The Australian Small Business Blog

Friday, February 23, 2007

4 Ways to build your profile and support your local community group of choice

A new opportunity has drifted in with the surge of online marketing. This opportunity is for businesses to easily support their local community groups and become part of a bigger picture taking on a philanthropic role.

Change in consumer behaviour and brand loyalty over the previous few years has rapidly increased with the rise of generation y, who are in nature more consciously aware of their environment and social impact.

This change in behaviour has seen the increase in loyalty towards companies and businesses that take on social and environmental challenges such as climate change, charities and support for local sporting organisations.

We are literally now seeing a generation that is looking to be part of a story and feel like they can impact the bigger picture by the way they run their daily lives.

Some fantastic and recent examples include Safeway donating all profits from one day of trading to go to farmers in drought stricken areas, Channel 7’s Sunrise show educating on how to reduce the impact of climate change and Westpac signing an agreement to no longer fund projects that harm the environment. The list is endless.

So what can medium sized businesses do for local community groups when they may not necessarily have the funding to make a big lump sum donation?

Utilise your existing online resources to assist in creating awareness for a particular charity or cause. The benefits in this are numerous. Number one there is ease of implementation but secondly and more importantly you are exposing your customers and prospects to the bigger picture that is in alignment with your own customer’s values and beliefs.

Here are 4 simple strategies that you can employ to generate awareness for your local organisation or cause through on and offline.

1. Create an “awareness page” on your website
An awareness page is a short but sweet informational page that tells your web visitors and customers about the organisation you support and how to offer assistance if they so desire to do so i.e. donations and volunteering.

2. Add information to your invoicing
Every invoice that is delivered to your clientele represents an opportunity for you to further promote other products and services as well as feature a local community group of your choice.

3. Section in your regular email campaign
With easy to use email systems allowing business owners to regularly send out monthly or even weekly newsletters there is great scope for a reoccurring section in the newsletter to be dedicated to a local community group of choice.

4. Brochures/information resources at events/in store
Whether you own a shop front or run events for your clients there is always a special place for brochures or information resources to be placed on behalf of a local community group.

How do you choose which group to support?

This needs to be a very careful decision that is brainstormed within your business. Political issues such as David Hicks are typically a no go zone as the general community including your customer base may be split in their opinion on the matter.

Aim for a community group or cause that is within alignment with your business goals but more importantly your customer’s goals and values. Are you a sporting goods store? Can you support the local football team? Do you sell cosmetics? Can you support only cosmetic ranges that do not test on animals? Do you run a health food store? Can you support research into cancer?

By utilising your online resources you can give something that you may not have been able to give before to the local or larger community. And that is awareness. Awareness of a local organisation or cause in which people will be more pro actively engaged in.

The Melbourne Council Boroondara are currently hosting business and community networking events that are encouraging mutually beneficial relationships between the two parties.

If you would like to register to take part click here now for more information and dates…

Ben Angel is the director of Nationwide Networking

Monday, February 12, 2007

Diary of a New Business- 7. Generating Leads

In the last article I discussed the nature of the Website content that would be required for my new online business, which is now located at But it doesn’t matter how good the content is, unless people visit the website. There had to be a lead generation strategy.

The first port of call for lead generation was the subscriber list for the existing Empower Business Solutions business. This database was getting quite large. This list was predominantly composed of small business owners, include a significant number who were probably too small to be Empower Business Solutions clients.

Newsletters were already being sent to Empower Business Solutions subscribers regularly. So the plan was to start marketing to this database 1-2 months before the launch. I was not concerned if the added marketing caused the unsubscribe rate to increase, as this would cleanse from the list those who were unqualified to be Australian Business Coaching Club clients.

While the existing database would provide a good starting point, it would be inadequate for continued growth of the new business. Pay-per-Click advertising would also be used to boost traffic to the new website, particularly while waiting on the effect of search engine optimisation to increase organic prominence in the search engines. This included both onsite and offsite website optimisation strategies.

A particularly critical lead generation strategy was the formation of joint ventures with colleagues in my network for the purposes of cross promotion. This enabled me to expand my reach by many times my own database range.

My public speaking, previously designed for generating leads for Empower Business Solutions was refocused to Australian Business Coaching Club lead generation. There were also a number of other publicity strategies used. An interesting experiment was a trial viral campaign with a free business tool giveaway at Please enjoy the tool and pass it on!

But wherever they came from, they were all offered the opportunity to download my Free eBook “The Four Pillars of Guaranteed Business Success” which has been downloaded by thousands.

Ultimately, the goal for all my strategies was to build my list for the new business. As most people who sign up at the website don’t become clients immediately, it is essential to have a way to stay in touch with them until they are ready to buy. The conversion to sales was then by a combination of website copy and email marketing.

Note that the lead generation strategy was not dependent on a single tactic, and I was prepared to experiment. And in every case, I had a way of monitoring the success of each strategy.

What lead generation strategies are you using for your business?

The next article in The Diary of a New Business will be: The Technology

If you would like to post a comment on this article, please click on the Comments link below.

Dr Greg Chapman is the Director of Empower Business Solutions and The Australian Business Coaching Club and is a Business Coach and provides Coaching and Consulting advice to Australian Small Business Owners in Marketing & Business Strategies Planning & Systems.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Golden Rules of Websites - Rule 4 in a series

By Ron Stark

Many small businesses that want a website make a fundamental error - they somehow view the website as a website, and assess its look, content, layout and so on from the viewpoint of it being just a website. Frequently this happens under the well-intentioned but misguided advice of a website developer.
The only way, in my view, is to begin by describing your business from the perspective of your clients' needs, and the website will automatically follow. In other words, your website is a simple by-product of understanding the following three core aspects of your business:

  • One, what business you're in. For example Mercedes Benz are not in the business of selling cars, they're in the business of selling prestige. Everything you say and do has to reinforce your basic message, as with all the other forms of marketing that you use.
  • Two, who are your target market. This implies geographic, industry and personal demographics as well as understanding their needs. For example are you offering cost savings to the financial director, lifestyle to the newly-retired couple or the prospect of winning to the amateur athlete?
  • Three, what are you trying to achieve by having a website. There MUST be an objective beyond simply that of having a website because you think you should. Some possible objectives: branding, delivering services, directly selling products, supplying information, education, triggering enquiries, reducing cost of sales, establishing reputation.

Then, and only then, can you start to think about the website, which is but one of many vehicles for delivering on those three things. Guess what? The technology of the website doesn't figure in any way, shape or form, unless it inhibits your ability to deliver on your objectives - any more than the reader of your brochure cares about the brand of printer that was used to produce it, who supplied the paper, or what type of delivery van brought them to your office.
As I said in my book, clients don't care if your website is slow, ugly, difficult to use, thin on information, poorly written and dated. They'll simply click off your website, never to come back. They will, however, have the permanent impression that your business is slow, unprofessional, ugly and difficult to deal with - as well as staffed by a bunch of antiquated and out of touch has-beens.
Remember that ALL visitors will click off your website. What matters are how soon, with what intention and with what impression.

Golden Rule 4
It's not necessary to know anything about IT, computers or programming to have a website. However it's crucial that you fully understand your business, your market and have clear objectives.

This is the fourth article in a series that exposes the many, yet frequently overlooked fundamental business principles that successful websites should follow. The author Ron Stark is the founder of Snapsite, who make the effort to first understand your business.

The Australian Small Business Blog

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Public Speaking using Visual Aids

How many times has a presentation been ruined for you by a Power Point presentation that is too small to read, too busy to read or too full of distractions for you to focus on the speaker?
Here are some tips to make visual aids work for you rather than distract or mesmerize your audience.

1 Keep visual aids, including Power Point to a minimum. Ideally about one every three minutes is good. They should be simple, clear and colourful and RELEVANT to the point you are making. The best slides are charts and pictures that make the words easier to understand. Remember, some of the greatest speeches in the world were delivered without visual aids!

2 Visuals need to be seen by everyone. This means that they need to be large enough and you must not block anyone yourself. Be careful about handing things around while you talk. It can be done, but if you are showing photos or a magazine, participants will become distracted and they may not listen to you!

3 You should only talk about a point while the visual aid is up. Once you have used the visual aid, put it down or get it off the screen. This is best done by using a blank slide, if you are using Power Point. You can press the B button on the lap top or you can build blank slides into the computer show.

4 If you want to hold up a picture or some object, it may be better to use a volunteer or assistant rather than hold and talk at the same time. When you hold the picture or prop, you cannot make gestures. Also, once you have shown it, again, put it down and go on talking. When you do show a picture, move it very slowly around the room. If you are too quick, some of the audience will not see it and become distracted even annoyed!

5 Don’t turn your back to talk about a visual aid. It may be on a white board, or screen, but you don’t need to look at it! The audience does. Your job is to keep looking at them. That way you can judge how long they need to see it and what their reaction is.

6 Finally, remember, you are the focus. Some people hide behind visual aids or use far too many. They are an aid, not the talk. Accept that it is you and you message that are important so work on your own presentation skils!

7 Don’t forget to make sure the equipmet for the aid is up and working. It’s no use turning up with a Power Point presentation if there is no data screen or no overhead projector with a working light.

Judith Field is the director of Direct Speech which provide help with your public speaking confidence and skills.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

How an Uninterruptible Power Supply can save you money and downtime

This month we had some pretty wild weather in Melbourne including bushfires and extreme temperatures. It caused problems with the electricity supply including blackouts and power surges. On one of these day days we received a phone call from one of clients who was unlucky enough to be affected by a power failure. We knew it was bad news when he mentioned that 2 of his 5 computers were not booting up after the power came back on. It turned out that whilst there had been no power surge, the power failure had damaged a hard drive in one computer and a motherboard and power supply in another.

Our client was lucky that no critical data was lost (they hadn't backed up for 7 days) but the business still suffered from downtime, 24 hours in the case of one computer and a repair bill of $800. I have no idea how much it cost business in terms of lost revenue and productivity. Probably thousands.

Frustratingly this could have been avoided had he invested in a single piece of equipment called a UPS or Uninterruptible Power Supply. It is a device that provides continuous, reliable power to your computer. It plugs into your outlets and you then plug your computer, monitor, and other components into. Via a battery (similar to your car battery) it ensures that the computer will stay on even if there is a power outage. It is very easy to install and setup. Generally the longer the battery uptime the more expensive the UPS.

For small business and home computers I recommend just going with an entry level UPS which will provide about 15 minutes power to an average computer and set you back about $150. The great thing about a UPS is that you can set it to turn the computer off once the power has been off for a set time. I usually set this at 5 minutes on entry level ones. The other great thing about a UPS is it will protect your computer from power surges as well.

So I hear you ask, which computers should have a UPS. Basically any computer which is critical to your computer network such as servers but what about your workstation or that computer you use to receive faxes. Often power failures occur when you least expect them and as our client experienced, they often damage the hard drive. This results in loss of data on that drive and reinstallation of all your software. A major pain for anyone to go through and an exercise you need when you are already stressed about data loss and downtime. I personally think that all computers used daily should have a UPS. Systems such as these are obviously fairly important machines otherwise they wouldn't be used daily. The potential savings on repair bills, lost time and lost productivity definitely outweigh the cost of an entry level UPS.

I must admit that until recently I didn't have a UPS on each computer in our office. I figured that our server had one so we were covered. After a particularly bad week with a faulty safety switch in which we lost power 3 times, two of our test machines had dead hard drives. Whilst we didn't lose any data, we did have downtown as a result of this. Suffice to say I now have one for each computer. It's not something I want to worry about or go through again and I advise you to do the same.

Damien Battersby is director of PC Diagnostics, a IT support company specialising in ensuring small business have reliable and productive computer networks as well as being prepared should an IT disaster strike.

The Australian Small Business Blog


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Dr. Greg Chapman is also the author of
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