The Advantages and Disadvantages of Business Process Outsourcing

Over the past few years, outsourcing has become the method of choice for small, medium, and large businesses. This trend is being predicted to go on for the coming years as more and more companies are planning to outsource not only simple business processes, but even the more complex ones. However, just like any other ventures, businesses have to consider both the advantages and disadvantages of outsourcing.

 

Companies that opt for outsourcing may not always plan or cover all the bases of the business tactic in relation to their objectives; as such, companies may experience downsides. However, the premise for consideration of outsourcing largely stems from the notions that outsourcing helps cut costs and helps the outsourcing client get ahead in their respective industries. In fact, these views are taken into account by many enterprises. Thus, it is no surprise that outsourcing is seen by many businesses as mutually beneficial to the outsourcing client and the outsourcing firm itself, in many ways.

 

One advantage of outsourcing is the focus on core business areas. The functions or projects that companies decide to outsource would not be within their control for a time, and as such, companies should identify their objectives, implement careful planning, and allocate sufficient resources. As companies are freed from the responsibility of the minor but substantial business processes, they are given the advantage to focus their time and efforts in formulating strategies that will push them forward to being leaders in their respective industries. In addition, most companies that outsource some of their business processes usually do so to allow evaluation of their organization. The evaluation determines their areas for improvement and areas to further strengthen, as well as create, business strategies that will help beat the competition.

 

Another advantage to outsourcing is the potential cost savings. Outsourcing to firms that offer advanced technology releases the company from the trouble of putting a high investment on developing their own technology. Also, most countries of the outsourced service providers realize the benefits of the outsourcing trend in the economy and hence, create policies that will encourage potential outsourcing clients and retain the existing ones. Companies that opt for outsourcing, though, should still take into account unexpected or hidden costs in the form of various preliminaries such as surveys and research studies, incorporation costs, communication expenses, and maintenance costs.

 

The most evident of all the outsourcing advantages is the acquisition of skilled professionals and the increase in levels of productivity (if you’d like to check a great company to help with employee selection, click here). For one, outsourcing provides easy access to highly skilled professionals who possess expertise in the given field. In addition, hired staff and manpower by outsource service providers are mostly, if not all, college graduates and degree holders. Thus, outsourcing clients get the highest quality of service possible at less cost.

 

At the same time, through outsourcing, companies obtain more productivity and results from the outsourced operations. Though some companies may initially regard the difficulty of monitoring and maintaining employees on a regular basis and the possibility of compromising security of certain transactions as potential pitfalls, it cannot be denied that outsourcing generates results that are mostly favorable to businesses. The outsourcing advantages of quantifiable and increasing output also follows the logic that satisfactory quality of production brings in more demand or more business for the outsourced service provider.

 

Indeed, given these advantages, companies have lots more to think about before deciding to move their business processes offshore. But with enough consideration and the right model, companies can surely take in stride these outsourcing advantages and disadvantage aspects and continue on outsourcing and on their track for excellence in their industries.

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Brave New Leadership

Leadership does not happen in a vacuum – good leaders in one situation can be terrible leaders in another and different situations demand different leadership qualities from us. In this article, we look at how it is not only our qualities as leaders that are important; but also the fit between those qualities and the environment that we are in.

Managing your teams for sustainability

It’s partly a matter of communication and reassurance, but I suggest it has a dimension we don’t always consider – in strategy discussions do we look only to our own wisdom or that of our top colleagues and professional advisors, or do we take into account in an active and deliberate way the advice we can get from customers and political leaders? Or maybe great speakers, like Richard Jadick?

 

Environmental scanning is an essential part of any strategy development but a global economic shift is largely out of our control as organizations and individuals. What we can do is manage our teams. As we try to fix an uncertain future, how do we keep our teams motivated?

 

The more diverse perspectives you can get into your strategy process the more likely you are to come up with a range of possibilities that makes sense. Teams will be much more reassured by the actions you take to ensure this wide and diverse input into decision making because that will demonstrate that you are doing things in a way that takes political and economic uncertainties into account.

 

The future for business will rely on organizations being sustainable. Tomorrow’s Company, the business research organization, defines a sustainable company as one that, “pursues long-term success, understanding that it depends upon, and therefore must contribute to the health of the economy, the environment and society”.

 

Growth is likely to be generated from green industries and the challenge is going to be how we ensure a global level playing field so that the incentives are no longer perversely ensconced towards manufacturing those green technologies in China or the Middle East. Environmental and social controls in the global system are crucial – why does so much biotech industry developed at Universities like Cambridge end up being manufactured in China or Vietnam? Costs are lower, but why? Because there are no pension arrangements, there is no holiday leave, no health and safety, environmental or ethical safeguards. You can’t have a global system and expect the most advanced parts of the world to benefit if there are different rules for different parts of the globe.

 

One alternative is to build niche industries – very specialized businesses in a global sub-niche, too small in scale to bother taking it to China. Those industries rely on identifying high value, small volume production that can take place here and that is going to be a key means of restoring employment.

 

The future of human resources

Scientists are looking at the ethical and social consequences of what are known as ‘Smart Robots’ – these are not the next generation of robots that are coming, they are the next, or next, next generation. The idea of a Smart Robot is one that is able to continue to learn and improve itself, that can then produce smarter versions of itself. We are not there yet,   but theoretically, they are possible and they may be produced in the next 25 years or so. But what is going to hit us by 2012 is Intelligent Robots.

 

We’ve had robots from the ‘80s, for example in the automotive industry where they performed simple mechanics and threw out of employment a low-skilled, blue-collar workforce.

 

The new generation of Intelligent Robots will look like human beings, they will speak to you in several languages, joke with you, flirt with you and, in Japan, teachers are being substituted with robots in pilot form. They can detect when something is wrong and identify the defective part for replacement. Intelligent Robots have the potential to replace all security guards, receptionists and secretaries – and most doctors,  lawyers, and bankers. The speed with which they are deployed will depend on how quickly they are accepted. Initially, they will cost between £12,000 and £100,000 – not too astronomical!

 

So, starting in 2012 leaders may have to make the decision as we go into recruitment, do we recruit a person or do we recruit a robot? The principle going forward is going to be very straightforward – more and more we will need to recruit human beings who are smarter than their robot equivalents.

 

Three Core Competencies of the Future

The core competences of the future will not be those we are producing now, so unless we address this issue in our school systems the problem of unemployment will certainly increase. As confidence grows and we begin to think about expanding again, we must consider these three core competencies in the kind of people we are recruiting.

 

Finding and retaining customers

We are in a historically unprecedented situation where we are able to produce much more than the world needs of everything. In a world of over-production, the key becomes a market competition – if you want to survive you need to find and retain customers.

 

Managing the whole supply chain

As a result of the rise of technology, we will find industrial boundaries eliminated and the rise of mega-corporations will increase. How do we manage supply chains in these huge organizations? How do we ensure that our staff doesn’t operate as ‘sales prevention officers!’

 

Creativity and innovation

According to the late Peter Drucker, marketing is selling and promoting today’s products, while innovation is anticipating tomorrow’s needs today. Developing a culture of innovation will be an essential aspect of competition, attracting new customers and streamlining structures and processes.

Do Top Money Market Funds exist?

Finding the top money market funds can be a really daunting task, but most investors who are looking to make big cash in a quick manner would abide by it.

One of the most famed cash management tools is money market funds. Often, these tools are cited as the safest kind of mutual fund. But a beforehand examination to understand them, their benefits and their suitability to your investment needs is a prerequisite. In simple terms, money market funds can be defined as those mutual funds that invest in money or capital markets. You either borrow money or loan it. Top money market funds are the ones you have similar to deposit accounts with top-notch banks that accept your money and utilize it for investment purposes. What you get in return is the portion of earnings in the form of dividends that come from it. In general terms, monthly income is what money market funds pay.

 

The Benefits of Top Money Market Funds

Money market funds are normally short term investments that mature in a period of less than 13 months. The risk is highly subsided owing to the short duration nature of these funds. As the lending of money is for a shorter time frame, the probability of getting back your money is much higher. Top money market funds include: Us treasury issues, short-term corporate paper, and certificates of deposits. Depending upon the kind of money market fund that is bought, the securities vary. But the major factor of concern is whether or not the dividends earned are taxable or tax-free. This type of investment grants you the privilege of writing checks that draw from a money market fund. This serves the twin purpose of enjoying the dividend advantage and ease of cash access. But then you need to verify about the fees and the restrictions to be abided as specified by the institution. Top money market funds are in every way suitable for the practical cash parking in the short run. These needs could be as varied as down payment for a house or car or going on a vacation. Also the liquid nature of these funds allows you to sell shares in money funds at any point of time.

 

Decent returns from secure investments are the best bet that top money market funds offer. The liquidity factor of these funds grants the luxury of drawing out money even within a few days after beginning business. Another benefit is the profits earned from increasing interest rates. Putting in your money in an investment that adapts itself to the market movements is the key to reap profits. Quick ways to make big cash is the major allurement behind these funds. An interest rate of 2 to 2.5% is what you can always expect from these funds. These may hold you in a situation of ambiguity because savings accounts offer a higher than 3.5% rate. The answer is the taxes you pay on a savings account may not be as better at the end as top money market funds. The best way to ensure you’ll get the best results is to get assistance from a qualified company, like Erlybird, that has good experience in the field and great professionals.

“The Executive’s Agent?”

Should job seekers hire an agent? Let’s consider the dilemma of the executive or professional person that is or wishes to be, in the job market.

The unemployed job-seeker has these options: Networking, the people the he/she knows are where they use to be – not where they want to go; Ads, very few upper level positions are available and the competition for each is extreme; Executive Search firms; hr services headhunters represent companies seeking people with specific qualifications – they do not look for a jobs for people. This leaves “outplacement” if it was made available at the time of separation. The key to successful outplacement is to be represented by a firm that gives active participation in the job search by making targeted contacts for the client job seeker. This is an “Executive’s Agent”.

The currently employed person that wishes to make a change for any of many good reasons, i.e., upward mobility, industry change, geography change, etc., finds that there is not enough time to do their job and look for a new one at the same time. They must also protect their job search confidentiality. The solution is to retain an “Executive’s Agent”.

A successful executive job search consultant will learn as much as possible about his client and prepare effective marketing methods.

The three steps of Focus, Communications and Contacts, is my recommended approach. The jobseeker must identify what his value in the job market is, and identify who needs him. This is “Focus”, the first step. Then, the next step is to communicate this to the “decision-makers” that have a need that is a match for the job seeker’s value. The language used must reflect your compatibility with the targeted industries and companies. Therefore, the materials like letters, resumes or profiles must also demonstrate this compatibility. The third step is making the right contacts. The “Executive’s Agent”, by making direct contacts to decision makers, can identify staffing needs that have not been published, and a “third-party” referral of the job seeker can be made.

But, if you want an easier option, there are great staffing solutions companies that you can find online, such as Solvo Global. You can contact one of those companies and get to know your options better.

 

Offline Versus Online Brands – The Winners and Losers

It took more than 50 years for Coca-Cola to become a worldwide market leader, but only five years for online search engine Yahoo! to gain market dominance. The role of the brand has changed dramatically and has created a vacuum between offline and online brands.

Why? Offline brands lack interactivity. They are passive. Offline brands can only communicate one way via television, print and radio. Online brands “listen” to the consumer, learn from them, and react based on the consumer’s needs. This new skill — this interactivity — is an online brand’s strongest asset. It enables the brand owner to form a one-to-one relationship with the consumer.

Brand Suicide

Years ago, Kodak was considered to be one of the world’s strongest brands. However, as the market moved from chemical film to digital photography, Kodak lost its dominant position to the growing army of personal computers appearing in businesses, at home, and in home-based offices. The appearance of the PC has enabled Kodak’s competitors to leapfrog Kodak’s leadership position and take the dominant position in the market with digital photography.

The introduction of digital cameras has also spawned a number of new brands. The monopoly Kodak enjoyed with 100,000 film development outlets around the world is no longer impressive when compared to the 100 million outlets that digital cameras now represent (i.e., the computers on every desk and in every home).

Kodak is attempting to regain its leadership position in the new digital market. The question is, is it a case of too little, too late?

It took Kodak years to see the writing on the Internet wall — a delay that opened the door to hundreds of competitors. This situation could easily happen with any dominant offline brand where the value of the brand is not extended online.

LEGO — one of the strongest toy brands in the world — is another victim of the interactive world. The brand faced the specter of digital competition back in 1984 when pocket computer games appeared just before Christmas and managed to cut LEGO’s worldwide sales by 30 percent.

Even though the warning was clear, LEGO didn’t change its strategy. For many years the colorful plastic bricks have remained unchanged in the face of competition from Playmobil, Tyco and Matchbox. It took LEGO more than 13 years to realize that the real competition was from online games, puzzles and challenges. Kids no longer considered it to be “cool” playing with LEGO — the role was replaced by computer games.

In 1997, LEGO released its first attempt to re-capture market share — the LEGO CD-ROM. In the meantime, Sony Play Station, Nintendo and Sega have already taken the lion’s share of the online/interactive games market.

If You Can’t Beat Them — Join Them!

A characteristic of all of these offline brands is the inability to change in the face of shifting customer needs. Too much trust was placed in the historical brand value. However, with changing consumer tastes, greater choice, and a reduction in consumer loyalty, a historical brand proposition is no longer valid in today’s fast-moving consumer economy.

Creating a brand is now easier (thanks to the Internet) than it ever has been. However, committing brand suicide is even easier – it’s happening much faster than marketers thought possible.

The brand survival kit has proven to be a fast, but clever migration to the online world with a foot in both worlds to ensure capturing the mind of the consumer regardless. 

If you want to know more about online branding and marketing, check SMA.

 

Don’t Think Too Different

Have you ever tried driving in a country where the steering wheel and gear stick are on the “wrong” side and traffic is on the opposite side of the road from what you’re used to? Many of us have had this awkward experience. You probably recall an instant of fear that struck when you realized you didn’t know where to look, how to react, or which way to turn.

The foreign traffic experience has a parallel in our seven years of Net experience. On the Internet, as on the road, we follow habits, obey fixed guidelines, and instinctively respond to unarticulated rules. We habitually expect a Web site to have a “contact us” function, an “about us” icon, and a privacy policy. These have become standard.

What happens if you break with the standards? What happens if you want to redefine your interface to match with your brand’s profile?

Disney has tried this. Visiting Disney.com, I felt I was driving on the opposite side of the road. The home page is beautiful, a remarkable achievement considering Disney’s purview includes everything from hotels, film studios, theme parks, and cruises to magazines and merchandising. You name it, Disney’s probably into it. This expansive set of interests has to be accommodated by one simple screen: the home page. The result is a Disney World type interface, with each division separated by well-known Disney icons, such as Cinderella’s castle, Goofy, and the Disney Store. Cute. But, is it smart — and does it work?

I remember a study conducted a long time ago by a major toy manufacturer. The study argued kids absolutely hate structure: grids and columns of data. Grownups, however, were found to dislike a mess of products not categorized into a logical order. The toy company’s challenge was to find a way of appealing to both audiences. Its solution was to include both approaches by creating a catalog “environment” packed with products on the left and a categorized presentation on the right. I mention this because Disney obviously wants to differentiate its Web presence from the average site, which 99.9 percent of the time is designed according to a grid-like structure. Disney’s solution is a city-like navigation panel.

Does this type of alternative navigation panel work? In this case, no. The site is the Web equivalent of altering traffic conditions without notice: changing signals and altering colors indicating rules for travelers.

In preparation for the Sydney Olympics, a blue line was painted along miles of the city’s streets. It marked the marathon route and is still there as a souvenir of the Games. But it causes problems. In Australia, drivers are used to white and yellow line markings. For visitors to the city, this extra blue line has caused confusion and increased accidents. Motorists misunderstand the blue line’s function and try to interpret it in the context of their own road-rule literacy. They find themselves in trouble.

A new tool may look great, signal its own significance, and not even bother those familiar with an environment, but for everyone else, new visitors to a city or a site, the confusion caused by the unfamiliar can be nightmarish.

The guidelines for good navigation were established in 1995, when the World Wide Web appeared. Since then, most sites aligned their navigation styles according to an established norm. Almost every site greets visitors with the same structure. You’d think it would be good branding to integrate your brand with your navigation panel, as Disney has. The results are counterproductive. Yes, kids might love it, according to the old study I referred to. But their parents are likely to give up on it. Disney’s laudable intention of bringing joy and fun to the surfing experience may never see fruition.

People want to be able to find what they’re looking for. Extraneous noises, superfluous icons, and a navigation environment foreign to what Web users are used to cause irritation. They get in the way of what visitors want to find. Disney’s city-like environment doesn’t meet the expectations of a visitor trying to book a holiday trip to the Caribbean.

This is not an attack on Disney. I love the company for doing something different. But there’s danger in difference for difference’s sake.

Branding is as much a matter of following consumer expectations as about innovation – that’s what we see on great marketing companies such as SMA. Standard navigation practices make consumers’ lives easier and their visits to your site more productive. I’m not suggesting you develop a cookie-cutter Web site, but I do urge you to reflect on the advantages of navigation habits the world has already learned rather than reinventing the wheel as Disney did. Save your creative resources for functions in which you know your consumers will expect creativity and difference —

and where you know they’ll enjoy every minute of it.

Best Romantic Gift Ideas

Find the Perfect Anniversary, Christmas or Valentine’s Day Gift Idea

The key to a perfect romantic gift is to tap into a partner’s personality. Here are 5 romantic gift ideas, from store-bought to handmade, that are sure to fit the bill.

Anniversaries, Christmas and Valentine’s Day come around every year, and every year can be a struggle to find the perfect gift. Romantic gifts can be bought from a store or handmade, but the most important thing is that they’re tailored to a loved one’s personality. Wine is great for a gourmand, romantic texts are perfect for literary fans, and thoughtful, inexpensive romantic gifts are appreciated by everyone.

Romantic Christmas and Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas

  • The Story of a Lifetime: This hardcover book asks over 500 questions to create a family memoir. The recipient, or the couple, can fill in traditions and memories to pass on to the next generation. 384 pages, including illustrations. Available at online gift retailer Red Envelope for around $50, a leather-bound version is available for around $100.
  • Wine of the Month Club: There are several monthly wine clubs online, some are month-to-month and others are by quarter or year. The original Wine of the Month Club starts at around $40 per month or $230 for six months. Recipients can choose two bottles of red, two bottles of white, or one bottle of each. Available through Amazing Clubs or Gifts.com.
  • Romeo and Juliet on One Page: The entire text from William Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet is printed on a 27″ x 40″ poster sheet. Perfect for romantics who love the classic play. Available from One Page Books for under $20. Mounting and laminating are charged separately, or have the piece framed at a local frame shop.

Inexpensive Romantic Gift Ideas

Memories can inspire unusual and inexpensive romantic gifts. Shared memories also increase a sense of history and togetherness.

  1. Brainstorm. Think of a special memory the person has mentioned. Choose either a memory from courtship or a favorite childhood memory. Find something with a meaningful background story. Call on siblings or childhood friends for help finding a perfect memory.
  2. Create a gift around this memory. For example, find an old video game on eBay for someone who has a cherished childhood memory about the game. Or reenact a favorite camping trip, cook a favorite childhood meal, or go back and recreate a meaningful date.

For a truly “old school” romantic gift, make an ’80s style mix tape on cassette using only music that was popular during the person’s high school years. For a high-tech version of this gift, put the songs on an iPod shuffle or other small MP3 player and include a handwritten note on why each song was chosen.

Unique Romantic Gift Ideas

The best romantic gifts are the ones that take the person’s interests into account. Is the person a music lover? A literature fan? Does she love telling family stories? Consider what the person loves to do and start there. Whether shopping for Christmas, an anniversary, or Valentine’s Day, gifts that are thoughtful will always be appreciated. Unique romantic gifts don’t have to be difficult or time consuming, they only require a little thought.

How to Write Headlines – Surprise and Persuade

Ad Samples For Copywriters

Copywriting tips on how to write headlines that grab attention and persuade. Copywriters can do this by using surprise, testimonials and long headlines

Some headlines have a shock/surprise value. Also known as the ‘twist’ that comes from putting together two very different concepts. This is a great way to lead the consumer into reading the entire advertisement. But the writer should make sure that the body copy explains the headline straight away. Readers don’t have all the time in the world to find out and may not read on.

Writing Headlines That Surprise

Here’s one of the headlines that appeared in an ad campaign for a restaurant.

Sometimes our Chef refuses to make your favorite dish. That’s why we hired him.

The shock or surprise element draws the reader into the body copy which goes on to explain that the not so fresh fish is thrown away to the hotel cat. So if the customer orders his favorite salmon dish and the fish is not up to the mark, he doesn’t get it. To make sure the fish is fresh, the Chef goes to the market himself.

The big idea here is to give a twist to the traditional role of the chef.

In the same shocking and intriguing vein is this headline for a very popular restaurant that was saying farewell to its customers:

This is the last thing we ever wanted you to see.

The visual was hard to crack. Eventually, the art director and copywriter decided to show falling leaves. The first line of the body copy explained the visual:

It’s the end of a season at Paradise Island.

In the Direct Mail version the headline simply became:

This is an invitation we’d hoped you’d never get.

And the same visual worked again.

A highly emotional approach is exactly what was called for here.

Do Good Headlines Use Superlatives?

When the copywriter creates a trumpet-blowing headline, he must make sure that the product lives up to the superlatives used.

Example:

Oil of Olay: Amazing. And still ahead of its time.

On the other hand, if the product is indeed the best, it’s silly not to capitalize on it.

Testimonials – Building Credibility

The testimonial headline is a tried and tested way to build credibility because it is the opinion of those who have already bought and used the product. This requires some research. The writer needs to talk to those who use the product in order to quote them.

The quote should sound natural and not stilted. The endorser should actually use a particular product and not a rival product. Otherwise, it can lead to humiliation for the agency and the writer. Honesty is important here.

A famous testimonial headline written by the well-known copywriter John Caples is:

“They laughed when I sat down at the piano, but when I started to play. . .”

The Dove soap commercial is another example of the testimonial approach. Here ordinary women say extraordinary things about the soap that does not make their skin feel ‘tight,’ as ordinary soap does.

Ad Samples – Long Ad Headlines

In the following example, the long headline serves as body copy too. The product is a high detergent fuel called Super Clean that helps unclog fuel injectors in automobiles. The visual is, of course, the man who’s giving the testimony and there’s an inset of the product itself.

“It’s my first new car. I’d had it only for a couple of months and it started funny. Then it wouldn’t start in the mornings. My mechanic said my fuel injectors might be clogged. And that I should try the gasoline he uses to clean ‘em out…run on a couple of tankfuls.

I didn’t believe him. But I’m a believer now. This gasoline did it.”

Contrary to popular belief, long headlines have often been proved to outsell short headlines. According to David Ogilvy, the advertising legend who founded Ogilvy & Mather, one of the world’s biggest ad agencies, it’s not a question of length but of saying what needs to be said.

Copywriting Tips on Writing Testimonials

The writer of the testimonial ad must resist putting too many words into the mouth of his endorser. This will make it more believable. He must avoid technical jargon. While he may know all the technical details of the product, the consumer does not. He must answer how these details translate into benefits for the consumer.

Testimonials in First Person

The writer may use the testimonial approach by writing in the first person for that effective “you” feel. Even if it’s only the cat endorsing cat food. Or a baby endorsing a diaper.

One of the most famous Direct Response letters is written by a mouse. But it must be believable – and doubly so. After all, the writer is playing “Let’s Pretend”.

There are various types of headlines that the copywriter must learn to write. He can surprise and shock readers into reading his ads, he can build brand credibility by using the testimonial approach, and he can use superlatives, provided the product is worthy. He need not shy away from writing long headlines, as these are often very effective.

How To Write a Direct Mail Piece That Sells

Attract New Customers and Increase Sales

Knowing how to use direct mail properly can dramatically improve sales for a business.

Some people refer to direct mail as “junk mail” but with people’s lives being so hurried and busy, there are a lot of people who will simply respond to direct mail due to convenience. The key to direct mail being an effective advertising option is to constantly tinker with options such as wording and design to see what gets the best response. A small business direct mail campaign can always be changed and developed to bring in higher response rates and sales.

Include Reviews and Testimonials in the Direct Mail Campaign

An advertiser should include any rave reviews or testimonials of the product or service from a well-known publication or respected individual. This gives the business more credibility which can be quite important to customers. If a customer sees that someone they know was satisfied with the product or service, they are more likely to purchase it as well. Also, including actual articles that have been written about the product in the brochures gives business credibility with a lot of people.

Special Deals and Sales For the Business

People love saving money and if a sale or special deal are offered to them, even on a product they don’t necessarily need, they often jump at the chance to buy it. These sale advertisements can be sent to current customers to make them feel special or can be sent to the entire company’s mailing list. Sales such as buy one get one free or half off always work well. Another deal that can be used is pre-sale offers, such as offering your current customers first choice before the actual sale begins. A direct mail coupon or sale should always include an expiration date.

State The Problem and How the Company Can Solve It

When a business owner writes a direct mail letter, they should always be specific and state what the problem may be and how the only way it can be fixed is with their company. State the obvious and it should never be assumed that readers know anything about the products or services. One should give specifics on the company can fix the problem and not just a generic answer. Brag about the company’s services and what they have done for others.

Don’t Forget the Company Information on the Direct Sales Letter

It may be surprised how many companies will write great direct mail pieces and then forget to include all the contact information for the company on the piece. An address, phone number, time to call, website and email should always be included in the direct sales letter. This gives the readers more piece of mind knowing that they can contact the company with any problems. If the direct mail piece is more than just a postcard or one-page letter, include this information more than once.

Even if all of the steps are followed, it does not always guarantee that a direct mail piece is going to be a success. There are also other factors that go into direct mail advertising such as the design and most importantly who is on the company’s mailing list. All three of these aspects should be put together and a successful direct mail campaign can then be achievable.

DIY Small Business Marketing

How to Create Promotional Materials With a Home Computer

When small businesses don’t have a big marketing budget, they can try the DIY approach.

As operating budgets continue to shrink, many small business owners find themselves with a very small marketing budget. Since a business that doesn’t promote itself is in danger of failing because no one knows that it exists, stopping all marketing is not a good solution for these businesses. Instead, business owners without a substantial marketing budget may want to try DIY small business marketing.

 

Supplies for Small Business Marketing Campaigns

To be able to create promotional materials, a small business owner will need to have:

  • A computer with desktop publishing software installed on it. A good printer is nice, but not strictly necessary. (The local library may have computers with desktop publishing software and may offer a laser printer for public use, as well.)
  • Nice graphics. A clear shot of the business building or of employees helping customers can work if there isn’t a company logo. (Logos are a good idea because people associate them with the company more easily than they do a photograph.)
  • Paper or cardstock for printing the final product onto. Again, this is not always necessary. Some people prefer to have the marketing materials printed by Kinko’s or Staples instead of printing them at home.

Common Small Business Marketing Materials

With the supplies in place, all the business owner needs to do is open the desktop publishing software, find a template for the item he or she wants to create and start designing.

One of the most effective marketing tools for a small business owner who is trying to network is still the basic business card. Some business owners prefer to go digital and simply add contacts right into their Blackberry, but not others will still ask for a business card. With options like VistaPrint or blank business card cardstock, this is one very economical way to promote a business.

Another useful marketing item is a flyer or brochure. A flier is a one-sheet marketing piece that usually highlights a special service or announces an event. The brochure is often a longer piece that talks about the company, the services it offers and how to contact the company. Brochures are usually more expensive to produce than fliers because they are usually two-sided and are printed on cardstock instead of copy paper.

Finally, a small business owner creating his or her own marketing materials may want to make a few other items to promote the business. Bookmarks with a company’s information are really simple to make and tend to stick around potential customers’ homes because they are useful. Also, coupons and gift certificates are great ways to increase revenue and are fairly easy to create.