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Affordable company logos can be found

Posted by on Jun 1, 2015 in Business Basics

  Published in The Tennessean June 1, 2015 By Ed Rappuhn – SCORE Nashville “Tennessee just spent $46,000 to create a logo. I need a new logo and brand name but can’t afford to spend that much and I don’t even like what the state got.” Marketing and PR firms can produce great results. Expect to pay a minimum of around $1,500 for a logo and the same amount for a name; larger firms will charge more. The benefit of hiring a firm or experienced individual is that you will work with someone who gets to know you, your business, and your customers. They can then design names and logos that are unique and speak to what you are doing. Usually they will give you a handful of options to consider. A less costly alternative is crowdsourcing websites. You submit a request and offer prize money to the winner. This is a web-based contest where individuals propose names or logos. Your total cost can be as low as a couple hundred dollars, but a higher value prize might elicit more and better ideas. Think of crowdsourcing as a brainstorming exercise where anything goes. The suggestions are made by people who don’t understand your business the way a marketing firm...

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Set sales goals with long term in mind

Posted by on May 18, 2015 in Business Basics

Published in The Tennessean May 18, 2015 By Ed Rappuhn – SCORE Nashville “How do I set goals and sales quotas to maximize profits?” Previously I’ve addressed SMART goals – goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely. The specific and measurable parts are relatively easy; sales quotas are almost always specific and measurable. Are your goals achievable? If you set the bar too low, the goal is attainable but doesn’t motivate. If set too high, the goal can lead to frustration and potential disengagement. Look at the psychology of the person for whom the goal is set. Some people love a challenge and others need a more reasonable goal. Consider monthly targets that lead towards meeting your overall goal. Smaller targets create opportunities for periodic feedback and review. If someone continually misses his target, is there a problem with the number of sales calls he’s making, the quality of his presentations, his closing technique, or is it possible his goal is too high? What if another sales person consistently exceeds her monthly target? Does she have a better territory, more experience, better resources, or is she simply a better sales person? Does she need a higher goal? If commissions or bonuses depend on achieving a goal, people...

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Harness the power of crowdfunding

Posted by on May 4, 2015 in Business Basics

  Published in The Tennessean May 4, 2015 By Ed Rappuhn – SCORE Nashville “I have a great idea but need some money and will probably not qualify for a loan. Tell me about crowdfunding.” Crowdfunding comes in four varieties. One popular type is reward-based; I’ll concentrate on that and outline the others at the end of this column. In reward-based crowdfunding you provide a perk for those who contribute to your campaign. Rewards generally escalate as support levels increase and should be consistent with your product or service offering if possible. For example, if you are raising money to produce an album, provide a free download, a CD, or a signed CD of the finished product depending on the level of investment. Other common rewards include t-shirts, subscriptions, and product samples. Kickstarter and Indiegogo are two of the leading reward-based platforms. The platform retains a percentage of the money you raise. Set a realistic financial goal for your campaign. With Kickstarter you must reach or exceed your goal to keep the money pledged, otherwise it is returned to the backers. Indiegogo has a similar all-or-nothing model or you can choose an option that allows you to keep any money raised less a significantly higher percentage retained by the...

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Successful marketing is a multipart process

Posted by on Apr 20, 2015 in Business Basics

Published in The Tennessean April 20, 2015 By Ed Rappuhn – SCORE Nashville “I thought word-of-mouth and Facebook would be sufficient to grow my business, but I was wrong. What should I do?” Word-of-mouth helps grow a business, but it’s rarely enough. Let’s look at some other marketing strategies. There are many social media alternatives beyond Facebook. Linkedin, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram are just a few. The trick is to use the best platforms for your offerings and your market. Provide interesting content in social media posts; if you treat social media as simply an advertising platform, people won’t be engaged and may even block your posts. Blog posts, stand-alone or in conjunction with social media, can help tell your story. Did you know YouTube is now the second largest search engine behind Google with over 1 billion users? Embed YouTube videos in your websites and share them in social media posts. You can create a YouTube video using your smart phone. But don’t list product features and benefits; include entertainment, real-life experiences, or some interesting information to motivate viewers to share and respond. And keep the videos short! Use your business card to promote your business. If you are a CPA, add some information about the work you...

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Before starting a business

Posted by on Apr 6, 2015 in Business Basics

  Published in The Tennessean April 6, 2015 By Ed Rappuhn – SCORE Nashville “I just lost my job and have several ideas on businesses I can start. Where should I begin?” Focus on your best idea first. Then consider the following: Passion. Do you have a true passion about the business or is this a reaction to losing your job? Just like romances that begin shortly after a break-up, you need to take a bit of time to evaluate your options. Industry knowledge. Do you have experience in the field you are pursuing? If not, get a job in the industry and learn the business before investing your time and money. Business skills. Do you have the necessary business skills? For example, you need to understand how to use financial reports. Are you aware of best practices and legal requirements for hiring and firing employees? Do you understand basic marketing principles and have the skills necessary to sell your product or service? Market. Is there a market for your product or service? Is the market willing to pay the prices necessary to be profitable? Why will your potential customers change what they are doing to buy from you? Who is your competition and what is your competitive advantage?...

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