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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats of Social Media

The emergence of social media as a way to connect with clients, scout out potential customers, and inexpensively market goods and services, has changed business forever. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn all serve different purposes and attract a distinct user. Business school curriculum and prospective entrepreneurs will have to incorporate it in order to remain competitive and relevant. Let's take a look at the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats that this new marketing vehicle may have on your business and brand.

Strengths:

  1. Vehicle to communicate with clients, investigate online reputation, and survey target market easier than ever before.
  2. Provides unprecedented access to clients and prospective ones regardless of geographical location.
  3. Easier to segment markets by using groups within the social media platforms, and learn about their buying habits, behaviors, and other pertinent information.
  4. Allows companies to closely monitor customer complaints, and address concerns quickly with less cost.
Weaknesses:
  1. Can be intimidating and overwhelming if not properly used.
  2. Requires personal engagement with clients and more prompt / direct responses than traditional methods. 
  3. Time intensive and easier to misunderstand tone or requests of clients than traditional communication methods. 
  4. Seemingly faddish and more prone to over magnify mistakes or human errors.
Opportunities:
  1. Market research is as simple as a click away; easier to determine needs of clients and spy on competitors.
  2. Companies can be "in-the-know" about the real reputation of company and ways they can enhance public relations.
  3. Vacancies can be filled more quickly and "red flags" for potential hires are easier to investigate and find, saving the company time and money.
  4. Monitoring ways to be involved in local communities, charities to donate to, and generate more positive press for company is easier.

Threats: 
  1. Containing bad press is more difficult and uniform responses or must be maintained across all platforms.
  2. Competitors can monitor you just as you monitor them and use it as a competitive advantage. 
  3. Requires companies to implement social media policies, as internal issues are now more prone to being voiced online. 
  4. Hackers, disgruntled employees, or anyone else can stain reputation more easily, costing the company time and money.
Social media cannot be ignored -- every benefit it provides opens up the door for potentials risks. However, savvy business owners can prepare for the risks by implementing social media policies and actively monitoring their reputation online. Refusing to use social media is riskier than any potential issue it may bring along as a result. Marketing and Research & Development departments will never be the same since the advent of social media, and companies can generate many profit-producing ideas if they properly leverage Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other growing social networking sites. From contests and sharing company photos, to publicizing scholarship opportunities or setting the record straight about lies spread about your brand or business, social media is here to stay. Get used to it, and embrace all the benefits while mitigating every risk through proper execution and keeping an open mind.


ChrissyBiz Solutions provides clients with customized, results-driven web marketing strategies. Our primary business writing duties include: article marketing,  search engine optimized web copy, blog content, social media, press releases, and newsletters  designed to drive traffic to your website and influence buyers decisions when purchasing products and services.

Contact ChrissyBiz today to discuss the impact that web marketing copy can have on your business.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Financial Plan - Your Balance Sheet

The Balance Sheet is exactly what it says, a sheet where you will show the balance between your assets and liabilities, and most importantly how much your company is worth overall. This sheet is included in your business plan to project the worth of your company, but also used by existing businesses to show the financial health of your venture. For the business plan, you will do the first year in quarters and second to fifth years annually. If you are already in business, you will need a current balance sheet and the past two years' balance sheets to include in your plan.

The balance sheet gives anyone who views it an easy yet thorough review of your company. Some companies are highly valued because of their land and building worth, while their accounts receivables is rather low. Other companies hold a lot of wealth in their inventory. Bankers and investors will want to know exactly how you derived the value of your company, or its projected value. This is also a place that unethical business people tend to "pad" their value. Your balance sheet is broken down as followed:

Assets

You will account for all the assets the company has and separate them between current assets and fixed assets. Current assets (more likely to fluctuate in value) will include:

  •  Cash
  •  Accounts Receivable
  •  Inventory
  •  Prepaid Expenses 
Fixed assets (will not fluctuate in value) are:
  • Land
  • Building
  • Furniture / Equipment
  • Fixtures
  • subtract accumulated depreciation (choose a method, stick with it, and record it here)
Additionally, you may have other assets like patents, intellectual property, or what is referred to as intangible assets that you will record on the sheet to give you the total value of your assets. 
Current + Fixed + Other = Total Assets

Next, you will record your liabilities, separated as current liabilities and long term liabilities. Those willing to invest in you are entitled to know how much you already owe:

Liabilities

Current Liabilities: 
  • Accounts payable
  • Accrued Payroll
  • Taxes Payable
  • Short-Term Notes Payable
Long-Term Liabilities
  • Long-Term Notes Payable (Could be loan or mortgage)
Current + Long-Term Liabilities = Total Liabilities

The difference between the liabilities and assets is the shareholder's equity. Then you will add any retained earnings (earnings that are not paid out as dividends to shareholders) to arrive at the companies total net worth. 

The information provided in this portion of your successful business plan shows that you have a good grasp of how to determine the health of your company, and separate those things that add value (assets) from those things that detract from the overall value of the company (liabilities). All companies will always have liabilities, but balance sheets help entrepreneurs see what percentage of their income is going towards debt vs being re-invested. In the simplest terms, the balance sheet shows what you have versus what you owe. It helps potential lenders understand how big of a risk you are, and how much ability you have to pay them back.


Thursday, May 19, 2011

How To Position Yourself and Promote Your Product or Service with a Press Release


Press Releases are a way to notify the public of what is going on and give them access to information that would otherwise be a secret. Is your product, service, or expertise a secret? You can begin to use the same power in the press release for your product or service, event, or promotion. The problem is that we see so many "less than newsworthy" releases that we may tend to forget the necessity and advantage of them. They serve many purposes for many people, but here I will write about positioning yourself as an expert as well as promoting your product or service with a release. Obvious promotion of yourself is not allowed in a good release. However, well written press releases dispense information that can be consumed by your target market, and leaves them with the impression that you are the best person to solicit for their needs.


Position Yourself
Your press release is one of many, so what makes you the person capable and sought-after for the product or service you are writing about? You must position yourself as an expert. This takes time and will not come overnight, but you can do it with proper preparation, educating yourself on your product or service, and commitment to endure all obstacles or setbacks.

Writing articles and blogs about your product or service will help establish you as an expert. Interacting on social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn will also help. You can use these platforms to answer questions, find out what your market is interested in learning about, and common questions / issues associated with it. Stay updated with all news related to your product or service via newsletters, Google Alerts, or any other type of news outlet. 

Gathering this information will help you come up with a relevant press release campaign that not only displays your knowledge and skills, but also gives prospective clients information they are already seeking. Creating content within your releases that pertains to already needed information is a traffic generator as well. People are interested in concise, relevant information about their topics of interests; press releases provide the medium and you provide the information they need. 

Promote Your Product or Service
You have all of the information you need for your target market, and you know that press releases are a cost effective and efficient way to give them the information. The next step is to promote that product or service without being pushy, or sounding like the neighborhood used car salesman. How do you sell something without selling something?

  • First you will  target the release to the audience that would benefit from your product or service. Do not be general or attempt to gain everyone's attention. You know who you are aiming at, so talk directly to them!
  • Next, present the need that your product or service will meet. This could be as simple as writing about how oil changes will extend the life of an engine to sell your new oil change package, or writing about the necessity for proper grammar when speaking to people in public. You must present the need so you can present the solution. 
  • Be sure that the need is related to what you are selling and that you can easily tie in your solution to the need. You must not forget that this is a news release, so it must be newsworthy. The best way to get newsworthy ideas is to peruse the internet or your local news to see where the need is, what people are writing and asking about, and how you can respond to their need. For example, if you live in a community where there is a recent spike in head lice, you can write about your hair salon and how the shampoo used is effective in killing lice. What about a laundry detergent that can aid in the eradication of the bugs eggs in the sheets? Get creative but remember that people want news, something that will help, and ultimately a problem solver.
  • Incorporate quotes, research or other interesting information that adds credibility to your claim. If your shampoo will kill the above mentioned lice bugs, why should anyone believe you? Can you offer a guarantee?
  • Make sure the release is no shorter than 3 complete paragraphs before the "About Company" section, and no more than a standard page in length. With all of the information available online, people will likely skim the information and move on if they don't find anything interesting. Remember your browsing habits online.
ChrissyBiz Solutions provides clients with customized, results-driven web marketing strategies. Our primary business writing duties include: article marketing,  search engine optimized web copy, blog content, social media, press releases, and newsletters  designed to drive traffic to your website and influence buyers decisions when purchasing products and services.

Contact ChrissyBiz today to discuss the impact that web marketing copy can have on your business.
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