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Archive for February, 2009

Twitter and Business

Since I’m soaking up all the information I can get on marketing my small business online, I attended another web conference today: Twitter for Business 101 conducted by @pistachio (aka Laura Fitton). This was most helpful in so many ways because it explained the basic premise behind Twitter and discussed the ways  you can utilize it in your business, both internally and externally.twitter-logo

I’m fascinated and amazed by the fact that Dell is using it to pass coupons along to their followers. I’m wowed by the fact that the CMO of Best Buy has found the value in this new, yet highly social, marketing tool. I’m blown away by the fact that it’s possible to build actual relationships with these people and be a viable help to companies wanting to connect with their customer base via Twitter.

As a small business owner with a relatively new web presence, the possibilities seem endless and the client base monumental as opposed to the old days when you put an ad in the phone book and hoped for the best from your local area.  Or when you put your business online and utilized it as a tool for potential customers to find your address and phone number.

The world is changing so quickly that as business owners, we have to keep abreast or get left in the dust with those who thought the internet was a fad!

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As the owner of a small business, I rely on credit cards to operate. I use these cards to pay for goods and services until my customers pay me. Over the years I have also relied on them for travel and other business expenses.

I’ve been an American Express cardholder since 1991. Until just recently, I’ve been satisfied with the level of service I have received from them. However, they are feeling the crunch and have recently offered some members incentives to close their accounts. According to a recent article in Bloomberg News, they are trying to jump to the head of the line before other card companies raise interest rates, lower credit limits, and close accounts.

This will affect many small business owners, myself included. And its been my experience that small businesses are the backbone of a thriving economy. We’ve bailed these companies out with our tax dollars, only to get a stab in the back and absolutely no help to keep our doors open.

I have only one question: Where’s our bailout money?

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Having a home-based business certainly presents it’s challenges. The self-discipline required to go to your desk and work is daunting at times. There are always distractions to take you away from the daily tasks. Since you work at home, it’s easy to glance at that load of laundry that needs to be done or the pile of dishes you saved because you were too tired to tackle them the night before.

I have to also admit that even at my desk there are numerous distractions that await my attention. Lately, it’s been Twitter and TweetDeck. I’ve developed a fascination for this social arena, and if I’m not careful I could spend all day reading tweets and clicking on links, following those links to other links. Before I know it the entire morning has flown by and I’ve accomplished very little actual “work”.

As previously mentioned, I’m reading a book on Social Media Marketing in One Hour a Day and I admit that it’s helping me to focus my time and effort in this new arena, while leaving me time in the day for my other important work-related tasks. Not that marketing isn’t important. But all things, especially in the home-based business world, require balance. ProBlogger.com addressed this time dilemma in a post last year.

Before Twitter came along, I found myself distracted with internet links from Google alerts and those pesky business emails that always led me on a wild goose chase to enhance the operation of  my business: free business cards, email marketing, merchant accounts and the like. Distractions will rule as long as you don’t stay focused on your passion–building your business and establishing your brand.

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This afternoon I had the privilege of participating in a web conference on Social Media led by Jason Baer. He had some marvelous advice for any business owner about marketing using some rather unconventional methods. You should check out his website/blog if you get the chance. It’s filled with some great insight and information regarding Social Media Marketing.

I’ve discovered over the last 30 days that there is a wealth of information out there regarding this new marketing tool: Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and WordPress. Getting myself up to speed, or at least knowledgeable has definitely posed quite a challenge. I’ve been sifting through Twitter posts, searching links on Facebook, updating my LinkedIn profile and making connections, and finishing my business blog. And while it’s been a daunting task, I’ve connected with some wise pros out there that have freely imparted their knowledge.

That’s what I have grown to love about social media: the partnerships that can be developed and utilized to benefit all parties involved. It’s so much more than business. It reminds me of the “good ole days” when your business acquaintances became your friends. When word of mouth was all you needed to build a strong customer base. And when people based their business decisions on mutual trust and respect.

I’ve also been reading this great book that I totally recommend if you’re a newbie like me: Social Media Marketing: an Hour a Day by Dave Evans. Check it out!

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