Multiple Incomes – Small Business and Internet Marketing

My journey along multiple income pathways has taken me on four quite different adventures. I have already written about the property pathway and Forex trading, so in this article I want to complete the picture by considering my small business venture and internet marketing.

1. Small business. I have a day job that keeps me very busy, but one of my ambitions has always been to have my own business. Many people have similar dreams, and some actually make the leap into an alternative career

One of the key things I have discovered is the importance of choosing a business in which one already has a certain amount of expertise. I have frequently heard about people stepping out of successful first careers, such as banking, into something completely different, perhaps wheelie bin cleaning or door-to-door selling.

Many franchise opportunities are available, and it may seem very tempting to pay a lump sum of money and walk into an existing business. However, without prior experience many mistakes can be made, and a significant number of franchise ventures end in failure.

My training is as a teacher, so I decided that whatever small business I would go into, it must involve education in some way. I therefore opened a tuition centre on a Saturday morning, and the business is now in its’ third year. I have an assistant from a local sixth-form college, and we rent a room in a local church hall.

So if you’re going to start your own business, stick with what you know and look for possible opportunities that will play to your strengths.

2. Internet Marketing. Most of my time and focus is now spent on internet marketing. The world wide web continues to expand at an incredible rate, and there are over 300 million websites out there. Nearly two billion people use the internet, and this represents 28.7% of the population. In some European countries, over 85% of the population are classified as internet users. The potential market is huge, and more and more marketing is going to take place over the internet.

However, competition is intense, and the days of uploading a website and sitting back and waiting for the traffic are long gone. To be effective means going out there and actively selling your site and product.

For a newcomer, as with any business there are many pitfalls and broken dreams on the way. Many people will offer advice and try to sell you the latest thing in internet marketing, but these ‘instant’ website packages are generally doomed to failure.

The old adage is that you get what you pay for. If you decide to cut corners and go with cheap offers, then you’re likely to get rubbish. Internet marketing is a business, and you wouldn’t expect to start up a profitable and long-lasting business of any sort for $100!

Be prepared to invest, but don’t jump at the first offer that comes along. Take your time and look for packages that are produced by well respected internet marketers who have been around for some time. Join forums and discussion groups and ask questions – who is actually making money, and what are they doing?

I have been involved with internet marketing for about five years, and I have made many mistakes. I have built websites that nobody visited, and I have wasted significant amounts of money on packages that promised much but delivered little.

I have now made my investment, and for the first time I really believe that I will be a successful marketer. There is money to be made on the internet, and with the right guidance and support internet marketing can be a very lucrative component of your multiple income pathways.

To summarise my experiences of multiple income pathways;

  • Property. This must be seen as a long term investment, and be aware of the hidden costs.
  • Forex trading. Find a system you like and stick with it, have sufficient money in your trading fund, and control the emotions!
  • Small business. Play to your strengths and look for opportunities in areas that you are familiar with. Avoid jumping into the unknown.
  • Internet marketing. Be prepared to invest in people and systems, and don’t expect to be an overnight success. My keywords for internet marketing are commitment, discipline and accountability!

Are You Putting Yourself Out of Business?

Have you heard either of these pieces of advice, “Do what you have always done and you’ll always get what you always got” and “More of what’s not working won’t help”?

The first one is no longer valid and the second one gets proven in the small business world everyday.

When it comes to marketing why does the first statement not work anymore? Simple, with all the changes that bombard our businesses, clientele and technology on a daily basis it is ludicrous to expect the same results. You see examples of businesses sticking to outdated and unimaginative approaches to marketing and then being surprised with declining results.

In a recent marketing analysis I did with a local business owner I did a very poor job of keeping a poker face. His business was now in such dire straits that they had gone from a fancy office with many employees to a few employees working from the kitchen table at home. His company had tried “cold calling” as their main strategy to build their business. The results were dismal.

What was the logical response to their poor results? You guessed it, they hired more people to cold call. They lost more than most small businesses will earn in the next 5 years. When I asked him why they would pour more money into something that was clearly not working he responded with, “We figured we just needed to get our name out there more and eventually things would take off!” The only thing that took off was their money and eventually their employees.

I’m not going to beat this fellow up because we are all guilty of hanging in too long with an ineffective strategy or two. That is why it is so important to be able to step back and evaluate your marketing efforts. Are they working? Are they cost effective? Are they getting you the results you want? If not, how long do you plan to continue using them before finding something better? How long can you afford to stick with something that isn’t working?

The Kitchen & Bath Business Marketing Plan Should Be Flexible, Cost Effective & Brand The Dealership

Like most Kitchen & Bath Dealers, when I opened my dealership, I had a rough business plan and an idea of how I was going to market.

It was generalized and not very detailed. Sound familiar? I think the biggest mistake made was I really did not do a Market Study of who was doing what level of Kitchen & Baths in my market area. How can you get specific if you don’t understand the details of your market, market area, and market prospects?

A comprehensive Marketing Analysis should first look at the overall industry as a whole, then you would define your market geographically, demographically and sociographically. In English,that means, what area of the map, who lives their and what is their income, home value, etc, etc. I cannot stress this enough. Know Who, What & Where your going to target your marketing so that you don’t waste money on advertising outside those parameters.

Which is your business going to focus on,The consumer, home builder, allied professionals etc. Of course you will do projects for all of them, but your pricing and marketing strategy has to focus on one or two of them. Don’t be a “Jack of all trades, Master of none”. You should come out of your marketing analysis phase with a clear understanding of who you are, who your primary client base is and how you are going to compare with the competition in your market area.

Your Marketing Strategy should define your goal. What do you expect to accomplish and what is your budget. Remember, it doesn’t matter how big or small of a firm you are, you should always have a clear, defined budget and stick to it.

The percentages I spoke about in the last newsletter are very accurate and every Kitchen & Bath business should try and stick to them. For your review:

New business 7-8%

2-3 Year old business is 5-7%

An established business is 3- 5 %.

Remember to ad 2- 4% for brand development if your a new business.

When you do your plan in advance and stick to it, a side benefit is with truthfulness you can tell the advertising sales people that constantly call on your business- ” My budget & plan is already spoken for this year, Thank you.”

Timing is important, you should set your budget on the current years sales /overhead expenditure percentages for the following fiscal year. The 3rd Quarter is when you start to do the spending comparisons from previous year and in the middle of the 4th quarter your budget for the following year should be set.

Next step is to figure out how your going to communicate your strategy that you have defined, then you have to test the results. Some examples of Target Markets and some specific strategies that you might consider. Each market is different and you have different dealer profiles, so bear with me as I offer some examples.

The best marketing is one on one, direct contact with the prospect. Go out and get the prospects, don’t just sit in the showroom and wait for them to come in. As a rep, I just love sales people that say ” Oh man, business is slow this quarter, and yet their butts haven’t moved off the chair in front of the computer with solitaire on the screen..I digress….sorry. 🙂 If you know who your target prospect is from your analysis, there is no excuse why not to go after them.

A Newsletter, keeps in touch with your existing client base, while a Four Color Brochure, introducing your firm and its services-with Testimonials will help turn new prospects into clients. You can do this economically and along with one on one dialog be effective. These provide both flexible and cost effective marketing tools.

I find that Direct Mail Advertising only attracts the price shopper, looking for a “deal”, and I am not convinced at a 2 % response rate that it is cost effective. The big 4 Color Slicks Magazines are great for Branding, but you need to do it correctly commit to two years at every other month, It is certainly costly and most effective for branding your business with affluent prospect. It is a mistake to spend all of your marketing dollars on the 4 color slick magazines. I find that putting ads in the local Theatre and Opera Programs will do the same branding with the same affluent prospect and are less costly.

I had done some TV on the Cable Channels such as HGTV, I found that to be as effective as the 4 color slick with some side benefits. It reaches the mighty middle prospect and affluent prospect (depending on which show it airs.) A pleasant side effect is that if you do a tasteful ad and the principle is on then your existing client base is reminded of you and talks about you. (More of a reason to earn those A referrals) It is more cost effective than the 4 Color Slicks and I believe does more in the short run. I think TV, radio done right really works, but it is a big budget item. I know how to get the production done, what to look for in the statistics of who is watching what and how well it can Brand your business. I am not talking about one of those cheesy cable commercials either.

These examples are just a few of many, many. Each firm is different, that’s why you need to Analysis, Strategize & Plan specifically for your business. Stick to a budget and timetable and be flexible. Follow the yellow brick road to your business pot of gold.