Business Answers
Business Answers is a place where HP in the UK can engage with owner-managers in small and medium-sized companies. It embraces this blog, a vibrant LinkedIn group, Twitter and YouTube videos. We hope you find this useful and that you will share your thoughts with us by leaving comments and sharing articles you like with your colleagues.

Displaying articles for: August 2010

Ten tips for advertising online with Microsoft adCenter

Microsoft adCenter is a great way to advertise your business and its products online. Check out our article How to advertise and sell online for more tips.

 

  1. Match your ad to your business. Make sure that your ad is in keeping with your business and include the top benefits your customers are looking for. Direct your ad to unique landing URLs, so that searchers can easily find your offer.
  2. Choosing keyword and phrases. Select words and phrases that describe your product, service, brand and location – including plurals, abbreviations, and common misspellings.
  3. Keep reviewing and updating your keyword list. If your business or product evolves then your keywords need to change….but…
  4. Make sure your ad is up to date. As you change your keywords, remember to ensure that your ad stays relevant and still attracts your target customer. Consider using dynamic text in your ad to make the ad more relevant to the searcher's query.
  5. Monitor and prioritise your keywords. Set your traffic reports to run frequently and prioritise the keywords that bring you the most visitors and are most relevant to your business.
  6. Test multiple ads. Microsoft adCenter allows you to create up to 20 ads per order and automatically display the best performing ads more frequently. 
  7. Word limits. Make sure titles are between six and 25 characters, descriptions are between six and 70, and the display URL is no more than 35 characters.
  8. Use adCenter’s suggested bids – but remember that they are estimates. When you start your bidding, use adCenter’s suggested bids as a guide. Review and adjust your results accordingly after one week.
  9. Bid on individual keywords rather than entering one bid for your whole list. Focus your budget on specific phrases and keywords.
  10. Use incremental bidding to help target your core customers. Incremental bids add an additional amount beyond your original keyword bid to target customers by location, time and date, age or gender. AdCenter’s reports can determine the demographic profile of your visitors; you can then set your bid accordingly.

Best of the web 27 August 2010

Here is this week’s summary of useful news for small businesses owners and entrepreneurs:

 

The 50 Best Twitter Applications and Resources for Small Business Owners 

Wendy Kenney, known as a Buzz Building Expert and for being the Founder and CEO of 23 Kazoos, has written a post for Startup Nation listing the 50 best Twitter applications and resources for small business owners. Her post is a must read by any small business owner who uses Twitter.

 

What Kind of Business Owner Do You Consider Yourself? 

Scott Messinger, a former and current business owner, has written an article for Noobpreneur asking what type of business owner you are - a hands on business owner or someone who is more of a big picture operator that does not get involved in the minutia of the business. He then noted that the majority of small business owners are a hybrid of these two ownership styles.

 

15 Fantastic Home Offices 

Patrik Larsson, a freelance designer, blogger and expert reviewer, has written a post for the Freelance Switch which includes 15 pictures of fantastic and inspiring home offices. He also invited readers to post a link to pictures of their own home offices.

 

What You Need to Consider Before Opening a New Office 

John Warrillow, the author of Built to Sell: Turn Your Business into One You Can Sell, has written an article for Inc. Magazine concerning how multiple office locations might make you look important but they could actually hurt the value of your business. He also included lessons learned from Treehugger.com's Graham Hill.

 

How to Choose the Right Name For Your Small Business 

Josh Spiro has written an article for Inc. Magazine concerning how entrepreneurs and small business owners often angst over the perfect name for their business. Hence, his article will serve as a guide to help new entrepreneurs and small business owners choose a defensible trademark plus a search-friendly and easily recognisable name.

 

How Small Business Names Can Spark Big Lawsuits 

Emily Maltby has written a great article for the Wall Street Journal about how some start-ups and small businesses have gotten mired in costly trademark scuffles with bigger firms. The article is a must read by anyone who owns a small business or who is thinking of starting one.

 

5 Ways to Improve the Cash Flow of Your Small Business 

Matt Quinn has written a useful article for Inc. Magazine listing 5 ways to improve your small business’s cash flow. However, he also noted that these five ways will not offer a quick fix for any cash-flow problems. Instead, they will help you make important and strategic changes in how you operate your business.

 

5 Simple But Fatal Mistakes That Will Hold Back a Start-up Business Owner 

Melinda Emerson, who hosts #Smallbizchat for emerging entrepreneurs on Twitter, has written a great post for Small Business Trends listing the top five simple but fatal mistakes that hold back start-up entrepreneurs. These mistakes included not appreciating social intelligence, not having a professional business website, not making sure that your email address is branded with your company name as well as working, not investing in your brand and not having a real phone number for your business.

What your competitors are doing online

Intel has just published a fascinating post with hard data about UK business’s use of social media – tools like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube etc.

The research shows that more than 50% of enterprises surveyed in the UK are using social media in the workplace and 95% believe social media offers business an opportunity to improve communication with both internal and external audiences. A total of 43% confirmed business drivers for using social media are its direct and personal route of contact with customers and partners.

For advice and help with your own social media campaigns, visit HP Business Answers advice site: Web 2.0 for business.

Would you give your notebook a poison pill?

This is a guest post from Intel's Jeff Hewlett and it first appeared on Intel IT Galaxy UK.

 

438i0C7B381895564D35What a stupid question, why would anyone want to give their own laptop a ‘Poison Pill’?

 

Consider this, about 2 million laptops disappear every year and the number is growing. Almost all of them are never seen again.
It’s bad enough losing a personal laptop as it can contain critical personal information. Imagine how much more serious it would be if you run a small business and your laptop disappears one day. Think of the consequences, what data do you have on your laptop hard drive;

 

  • Company accounting
  • Employees pay details, bank accounts
  • Employee personal data
  • Customer names and addresses
  • Customer banking/credit card information

 

No telling what would happen if this gets into the wrong hands and it most likely will at some point. Plus you have also got to replace an expensive company asset.

 

I have seen plenty of small business surveys where respondents cite security as a top priority but often this only extends to antivirus, antispyware and firewall etc. Antitheft technology is relatively new but deployment is growing rapidly and it’s not just for the NHS and MoD.

 

How does Antitheft technology work? Quite simple really, if your laptop goes missing or gets stolen a timer or internet-activated ‘poison pill’ permanently disables the laptop rendering the data secure and the laptop unusable. Click here to see more information and a great short video on the Intel Anti-theft homepage. A disabled laptop can display a customizable recovery message with contact information to help return the laptop to its rightful owner.

 

For those of you old enough to be car drivers in the late 80’s and early 90’s you will remember the pandemic outbreak of car radio thefts. Car radio theft on this scale was dramatically reduced by adding security features; PIN codes that had to be re-entered when the radio was disconnected from the vehicle. Can anti-theft technology for laptops have the same effect?

How to keep your good employees in tough times

412i0A4F3F9E3A9D4962If you are a small business owner in a tough economy, keeping your good employees will not only be the key to your ability to survive the downturn, it will also be a challenge as you may not be in a position to provide the compensation incentives that top performers look for in their careers. Hence, a February 2010 post by Marshall Goldsmith on the Harvard Business Review blog is well worth reading as he gave the following six tips for keeping your high-impact performers during a downturn so that they become your future leaders when business picks up again:

  • Show Respect: Treating employees with kindness and respect will go much further than leading them through intimidation and fear.
  • Focus on a Thriving Environment: It takes more than gimmicks to keep high performers happy. Instead, create an environment where employees are learning, getting training and developing their skills as such an environment will allow each individual, especially high performers, to thrive.
  • Offer On-Going Training: Training and education will ensure that employees can both do their jobs properly and improve your existing systems. Moreover, having employees who are cross-trained is a great competitive advantage if you are required to reduce your headcount during a downturn.
  • Provide Coaching: Working one-on-one with employees in a coaching relationship is also a great way to discover and tap their talents to benefit the whole organization.
  • Give Feedback: Providing feedback should be turned into a continual process rather than an annual or semi-annual performance measure.
  • Money and Decision-Making: Compensation is important but it’s usually not enough as employees also want to be involved in the decision making process. After all, achieving buy-in from employees will not only help you to retain top talent, it’s also a great way to generate ideas to improve the organization.

In other words, if you want to retain your best employees even during a tough economy, be sure to make an effort to develop their skills and to create a work environment they like.

Tags: Employees| hr| Staff
Labels: HR

10 simple rules for awesome PowerPoint presentations

411iA03AB80CAD5D1A02PowerPoint presentations are now a standard business and sales tool and hence, nearly everyone at least once in their career has had to sit through a really boring or poorly prepared slide show presentation. Therefore, a recent post on HubSpot is a must read for anyone who needs to prepare a PowerPoint presentation.

 

HubSpot noted that Duarte Design, a Silicon Valley design shop, recently put on a slide:smileysurprised:logy workshop which contained a wealth of useful information about putting together awesome PowerPoint presentations. From that workshop, HubSpot came up with these 10 key but simple rules for better presentations:

 

  1. No bullets
  2. Start on paper
  3. The 30pt rule
  4. No starbursts
  5. One thought per slide
  6. Time-limits, not slide-limits
  7. One thought per slide
  8. No logo on every slide
  9. No chart junk
  10. Tell a story

And as a great follow-up to this post that was written at the request of readers, HubSpot has a second post containing 17 examples of great presentations. These presentations will give you a fairly good idea as to what a great presentation design is and isn't. 

Labels: presentations

Ten Twitter tips to promote your business

410i585E7768D2CBD1B7Twitter is a popular online service that lets you share information and updates with other readers. Check out our Beginner’s guide to Twitter for more information. You can also follow our HP Business Answers Twitter feed: @HPBizAnswers. Here are some tips that will help you get started and get the most out of it to promote your business.

 

  1. Create a user name that people will associate with your business. If your business name is unique and memorable then use it.
  2. Your page. You want your Twitter page to stand out, but you also need it to represent your business.
  3. Follow other users who share your interests. Replying to questions or comments and re-tweeting interesting posts will help you connect with people who could become prospects for your business.
  4. Research your competitors. Using a Twitter application that supports lists can help track down competitors and innovators in your field.
  5. Identify your audience. The beauty of Twitter is that you can potentially reach anyone in the world but business users often forget to narrow their scope. Targeting niche audiences with Promoted Tweets could be a powerful way to use Twitter for business.
  6. Make the most of your tweets. Each tweet is an opportunity to connect with your followers. Ask questions, provide answers, promote your blog and/or Web site and retweet interesting posts.
  7. Utilise Twitter tools and mobile applications. Mobile applications let you post and read tweets from your mobile phone and tools such as TweetLater schedules tweets in advance.
  8. Use Twitter to generate feedback. Even a small business can use Twitter to get immediate feedback and offer assistance. You just need to devote time to monitoring Twitter on a regular basis.
  9. Track your re-tweets. Another measure of Twitter's effectiveness is not the number of followers you have, but the degree to which your information is re-tweeted and shared across Twitter.
  10. Don’t make it all about business. Too much self-promotion can be off-putting and impersonal. Twitter is more than just a promotional tool; it is a fantastic way to connect and build relationships with people and businesses in your field.
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About the Author(s)
  • Matthew Stibbe is CEO at Articulate Marketing and TurbineHQ. He is an HP fanboy.