What will be Your Tipping Point?

On Wednesday, we were lucky to talk to best-selling author and journalist Malcolm Gladwell. Courtesy of Lindsay Smith and the F5 Expo team, Gladwell telecommuted into a posh Vancouver lounge. There, local tech heads and entrepreneurs gathered to pepper him with questions in anticipation of his April appearance in Vancouver.

Here is some of the CityMax.com team at F5 Expo’s launch party!
CityMax @ F5 EXPO Launch Party

As an expert of social sciences, Gladwell has brought us such gems as The Tipping Point, Blink, and Outliers. His stories inspire and compel, while allowing us to draw parallels to our own everyday lives.

We highly recommend reading his articles in the New Yorker – here are a few of our favorites:

Conference Week Wrap-up

Whew!

Last week was a very busy one with members of our website builder team heading both to Las Vegas for Affiliate Summit West 2010 and Miami for Marketing Sherpa’s Email Marketing Summit. We met hundreds of great affiliates, networks, resellers and marketers and returned home charged and ready to go.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by our booth at ASW 2010. To the old friends and new faces it was good to see/meet you all: Brandon Delgrosso and Jared Sidwell (DOBA), Mindy Brown and Carol-Lyn Jardine (LinkTrust), Gillian Muessig (SEOMoz.org), John Chow (JohnChow.com), Deborah Carney and Liz Ababon (TeamLoxly.com), and Alison Stewart (plus the rest of the RevenueWire crew) – just to drop a few names. Both conferences were packed and we picked up more than few marketing tips to share with you entrepreneurs out there.

Highlights!
A favorite ASW booth of ours was MarketLeverage. They gave away free hamburgers in exchange for business cards – see the pic! To wrap up ASW, our own Patrick Schrodt even won an awesome remote controlled car from the nice folks at LinkTrust.

Here are a few photos of the Las Vegas fun – and yes that’s 90s rapping legend Flava Flav…

How Your Small Business Can Make More Money Than Ever in 2010

It’s the end of January and looking back on last year, most small business website owners are glad that it’s over! The even better news is that if you survived, there are many ways that your business can come back bigger and better than ever.

Here’s how:

Review Your Product Offering
After a rough economic year, is your product/service still in high demand? If not, is there something you can do to make it so? Or, is there another opportunity that might work better for you?

Expand Your Reach
How far and wide are you spreading the word about your products/services? If your only form of advertising is in the yellow pages, start exploring more opportunities. With search engines and social media, there’s no reason more people shouldn’t be talking about you.

Streamline Expenses
When’s the last time you took a good look at where your money is being spent? Carefully go over your numbers and see where you can cut back. For example, try trading in your long distance phone package for Skype.

Build New Relationships
Sometimes talking to new contacts can really provide you with ideas for or insights to your business. Whether it’s chatting up a potential supplier or finding a business mentor, open up those channels to freshen your approach to your business.

Listen to Customers
You customers make your business, so if there’s something they’re piping up about, listen and let them know you’re doing so! If something’s not working for them, chances are that same something might be a roadblock for other potential customers.

To stay competitive, you and your business need to be dynamic and able to change with the market. By getting in the habit of reviewing and planning each year, you help ensure that you stay ahead of the game.

5 Ways for Your Small Business to Capitalize on a Major, Greek God-Sized Event

olympicsWith the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games and 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa just around the corner, there’s no better time to look at how to capitalize on a major event for your small business website. Events that give you the chance to access the entire world from on your doorstep don’t happen every day. Here are 5 tips to leverage that momentum.

Be Creatively Audacious

Take a hint from Lululemon Atheletica, whose clothing line for a “Cool Sporting Event That Takes Place Between 2009 & 2011” has stolen thunder from actual Vancouver Olympic clothing sponsor HBC. The language behind their marketing manages to dance just within trademark laws, while capitalizing on the Olympic craze AND simultaneously thumbing their nose at the organizers. The resulting uproar has led the clothing line to selling out multiple times before the Games even begin.

Another example is from the animal rights group PETA, who last week launched a spoof of the Olympic trading pin. Their “OlympicShame” pin draws attention to the killing of baby seals, with a shockingly graphic take on the Olympic logo.

Take a chance and go for broke, even if you have to ruffle a few feathers.

Be Targeted

As always in marketing your business, know who your audience is. Don’t be intimidated with the thought that “everyone” is coming to town. For example, the Olympic Games attract hundreds of international world-caliber athletes, thousands of worldwide media, tens of thousands of tourists, and billions of TV viewers. This does not include the millions of blog readers who will be searching for Olympic content daily. Your customer base likely doesn’t change – it is only amplified.

Don’t get overwhelmed – stay focused on the demographic that makes sales.

Be Aggressive

It’s not enough to be open for business during a major event: you have to pursue your customers like prey. Your competitors are trying to distinguish themselves and if your business is outside a high-traffic area, you may be in for a slow period. Give your customers a reason to find you – for example, a promotional offer your customers can’t ignore. Be proactive and build buzz before the event begins: start talking to your audience ahead of time through social media channels (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, blogs).

A great idea in a crowd is not enough: keep on the attack to build momentum.

Be In Position

Be ready for any opportunity that comes your way. For example, have a persuasive call to action on your home page, as well as your communications materials. You never know who is reading your site. On the same notion, spotting and leveraging celebrities is a huge yet informal way to boost your business. For example, many Vancouver restaurants and stores offer free products or special shopping hours to attract film stars. In exchange all they ask for is a photo for their wall – an easy, informal and affordable exchange that provides an invaluable amount of promotional value. There’s no reason you can’t do the same with your business.

Stay alert for low hanging fruit.

Be Inspired

NIKE said it best in the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta with the catchphrase: “You don’t win silver, you lose gold.” At the time, the company was not an Olympic sponsor: this controversial yet extremely successful play was an example of ambush marketing. It was panned by the IOC, but following the Games, many thought NIKE was an official sponsor. In 2005 the IOC decided it couldn’t beat them and NIKE became a sponsor.

Find the people in your industry who are the most successful and learn from them leading up to your event. Ask the question: how can you apply their strategy to your own marketing efforts?

There’s no need to re-invent the wheel, and no shame in learning from the best.

Good luck and we wish your business every success in your pursuit of gold this year!

Countdown to V-day: Are you Making the Most of Valentines?

2010-01-11-valentinesNow that the holiday season is over, remember there’s another “special occasion” just around the corner – Valentine’s Day!

Another one of the year’s big shopping days, don’t take this one for granted as many will be surfing online stores, looking for the perfect gift for their sweetie.

Here are a few suggestions to boost your Valentine’s Day sales this year:

1. Change Your Store Theme and Advertising
Still have the Christmas colors? Swap in some red, pink, and white and make sure to remind your visitors that their loved ones will appreciate that extra attention that emphasizes how much you care.

2. Sort Your Products by Price
Depending on the newness of a relationship (or the depth of your pockets) there’s a big difference in how much your customers will want to spend on a valentine’s gift. Try listing your products by price to help them narrow down their search

3. Add Website Search
Is it easy for your small business website customers to find what they’re looking for? Include a search box on your site to help them locate the right products.

Tip: Your CityMax.com website includes an easy-to-setup Google search box. To turn it on, go to ‘Edit Site’ > ‘Power Tools’ > ‘Google Site Search’.

4. Offer Gift Wrapping & Note Cards
The added bonus of wrapping your products encourages your customers to buy and save that extra step – especially the men!

5. Recommend Products
To increase the size of your orders, suggest additional products to go with ones your customers are already interested in.

Tip: With your CityMax.com website, use the “Recommend Products” feature to display 3 additional products on each product description page in your online catalog.

Remember, there are also many singles out there, so if you’re having trouble appealing to the love birds, consider taking an “Anti-Valentine’s Day” stance and see if that works better for you!

One Week Until Affiliate Summit West 2010!

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It’s just nine days until we launch our website builder affiliate program at Affiliate Summit West 2010 in Las Vegas! From January 17-19, our team will be at the CityMax.com booth (#404) at the Rio All Suite Hotel & Casino in Vegas, giving our affiliates the gold treatment and offering a chance to win a grand prize worth $100,000.

Our new program will allow the very best affiliates to promote a ‘White-hat” product offering for both the money-making online crowd and the mass market home business owner. Our one promise for Affiliates is this: We will treat you like gold!

To learn more about our affiliate program and our Affiliate Summit West 2010 promotion, visit our CityMax.com at Affiliate Summit West website, or get in touch with our Affiliate Ambassador, Kyle Murphy, at 1.866.310.9327 ext.146.

Voting is Closed! Homepreneur of the Year TBA…

max-voteThe polls are closed and the votes are in! Time to tally them up and find out our Homepreneur of the Year…

Thank you everyone for sending in your emails, Tweets and even snail mail! We received hundreds of votes and messages of support for our intrepid finalists.

Later this month, we will announce the grand prize winner, who will be flown to Vancouver, Canada for the full red carpet treatment and a complete website redesign package!

The judging panel has a challenging decision ahead of them to determine the winner. They will be taking each of the following criteria into account:

  • innovation and originality
  • entrepreneurial ‘spirit’
  • revenues generated through home-based business
  • prior experience and success
  • business sustainability and scope
  • electronic votes via Twitter/email

Stay tuned to find out who the winner is, and congratulations again to all of our truly inspiring finalists!