THE BLOG FOR AUSTRALIAN SMALL BUSINESS

BAD BUSINESS CONNECTIONS

How to avoid the ‘experts’ that could slow down your business growth.


How do you tell the difference between a true expert and a potential disaster for your business?It’s not what you know. It’s who you know.
Or is it?

I’ve always had a slight problem with the phrase above.
There is very probably some genuine truth hidden away in those words, and it’s hard to deny that having useful connections in business can certainly be a big help.

But I still believe that what you know is a pretty important asset, along with how you implement what you know to the very best effect.
The success of your business surely can’t be pinned entirely on the friends you make and the working relationships you nurture on the journey.
Can it?
Hmm…

Well, down at Smokey Joe’s Business Bar last week, I was having a chat with a fellow business owner who is convinced that business success is all about who you know.
Flash Floyd seems to think that everything hinges on the people you choose to work for you, the other businesses you hook up with, and the experts you assign to a particular job.

“It’s all about picking the right people!” he assured me with great confidence.
“Once you’ve cracked that, everything else just falls perfectly into place.”

Perhaps he has a point.
Or something remarkably close to the beginning of a point.

It’s better to avoid making business connections with certain alleged experts in their field.  But how can you identify a genuine expert who can really help your business and deliver a winning service?But here’s the problem.
Despite his strong convictions, Flash Floyd is struggling in all kinds of ways at the moment.
And from where I’m sitting, it seems to me that this is largely because he picked the wrong ‘experts’ for the job.

Maybe it’s not just about finding the right people and making the right business connections.
It’s equally important to avoid making connections with the wrong ‘experts’.

That may just sound like the flip-side of the same coin.
But you should watch out for the serious warning signals which may just help you to avoid the risk of mistakenly believing that you’re making the right choice.

With just a little bit of inspiration provided by Flash Floyd’s own poor selection, let’s kick off with a very quick look at the Breeds of ‘Expert’ That Could Spell Disaster for Your Business.

It’s not hard to spot the reasons why making these types of connections could end up developing into a very bad decision… CONTINUE READING

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CUT THE CLICHÉS!

Business Jargon and Tired Cliches – The Top 20 Worst Offenders.

WARNING: This Blog article may contain strong traces of Cliché. Please stop reading now if your poor brain is not fully prepared for a mental battering.

Thinking outside the box for better alternatives to tired old business clichés and outdated jargon which don’t really mean anything.Do you find that the occasional cliché or slice of outdated business jargon can often creep into your business content when you least suspect it?

Have you ever been accused by customers – or even your own employees – of actually speaking in meaningless clichés in the office?

Today’s new Blog article is my attempt to encourage you to push the envelope and start thinking outside the box, as I drill down into the problems of…

Ah. It’s harder than you think to avoid them completely, isn’t it?
Still, at least I think we’re all on the same page here. (Gah! Another one! I may have got away with it though.)

However, let’s not get into too much of a panic just yet.
Unless you’re reeling off hundreds of clichés a minute and the whole of your marketing content is positively riddled with pointless jargon, you shouldn’t be punishing yourself too severely at this stage.
It’s a perfectly natural everyday occurrence to slip into ‘cliché’ mode every now and then, and it’s not usually a crime.

But could you be at serious risk of alienating your audience and fellow team members with far too much jargon?
What’s the problem anyway with using tried-and-tested phrases that people recognise?
Are there really any stronger alternatives?
And is it ever acceptable or even recommended to deploy a sneaky cliché into the mix?

I’ll examine those points in just a moment, but first let’s take a look at my own current list of The Top 25 Worst Offenders which crop up far too often in business content and office conversation for my liking.

So should you be avoiding all these clichés like the plague?
(Gah! Another one! Nurse!) CONTINUE READING

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DIY BUSINESS CARD DESIGN

The Essential Checklist for creating
your own Press-Ready Artwork.


Fancy designing your own Business Card artwork? Here’s the essential beginner’s guide to DIY Business Card design, including the top Do’s and Don’t to consider before submitting your artwork to your chosen print shop.Thinking of updating your current Business Card design or creating brand new artwork from scratch?

Ideally, a professional design by an experienced graphic artist is more likely to demand attention and generate results.
But you may prefer to keep the costs as low as possible and have a go at crafting your own DIY design.

So, what points do you need to carefully consider before creating your own Press-Ready Artwork and submitting it to your chosen print shop?

What elements should definitely be included within your design, and which bits need to be left out completely?

How do you prepare the ‘Bleed Area’ for your design – required by good print companies who care about your finished results?

What’s the crucial difference you need to know between CYMK and RGB Colour Modes in your image-editing software?
And why could working in the wrong mode result in a hugely disappointing final product?

Here’s an essential beginner’s guide to DIY Business Card Design, including The Top Do’s and Don’ts to consider before sending in your artwork to the printing press… CONTINUE READING

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BREACHING THE SPAM MARKETING RULES

How your business could face a big fine for breaking the tough Australian Anti-Spam Laws.


Nobody likes Spam Marketing. But could your own business be in danger of breaking the rules and facing a fine?Nobody likes a Spammer, do they?

It’s an accusation that gets tossed around far too freely these days, though.
You may even have been branded a Spammer yourself by an aggrieved reader who was less than happy to receive your well-intentioned marketing content.

In the past, I’ve been accused of ‘spamming’ just because I’ve written a post on Facebook seen only by people who willingly chose to follow my updates!
It sometimes feels as if you’re always going to upset somebody out there every time you stick your head over the parapet.

However, if your business sends out regular Emails and Newsletters or you make use of SMS Marketing, you could be in bigger danger than most of crossing the illegal line into Spam.

Still, it’s nothing to worry about, is it?
Nobody really gets into serious trouble just for getting a little bit too spammy, right?

Wrong.
Breaking the tough Australian Anti-Spam Laws can now land your business in financial hot water, and some pretty hefty six-figure fines have already been dealt out right across the board, from the tiniest of small businesses to the biggest of corporate giants.

In many cases, a business owner has faced a harsh financial penalty simply for making a careless mistake or failing to spot a tiny technical error in their marketing.

Starchy Steve is an entrepreneurial acquaintance of mine who’s had more than his fair share of accidental spammy headaches, although this may have quite a lot to do with his deeply unusual line of business…

With Starchy Steve’s help and wisdom and painful experience, let’s take a look at The Big Three Rules of Anti-Spam Marketing which should be considered very carefully if you’re keen to avoid crossing the line and making a potentially costly mistake… CONTINUE READING

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A PRIVATE WHISPER ON WEBSITE DESIGN

Revealed! The biggest best-kept secret to a winning Business Website.


What is the biggest and best-kept secret to a winning Business Website Design? And why do so many professional website designers still seem to get it so wrong?Are you in the process of developing a brand new website to represent your business online?
Perhaps you’re considering a major redesign to your existing site or you’re starting from scratch for the very first time?
You may already have called in the professionals to get the ball rolling.

But there’s a very common mistake that even some of the professional website designers seem to make far too frequently.
So what exactly are the secret ingredients to a winning Business Website?
And what is the biggest design secret of all?

 

Exposing the biggest secret behind good business website design…After what felt like an eternity of tense anticipation, the waiting was finally over.
Down at Smokey Joe’s Business Bar, Flash Floyd was about to unveil his brand new business website on the screen of his laptop.

He’d been talking about nothing else for months and months.
This was apparently going to be the most amazing business website design ever to be glimpsed by human eyes.
It was going to be jaw-dropping. It was going to be utterly unique. And it was going to change the way we think about business websites in the future.

There were certainly plenty of astonished gasps echoing around the bar as Flash Floyd flipped open his laptop with a proud grin on his face.
The general verdict seemed to be that the new website did indeed look out-of-this-world and lived up to everything that Flash Floyd had promised.

But here’s the bit where I come across as a bit of a party-pooper.
After navigating the site for a few minutes, I have to admit that I wasn’t really impressed at all.
In fact, I preferred Flash Floyd’s older website which has sadly already been despatched to Cyberspace Oblivion.

This new website design was clearly a professional job and looked as if it may have cost a small fortune. Or maybe even a big fortune.
But in my eyes, it was a failure as it completely overlooked the one real secret to a great website design.
And it’s all about what your website is actually supposed to do. CONTINUE READING

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IS THERE ANYONE OUT THERE?

Four reasons why your business content could be getting completely ignored.


 Could your business marketing content – including Blog articles and Social Media posts – be getting completely ignored for a very good reason?Are you failing to generate a healthy response from your Blog posts, Social Media updates, or other slices of marketing content?

When you’re trying to whip up a healthy and lively online discussion, do you often find that you end up getting completely ignored?

And is anyone out there paying the slightest bit of attention to what I’m saying right now?
Is this thing even switched on? Helloooooo?

Actually, I’ve become used to writing content which gets utterly ignored.
Not here on the Blog, you understand.
And not on my Facebook page or any of the other Martin Print Social Media channels.

I’m mainly talking about the Sweet Pastry Shop orders that I give to Old Bert every lunchtime.
I present them to him in a variety of formats for maximum impact.
I write them down on paper, I put up the details on the notice board in the canteen, and I even have them printed up on a stylish glossy Menu down in the printing press.

I’m wasting my time though, as I know Old Bert never bothers looking at any of this content.
He seems to prefer injecting a bit of fun into lunchtimes by just trying to guess what everybody wants and getting it all hopelessly wrong.
Still, at least I know the cause of that particular problem.

On a slightly more serious note, it can be frustrating when you fail to generate a response from business content which was designed to get your audience talking…and you don’t really know why it failed.

There could be a very good reason why your Blog article or Social Media post failed to take off in the way you’d planned.
But we can only work on the solution after we’ve first identified the real cause.

Here are four of the most likely reasons why your business marketing content could be getting totally ignored by your audience… CONTINUE READING

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GOOGLE YOUR BUSINESS

The new free tool from Google that helps to put your Aussie business on the map and ditch the Octopus.

Google My Business is a new free tool which gives you the power to control your business presence on Google with only one pair of hands. But is it any good?


Google have recently launched a new free platform for Australian Small Business which is designed to change the way you manage your crucial presence on Google forever.
But what exactly is this new tool Google My Business supposed to do?
How do you sign up to the service and is it really worth taking a look?

Essentially, Google are promoting the new platform as a handy solution for bringing together Google Search, Maps, Google+ and more under one easily manageable roof.

It might just mean that Martin Print can finally get rid of the annoying Octopus that we hired earlier this year, whilst you can quickly enhance your online business presence without tying yourself in knots.

Attempting to keep on top of all your different Google-shaped profiles and platforms could often be a bit of a nightmare, especially when things like Google Maps, Google Places, YouTube channels, customer reviews, and Google + Local were scattered around all over the place. CONTINUE READING

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CALLING FACEBOOK USERS TO ACTION!

The Secret Words that generate the biggest interaction from your Facebook posts.


Could success or failure in generating interaction from your Business Page posts on Facebook depend on the choice of words you use in your Call to Action?Which secret word hits the spot when it comes to inspiring your Facebook followers to engage with your latest status update?
And which hugely popular word doesn’t seem to do much good at all, despite getting used millions of times every day by business page owners?

It’s very tempting to kick off this new article from the Martin Print Blog with a dramatic Call-to-Action which urges you to “READ THIS NOW!!!”
But would that really encourage you to read further, or is it much more likely to put you off completely?

Let’s take a look at How to craft the perfect Call-to-Action in a Facebook post

 

Down at Smokey Joe’s Business Bar this week, I was having an intriguing chat with Sharp Simon.
He expressed his total bafflement at the results he was getting from his Facebook business page posts.
Sharp Simon generally publishes around two to three status updates every working day, but he seems to generate wildly differing results from them.

“I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s all just totally random,” he admitted in a defeated tone.
“There are times when I write a fairly low-key post which takes me by surprise and attracts a whole stack of Likes, Comments, and Shares.
“Then there are other times when I feel as if I’ve written a really strong and powerful status update…which ends up doing absolutely nothing!”

Taking the prickly issue of Promoted Posts out of the equation for now (although you might like to read my article on Pay to Play Facebook for further insight on this topic), it appeared to me that Sharp Simon’s hit-and-miss results were simply a matter of wordplay.
In particular, the success or failure of his Facebook posts largely depended on the choice of language he was using in his Calls-to-Action.

A recent report from TrackMaven has examined over a million and a half posts from Facebook business pages to assess which secret words were working wonders and generating real interaction.
It also revealed which types of Calls-to-Action were falling flat and driving readers away in droves.

So what exactly is the best secret word of all to use in a Facebook status update?
READ THIS RIGHT NOW TO….sorry, hang on, I lost my concentration there for a second. I’m sure there’s no need to be quite so pushy.
Ahem. Why not take a look at some of the findings below?

CONTINUE READING

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GREATEST EVER GUERRILLA MARKETING

7 creative Business Marketing Campaigns that took the audience by surprise…


Guerrilla marketing! Seven of the most creative and daring examples of clever business marketing which took the general public by surprise…Boo!
Did I catch you by surprise?
No? Hmm.
I’ll have to try harder next time…

Guerrilla Marketing has been surprising and even startling innocent passers-by for quite some time now, as small and big businesses dream up new ways to get their message across to a largely unsuspecting public.

It’s a concept which has grown in popularity over the last few years;
The unconventional marketing stunt designed to capture attention from out of the blue and generate a big buzz.

The marketing campaigns tend to be controversial, funny, jaw-dropping, scary, annoying, downright silly, and sometimes even a little bit naughty.
But the very best of the bunch always grab your interest and raise awareness of the business or product on a big scale.

I’ve been experimenting with the idea here at Martin Print H.Q, with the help and hindrance of our resident caretaker, Old Bert.
Following a slight misunderstanding, Old Bert spent most of last week walking up and down the street in a gorilla costume and handing out some of our luxury Business Cards.

I eventually took him to one side, and explained again that Guerrilla Marketing is all about taking the general public by surprise and getting them to absorb your marketing messages without even consciously realising it.

I won’t go into too much detail on his second disastrous surprise strategy, but you could hear the screams and gasps of innocent passers-by for miles and miles and miles.
I’m not letting Old Bert out of the building without supervision ever again.

In future, I think Martin Print will stick to more traditional marketing methods when we’re trying to tell business owners about our beautiful printing and results-driven design services.

But in the meantime, here are seven of my own favourite examples of Guerrilla Marketing from around the world.
Genius or just plain potty?
You decide.
Expect the unexpected! CONTINUE READING

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OPTIMISE YOUR VIDEOS ON YOUTUBE – FAST!

How to Unlock the Secrets of Optimisation from the Internet’s Biggest Marketing Weapon.

You’ve created the world’s most compelling marketing video to help spread the word on your business…but it’s likely to get missed by a potentially huge YouTube audience unless you’ve taken a few quick steps to optimise your content.
Here’s A Complete Guide to YouTube Optimisation which should help to give your visual gems the best possible chance of getting discovered by prospective new customers…

How to optimise your business marketing videos on YouTube, and give your content a better chance of getting viewed by potential customers!Unless you’ve been living in an isolated cave for the last few years, I’m pretty sure that you’ll have experienced YouTube in one way or another.

In fact, no, that’s not quite true. Even those cave-dwellers have jumped on the video-sharing bandwagon.
An old mate of mine has been living alone in a remote cave for the last decade, after making the decision to pursue a quiet and simple life, far away from human beings and technology and deeply annoying ringtones.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered recently that he’s now got his own YouTube channel!
He regularly uploads new video content delivering survival tips, cooking suggestions, and fun games to play when you’re completely alone in the dark.

Thanks largely to dog weddings and skateboarding cats, YouTube is now the second-largest search engine in the world, boasting well over a billion unique monthly visitors.
A staggering 6 billion hours worth of video footage is viewed from the site every single month.

Now that fun and engaging video content can be quickly produced on a Smartphone by any business owner with no real budget but plenty of imagination, it’s very little surprise that so many businesses are tuning into YouTube for big marketing results.
(For further insight on the strategic points to consider before shooting your next video, you might be interested in taking a peek at a recent Blog article which explores The Basic Essentials of Video Marketing.)

Here’s a cause for concern, though;
Far too many business owners get so carried away in the excitement of uploading a brand spanking new YouTube video, they overlook those small crucial steps to total optimisation.

They’re quick, simple, and easy. It’s mostly about planting the right keywords in the right places, with just a couple of extra juice-boosting steps thrown in for good measure.
And this short path to YouTube optimisation ensures that your unique video content is far more likely to be found by those prospective customers in search of the exact services you provide.

Here’s how to squeeze maximum marketing power from your own YouTube videos… CONTINUE READING

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