Being able to leverage social media for success in business may seem daunting if the goal or path is not clear. Hence,  below is a roadmap that can guide you towards achieving social media success. In the weeks to come I will be posting resources that will be educational & provide more guidance. 
Social Media Roadmap
File Size: 129 kb
File Type: pdf
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A comprehensive and well designed marketing plan is critical for the success of any business. Following up on my earlier post, below are some resources and links for Part 1: Overview Of Strategy.

PART 1: OVERVIEW OF STRATEGY

A.   MISSION: (A business’s Mission Statement is a constant reminder to its employees of why the business exists and what its founders envisioned when they put their efforts, reputation, experience & fortune at risk to breathe life into their dreams. A business that has lost sight of its Mission Statement has started its slippery slope to failure.  
For help: How to Write Your Mission Statement; Top 10 Company Mission Statements; 5 Tips for a Useful Mission Statement) 

 



B.   VISION: A vision statement for a business focuses on what they intend to be. It is simply a description of the “what,” meaning, what the business intends to become. 
For help: Best Examples of a Vision Statement; Corporate Vision Statements; DEFINING YOUR COMPANY'S VISION)

 

C.    VALUES: A value statement is an expression of a company's or individual's core beliefs. 

For help: What Is a Value Statement?; Make Your Values Mean Something; Develop Your Value Statements for Your Strategic Framework)



Overview Of Strategy
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A marketing plan should not be something you put together at the last minute as an afterthought. After having worked with numerous small businesses and Managers, I have realized that in the larger scheme of things from a small business owner's perspective, while marketing is an important part of success, it is not often high on the to-do list. Allocating funds for rest, utilities, labor, day to day operations, often takes precedence over marketing. Most SMB owners don't know enough to develop a good marketing plan. So, even if they want to do it right, they may not have the requisite expertise to do it in the way that it will have any positive impact on their bottom line. 
Developing an effective marketing plan does not happen by accident. A lot of thought and effort goes into it. An effective marketing plan has to be comprehensive, integrated with the day to day operations and takes a 360 perspective of the business. It is also important to remember that any marketing plan is a living document, something which will need to be adjusted based on the changing market scenario. 
Below, are, what I believe the key components of an effective marketing plan. It is also available in PDF form for you to download and develop it.

MARKETING PLAN TEMPLATE


PART 1: OVERVIEW OF STRATEGY
  • MISSION
  • VISION
  • VALUES

PART 2: GOALS & TARGETS
  • MARKETING GOALS
  • RESEARCH
  • BRANDING
  • NICHE MARKETS
  • SALES TARGETS

PART 3: MARKET ANALYSIS
  • TARGET MARKETS
  • DEMOGRAPHICS
  • COMPETITION
  • MARKET TRENDS
  • P.E.S.T. ANALYSIS
  • S.W.O.T. ANALYSIS

PART 4: MARKETING STRATEGY
  • PRODUCT DESIGN
  • PRICING STRATEGY
  • CATALOGS
  • ADVERTISING
  • PUBLICITY
  • ONLINE MARKETING
  • PROMOTIONS
  • TRADE SHOWS
  • SALES TEAMS

PART 5: MARKETING BUDGET
  • ASSUMPTIONS 
  • PROJECTIONS

Over the coming weeks, I will elaborate and provide links to resources for some of the sub-headings so that you can get more help in developing a comprehensive, living & effective marketing plan. Please do contact me if you need any kind of help customizing the given marketing plan to your specific needs.
Marketing Plan Template
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File Type: pdf
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Smart phones & social media are quickly becoming a fact of daily life and so, running a small business from a smartphone is no longer a stretch, but a reality. In fact, 85% of Americans are running some part of their small business from their smartphones today, a number that has nearly doubled in the last five years. But which small business apps are best for you as a small business owner? Download the attached file & check out the roundup of small business apps that can help your business when you're on the move. 
Small Business Apps Eco-system
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File Type: png
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For many marketers, the new age tech & tools that are available for marketing  are almost as exciting as a trip aboard the USS Enterprise (obviously nothing can equal that experience).  Modern marketing & marketing teams  have gone through a paradigm shift in their roles, capabilities, and new worlds to explore that marketers could have only dreamed of just a few years ago. Below is an infographic that highlight the ways in which the marketing discipline is changing and the futuristic new technologies marketers currently have at their fingertips.
marketing discipline is changing and the futuristic new technologies marketers have at their fingertips.
 
 
Every business, especially start-ups, need new customers and hence spend a great deal  of their limited time engaged in prospecting. The most common mistake they make is depending overtly on "cold calling". It is definitely one of the ways, it is absolutely not the most effective one. In fact, as stated below, there are quite a few other ones out there. A better idea is to mix them up and see what works best, because  converting a "cold prospect" into a "warm client" is not an exact science but rather an art that is perfected over years of trial & error .
1. REFERRALS - MAke friends & influence people.
2. CONTENT MARKETING - Educations based marketing.
3. NETWORKING - Meeting people & promoting your product / service.
4. eMAIL MARKETING 
5. WEBMINARS 
6. SEMINARS
7. SOCIAL NETWORKING
8. FOOT PROSPECTING - Going Door to Door
9. ADVERTISING - When you do have the money
What do you think? Do you have a better approach you would like to share? If you need help acquiring new customers or retaining the existing ones, feel free to contact us.
 
 
You have built or gotten your website built. Great. Now you are ready to publish it. Have you checked to ensure that it meets the minimum legal requirements? Are there any disclaimers or Terms Of Condition that need to be posted as well? Well, if you need help, below is a simple & yet great infographic that gives you the basics. different countries have different laws about what can be or cannot be posted online, so please make sure that you are in compliance. Talk to a lawyer if required. It could be money well spent.  Please remember, this graphic is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. You do need to do your research & due diligence.
 
 
Integrating SEO into a company's growth strategy is a great idea. As the below posted infographic shows, it could lead to very effective PR and pay big dividends to the organization. Do you agree? Please do share your thoughts & ideas.  
 
 
Recently, in one of my discussions with a small business owner about how to leverage the various features of the mobile device and online world for marketing and customer acquisition, it became apparent that many small business owners, even those that are pretty tech savvy and use the internet extensively, often overlook or are not aware of some basic ways to be safe while browsing online and some simple tools, often free, can be be of such immense help. So, below are 5 ways to be safe online:1. Install a reputable anti-virus program. If you are using a PC or mobile device that uses Android OS, installing a antivirus program is a must. There are many antivirus programs available,  some paid & some free. I have found that for basic web browsing, email activity and mobile devices, AVAST (www.avast.com) is a great program. It has a free version, which is consistently rated as one of the best solutions and it has a mobile version too that can installed in the mobile device. Full disclosure, I personally have been using the the AVAST free version for the last 2 years and have found it comparable to some of the best. They have continuous live updates and have a very user friendly dashboard. AVG(www.avg.com) also has a free version but I personally did not find it as good as AVAST. For the paid ones, Norton (www.norton.com), Webroot(www.webroot.com) & Kaspersky(www.Kaspersky.com) are some of the best rated as of now. Also, make sure that the antivirus programs is updated regularly.
2. Use a Strong Password. Make sure that, first & foremost, you are password protecting your desktop and mobile devices. Secondly, make sure that you are using a strong password. I know, remembering  passwords, especially these days when everything requires a password can be difficult. For non-critical sites such as emails, subscriptions, newsletters, etc. I have been using Lastpass (www.lastpass.com) for the last 3 years. This is a great program as it can be installed on almost all browsers, automatically captures site information & login information when you sign up for any service, rates the strength of your password and helps generate strong passwords. There are many ways to generate strong passwords, the simplest one I have found is to make sure that it is at-least 8-10 characters, contains alphabets, numbers & signs and has at-least 2 Upper cases. 
3. Update Your Browser & Use Safe Sites. Make sure that you are using the most recent version of your browser and that its "Safe Search" is turned on. These days, almost all the popular browsers (IE, Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc.) have their safe search mode turned on by default. This function will warn you if any site that you are visiting  is not safe or contains malware.  
4. Don't Clicking on links that you don't know where they will take you. Quite often we receive emails or pop-ups that offer links to other sites. If you are not sure or have even an iota of doubt as to the purpose of the link, do not click on it.  
5. Do Your Due Diligence. As users, it is our responsibility that we are always alert when browsing to make sure that the sites that we are visiting, the links that we are clicking on or the password / username that we are creating are strong & safe. Do not post your SSN number or other personal details just because someone is asking for it.  

 
 
Content marketing is one of the keys to a successful advertising effort. Below is a very informative & well designed infographic that will teach you the basics and hopefully help you in your efforts to reach a bigger & better audience.