Intellectual property is defined exclusive rights granted to an owner of certain intangible assets ( such as musical, literary, and artistic works; discoveries and inventions; and words, phrases, symbols, and designs). Common types of intellectual property rights include copyrights, trademarks, patents, industrial design rights and trade secrets in some jurisdictions.
Recently we came across this great Quick Tip video from small business expert Melinda Emerson of SucceedAsYourOwnBoss.com around how a small business should go about protecting their intellectual property. Take a look:
Sometimes you can find business advice in the strangest places. In a recent Wall Street Journal story, reporter Colleen DeBaise sat down with none other than Snoop Dogg to get his thoughts on business and entrepreneurship. Outside of his music career, Snoop has created a line of dolls, a youth football league, and other ventures. But his advice to entrepreneurs is simple – find something that others aren’t offering, or a way to make yourself unique, and go from there. Snoop has some other interesting soundbites as well.
Branding. We’ve all heard about it. We all want to do it well, brand our companies in a way that resonates within our company, evokes recognition and positive thoughts from current and potential clients, and attracts the “right” audience for our services and products. Read more…
Minimize expenses. Review your operating budget for your business. Are there items that can be eliminated or reduced until conditions improve? For instance, can you reduce some of your marketing costs by seeking out low-cost or no-cost marketing alternatives such as social networking sites Facebook and Twitter? Every dollar saved can be reinvested back into your business. Read more…
With so many ways to reach customers in today’s day and age, sometimes it’s hard for small businesses to decide what’s best to use, what it can handle on a week to week basis, and what might be the most effective in driving customers to a business and revenue into your pocket. But as we’ve said in the past, one thing you’ll always have to do is market effectively. But how, where, when, and how much is what separates the great companies from the failures, and as your marketing efforts evolve, so will your business and your personal relationship with customers.
Now more than ever it is important that your small business forms and maintains relationships with customers to ensure their experience with your business is positive. Establishing a connection with your customers keeps you top of mind and can also increases the chances customers will recommend you to their family and friends. Referrals are one of the most important ways of acquiring customers. The overall goal of customer relationship management should be to improve your business service and to use customer information for target marketing initiatives.
Simply put, you need to build a relationship with your customer before somebody else does.
Here are a few tips to help build and maintain relationships with your customer base:
Suggestion cards: Suggestion cards (created from a business card) are a great, inexpensive way for customers to share feedback with you about their experience with your service. These cards should include contact information, a comment section and maybe a quick rating system on service, cleanliness (if applicable for your business), and things they would want to see. Whether customers are offering ideas to improve your business, general comments about their experience or simply to say “hi,” these cards can offer a wealth of valuable information. Using these cards at our family restaurant, we are able to connect one-on-one with customers while also gathering valuable information such as email and home addresses. This allows us to send direct marketing materials to their homes, letting customers know of offers and specials we are running. We also noticed these cards were helpful to customers who did not feel comfortable voicing their opinion face-to-face. They allowed them to be truthful about their experience and give real feedback. Suggestions from customers have helped us make some key changes to the restaurant. Read more…
With all the talk about how to succeed in business these days, with the struggling economy and challenges that everyone is facing, few people are asking if becoming an entrepreneur and starting a small business is even a wise decision. For those of you who might be thinking about jumping into the fray and finally starting out on your own, there are a number of key questions that you have to ask yourself, as Kelly Spors from the Wall Street Journal points out in her recent story which can be found here. This is a good look at many of the elements that have to be considered before you make the big decision.
Kelly outlines a number of hard questions a budding entrepreneur must ask themselves before staking their own claim. She also offers some sobering statistics, including how roughly half of all start ups close within five years.
Some of the questions include, “Are you willing to sacrifice your lifestyle for a number of years,” and “Do you like all aspects of running a small business.” These are all things that one must consider before taking the plunge into small business ownership.
As a small business owner, did you sit down and answer a number of key questions before deciding to start your own venture? What were they, and have they changed over the years?
Has your business seen tremendous success with a marketing campaign? Do you retain and acquire new customers in a unique way? Would you like to pen a guest column offering advice for other small business owners?
If you answered yes to any of these questions we’d like to hear from you. Please email publicrelations(at)vistaprint.com and let us know your story. We will post stories from the submissions on this blog along with images that you provide and a link back to your Web site.
What are you waiting for? This is your chance to get your success publicized to the world.
Growing up and working in a family business (a well established deli/restaurant) has given me a unique insight into the challenges that small business owners face, especially in this economy. One creative method that we’ve used over the years to retain customers is our Frequent Diner Program. Initially the program offered gift certificates for repeat business, but as the list grew we expanded the program to catering and take-out orders, meticulously adding names and addresses to our database.
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Micro Business Perspectives was launched with the goal of giving micro businesses information and tools to more effectively market and manage their business. We’ll be posting answers to questions, tips and tricks we hope you will find useful in marketing and promoting your business, and suggestions about ways to explore new and innovative mediums. We’re also encouraging you to send us your own successful marketing stories. We’ll publish some of them on this blog so other micro businesses might learn from your example.