America’s SBDC Blog

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Effective online marketing techniques by business type.

December 27, 2012

Online marketing is a critical component of making your business successful in this day and age where 97% of internet-connected consumers go online to research services and products. But with so many ways to market yourself online, you may be suffering from analysis paralysis… so to get you started, here is the top action item I recommend depending on your type of business.

If you’re a local business and you see your customers face-to-face, either when they walk into your location, or because you go and see them at theirs, the #1 thing to do is take control over your listing in online directories. That means claiming your Local listing with all the big search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. Once you’ve claimed your listing, here are the top things you should do: (more…)

Free Market Research For Any Business

November 19, 2012

Insights for Search, one of my favorite free market research tools just got a major revamp and is now part of Google Trends so let’s take a look at how a business can use it to make better decisions.

The premise of the tool is that it can help answer important questions about your business using all the searches that people do on Google. For example, by counting how many people in different cities are searching for words related to the flu, like ‘couching’, ‘headaches’ and ‘fever’, Google is able to build a map of regions where there are outbreaks of the flu.

For your business, it can help answer important questions about seasonality, regional preferences and rising trends. (more…)

Cloud-based business planning platforms in Natural Disasters

November 12, 2012

Cloud-based business planning platforms could facilitate efficient FEMA/SBA small business relief in the case of natural disasters

The Problem

In areas struck by natural disasters, tens of thousands of small businesses have been damaged or destroyed in one event. This causes unprecedented challenges to the public and private mechanisms designed to address small business access to capital and community recovery

Affected business owners are too often left without the necessary documentation or information for FEMA/SBA to process their claims and applications after a disaster. And the longer it takes for a small business person to painstakingly re-construct their documentation, the more likely it is that they will give up and the jobs they supported and their tax revenues will be lost forever. (more…)

Better Search Ads with AdWords Ad Extensions

October 24, 2012

I was recently listening to Seth Godin give a talk at Google where he said that the internet is the first medium that wasn’t invented specifically to carry ads (unlike magazines and television). So to become successful as a company, Google had to figure out a way to make ads just as useful as their search results and that’s exactly what they did with AdWords. After some 10 years where the look and feel of the ads didn’t change much, now Google has started offering all sorts of ways to make the ads more interesting through ad extensions.

Ad extensions are a way for advertisers to enhance their text ads with additional information that the user might find interesting like a location, a phone number or additional links to a website.

Because extensions make ads bigger, they draw more attention and because they make the ads more specific, the people who click are better prequalified. And just as with AdWords in general, creating an extension is free and you only pay for clicks. (more…)

The First 5 Things to Do When Getting Started on Twitter

September 21, 2012

For most things you want to accomplish in life, getting started is often the hardest part. The same is true for social media. If you are anxious about getting started it is easy to put off signing up for Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest until tomorrow… or next week… or next month.

To help you stop procrastinating and start achieving your social media goals, here’s a list of the first 5 things you should do to get started on Twitter.

1. Develop your identity.

After choosing a username, or as it’s called on Twitter your “handle,” you’ll want to create a bio that captures the spirit of your business. Keep in mind, more people will find you on Twitter that have no previous knowledge of who you are or what you do than on any other network. If you had just a few seconds (or in this case 160 characters) to explain your business to a complete stranger, what would you say? That will be your bio. (more…)