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Archive for the Business Category

Instagram and business, 5 great ideas to try

Instagram latest new feature, released a few weeks ago, allows for video as well as photo’s. This is a great opportunity for business. Like any new toy though, it gets played with before being taken serious. So currently we have videos of people being really silly and of course cats…

But it won’t take a long before people are looking for something more informative. So while the next bunch of cat videos are recorded, what will you be recording for your business? Perhaps something like…

  • 15 second reviews, ‘…for the full review and more details visit our website…’
  • a video showing your latest project after completion…
  • videos taken at milestones during a project, great for outside landscaping or construction
  • 15 second videos of customer testimonials
  • An inside view of your company

Ben and Jerrys use it to look inside the company,  Jamie Oliver uses it for very quick recipes. What can you think of that would be interesting yet fill 15 seconds?

Bloggers are the rock stars of the future – respect us!

wordpress-blogger-rockstar Bloggers are the future rocks stars of the Internet. If you don’t believe me check out this video by Dan Cristo. People like Dino Duggan (Triberr), Ste (Dukseo), Ryan Biddulph (Online Business Tips), Sean Clark (SeanClark.com) and Anna Kelleher (annacolibri.com) and my other Triberr mates, we blog  because we love to share and help others It’s also our way of either making money directly or promoting our businesses (making money indirectly). We craft our sites, research what we write and work damn hard to get things right. We are skilled, we have followers, we are going to be famous.

So when will those damn SEO guys who keep asking for free guest posts understand that they have to pay and stop taking the advantage!

Continue reading Bloggers are the rock stars of the future – respect us!

5 top tips for your brand new business website

website-tools If you just taken delivery of a new website, an investment into your sales and promotion of products and services, then there are things you will need to know. There are also things you should be doing. A website should be working for you 24 hours a day but you need to kick things off.

A tool in left in the workshop not doing anything is not productive. A tool all setup, configured and working will be a benefit to you and your business. So what buttons do we need to push to get a website up and running and being productive?

Continue reading 5 top tips for your brand new business website

How to Conduct Market Research: A Quick Guide for Beginners and Busy Mompreneurs

how to conduct market research, ANNACOLIBRI, web presence, internet publishing, values-based marketing

Ask the Right Questions

As a beginning business person or busy mompreneur, you may not have thought very much about how to conduct market research. Or, maybe the topic seems a little intimidating.

This post will demystify market research and give you some tips and tools for getting started.

In the end, market research should be more than just another thing to get done, but a rewarding process of discovery as you move forward with your business and provide products and services to your clients.

Have fun with it!

What Is Market Research?

Market research is the process of finding out whether products and services you plan to offer will be of interest to the people you plan to target (your persona) so you can decide whether to develop these products.

If you have already launched a product or service, you can conduct market research and then refine your offerings.

Market Research Basics

There are two types of (market) research. It is:

  • Primary and
  • Secondary

Primary research uses data that you collect and analyze yourself. This can include:

  • Interviews
  • Surveys and
  • Focus groups

Secondary research analyzes data that has been collected and analyzed by other people. This type of research includes books, articles, studies and blog posts found on the internet or at libraries.

In addition to the two basic types of market research, there is another breakdown. They are:

  • Qualitative and
  • Quantitative

Qualitative research is less based in numbers and more based in finding out people’s ideas and opinions. An example of a qualitative question is, “What do you like about the color red?”

Quantitative research is based in numbers. It yields results such as: 30% of respondents own red cars.”

Used together, you can get a complete picture of not only how people feel about your products and services but also important facts about their spending habits and the actions they take as consumers.

Why You Should Conduct Market Research

You should conduct market research because, without it, you are just guessing what people like, want and are willing to do with their time and money.

You know your best friend pretty well, right? But would you just assume she wants Chinese food, or would you ask her first?

You might be surprised to find out she doesn’t like Chinese food at all but really loves Thai food (a qualitative measure). In fact, in the last quarter, she spent $173.34 on Thai food alone (a quantitative measure).

Now let’s dive into how to conduct market research.

How to Conduct Market Research

Big companies like Coca-Cola spend millions of dollars on market research and have large staffs on hand to do the work.

As a bootstrapper, solo- or mompreneur, that won’t work for you — at least not until you make it big. Still, I would strongly encourage you to do at least some market research. And remember, it’s all about iteration (getting started and improving and refining your products and services as you go along).

Here are some actionable steps you can take to get started:

  1. Determine what you want to know and why you want to know it. You’re not conducting market research just for fun (although I hope you do have some fun as you go along). You want to connect your questions directly to your business objectives.
  2. Draft your questions and then ask a friend or two to answer them. This will allow you to see, before you go public, whether or not the questions you are asking are giving you the type of information you want.
  3. Try to target your questions towards the right people. For example, as you may know, there are far more women on Pinterest than men. Pinterest doesn’t have a survey tool, but if you were selling maternity bras, Pinterest would be a great solution because women use it.
  4. Think about what the most practical way for you to ask the questions would be. By this I mean, if you have a large following on Facebook but a tiny following on Twitter, it is better to ask on Facebook. Also, consider your own skills. If you are great face to face, maybe interviewing people in person is the way to go!
  5. Finally, you must analyze your data. One great thing about tools like SurveyMonkey, is that they summarize the data for you. If you are conducting surveys face to face or otherwise developing your own research, you will want to create a spreadsheet to organize and tally your results.

For a more advanced look at how to conduct research, read this great post from Hubspot — an amazing site with many free resources about all things online marketing.

Leverage Google And Other Social Media

Google offers great tools to help you conduct market research. You can use Google, along with other free and low cost platforms and tools, to do a lot of your research.

The first is Google’s Keyword Research Tool. You can use this tool to figure out what people are searching for and how competitive it is.

You can also use Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter (or any other favorite social media channel on which you have a solid presence, see #3, above) to ask questions in a public forum. For example, if you are planning to start a bakery, you can ask people whether they prefer chocolate chunk or banana nut muffins.

Google Drive (formerly Google docs) includes a survey tool you can use that is free. Another option is SurveyMonkey. Built on a freemium model, I like this tool because it has analytics built in.

Google also has a paid option called Consumer Surveys, which, for $0.10 per response provides access to Google’s complete publisher network. Pas mal, as they say.

Things To Avoid When You Conduct Market Research

If you do any research at all, you will be ahead of many small business owners. However, the better your research is the more useful it will be.

Here are some things to consider when you conduct market research:

  • Don’t only ask your Facebook friends. That might be a great place to start and a great way to begin refining the kinds of questions you want to ask, but unless your friends just happen to be your target market, they are not an accurate sample.
  • Go beyond the internet for research. You can also use libraries and conduct in-person research such as focus groups.
  • Speaking of focus groups, it is important to do primary research (collecting your data) and not only secondary research such as reading articles.

Your Turn

Do you know how to conduct market research? Share your tips in the comments.

Citations

Barone, Lisa. 4 Ways to Conduct Market Research with Google. Small Business Trends. May 30, 2012.

Eridon, Corey. An Uncomplicated Approach to Conducting Solid Market Research. Hubspot. April 13, 2012.

Pyle, Lesley Spencer. How to Do Market Research — The Basics. September 23, 2010.

A quick rant about location, language and newsletters

blah-bubble I hate it when a website thinks it knows better. I live in France – I come from England – I speak English. So when I signup to a website (in English) and tell it my location in my profile and that yes, I want to receive newsletters, why are the newsletters in French!!!! I’m looking at you Commission Junction!

When I want to try and sell something to the English market on eBay, it always takes me to the French version. The item I want to sell is not that appealing to the French – SciFi books written in English. Why does eBay think it knows better???

When companies become multinational and provide newsletters in multiple languages, don’t override what the user wants! We live in a modern age where your preferred language does not indicate where you live. Your browser language settings do not indicate where you live or your preferred language. In fact, nothing can be assumed…

The lesson I wish to handout today is, if you have a website available in multiple languages, do not assume anything! It doesn’t take much to provide a form asking for preferred location (helps with currency and local retail rules, VAT etc) and preferred language.

Whinge over, thanks…

 

Study: Only one-third of online retailers have mobile-optimized sites

This is a guest post by Jim Dougherty, Writer and chief of miscellany at leaderswest.com

Mobile-optimized sites should be old hat for businesses these days, especially for businesses that do sales on the Internet. After all, this year the number of mobile devices will exceed the planet’s population. And one-third of Internet users own tablets. And mobile traffic worldwide accounts for 13% of all internet traffic, and in some places it has surpassed desktop. And the amount of money spent on eCommerce sites has increased three-fold year-over-year…… you get the point: mobile is a big deal.

But in a new study by eCommerce resource Briteskies, they reveal that only 35% of businesses have mobile-optimized sites. This indicates that a number of businesses are mobile laggards.

What constitutes a mobile-optimized site?

In a recent (great) piece, Johan Johansson discussed the three main ways to build a mobile-optimized site:

  • Responsive Web Design – where the viewable website adjusts the layout of the page to reflect the layout of the user’s screen
  • Dedicated Mobile Site – where a separate mobile site is developed independent of the desktop site
  • Responsive web design + server-side components – a hybrid of sorts, where there are mobile-only and desktop-only aspects, aligned under one site.

What I love about Johansson’s piece is that he lays out the pros and cons of each, showing that the challenges of creating a mobile-optimized site are much more complex than many people make it out to be. Particularly for businesses that have spent a lot of money on web design, or put a lot of effort into social media, or are too engrossed in running a business to put effort into their web properties, spending money to further enhance their web properties may seem unnecessary. And 13% of web searches doesn’t seem huge… though it is.

How big is the mobile opportunity?

13% isn’t a percentage of people. It’s a percentage of searches. And when are people most likely to search on mobile? When they are local. Disregarding mobile is to disregard local, which for many businesses could be the lowest of low-hanging fruit. Nevermind the fact that smartphone users are 18-35 year old demographic, a sweet-spot for merchants.

But I want to close by posing the question – how important is mobile to businesses right now? Is it an overreaction to say that businesses are hurting themselves by not having a mobile-optimized site? Please leave a comment and state your case.

 

Illustration by Susanlesch (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Evernote Web clipper, 3 great ways to put it to use

Evernote

Evernote is one of those things that, the more you use it the more uses you can find for it. If you are an Evernote user you will know what I mean. One of the most useful additions is the web clipper‘.  This allows you to record in a notebook the whole web page, the text of the article, save it as a PDF or just record the URL.

evernote web clipper

 

As you can see above, you can select which notebook it goes in to and which tags to use.

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Web Clipper is available as a Chrome extension, Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer (comes with Evernote for Windows)

The secret to Evernote is how you use it and knowing what you want out of it. For me, the most helpful is using Evernote as a research tool to help write blog posts and to record the new things I learn about WordPress. For example;

Use tags to aid research

One of the things I do is to clip pages that are on a similar theme or subject. As a blogger following social media and Internet marketing, I look at many similar blogs. When I see a story building, for example there is something Facebook is up to, I will clip the relevant pages. I will tag them with ‘facebook’ or something else to group them together. If I write an article about it, I have a bunch of pages I can use as research.

Creating a personal knowledge base

I love creating WordPress sites, hacking themes and writing my own plugins. Each time I come across something that I don’t know how to do, I look it up and clip it.  If I need some example code to see how something works – I clip it for later so I can reread it. Hopefully, I will build up a ton of information and having it tagged means I can find what I need quickly.

Because Evernote is flexible with no real defined rules of use, people use it for many different things.

Book publishing

These quotes comes from a post on the Evernote blog,  How Tim Ferriss Used Evernote to Write His New Book, The 4-Hour Chef

Tim Ferriss, entrepreneur, Evernote Advisor, and author of The 4-Hour Workweek and The 4-Hour Body, just released a new book, The 4-Hour Chef, which he researched and wrote almost entirely with the help of Evernote.

Tim used Evernote as the repository for everything related to The 4-Hour Chef, including thousands of photographs, illustrations, hundreds of interviews, and research ranging from recipe notes to Web Clips. While his latest book covers a phenomenal amount of information related to food and cooking, it’s also very much about how anyone can learn to master anything in a short period of time with the right approach and methodology. In order to sift through enormous amounts of research and intelligently organize it, Tim used Evernote for gathering and organizing.

Are you using Evernote in your business? Love to hear about the different ways it can be used…

Will ‘Google Keep’ make a dent in Evernote usage?

evernet-google-keep

This week saw the launch of Google Keep, the new service that is supposed to be competing with Evernote. I say supposed because only tech journals are saying it is. If you are thinking of trying it out, feel free. However, if you think it will replace Evernote then please think again.

So far, Google Keep is an Android app. If you want to access what you have ‘kept’ then you need to go through Google Drive. It sync’s everything there and it’s the only place you can access your stuff via a computer.

Evernote on the other hand, can be access via Android, iOS, Windows, Windows Mobile, OSX and on a Linux system (with either a browser or replacement client app). Everything is sync’d to everything.

Evernote has quite an ecosystem going on, lots of add-on apps for Android etc and even offers business users more features with subscriptions.

Google Keep is aimed at non-business mobile users. Perhaps get them hooked and later offer a more professional version? The problem is, just how long will it actually be around? Considering that Google Reader has been terminated after many years of being available, will Google Keep go the same way? I hate to build up a large collection notes etc only to find Google has taken it all away.

Evernote has been around since 2004 and has a very solid user base of 34M Users of which 1.4M are paying. I can’t seem them going away any time soon. With few features, there is no organisation to speak of, Google Keep is going to have a difficult time making it’s mark.

Reviews and comments on PC World and Mashable.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/UbvkHEDvw-o[/youtube]

 

Does your business website have the hosting it deserves?

This is the first post this week because I have just upgraded my hosting. I changed over to another company who were offering business hosting, that is they provide solid connectivity and great backing-up services.

When I started out with websites back in 1999, I selected my hosting company based on price.  My websites and subsequent blogging activities were on what I would now call, ‘hobby hosting’.  Great price but no great promises on reliability or security of databases and files.

I am wondering if business are selecting their hosting based on prices, not on services.

With my new host I pay almost double than before. It’s worth it because I now have business hosting. I can speak direct to the management and support staff. They have redundant systems to ensure 99.99% uptime and I know that I won’t loose any data.

It is more important to me that my sites stay on line, after all if they go offline I risk loosing a potential client or income. That should be the same for any business who is online, do you really want to be offline when a potential client is looking for you?  Extended down time can reflect badly on you. It’s like a bricks and mortar shop that randomly closes, especially on it’s most popular days.

Make sure you get the hosting your business deserves and make price just one of the considerations and not the only one.

Handy Evernote trick for emailing data to your notebooks

The more I explore Evernote the more I love it. There are so many practical uses for it and not just for organising projects or staff. I really like the idea that it can be used as an organised repository of data. Use it for client management, storing important company data or sales literature. I am sure you can think of a ton more.

Here is a trick I worked out to help me use Evernote better.

Each user has a unique email address provided by Evernote. If you have not already discovered yours then check out this knowledge base article, Adding content to Evernote using email. That address can be used to email content to your Evernote notebooks.

Your email address will look something like this, ‘[your username].abc123@m.evernote.com’, which is rather difficult to remember. To send information by email to a chosen notebook, the subject line is used to indicate which one – for example, ‘handy info @info-notebook’. The knowledge based article I mentioned above explains it in full.

My only problem is remembering the full address, so here is the trick. I logged in to my hosting account where I can setup new domains and email address. In the email section, I created a new address called evernote@…. (fill in your chosen domain). Then, in the section for forwarding, I used the new email address to forward to the Evernote email address.

The benefits are…

  • I now have an easy to remember email address that I can use to send documents to chosen Evernote notebooks.
  • If I wanted, I could share that with others if I wanted them to send documents or project ideas to my Evernote account. 
  • The Evernote email address is hidden, I can use a professional company email address instead. It provides privacy and a better sounding address.

What are your Evernote tricks? Leave a comment below…