Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Break Out of Your Cocoon - Eliminate Social Isolation In Your Home Business

We've all heard about “cocooning”, which sociologists have been monitoring very carefully since the explosion of the Web. Cocooning is the process of social isolation where a society withdraws from physical interaction with each other. This “hermit-like” behavior can lead to the decline of many cultural and social traditions. Cocooning also affects the way we interact with other when do finally leave the house and meet face to face.

The Internet has changed the way that humans communicate and interact. We can spend hours in chat rooms pretending to be beautiful, successful and brilliant when in fact we are average looking, overweight and unemployed. The person at the other end of the keyboard has no way of verifying our claims or disproving them.

Internet chat removes an essential aspect of communication: body language. Such things as posturing, fidgeting and eye contact all are unconscious transmitters of our true intentions. We learn as small children not to make eye contact when telling a lie and to cross our arms to distance ourselves from unpleasant people or situations. But the computer screen has no way of converting these communication skills into data that can be observed as overtones in the written text of a conversation.

Cocooning may impact the communication skills of future generations. While excelling at expressing themselves through the written word, our children may lack the skills to give a convincing speech in public or carry on a comfortable conversation while waiting in line at the grocery store. Some youth even use text messaging to communicate when they are in the same room ... let's not even get into the challenges with spelling and normal communication this is causing.

Some people argue that the growth of the home business industry is accelerating this trend. As more and more people work for themselves, from home, and communicate with colleagues over the Internet, face to face meetings and more traditional forms of meetings are dropping.

Add to this trend the fact that many parents are home schooling children, you can email your mother and fax your clients. You can even order a pizza, shop for a birthday gift and have your groceries delivered: all without any verbal communication.

As in everything in life, a balance is needed. If you email your mother today, call her tomorrow and visit her on the weekend. If you work from home, make time to visit the park. Join social groups rather that Internet message forums.

For your children, limit the amount of time that your children use the Internet and cell phone for text messaging. Encourage teens to take a speech or debate class along with that computer programming class when signing up for college courses. They may not like speaking in public (after all it is one of the top fears) but it will go a long way in helping expand their communications skills ... which are vital for future business success.

Social interaction has another valuable role for the home based business owner ... it extends your network and builds a support net for you. Find outlets where you can talk, share and interact with others in person. It gets you away from the screen, and out into the world. It can also help spark creativity and a drive to keep going when the going gets tough.

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Promotion 101 - Money in the bank

Marketing is an important aspect of any business. Home based businesses are no exception. Here are a few tips on promoting your home business.

1. Personalize your business cards with a company logo. Be sure to include email addresses and website URL on the front.

2. If you sell a product, carry several samples with you. Attach a business card to the front. You’ll be prepared the next time someone asks you “ What do you do for a living?”. Hand them a sample along with your contact information so they know how to get more.

3.Collect email addresses from everyone. Contact information can be as good as money in the bank.

4. Start a monthly newsletter filled with updates and special promotions for your products and services. Snail mail it and email it out to every address in your data base.

5. Learn to write good copy. If you don’t have time to educate yourself, hire an exceptional copy writer to assist you. Good copy makes a difference between booming business and lost sales.

6.Request testimonials form experts in your line of work, than use them to promote your business.

7.Publish your business in every available marketing directory in your area.

8. Word of mouth can make or break a business. Talk up your business when in public and enlist friends and family members to do the same.

9. If you don’t have one already, get a website. Keep it low key, professional, easy to navigate and full of quality content. Don’t overuse graphics and flashy plug ins that slow down the time it takes for your page to load. Spend some time creating a catchy headline or slogan for your business. Now would be the time to use the copy writer again. List your web site with directories like Google , Yahoo and Inktomi. Make sure you read the webmaster’s guidelines and ensure that your website conforms to the search engines terms of service.

10. Get the word out about your business online by joining discussion forums related to your area of business. Post links back to your website and exchange links with other businesses that compliment your service. Avoid associating your site with fly-by-night or shady businesses. Only allow your links to be posted on high quality, reputable sites. Only post links on your site to businesses or websites that you have researched thoroughly. This can improve your page ranking and help you move up on the search engine results page.

11.Purchase advertising. While this is more expensive, it gains attention. You can even promote the business on radio but you might want a professional speaker to read the script promoting your business to listeners in prime listening times.

Don't rely solely on one marketing initiative. It takes a campaign to successfully promote your business. Remember PR, marketing and advertising will help bring money into the bank.

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Monday, February 26, 2007

Marketing Your Home Business

So you've decided to open a home business.

Good for you!

Who knew that you could actually get started and that you’d be able to follow through with it – well you have!

Give yourself a pat on the back, and take a breather.

But only a quick one, because one you have started up a home business, the hard part is just beginning.

As soon as you have started up your home business, you need to begin to market it.

This is something that you might not have even thought of, but it is something that needs to be done right away because this is where you are going to get your key clients from. Remember that this isn’t as hard as you might think it is. In fact, marketing your home business can be a snap, if you follow some key ideas.

1. Know your market. Determine who your key audience is. Are you going to be marketing to kids, to adults, or to another age bracket? Are you going to market more to men or women or both? Is there anything else about your clientele that separates them from the world at large?

2. Start marketing. There are many ways to market a business. If your business is based in a large city or somewhere that has a lot of traffic, you can do other kinds or marketing like flyers, signs, and other print media. However, if you are running a business that is mostly online, and you hope that most of your clients will come from the internet, here are things you should do to make sure that marketing is a success.

* Place adds on web pages that you know will get seen by your key demographic. Find some popular sites for the group of people that you have to target and try to get some advertising on those sites. Also look for pages that everyone will see, and try to get as many links out there as possible that have your name and your businesses name on them.

* Make sure that you are posting blogs and other articles all over the internet that somehow relate back to you.

* Get your name out there, do some surfing of your own. If you are in a certain type of business, go to some boards that deal with that business, and post on them with your internet address in your signature.

Remember the success of any business relies on the ability for your customers to find you. The more advertising that you can do, the more people are going to see your website and hopefully click on the link to visit your page.

Get out there and start talking. Customers are waiting

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