Five Things Small Business Owners Need To Know About Identity Theft

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

We often hear about issues with personal identity theft, and the havoc it can wreak on your credit and reputation. Less discussed, though, is small business identity theft, and how it can affect your company. Here are five things business owners need to know.

Small businesses are liable for their bank accounts
If someone steals money out of your personal account, chances are your bank is going to cover that. But if a small business account gets drained, small business owners are on their own.

Banks typically won’t cover these types of losses. Sometimes, a computer crime endorsement on your business insurance policy is available, and may cover some of your losses. With nearly all banks offering online access to account information, experts recommend you regularly monitor your accounts. [Read more…]

Blog Your Way To Success

Blogging is nothing new these days, but it’s still a powerful tool for promoting yourself, your ideas, and your personal brand.

Blogs are easy to set up, but good blogs can be challenging to maintain.

Keep these tips in mind to create a blog that will make a mark on the Internet:

Stick to a clear theme
Select a broad topic to concentrate on. If your blog seems too scattered, people won’t feel any compelling reason to read it regularly.

Know your audience
Think about who you’re trying to attract. What are they interested in? What are their problems? What do they need?

Address these questions and you’ll be able to create content that appeals to the readers you want.

Write powerful headlines
The first thing your readers will see when they visit your blog is the headline of your latest story. Give it some excitement and emphasis with action verbs and colorful language so they know what your item is about, and want to read it right away.

Engage with your readers
Don’t let comments sit there. Respond with a thank-you, more information, or to correct misinformation.

Avoid fights, but make your points clearly and respectfully so your audience knows you’re paying attention.

Keep at it
Many blogs start strong but then languish because their founders lose interest.

Remember that this is a long-term effort. If you’re not getting the response you want, try tweaking your blog, but don’t give up too soon.

Time Spent Blogging Will Boost Your Online Profile

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

You‘ve no doubt noticed the thousands of blogs online from big businesses, mom-and-pop stores, consultants, and individuals.

Some of the information is interesting, some of it is boring, and a lot of it is just an outlet for folks to vent.

However, if you are not blogging, you may be missing out.

Why blog?
If you are a business owner or manager, blogging has many benefits:

It boosts online awareness about your company. By including search engine optimization (SEO) keywords in your blog titles, links and copy throughout your blog postings, you’ll significantly increase your search rankings and boost online awareness about your company, services and products.

These keywords are simply the words or phrases potential customers are using to search for your products and services online.

By including SEO keywords in your entries and writing weekly blogs that are 300 words or more, you will see a difference in website traffic.

Blogging builds customer relationships. Blogs also offer a way for you to share information, interact and build customer relationships.

If people can comment on your posts and like what you have to say, they will share the information with others and build word-of-mouth for your business.

But how do you discover what is valuable to your customers?

Check your Google Analytics. The key is knowing what pages your site visitors are looking at most and what keywords they are currently using to find your website.

This information will give you clues about what your clients want and help you create great blog entries.

If you’re still not sure, you can always post a quick, online survey and ask your customers what they want to see.

A blog lets you beat the competition by providing unique content. Blogs can help you stand out from the competition by providing valuable information that your customers cannot find anywhere else. And how do you do that?

In your blogs, share your personal insights pertinent to your expertise, background, likes/dislikes, hobbies, etc. Your blog should be as unique as you are.

Blog for business growth!
If you haven’t looked at blogging as part of your marketing strategy, it’s time to review it again.

Blogs provide a great way to boost your rankings on the search engines and build client relationships with unique and valuable information.

However, blogs need to be written with the appropriate SEO content and posted on a regular schedule – there’s nothing worse than a stale site.

If you don’t have the time or writing skills for this, hire a content strategist who does. It will be well worth it when you see your site visitors and sales increase!

Business To Business Marketing Tips

Marketing is the life blood of any business. Staying in touch with customers, prospects, and vendors is critical to the growth of your business. Here are some tips to use the technical resources available to you to promote your business.

Business Blogging
Many B2B businesses, from the manufacturers of GPS devices for vehicle tracking to the providers of credit card processing services, are blogging today for a very good reason: blogging represents real power.

When done properly, it allows B2B businesses to generate leads, brand awareness, brand loyalty and greater interest in general. And B2B blogging is not all that difficult to get right, so long as a few simple tips are followed.

Knowing your audience is a very simple but effective tip. Make sure you have done research on your target audience, either on your own or with the assistance of an Internet marketing company, and then write appropriate content to best reach those individuals.

Another simple tip is just to have a plan. It is always important to actually plan ahead when it comes to being able to offer the best content.

Plan out ideas for blog topics for at least one month in advance, and make sure that you have a backlog of post ideas so you can fill in any gaps.

Creating Compelling Email Copy
Email marketing has evolved in a big way over the last few years, and yet the fact remains that übe-designed emails with lots of “bells and whistles” are meaningless without well-written content. The good news is that in the end, writing a great marketing email all comes down to just a few simple copywriting best practices.

Writing a genuinely compelling email subject line is one such practice. The message itself might be a work of literary genius, but no one will ever read it if the subject line does not inspire the receiver to open the message and read it in the first place. Use actionable language that makes it very clear what the reader can do with the information contained in the email message and why he or she should read it.

Wherever possible, personalized emails also work well. That means more than just including the recipient’s name; it means also knowing personal information about the person to whom you are sending your messages, including what he or she is likely to be interested in.

Social Networking Boosts Your Business!

You can’t turn on the television, read a newspaper, or even browse online without hearing about the business benefi ts of “social networking.” What is social networking, and how can it help build your business?

Loosely defined, social networking is nothing more than a group of people who share a common interest getting together online. It gives you the opportunity to create a virtual meeting place where your clients, prospects, vendors and even employees can talk about things going on in your company, ask questions, promote products or sales, and announce special events.

Social networking eliminates time zone differences, a huge factor for many. People from all over the state, country, and even  world can connect and communicate easily in real time, opening many doors that geographical boundaries once closed. In a nutshell: Social networking helps you stay in touch!

There are a myriad of social networking sites on the Internet, and each is geared toward a slightly different demographic or type of user. More than likely, you’ll want to participate in a couple different sites to stay in touch with the most number of people.

The most used sites for business networking include Facebook, LinkedIn.com, and Twitter. Don’t discount the value of participating in online forums and writing your own blog.

Facebook
Facebook (www.facebook.com) has become one of the most popular online relationship building sites. It’s a central point for a lot of different things, like posting status updates (what are you up to right now?), photo albums, and even videos. You can also keep up with what everyone else that you’re “friends” with on the site is doing – and in this case, friends can mean true friends, or business acquaintances.

When you log into Facebook, you’ll see all of your friend’s latest updates about what they’re up to – and when they log in, they’ll see yours, mixed in with other friends they have. Some people post every small detail of what’s going on in their lives, and others post infrequently or only when they have something truly important to say. Neither approach is right or wrong – what you decide to post is more of a personal preference.

LinkedIn.com
LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com) is probably the largest online business networking site. You can post your resume, join special interest groups, search for people you want to meet, and request introductions from your friends to other people you want to meet. That may be the most interesting thing about LinkedIn – think of it as an online “six degrees of separation.” Your LinkedIn network extends from your friends, out to friends they know, out several levels.

Twitter
Twitter (www.twitter.com) is a very popular new online meeting place. Twitter is what’s known as a “microblogging” site, because posts or updates you make are limited to 140 characters at a time. These entries are known as “tweets.”

Ping (www.ping.fm) lets you tie it all together. Ping is a service that will take your update and post it to all of your social networking accounts at one time.

Forums and blogs
Online forums are a great way to meet people who are interested in similar topics, and there are literally thousands of active forums online. It’s easy to participate, and you’ll fi nd a lot of forums are incredibly active. To boost your online exposure, which boosts your company’s profi le, look for forums that focus on topics your clients care about. Then, post answers to other people’s questions. You’ll quickly demonstrate your expertise.

It is easy to say that everyone (and every company) should have a blog, but the reality is, in order to be successful, you’ll need to blog regularly. You have to enjoy writing and be willing to commit to posting on a very regular schedule, or risk losing readers.

By becoming part of a social networking site, you’re not only opening your business to all World Wide Web users, you’re actually making your business more accessible to the public to be available to purchase your products and services. Connecting with other businesses also gives us the ability to share common ideas and practices in groups who share common ideas and business goals.

Should Your Small Business Have A Blog?

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

By now, everyone is familiar with socal networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Businesses and business owners are flocking to these sites to promote their companies and their brands. And with socal networking all the rage, blogging has become the forgotten stepchild of web marketing for small business. But this doesn’t make sense.

Blogging can be one of the most effective marketing tools for the small business owner because it’s easy to start, it’s easy to maintain, and it’s easy to leverage in enhancing your marketing mix. Here are some reasons why you should consider a blog for your company.

Improve Search Engine Rankings
Google, Yahoo and Bing LOVE blogs. They’re indexed almost overnight, and usually rank high in the search engine results. This helps you drive more qualified traffic to your website.

Engage with Prospective Customers
Blogging presents a unique opportunity to engage in dialog with your prospective customers on a continual basis. Anytime a new prospect visits your blog, you immediately leverage the vast arsenal of posts, comments and writing to help sell your products or services.

Dig Deeper
The pace of business is fast. Blogging is an opportunity to dig into a particular subject a little deeper without slowing down. You can write an extended blog post, or you can break up your thoughts into a dozen posts related to a particular topic.

Improve Your Writing Skills
One of the biggest benefits to blogging is the opportunity to improve your writing skills. Ideally, you’re going to post several times a week – frequent writing and editing means your writing skills will improve – which helps the rest of your marketing efforts, too.

Be Unique
Let’s face it – most business marketing materials like company brochures are incredibly boring. Blogging lets you put a little personality into your marketing. Customers and prospects get to see the real you, and your uniqueness could be the difference between you winning the business, and your competitor winning.

Listen and Learn
Read all the blog comments and email you receive, and read the comments on other blogs about your writings. Learn what your customers and prospects are thinking.

Test Ideas
Innovation is the engine that drives business growth. A blog is an excellent platform to test thoughts and ideas in a risk-free environment.

Become An Expert
Prove your expertise to new prospective customers with your knowledge and insights.

Supplement Your Other Marketing
Support your other marketing investments by leveraging your blog for promotion, marketing and feedback.

Get Subscribers
Many readers who like what you write will subscribe to your blog, providing you with a direct, ongoing communications channel with your target audience.

Uncover New Opportunities
The more you blog, the more opportunities will present themselves to you. You’ll gain a reputation as an expert in your field, which means clients and prospects are already sold on your ability to deliver results.

Tech Experts maintains two blog sites for our clients. The first, www.ExpertsGuys.com, is a blog written and maintained by our technical staff. It offers interesting ideas and timely technical advice based on our daily service work.

My blog at www.ExpertTechTips.com offers some of my insights on small business computing with an eye toward growing your company.

We offer a blog hosting package, that will work alongside your existing website. For example, if your website was at www.MyTechExperts.com, we could set up a blog site for you at blog.MyTechExperts.com (or at any domain name you’d like).

If you’re interested in learning more about blogging, or would like to set up a blog site for your business, please give us a call at (734) 457-5000.

What Should You Blog About?

What is going on in your industry right now? Look for interviews given by industry leaders, tips, opinion pieces, research, news, and posts from other bloggers. Find out who are the main bloggers in your field, and then determine what new or alternative context you can provide.

These all can give you ideas for your posts. While you might not be unconvering big news, you should concentrate on generating thought leadership by stating your own view of that’s going on in your industry.

Be Alert: Actively monitor your industry with Google Alerts, Technorati, and Blogpulse.

Get a Nose for News: Keep on top of big issues with news aggregators like Google News, Techmeme, and Topix.

Then, go beyond the news and try to describe your own experiences, interests, expertise, case studies, etc. Personal stories can often resonate with your readers.