THE BLOG FOR AUSTRALIAN SMALL BUSINESS

DOMAIN NAME GOLD RUSH 2014!

Why Your Business Should Be Planning Ahead for the All-New Domain Extensions. 

Are you ready to strike gold with the introduction of brand new domain extensions for your business? Here’s why you should be planning ahead for the future and staking your claim to a perfect new domain name.2014 is going to witness one of the biggest and most dramatic changes in the history of the internet.
But is your business preparing to take advantage of this golden opportunity to secure a perfect new domain name?

We’ve all become very familiar with those boring old domain extensions that have been around since the dawn of time.
Stuff like .com and .com.au and .net and .org.

But this year will see the gradual rolling-out of a whole treasure trove of brand new domain extensions – one of which could prove to be a valuable goldmine for your own business.

These new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) will include such precious jewels as .expert, .health, .engineer, .dentist, .florist, .photography, .builders, .supplies, and many, many more.

Big Ted, the chief printing wizard here at Martin Print, was hopeful that he might be able to grab a new .snakesandladdersgrandmaster domain extension for his latest little online venture, but that’s one of the few possibilities that has yet to make the list.

However, glaring omissions aside, the new gTLDs have the power to be a real game-changer for businesses seeking to upgrade their domain name and hammer home the brand with a deliciously short URL.
For example, a self-employed photographer currently operating a website with the URL martinrussellphotography.com.au, could well be in a prime position to grab the much smoother martinrussell.photography domain name if he’s quick off the blocks.

The first batch of new domain extensions have already started to roll out in recent months, and you can check the full schedule in the handy Launch Calendar below to see when your perfect new extension is due to be released into Cyberspace.

But just how easy – or expensive – is the process of securing your new-look domain name?
Why should we be thinking about both sides of the dot from now on?
Should you be staking your claim during the initial Sunrise or Landrush periods of a new domain extension?
And what on Earth do those mean anyway?

Let’s go digging for Domain Name Gold…


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HOW SAFE ARE YOUR PASSWORDS?
The World’s Worst Passwords of 2013 and How to Protect Your Own Business in 2014!

The worst passwords in the world are revealed, as I take a look at how to strengthen your own online security without having to remember long strings of random letters and numbers.Do you take care and consideration when choosing super-strong passwords to secure your online business activities?

If one of your own passwords features on this list below of The Official Weakest Passwords In The World, it’s definitely time to spring into action and create a new one before it’s too late…

Those thoughtful people at SplashData have recently released their annual definitive list of the 25 Worst Ever Passwords, compiled from literally millions of ‘stolen’ passwords which have been posted online for the whole world to see.

Is one of your own crucial business passwords on this List of Shame?

And how do you ensure that you’re choosing the strongest possible passwords to protect your business without having to remember hideously long strings of random letters and numbers?

Is there an easier way to keep your business safe from the attention of hateful hackers?

Well, let’s dive straight into the data, and take a look at that list in full.
Here are the Top 25 Poorest Passwords of 2013 which certainly caused more than a mild headache for many of the hacked businesses who used them at their peril…

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COAX YOUR CLIENTS INTO ONLINE SHOPPING
The Crucial Factors That Your Audience Will Consider Before Buying Online from Your Business

How to convince your potential customers to buy online from your business. It takes just a little more effort than a smile…I’d like you to join me on a journey inside the mind of your typical prospective customer…

If you’re determined to sell more of your products online, it would certainly be useful to take a peek inside the head of a member of your target audience.
You could discover the crucial considerations that are getting mentally weighed up before a firm decision is reached to buy or move on.

For example, how much is the average customer likely to spend on a product without seeing it first? What kind of goods would they never consider buying online?

And most importantly of all, what exactly can your business deliver during the online shopping experience that will make a potential customer far more likely to buy your stuff?

A recent report from PR firm Walker Sands reveals some of the answers, and one factor in particular seems to be dominating the inner thoughts of the everyday online shopper…

My own investigations into this were inspired by a challenge that I set the Martin Print team last week;
I asked them to find Australia’s least likely person to ever make an online purchase, and then convince him or her to enter the digital world of internet shopping.

They didn’t have to look very far.
They believed that this dubious honour went to our very own resident caretaker, Old Bert.
He’s suspicious of anything developed after 1957.
The team reckoned that if they could persuade Old Bert to experience the benefits of buying a jar of his favourite pickled eggs online, they could persuade anyone.

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RED HOT HIGHLIGHTS OF 2013
A Rapid Roundup of the Juiciest New Developments of the Year for Small Business

The red hot highlights of the year! Here’s a roundup of the best Small Business developments of 2013.What was your favourite Small Business Highlight of the Year?
Maybe it was an intriguing new development?
A useful new innovation? A fresh opportunity to market your business in an exciting new way? Or simply a comical highlight which made you smile?

My own Rapid Roundup of My Favourite Bits of 2013 hopefully includes a brief sample of all of the above…

I did ask some of my fellow Martin Print team members for their own thoughts, but I must have forgotten to stress the ‘business’ element.
Josh was very keen to point out that the highlight of his year was reaching Level 172 in Candy Crush Saga with only minimal screams of frustration.
Charlie, our Shipping Supremo with a mind rooted in strategy and tactics, seemed particularly proud of his work mapping me out a brand new route to the Sweet Pastry Shop.
It shaves a whole two minutes off my travelling time, although I now get stung by nettles and scratched by thorns every lunch break.

Meanwhile, Old Bert claims that his highlight of the year was beating Big Ted at Snakes and Ladders in a high-tension match which went on for days. His victory celebrations lasted just slightly longer.

Hmm.
Well, I’ll politely skip over those for now, and unveil my own selection of the hottest highlights of the year for Small Business.
From long-overdue changes to Facebook Contest rules which change the game completely, to the rise of NFC marketing, via the funniest Social Media meltdown of the year.

Did you miss any of these juicy bits of 2013?


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AVOID THE BOGUS RULES OF SMALL BUSINESS
Why You Should Never Follow These
Mythical ‘Unwritten Rules’ of Business

False! Wrong! Bogus! Untrue! Let’s take a look at a list of some of the worst unwritten rules in Small Business and why you should never follow them…Are you following any of the so-called Unwritten Rules of Business?
If so, could you be making a very dangerous mistake and putting your business health at serious risk?

I was having a catch-up with my good friend Wonky Alan last week down at Smokey Joe’s Small Business Bar.
I’d spent what seemed like two hours listening politely to his latest news, updates, and plans for the future.
In fact, I’d managed to get through four Fizzy Frothy Fruity Fusion drinks before it got round to my turn.

Eventually, I got the chance to share some of my own new stories and anecdotes from the continuing design-driven adventures of Martin Print.
However, I was only really starting to get to the good bits when I was abruptly cut short after less than ten minutes.

“Stop!” yelled Wonky Alan, dramatically. “Have you been feeling unwell or something? It sounds as if you’ve been breaking every unwritten rule of business in the book! Maybe it’s time you took a holiday?”

Well, I wouldn’t say no to a holiday. But I strongly disagreed with Wonky Alan’s reasoning.
I’ve always had a bit of a problem with ‘unwritten rules’ of anything.
If a rule is so good, why on Earth has nobody ever bothered to write it down?
Could it be because the rule in question is actually a bit rubbish?
Is there even perhaps a small chance that the unwritten rule could turn out to be completely wrong?

At this point, Wonky Alan pulled out a curiously named book from his pocket called The Definitive List of Unwritten Business Rules.
Hmm. Surely a contradictory title? Unless all the pages were blank.

But no, the pages weren’t blank. In my honest opinion, the pages were crammed full of very bad business advice which should definitely have remained unwritten and unspoken.
Wonky Alan seemed to have been absorbing all this nonsense recently, so I decided to postpone sharing my own stories and news until our next catch-up.

I felt our time would now be better spent on exposing the lack of logic in many of these mythical guidelines, and ripping up The Top Four Completely and Utterly False Rules of Business


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TRENDSPOTTING FOR 2014
Considering the New Marketing Trends to Take on Board as Your Business Sails into the New Year

New Year ahead! But what will be the new business marketing trends for you to consider in 2014?What will 2014 have in store for your business?
And what will be the Big New Trends to bear in mind if you’re planning on keeping up with changing consumer habits and those fresh marketing strategies that your closest rivals will be engineering?

I always like to plan ahead for a winning result, so I thought I’d begin by asking some of the greatest entrepreneurial minds down at Smokey Joe’s Small Business Bar for their predictions for 2014.

I was a bit disappointed by the results, to be honest. I was hoping for something a bit more profound and insightful than this kind of stuff;
“I’ll get a year older but no wiser.”
“People will keep on buying things from other people who will be trying to sell them things.”
“Some prices will go up, whilst others will go down. But mostly they’ll go up.”
“You will see a tall dark stranger with letters in his name.”
“The human race will become conquered and enslaved by a race of invading aliens with faces that look a bit like giant pancakes.”

Hmm.
I was almost ready to give up on the whole idea, when Smokey Joe pulled me to one side and told me that he might be able to set up a meeting with one of his oldest friends who always seems to come up with the right answers.
This guy is a mysterious and wise business guru who harnesses the ancient secret powers of the universe from his little shack on top of an invisible mountain.
If you’ve been following my posts on Facebook, you may already know that this guy cooked up a very curious and slightly impossible Advent Calendar, and I’ll be opening a new door every day on the Martin Print Facebook Page during the countdown to Christmas…

So, I jumped at the chance to meet this guru in person.
I wasn’t allowed to go to the invisible mountain for security reasons, so we eventually met up a few days later at a quiet table in the corner of Smokey Joe’s Bar.

The guru was certainly a quirky character. He continually fidgeted with his long, wispy beard and made a variety of strange grunting noises and occasional whoops of delight as he consulted his starcharts and spreadsheets and circular graphs on the table.

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#TRENDING ON TWITTER
How to Create a Bigger Business Buzz
with the Twitter Hashtag

An introduction to the Hashtag on Twitter, along with advice, tips, pointers, and a full guide on how to get your business trending on Twitter.How on Earth did a faintly unassuming little squiggle become one of the most powerful buttons on your keyboard?
What exactly does the humble Hashtag represent, and how can you use it more effectively to get your business services trending on Twitter?

I was having a little chat about this with Josh in the Martin Print canteen yesterday. He was telling me about a recent project that he’d been working on for one of our long-term clients.
Josh had been designing a new set of Flyers for a very special business promotion, and he was delighted to discover that the promotion was now trending on his Twitter home screen.
“The client had created a new Twitter hashtag and she requested that we include this in the design,” he told me. “The promotion has really taken off now and everyone’s tweeting about it in the Twittersphere!”

At this point, I noticed that Old Bert had wandered in with a look of bewilderment on his face.
He had just caught the end of our conversation, and he was clearly struggling to decipher a single word that had been said.
“Whatever happened to the English language?” he eventually wailed.
“We never had to deal with any of this nonsense back when I ran my own handyman business. Ah, they were simpler times…”

The hashtag may seem like a baffling concept to begin with, but it could actually prove to be one of the most dynamic tools in your Social Media Marketing arsenal, as it cuts right through the useless online chatter, and delivers clearer and stronger communication between your business and your audience.

If you’re already familiar with the power of this strange little symbol, you may wish to skip to the tips and pointers below on creating a bigger buzz with the Twitter Hashtag!

But if you’re still scratching your head and wondering what all the fuss is about, let’s just kick off with a brief introduction to help put you in the picture…


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WHY EVERYTHING WE THINK WE KNOW
ABOUT EMAIL MARKETING MAY BE WRONG
Busting the Common Small Business Myths
on Good Email Marketing

Could some of our current email marketing strategies and techniques be hopelessly outdated? It’s time to head back to the small business classroom and learn some new tricks…“Ah, you have to be very careful with email marketing campaigns. One false move and you’ve blown it forever. It’s all about timing, frequency, and doing everything you can to avoid the dreaded Spam bin. Unless you have my kind of experience and insight, you’re likely to mess it all up, I’m afraid. Do you want to hear some of my expert advice?”

Hmm.
I was having an entrepreneurial chat with Wonky Alan down at Smokey Joe’s Small Business Bar.
He has a reputation for spouting rubbish at the best of times, but I have to admit that I would normally have agreed with much of what he had to say today.
However, my own outlook on Email Marketing had very recently been turned inside out by an intriguing new report from Alchemy Worx which dares to suggest that nearly everything we think we know might just be completely wrong…

This epic study from the digital marketing agency scrutinised data from their own work with customers and industry figures – including the analysis of literally billions of emails – to reach their surprising conclusions.
The good news is that email marketing may actually be a little simpler and safer than we had previously assumed.

But is it true that the wrong choice of keywords could send your emails straight to the Spam Bin?
Is it really so crucial to despatch your emails at the exact optimum time on the exact optimum day?
And do shorter subject lines really improve your chances of getting noticed?

As Wonky Alan began to share some of his long-winded old-school advice with me, I responded with some of the new thinking now proposed by Alchemy Worx.
Between us, I hoped that we might just be able to debunk some of the common myths of email marketing techniques, and untangle the updated truth of the matter…


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BANG ON TARGET!
How to Identify and Connect with the
Perfect Target Audience for Your Business

Get on target with your small business marketing! But how do you identify and connect with your perfect target audience?Is your Small Business Marketing reaching the right targets?
Have you identified your target audience and built up a profile of your typical customer? How do you get connected with your chosen targets? And perhaps more importantly, how do you stay connected with this audience well into the future?

The Martin Print team have been chatting this week about the types of infuriating marketing that really drive us all round the bend;
Hostile marketing, pushy marketing, intrusive marketing, dressed-up-in-a-giant-chicken-costume marketing…the list goes on and on.

But one form of marketing that kept cropping up in our conversations over and over again was deeply irrelevant marketing;
The kind of stuff that lands on our laps without any thought or care as to whether it might be at all suitable for us.
In many cases, this marketing material might be laughably unsuitable.
For example, I can’t really think of any logical reason why I keep getting bombarded with strong encouragements to upgrade my current knitting machine, or why Old Bert keeps getting told where to go for all the latest Volcano Boarding accessories.

Of course, there are situations where there may well be some value in grabbing tiny crumbs of custom from a blanket catch-all marketing strategy.
But it’s surely much more cost-effective and rewarding to focus your marketing campaigns on a shrewdly considered target audience.
You stand far more chance of generating the right results without aggravating everybody else who gets caught up in your marketing net!

So, let’s take a look at the four key points to bear in mind when narrowing your sights on the perfect target audience for your products and services…


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ON THE INTERNET BUT IN THE DARK
How Every Australian Small Business Owner Can Get Help to Improve Your Digital Literacy

How’s your digital literacy? Is your business making the most from the internet? A new report from Paypal suggests that Australian SMB owners are struggling to seize the true potential of online marketing…How do you rate your own digital literacy?
According to new research from Paypal Australia, there’s every chance that you might not be making the most of everything the internet can offer for your business.
In fact, you may be barely scratching the surface…

A new report from Paypal entitled Digital Literacy Among Small Business in Australia suggests that a whopping 3 in 5 Aussie SMB owners feel that their low levels of digital literacy are preventing them from running their business more efficiently.

But what other shocking findings have been thrown up by the report?
And what are the positive steps you can take to improve your digital literacy for the sake of your business?

In all honesty, I’m not entirely surprised by the figures.
We may happily live in a world of expensive fancy gadgets which plug us into the infinite realm of Cyberspace, but how many of us are really taking advantage of all the solid business opportunities right at our fingertips?

Last week down at Smokey Joe’s Small Business Bar, I was having an insightful chat with Sharp Simon.
Well, I say insightful chat…
He was actually just throwing his latest ‘hi-tech business purchases’ in my face, and telling me how super-fast they all were, and how much he had paid for them all.
Smartphones, desktop PCs, laptops, iPads, tablets, phablets…Sharp Simon had the lot.
And for a second or two, I was mightily impressed.

“I see you’re taking the digital revolution very seriously,” I ventured.
“I’m guessing that all these gadgets are vital in helping you to build and maintain a huge online presence for your business. So, tell me a bit about your online marketing strategy. How’s it coming along?”

At this point, Sharp Simon faltered for a minute.
He eventually showed me how quickly he could access Angry Birds, and then pointed out the crisp definition of the screen displays.
Hmm…

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