales executives are constantly searching for the ideal structure of the sales team. Should the team be composed only of direct sales people? Should the team be composed only of manufacturers’ representatives? Experience shows that a hybrid sales organization, composed of a blend of direct and indirect sales employees (manufacturers’ representatives), combines optimal performance, cost effectiveness and flexibility.If one observes several sales organizations over an extended period, she’s able to see that relatively often, sales executives make sweeping changes to those organizations, from all direct to all rep, and from all rep to all direct. Invariably, the observer is able to note that sales management ultimately reverses many of those sweeping changes. Sometimes sales executives benefit from observing changes made by others. Unfortunately, too many sales executives develop the understanding of the benefits of a hybrid organization by making one or more poor decisions and then repairing the organization after problems surface. The most durable of sales organizations are those that use a hybrid technique, employing a mix of both direct sales staff and manufacturers’ representatives. Sales teams composed entirely of all direct people or entirely of manufacturers’ representatives are generally not ideal.Why “Direct Only” Teams Are Not IdealMany CEOs and executive teams believe that the best way to build relationships with customers is with a sales team composed only of direct employees. In this example, sales staff cannot be distracted with unrelated business and other product lines. No one can blame the inexperienced CEO and executive team for thinking this way. A salesperson is able to devote 100 percent of this time to the company. A direct sales team suffers from far fewer distractions than a rep sales team. However, experienced CEOs and executive teams understand that they must thoroughly look at a direct sales team before converting to it. Direct sales teams are quite expensive to train and support. The company must support offices in all major markets. Those offices bring along with them assorted costs: rent, administrative support, office equipment, utilities, etc. A competent manager who can work well and represent the company without direct supervision must manage the office. The company must train and occasionally upgrade each office manager.When sales are growing, the office manager must hire and train new sales staff. The company must train the manager in hiring and training techniques. The company must also train the office manager in firing techniques, in hopes of avoiding legal problems.As sales grow, the office must expand to meet growing demands upon the sales office. Cost of sales rises as sales grow. Sales, however, do not grow forever. Ultimately, sales flatten and roll over. Sales usually roll over earlier and more abruptly than hiring plans. Sales may dip at anytime during the year, but hiring plans are usually set at the beginning of each calendar or fiscal year. As a result, hiring is sometimes still underway when industry and office sales are falling. Such dynamics create an environment whereby cost of sales, (as measured by the total cost of running the sales office, divided by the total revenue that the office generates, expressed as a share of sales) rises rapidly.


When a sales office has healthy sales, the company can manage its cost of sales and support them at a predetermined level. If sales grow for a long period, the company can manage the office to cut cost of sales. The sales office can benefit from economies of scale. A sales office supporting 20 salesmen doesn’t need more copiers, fax machines and conference rooms than an office supporting only 10 salesmen. Unfortunately, sales ultimately roll over. It is difficult to cut costs immediately. The office manager must usually see several months or quarters of declining sales before realizing that he must cut costs, including headcount. During this time, cost of sales rises, sometimes well above tolerated levels. The sales office manager and the company cannot cut costs quickly. Which is a chief reason that totally direct sales teams are undesirable.Why “Rep Only” Teams Don’t Yield Peak PerformanceRep only sales organizations afford a number of benefits to the sales executive. The sales teams are already in place. Hiring and firing of salesmen is not the direct responsibility of the sales executive or his regional sales managers. Manufacturers’ representatives generally hire and fire as sales move up and down. The cost of running a rep only sales organization rise and fall directly with the level of sales. A significant benefit of the rep only sales organization is that cost drops immediately when sales drop. It’s possible to accurately forecast cost of sales as a share of total revenue. Cost can never get out of control by hiring too many salesmen, buying too many computers, or leasing too large an office; not infrequent problems for direct sales organizations.Manufacturers’ representatives are not always the panacea for companies looking to hire or expand a sales organization. Large customers often demand direct sales staff; not indirect staff from a manufacturers’ representative. Large customers view their largest suppliers as strategic partners, and like the ability to communicate directly with those suppliers. Communications is sometimes slower and less clear when a customer must communicate with a manufacturers’ representative, who in turn communicates with the supplier. Customers may set the style with which they deal with suppliers as part of their purchasing strategy. For example, they may decide to deal with no more than two or three suppliers on any commodity and to deal with those suppliers directly. This disallows conducting business through manufacturers’ representatives. A supplier must recognize and honor such a strategy, or be ready to suffer undesirable consequences. A supplier must never turn a tin ear to a request from a customer demanding direct sales representation.Large suppliers view their largest customers as strategic partners, and like the ability to communicate directly with those customers. They view the delay when communicating through a manufacturers’ representative as an unnecessary burden. When large suppliers invest management time with strategic customers, they do not want to dilute that investment by sharing management time with manufacturers’ representatives. The incapacity to offer direct coverage to strategic customers is the primary reason that a sales team composed only of manufacturers’ representatives is unattractive.First and Foremost: Do No HarmRecognizing that something is wrong, many sales executives make bold, sweeping structural changes to their sales teams. Fire all reps and hire a direct sales team. Fire all direct salesmen and hire a network of manufacturers’ representatives. Either approach will certainly repair some problems. More than likely, however, extreme changes are very prone to creating new problems of equal or greater scale.Why do so many companies replace one poor-performing sales organization with another that destined to yield performance that is no better than the original? The two most common reasons are inexperience and weakness of the sales executive compared to the rest of the management team. Perhaps the inexperienced sales executive has risen through a single company with an all-direct or all-rep sales force. Now, managing the global sales organization, he opts for sweeping change from all-direct to all-rep, or from all-rep to all-direct sales without benefit of understanding thoroughly the benefits and problems with either a pure-rep or pure-direct organization. Alternatively, the inexperienced sales executive may have developed his management skill at a company employing an all-direct sales organization. He may not feel comfortable managing if hired into an all-rep company. No one can fault a sales manager if he sees massive problems and concludes that he must make sweeping change to an all-direct sales organization. Only inexperience allows him to make a major, highly disruptive change.Another reason companies make dramatic changes in the structure of a sales organization is that the sales executive is weak. If cost-of-sales, expressed as a share revenue is too high, the CEO, the rest of the executive team, or both can apply pressure on the sales executive to affect change and cut cost. If the sales executive lacks the strength to defend his team or the structure of the sales organization, he merely becomes the messenger, not the manager.


The message to the sales executive feeling pressure to make sweeping change in a sales organization is to adhere to the Hippocratic Oath: First, do no harm. Any sweeping change imposed upon the structure of a sales team will initially be disruptive. Make sure to justify the disruption and be very sure that the change, once implemented, is most likely irreversible. Sweeping change brings disruption, higher cost of sales and lower productivity. All of this might be worthwhile. However, if a sales manager imposes sweeping change and then reverses course within a year or two, disruption from the reversal is much greater and more costly. A reversal of an organization change brings with it disruption, higher cost of sales and lower productivity just like the original change. However, an organizational reversal can erode the sales team’s enthusiasm. A company can handle disruption, higher cost of sales and lower productivity if repaired relatively quickly. Repair of an unmotivated sales team takes much more time.”Hybrid Sales Teams” Work BestA supplier always looks to optimize its sales organization. If a company continuously focuses on cost of the sales organization, use of manufacturers’ representatives is mandatory. The benefits of manufacturers’ representatives are too great to ignore. However, manufacturers’ representatives may not satisfy the requirements for some customers. Strategic customers demand direct interface, excluding the use of reps. The best alternative then, is to merge some of the best features of both a rep and a direct sales organization. Implement a direct sales team to cover the sales to all strategic customers, while simultaneously bringing about a sales team of manufacturers’ representatives to cover all other customers.A hybrid sales team benefits from the cost effectiveness of manufacturers’ representatives. The same team can deal directly with strategic customers. The sales executive may take advantage of the non-disruptive flexibility when adding or deleting customers on strategic customer list. A secondary benefit of a hybrid sales organization is bench strength. Well-seasoned, top-performing direct sales personnel represent a talent pool from which from which to draw regional sales managers.ConclusionExperience shows that a hybrid sales organization, composed of a blend of direct and manufacturers’ representatives combines optimal performance, cost effectiveness and flexibility. The most durable sales organization is one that uses a hybrid technique. Sales teams composed entirely of all direct staff or entirely of manufacturers’ representatives too often underperform.

Free Internet Marketing Software Keyword Generator

As you begin your search for new free internet marketing software and free keyword generator programs there are certain things that you must do to maximize your efforts. Remember that time is your most valuable commodity as an internet marketer and simply put we as marketers do not have time to waste looking at, reading about and testing new software programs that offer the following;1.) Trial Use2.) Limited Use3.) Timed Use4.) Demo Only5.) Light VersionI’m sure that from time to time you will find a truly wonderful program that defies all of the odds, but let’s look at this from a practical point of view here. How much time was spent getting to the point where you found that software program? Was it really worth all the hassles? More often than not I’m sure that you’ll agree that it would be better if you could simply find a website that reviewed these so called “free internet marketing software programs” and “free keyword generators”. And of course finding such a site that also offered a blog or forum for viewer comments would be even better.To prove this let’s do a brief study on free internet marketing software and high quality free keyword generators. For the sake of argument let’s run a search on Google for a “free keyword generator”.Case Study #1:Free Keyword List Generator by Stomper Net – My first thoughts were WOW another GREAT free or low cost promotional tool being offered by Stomper Net! Then I realized that I had to sign up for their email list AGAIN and register to use the tool. Once I’d jumped through these initial proverbial hoops I was shocked to find that I’d overlooked the fact that this software uses Word Tracker Keywords.


This means that my software would need to be upgraded to unlock it’s full potential, which of course would cost money. Worse than that I might need to sign up for the Word Tracker Keywords program and that means I could possibly end up paying for a monthly or annual subscription to their service.* Before I offend anyone I do realize that Stomper Net and the Word Tracker Keyword program are both well respected staples in the internet marketing niche. However, in this case it is my goal to help people find completely FREE full version internet marketing software and keyword generator software that they can use to promote their products, services and affiliate programs with.Case Study #2:Good Keywords – At first site their website looks very well organized and professional. They offer free full version keyword research tools and keyword generator software that looks like it will do exactly what we’ve all be looking for. At one time this may have been a state of the art program back when Yahoo’s Overture worked reliably on a consistent basis.The problem with this free internet marketing software group is that it is completely reliant on a program that is so over used that the mere traffic to the Yahoo Overture website alone bogs down their system so badly that you’re lucky if you can even get their website pages to load from one visit to the next.* Also sadly in this internet marketer’s humble opinion the results that are pulled with the free Yahoo Overture tool has proven to be unreliable and unstable at best. Again, I don’t mean to offend anyone and I’m sure that at one time this was a GREAT program, but there are newer and better things.Case Study #3:Global Promoter – The first thing I noticed on their website was this;”Please be patient. This may take up to 2 minutes because it compiles the results of 6 major search engines. Sometimes no results are returned even though there are queries performed on the keywords you typed in during the given month. If this occurs, just hit submit again until the correct results are returned.”In theory this looks GREAT if they’re really using this free internet marketing software program, or in this case, free keyword generator software, to search on SIX major search engines! However, what I found next really bothered me.
“No Searches Done in March 2008 on the Overture network of search engines for your keyword.”This only left me thinking that there I was again using a program that was completely reliant on Yahoo’s Overture, which again in my humble opinion was outdated, unreliable and inconsistent.Case Study #4:Google AdWords Free Keyword Generator Tool – With this free internet marketing software program I thought that I’d finally struck oil. After all no website is more revered, searched and used online for things of this nature than the mighty Google themselves! With that in mind I typed in my favorite set of keyword search terms;”free internet marketing software”Unfortunately the results that were returned consisted of 3 targeted keyword phrases and 11 other keyword phrases that had NOTHING to do with any form of internet marketing software.Case Study #5:Traffic Zap’s Free Keyword Generator – Let me cut this one short by telling you that when I tried to use it the first thing I got was a POP UP with something that looked mildly semi-pornographic. It then appeared to be processing for some time only to return an error message that once again leads back to problems that we’ve already discussed regarding the long list of free internet marketing software programs that rely on Yahoo’s Overture.


At this point we’ve researched ALL of the top 5 unique listings on Google for “free keyword generator” and we have yet to find a truly reliable free internet marketing software program that we can use to promote our products, services or affiliate marketing programs…..other than ones that we would most likely have to PAY to upgrade, such as the program by Stomper Net mentioned above.Final Case Study:Free Keyword Generator by IM Software 4 Free – This program checks for a list of popular keywords by searching on Google, Yahoo and MSN combined to come up with a more complete starting point for internet marketers to use. It also runs a search on these 3 major search engines to find out how many competitor posts show up for each of the chosen keywords.While no free internet marketing software or free keyword generator is going to be perfect this tool is truly a GREAT program to use and best of all it’s completely FREE to download and use. There is no trial use, limited use, timed use, demo or light version that leads to a paid upgrade or leaves you out hanging in the wind to PAY if you want to use the software after a specific time frame.

Home Improvement – Furniture

When we think of home improvements, visions of saw dust and sheet rock come to mind. We try to avoid these things as long as possible because it requires lots of time and effort. Many times large cash outlays are also required. We never think of improvements we can make in our home by simple changes in our living quarters. These improvements are rather easy and most can be done in a weekend. We throw out stale bread, stale pastries and stale coffee but we hang on to stale furniture until it falls apart. We never get around to replacing the look that we loved several years ago. If you are like me, I never know where to start. It seems everything needs changing. We couldn’t do it all at once so we picked a room and jumped right in.


Our living room seemed the right place to start. I really didn’t want to drive all around town looking through furniture stores. Most stores had the same tired selections and the styles were pretty similar. We wanted something different. The internet seemed a good place to start looking. I was surprised at the wide selection of furniture I found online. The pictures looked great and the prices were in line with the stores. My question was is the quality of the furniture up to my standards? From experience, I learned long ago to never forsake quality for price. Surprised, I found most web sites offered my money back if I was not happy with the purchase for any reason and the shipping was free. With that, I felt secure and started seriously looking.The problem with the old furniture, other than being old, was it seemed to crowd the room. We wanted more open space and decided to look at smaller pieces and place them at different angles. A few inches will make a big difference in a room. Many fabrics and styles were available in a multitude of colors. The anchor pieces, sofa and loveseat, was our first purchase. We then chose a coordinating accent chair that really made the room look fresh and new. With childhood excitement, we picked the occasional tables and other accessories to finish off the room. We did all this from the comfort of our home and a single web site. No driving around town looking and looking and looking. We saved time and money with comfortable internet shopping.


Our purchase arrived on time and in perfect condition. We were delighted with the style and quality of the furniture. After attaching a few legs we moved the magic inside. That fresh new look had entered our home and wow what a difference. Our home improvement was complete, all we have to do now is sit back with a cool drink and enjoy. We have just what we wanted. A little different ambience that makes this comfortable room truly us. Home improvements inside can be fun and you don’t have to drive a single nail.