Have You Defined Your Target Market?

Posted May 16th, 2011 in Online Marketing, Selling Online, Small Business Tips by Mara
Image by jronaldlee

Image by jronaldlee

Do you find yourself saying any of the following statements?

“I want to sell to everybody.”

“Everybody can benefit from my product/service.”

“I want to cast a wide net – everyone should know about us.”

If so, I want to give you a high five for your enthusiasm – but I also want you to read the rest of this article so you understand why your marketing consultant looks really uncomfortable when you say any of the above.

The world would be a wonderful place if everyone was the perfect candidate for your product or service. But the truth of the matter is, we’re all different. We all have different wants, needs, tolerances, and preferences. We’re all drawn to different things and we’re all trying to solve different problems. Which is why when you try to sell to everyone, you end up wasting a lot of time, energy, and money on people that are never going to spend money on you.

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The Easy Way to Get to the Top of Google

Posted May 9th, 2011 in Online Marketing, SEO, Small Business Tips by Mara
Image by Jeff McNeill

Image by Jeff McNeill

One of the absolutely most popular questions we get asked by CityMax.com customers is “how do I get on Google?”

Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is a complex game and sometimes it can take a while to get search engines like Google to notice you. It’s a delicate balance of targeting the right keywords, having the right content, using the right elements to build your website, and having the right sites link back to you – you can see how it can be challenging.

While SEO is definitely something you should focus on and ranking naturally through search engines is a fantastic goal, there’s a faster way to do it – it’s called advertising.

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The REAL Secret to Writing Great Headlines

Posted May 5th, 2011 in Small Business Tips by Mara
Image by @jbtaylor

Image by @jbtaylor

No matter how fantastic your small business’ product, service, or idea, it doesn’t matter unless you catch your audience’s attention right off the bat.

You could have the secret to all life’s problems wrapped up in a beautiful box, but if you don’t quickly tell your visitor how you have the answer to everything they’ve ever worried about, they’re not going to care.

So how do copywriters do it? How do they come up with those few, precious, magical words that make customers keep reading?

The first step, as you may have guessed, is to know what your customers are looking for. Essentially, you are offering a solution to a problem that they have. What is that problem? How can you help them?

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Three Tricks for Being More Productive

Posted April 28th, 2011 in Productivity, Small Business Tips by Mara

deskWhether you work from a home office or a conventional office, sometimes staying on task can be a challenge. But what about when you have a deadline? Or when you just keep putting off something that needs to be done?

Here are a few tricks to get the most out of your time.

1.    Get out of the office
Sometimes plunking down in the middle of a semi-busy coffee shop can help you get more done than sticking to the quiet of your desk. According to research, when we’re in public we want to look like we have a purpose. This little psychological need can help us stay focused on a task when we’re surrounded by strangers. To learn more about this, check out Lifehacker’s Why Some of Us Get More Done at Coffee Shops.

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When to Write off a Meal as a Business Expense

Posted April 20th, 2011 in Small Business Tips by Mara
Image by Casey Serin

Image by Casey Serin

One of the things I was excited about when I started my own business was the ability to claim business expenses. In particular, I thought it was going to be great that I could now write off lunch, dinner, coffee, or whatever else.

What I didn’t know at the start is that you can’t just write off whatever you want. Before you get out of hand with restaurant expenses, there are a few things to keep in mind. Here’s a quick list for you.

1.    Business must be a part of it
For any entertainment costs to be written off, you need to be actively conducting business before, during, or afterwards. If you’re not talking about numbers, opportunities, or strategies – it probably doesn’t count as a business expense.

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Small Business Books to Help You Get Ahead

Posted April 4th, 2011 in Productivity, Selling Online, Small Business Tips by Mara
Image by Arria Belli

Image by Arria Belli

Inspiration comes from a lot of places, and one of the best sources is from the words of experts. At CityMax.com, we’ve got a library of books on all sorts of topics, including design, programming, money management, sales, and marketing. More often than not, I’ve walked away from these books with at least one great idea.

If you’re looking for a little insight, here are some of the books our team has found helpful!

The Dream Manager – Matthew Kelly
If you have employees and want to avoid high turnover and low morale, this book will help you create a workplace that fosters teamwork and loyalty.

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Spring Cleaning Tips for Your Business

Posted March 23rd, 2011 in Small Business Tips by Mara
Image by denharsh

Image by denharsh

Spring arrived this past weekend and while snow is actually still falling in some places, its still considered a good time of year to do some cleaning.

While most of us associate spring cleaning with washing the windows and vacuuming under the couch, consider taking some time to tidy up your business too. Not sure where to start? Here are a few ideas.

Match your marketing materials
As your business evolves, so should anything you’re using to promote it. When’s the last time you spruced up your brochures, promotional swag, website, or even business cards?

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Get Cheap Business Stock Photography

Posted February 21st, 2011 in Small Business Tips by Mara

Looking for some new images for your website? Right now AppSumo (it’s kind of like Groupon but specific to web apps) is offering a great deal well-suited for small business owners.

PixMac, a stock photography website, has put together a package designed specifically for business. Depending on your industry, these images may work well for your website, brochures, ads, etc.

It’s a limited time offer, but for only $25, you get 33 business-focused stock images – regularly valued at $250!

Interested? Check out the deal:
$25 for $250 worth of business stock photos

5 Tips for Choosing a Great Accountant

Posted February 17th, 2011 in Small Business Tips by Mara
Image by epSos.de

Image by epSos.de

Tax time is coming up and while many of us use small business tax software and our own brains to figure it all out, you might have hit the point in your business where you’ve decided it’s time to hire a pro to handle your numbers.

Finding the right accountant is just as challenging as hiring the right in-house employee. You need to trust them with some of your most treasured data and you want to feel comfortable doing so.

Here are 5 tips for making sure you are happy with the accountant you choose:

1.    Ask for Referrals

Just like you would ask a friend about their Physiotherapist, Doctor or even Hairdresser, ask business people you trust (and who have good financial records) about who they use to manage their numbers. Consider talking to people in your industry and start generating a list of accountants with great reputations.

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Why You Need a Proofreader

Posted February 10th, 2011 in Branding, Small Business Tips by Mara
Image by adactio.

Image by adactio

Mistakes happen. We’ve all been in a situation where we carelessly overlooked something and it’s caused an embarrassing situation. While most of these faux pas happen in our personal lives, from time to time it affects business. This morning we received a Change of Legal Name letter for a business we’ve worked with in the past. It’s a nicely written letter on beautiful new letterhead with a funky new logo. The problem with the letter is two-fold:

  1. They don’t state anywhere in the letter what the previous name of the business is. Although we’ve now figured it out, it took more than three people to narrow it down.
  2. There’s a typo in the URL in the big bolded area where they list their contact information.

Yikes. If you’re sending out a notice like this, you want to make sure it goes out without a hitch and people aren’t left scratching their heads trying to figure out who you are. This letter probably should have been passed around a bit before it left the building.

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