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Marketing Techniques for a Bad Economy

Posted: January 27th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Articles, Business | No Comments »

Adjusting your marketing techniques in a bad economy to sustain your creative business is not just smart, it’s a necessity. Big companies cut expenses in a recession, and you should too. That doesn’t mean that you stop marketing. You need to consistently market your business to prospective and existing customers. Instead of stopping your marketing tasks, do them on a shoestring with these “cheap” marketing techniques.


Don’t neglect or fear your telephone. It’s great for taking incoming calls, working on projects or for personal use. What about for telemarketing? When was the last time you picked up the phone to initiate a relationship with a prospect? Here are some ways to do that:

  • Call prospects and ask them to set up an appointment with you to discuss how you can help them boost sales or be more successful.
  • Conduct interviews on the phone where you ask prospects about their needs to determine whether they make a good fit for you.
  • Hire someone else to make your calls if you lack the time, energy or confidence.

Each state has its own laws governing telemarketing, so you’ll want to check those out before you start calling. The laws may vary for calling business owners versus consumers. If anyone asks you not to call again, simply take them off your list.

Press Releases

These may seem old-fashioned in an age of tweets, YouTube videos and blogs, but press releases still work. There are online and offline media outlets that could pick up your news, including Google News. For example, you can write a press release about a new tool and how you’ve used it successfully as a designer. You can submit it to news syndicators so that it gets distributed around the web. Individuals searching for that tool online may come across your press release since the name is used as a keyword. Radio show hosts, television reporters, bloggers and others might contact you for an interview or link back to your website as part of a story. One press release can raise awareness about your products and services much faster than organic searches in Bing or Yahoo!

Direct Mail

Very few creative professionals are willing to send letters to past customers or leads. It’s much easier to send out a newsletter or email updates. You can stand out from the competition if you send a well written sales letter and personalize it with a handwritten envelope. Everyone you send a letter to will more than likely take the bait, because fewer marketers are using personalized mail these days. Hire a copywriter to help you write your sales copy and maximize results. Offer something of value in your letter, such as a free report, to entice them to contact you.

The key to low cost marketing is to be consistent. Schedule your marketing tasks on a daily basis and hold yourself and your team accountable to completing them. You will have to invest a little money, whether on postage, business cards or long distance calls, but these cost much less than expensive advertising and marketing campaigns.

Don’t Give Clients What They Want

Posted: January 27th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Business | No Comments »

Most of us would like to think we give clients what they want, right? The client comes to you with an idea for a website, landing page, application, or other project, and you do everything you can to deliver a product that meets or exceeds their expectations. But what happens when what the client “wants” is at odds with what the client needs?

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Logos: Getting Ready for Trademarking

Posted: January 27th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Business | No Comments »

This is an interesting article on tradmarking your logo, getting ripped off and more…

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Tips for Getting More Work from Repeat Customers in Your Web Design Business

Posted: January 2nd, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Articles, Business | No Comments »

You’ve probably realized how much harder is to land a new client for your web design business, than it is to have a previous one come back to you for more work. You can get so caught up in marketing methods that you forget a simple and effective truth: Repeat customers help to keep your business alive. If you’ve neglected your previous customers, it’s time to make a change. Here are tips for getting more work from repeat customers:

Tip #1 – Educate Clients on SEO

The major concern for your clients after you design their websites is getting web traffic. You may have helped them initially with some search engine optimization strategies, but they will need to know more. You will remain at the top of their minds for future work if you’re willing to provide them with some information that will educate them on their options, such as in a white paper, free report or newsletter. Seminars are also an effective educational tool that can lead to repeat business. You can conduct them in person, over the web or via the telephone.

Tip #2 – Follow Up

You should never complete a job and hope that your client is happy. Following up with your clients is an easy way to get more work. You should call them to make sure that they like what you have delivered and to make sure that there are no outstanding issues or questions. You can ask them for referrals as well as sell additional services to them. It’s much easier to get repeat business after a job well done than it is to market the same service s to a complete stranger.

Tip #3 – Ask for a Link

You may not get work directly from a customer, but their customers may ask you for work. People who like your design will want to find out which web design business was responsible for such great work. Ask that a link to your website be included at the bottom of pages, near the copyright information. If there is a list of resources and your business is a good fit for that page, ask whether yours can be included. You may need to offer an incentive in exchange for the link, such as a referral fee or a discount on your services for the link.  It may be worth it to you, because that’s less marketing that you have to do on your part. The inbound link to your website may also help you rank better in search engine results.

Tip #4 – Make Cold Calls

With everyone texting, tweeting and using email auto responders, you’re sure to stand out if you make cold calls to clients. You may have fears about doing that, such as a fear of rejection. Overcome those challenges and call the clients you have not spoken to in a while. Find out about how things are going for them and try to determine their needs. Pitch your services to them on a follow up call or email.

It still takes hard work to get repeat customers, but not as much as getting new customers through the “door.” Incorporate these tips in your marketing strategies to improve your financial bottom line.

Ideas for Web Design Business Joint Ventures

Posted: December 6th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Business | No Comments »

Joint ventures allow you to expand the reach of your web design business. A joint venture is an association of two or more people or business entities to work toward achieving similar goals. There are many different types of joint ventures, but one type that you should consider forming is a marketing joint venture with companies that serve your prospective customers.  Here are some ideas to help you get started:

Idea #1 – Form a Joint Venture for Promotions

You don’t have to commit to a long term joint venture relationship, especially when you’re trying it out for your web design business. A great way to test to the waters is to form one with another individual or company for promotions. For example, you can co-host a webinar with an SEO expert to offer a free webinar. You both can agree to share the email list you build as a result of the promotion and bundle your services for all webinar attendees. The other person benefits in a joint venture relationship from leveraging your assets, expertise and mailing list. Think about what you can offer that would make forming a joining venture with you worthwhile.

Idea #2 – Network with Marketing Companies

Marketing companies know the value of joint ventures, so you don’t have to educate them on the benefits. You only have to give them a proposal about doing business with you that they can’t refuse. For example, a marketing expert may agree to form a joint venture with your web design business in exchange for a percentage of the sales revenues you earn during a specified period of time. Marketing companies can reach a large audience that has online marketing needs, including the need to create or improve a website.

Idea #3 – Make Money for Your Partners

If you find an established company that would be perfect for a joint venture, then you can be sure that others are pitching them as well. It can be hard to convince them or even land a meeting with them when that’s the case. One way to get their attention is to make money for them. Join an affiliate program they offer and sell their product or service. The money coming from your sales will get their attention and you can use that to request a joint venture arrangement.

Idea #4 – Demonstrate Your Own Success

A joint venture partner is not going to be interested in a forming a relationship with you if you aren’t already experiencing success. Examples of what some partners look for include:

  • A large mailing list
  • More than 2 percent conversion rate from sales letters
  • Prior joint venture success

Potential partners may view your proposal as a one-way relationship and see little or no benefit to them in an agreement if you don’t demonstrate your own success.

It can be frustrating when you’re a new web design business owner, because a joint venture could help you accomplish so much if only someone would give you a chance. Work hard at succeeding in your business and the time to form a joint venture may come sooner than you think.

Interesting Google Facts!

Posted: December 6th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Business, SEO Marketing | No Comments »

Google Behind The Numbers

Estate Planning and Your Web Design Business

Posted: November 17th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Business, Finance and Loans | No Comments »

It can be difficult to think about estate planning when you’re working hard on a daily basis to keep your web design business running and profitable. External and internal pressures are always present, and you have to acknowledge that and allocate time to work on your long term goals. One of those goals should be to protect and preserve your business assets and income for your beneficiaries, such as your spouse or children. You can do that through proper estate planning.

Write a Will

The first item you’ll need for estate planning is a written will. There are so many free and cheap templates and samples available, that there is really no excuse not to have one. If you don’t write how you want your assets to be disposed, then the probate courts will do it how it sees fit. For example, if your dream is to have your children take over your business or give them the option to sell your assets to pay for their living expenses, you need to write that in a will. Don’t rely on inheritance laws to give you the outcome you want. A probate court judge may end up giving away your business assets to other beneficiaries while still complying with state laws. You should avoid handwritten wills because they can lead to extensive legal battles, and some states do not recognize them as valid.

Create a Trust

If your web design business is tied up in probate court, then your beneficiaries may not be able to do much to sustain it until the legal process is complete. That can have a detrimental effect on the business, and creating a trust is one way to avoid the need to go to probate court. The trust allows you to hold your business assets on behalf of your beneficiaries. When you die, the assets are not considered a part of your estate. They will be distributed to your beneficiaries, or your web business will be transferred to them, the way you describe in a written trust agreement. Your beneficiaries do not get to own the trust until you die, and you can determine when they receive assets. You can create a living trust now, or a testamentary trust which begins upon death.

Give Gifts

Estate taxes can take a toll on your web design business. Federal tax laws can lead to a significant reduction in what your beneficiaries will be left with after probate. You can reduce your estate taxes by giving gifts to your beneficiaries while you’re still alive. According to gift tax laws, you can give up to a certain amount without triggering a gift tax. For example, you could give a gift up to $12,000 in 2011 to a beneficiary without paying a gift tax. The amount changes from time to time, but you can check the IRS website for the most up to date information.

Consult with an estate planning attorney about the needs of your web design business. It would be painful to the ones you leave behind to work so hard at building a business, only to lose some or all of it in the probate process.

5 Ways to Find Insurance for Your Employees

Posted: November 4th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Business, Health and Fitness | No Comments »

You may be obligated to find insurance for your employees under federal and state laws. Good job candidates also factor in employee benefits when deciding which job to accept, and you may need to find insurance to hire and retain them. It’s important to compare plans so that you can meet your legal requirements at the lowest price possible. Here are 5 ways to find insurance plans online and offline:

1 – Your Insurance Agent

You should begin your search with a call to your insurance agent, and for good reason. Insurance companies reward customers with multiple policies by awarding them with discounts. If you have business insurance with your insurance company, that’s even better. You should still call your agent if you only have personal insurance products, such as homeowner’s or renter’s insurance.

2 – Local Insurance Agents

If you don’t have an insurance agent that you’ve worked with in the past or are not happy with the discount offered, try other local insurance agents. Give them a call to discuss your need to find insurance for your employees. Those agents often have a network of agents who they work with in case they are unable to provide a specific product. You also may feel more comfortable meeting in person with an agent to discuss your needs in more detail, rather than with an online insurance broker.

3 – Online Insurance Brokers

One of the quickest ways to find insurance for your employees is to submit a request for a quote with an online insurance broker. You can get quotes for group and individual rates and easily compare benefits. The problem is that some online insurance brokers are not trustworthy and it can be difficult to determine who to submit your information to. You should always check the Better Business Bureau’s website at before sharing personal information. It’s also important to use your discretion when it comes to the type of information you’ll submit to get a quote.  For example, you may want to withhold your social security number, and submit your employer identification number instead.

4 – Chamber of Commerce

You should check with your local Chamber of Commerce to see what options are available to your for small business group health insurance. The Chamber may offer excellent group rates for employers who want to provide health, disability or life insurance to employees. You have to be a member to access those benefits, but the cheaper insurance rates may be worth it.

5 – National Association of Health Underwriters

You can find health insurance agents that are reputable and held accountable through the National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU). You can also get help from NAHU with the enrollment process as well, with purchasing decisions. You can learn more at

It’s important to do your homework when you want to find insurance for your employees. Don’t just compare the premium price, but also the policy terms. Not all policies are made equal, and you don’t want to end up paying the same price for fewer benefits.

How to Get Incorporated

Posted: October 28th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Articles, Business | No Comments »

Learning how to get incorporated will help you to create a separate business entity and a shield for your personal assets. A corporation offers business owners several benefits, but the most popular one is the ability to protect against personal liability. If a client sues you for negligence as a result of the graphic or web design services you provide, then they are limited to the assets that your corporation owns. They cannot, in most cases, successfully sue you for your house and personal property because these are not owned by your corporation. Here’s what you need to know to get incorporated and to take advantage of the benefits of incorporating:


The least expensive way to get incorporated is to file your own paperwork. The thought of creating your own legal entity can be intimidating, but it’s easier than you think. The tough part is deciding whether to incorporate in the first place, and what type of corporation is best for your business. There are many legal resources on the web that have great information on the subject, including and You can also consult with a small business attorney, but still incorporate your own business.  The steps to get incorporated are:

  • Choose your state of incorporation
  • Select directors for your board
  • File “Articles of Incorporation” or “Articles of Organization” with the Corporations Division in the state or the Secretary of State’s office
  • Pay the fees of incorporation

Once you take these steps, your business will be incorporated. These are only the first steps though, because you’ll need to work on getting licenses, writing bylaws for the corporation and the major legal agreements that you’ll need to operate your business.

Incorporation Services

A more convenient option is to get incorporated through a business filing or corporation service. These companies hire paralegals, legal assistants and other professionals to file the necessary paperwork for you. Some incorporation services are founded by and run by attorneys, which has some advantages. For example, you won’t have to figure out the appropriate paperwork that you need for your corporation type, because they will file what you need. You can also incorporate in another state a lot easier when you let them do it for you. The advantages of using these services include:

  • Fill out an online form instead of paperwork that you’ll file with a state
  • Get guidance on the proper paperwork to file
  • Incorporate from the comfort of your home
  • Have a registered agent for your corporation

You’ll have to pay for the convenience, but many incorporation services offer competitive prices. Consider all of the bonuses and perks that each service offers to help you make the best choice.

Small Business Attorney

The best way to get incorporated is to let a small business attorney do it for you. It’s also the most expensive option. Lawyers know that they are competing with incorporation services and many have seen the light and offered a lower fee to clients. What you should avoid is an attorney who wants to charge you by the hour to incorporate your business. Find one who will take care of your paperwork for a flat fee, so that you know what to expect. The primary benefit of using an attorney is the advice you’ll get along with getting incorporated.

It’s important to understand the legal obligations associated with launching and maintaining a corporation. You need to determine whether it’s a good idea to get incorporated, and then decide on the best method of incorporation based on your budget.

How to Manage Your Business during Tough Economic Times

Posted: October 7th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Business | No Comments »

You can’t control the external factors that threaten your business, but you can survive and thrive during tough economic times when you learn how to manage your business well. It may mean that you can no longer do business as usual, or you may need to improve on your current management style and processes. You’ll probably have to make some sort of change to meet the challenges of an economic recession or depression. The good news is that business owners have been through it before, and some of their best days came about because they employed great business management strategies in the face of a harsh economy.

Master Your Cash Flow

One of the main reasons for business failure is the inability of entrepreneurs to manage cash flow. In its most basic terms, cash flow is how money enters and exits your business. Your job is to get as much cash as possible, as quickly as possible and to have as little of it leave your hands as possible. The procedures you put in place to accomplish these goals determine whether your business survives or thrives. If you don’t know what it takes to master cash flow in your business, then stop most of what you’re doing and take the time to learn. There’s no use investing time and money in marketing if you can’t manage the cash that you’ll get as a result of your efforts.

Improve Leadership Skills

Your employees can help you overcome the economic crisis you face in your business or in the general marketplace. The same employees can hurt your business if you fail to lead them properly. One way to hold onto good employees is to improve your own leadership skills. Become a better listener and make sure you’re give them the resources and tools that they need to succeed at their jobs. Communicate openly and often when times are hard. You don’t want them to guess your motives or remain in fear that they won’t have a job the next day. Some employees may even make sacrifices for you and your company if they trust you and believe that you’re a solid leader.

Become More Efficient

It’s crucial to tighten your budget during tough economic times, but you also have to tighten how you deliver goods and services to manage your business well. You can lose money, time and people by not being efficient. The best way to test your efficiency is to have someone do one of the tasks you often do. If that’s not possible, then conduct an honest assessment of the way you accomplish your business goals. Time yourself and write down the steps you take on a routine basis to manage your business. You may discover better ways to do what you’ve become accustomed to, and that could lead to saving more cash.

Learning how to manage your business well should be a priority no matter what the circumstances. Schedule time to gain the skills you need, or to work on improving the ones you already have.