For Small Business, Marketing Or Lead Generation – Which is Better?

THERE BOTH THE SAME I HEAR YOU SAY!

Making the mistake of thinking they are the same thing can be a costly experience. Let’s break it down to the two separate areas and lets see if we can find some differences.

1. Marketing: Usually something you have to pay for that is never guaranteed to get a return on your money.

2. Lead generation: Free or cheap methods to promote your business that may take nothing more than your time and the willingness to think out side the square!

I’m surprised at the amount of small business owners I have met who pay for marketing purely for marketing sake. What I mean is, they know they have to put the word out there about their business so they take a regular spot in the local newspaper or tv guide, come up with new sales pitches week after week and then sit back and pray that customers will come flocking in.

Don’t get me wrong this can be a very effective method as a way to brand yourself, keep your business name in people’s heads until they are ready to buy and occasionally stimulate new business, but the main problem I find is that when you ask the small business owner how much return are they getting on their marketing expenses, and they usually wouldn’t have a clue! They are spending money on marketing that they really don’t know if it is working or not!

Lets look at marketing types. Flyers, business cards, websites, newspaper ads, tv ads etc. These and any other marketing types ONLY become lead generators if someone is compelled to pick up the phone and call you, email you, or hop in their car and drive to your business to purchase your product or service!

Until this occurs then it is purely marketing! If it is not driving customers to purchase or enter your follow on marketing system (you do have a follow on marketing system dont you?) then it is “money generating” for someone else but not lead generating for you.

Business cards are a great example of a marketing tool that usually isn’t a lead generation tool. Someone asks you what you do you hand them your business card that has you pretty logo on it, your name with six different titles under it to look impressive and your contact details. They may be impressed with your logo or how many titles you have to your name and look you up, but in most cases the card will go in their back pocket, probably through the wash later that day never to be seen again!

You need to point out to the potential new customer that if they or someone they know, are interested in your product or service then on the back of the card are the details of how they can get something “special” if they call, email etc. You have to drive that customer to take action and generate that lead! In most small businesses the greatest lead generator is a satisfied customer that is more than happy to tell anyone and everyone about their experience with your business.

Most small businesses have sales systems, external marketing strategies, but very few have referral systems or strategies. Spending a little money on a referral program or reward system for customers that refer business is money much better spent. The customer takes ownership of your business if they are getting something in return, and the business they refer comes pre-sold on your products or services, much easier to get the sale!

The point is make sure no matter what form of marketing, advertising or lead generation campaigns you do, you have to come up with some way of getting the potential customer to take action. Every person that calls, emails or drops in to your business. Ask them how they heard about you so you can at least measure if your marketing budget is going to good use. It may surprise you to see the results!

IRA Vs 401k – an Amazingly Simple Small Business Retirement Plan Decision

The question of IRA vs 401k leaps to mind when setting up a small business retirement plan. Do you know the differences between plans? What does the Internal Revenue Code allow and restrict? Why should you even care? Because if you sell fixed indexed annuities and want to capitalize on one of the hottest specialty markets going today (setting up retirement plans for small business owners with 1 to 9 employees), you’ll want to brush up on IRA vs 401k and other important considerations.

First, consider that a small business retirement plan, now more than ever, is the best way to defer large amounts of tax-deductible dollars. Thanks to the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 (EGTRRA), self-employed taxpayers now have unprecedented incentives to save for retirement. A business owner’s decision is quite literally whether to keep company profits… or send them off to Uncle Sam.

OWNER GETS MORE

It’s no secret the allure of a small business retirement plan is directly related to benefits available to the owner. The greater the owner’s share of the overall plan, the greater the interest. Before the new tax legislation, restrictions on owner’s benefits in small plan design often resulted in even fewer benefits for the employees. But the tools are now in place to ratchet up the owner’s benefits and still create a workable plan for the employees. So, should the plan be an IRA or a 401k? Let’s examine IRA vs 401k separately.

SIMPLIFIED EMPLOYEE PENSION

The simplest small business retirement plan for self-employed taxpayers and the easiest to set up and maintain is the Simplified Employee Pension (SEP). You may establish a SEP if you earn self-employment income, regardless of whether you have employees. A SEP is an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) and if maintained for more than one person becomes a group of IRAs.

All contributions to a SEP are tax deductible as a business expense. As an IRA the plan’s earnings are not taxed until they are withdrawn at retirement. As usual, withdrawals prior to age 59 ½ with this and other plans incur a 10% penalty. A SEP-IRA does not permit loans or salary deferral contributions. Also, the individual annual contribution limit for 2006 is the lesser of 25% of compensation or $44,000, and contributions may be reduced or skipped altogether in lean years.

INDIVIDUAL 401(k)

Another handy tool in the EGTRRA toolbox is the Individual or Solo 401(k). This small business retirement plan is ideally suited for businesses in which the owner or owners (and their spouses if working at the business) are the only employees. The biggest reason for opening a one-person 401(k) is the higher contribution limits allowed, plus the fact that contributions are based on revenue generated by the business.

The maximum tax-deductible employer contribution is 25% of gross eligible payroll. For 2006 the maximum effective salary deferral contribution for employer plus employee is $44,000 plus a catch-up contribution of $5,000 for individuals age 50 and over. Loans are permitted subject to limits and rules, and paperwork may be just a filing of the streamlined IRS Form 5500-EZ when plan assets exceed $100,000.

NEVER A BETTER TIME

The new tax law creates a multitude of opportunities with more than 60 new provisions to strongly encourage the startup and funding of your small business retirement plan. Variations in plan design allow opportunities to suit independent contractors, sole-practitioner professionals, small retail owners — virtually every type of small business imaginable. Answer the question of IRA vs 401k and you’re on your way.

For small business owners in search of large tax breaks, it doesn’t get any better than this. There has never been a better time than right now to convert current taxes into assets, defer tax payments, and generate large amounts of retirement income. And for you as the fixed indexed annuity specialist, this market is virtually untapped.

The Three Biggest Lead Generation Mistakes Small Businesses Make And How To Overcome Them

If you’ve been looking for simple, proven and tested, step-by-step methods for generating more leads for your small business, then this article may just have the answer. Firstly, I want you to stop for a moment and think about all the advertising you’ve seen over the past week.

How many of those actual ads can you name? Researchers estimate that over the past seven days, you have been exposed to as many as 117,000 ads based on national averages. So out of 117,000 ads, how many can you name?

If you’re fairly attentive, you may be able to come up with 3 or 4 specific ads… but I’ll bet that’s because you probably see those ads over and over… week in and week out. Let’s face the facts… repetition works. When you see any advertisement multiple times every day you’re bound to eventually begin to recall the ad. But now answer this question.

What few ads you do remember, how many of their products or services have you bought? Because I have a passion for marketing I tend to go online and research for well accepted ads. Take for example a series of ads from online trading company E*Trade which uses babies to promote their products. These have a massive audience on both TV and YouTube. They even had one during the Superbowl. I think they’re a scream. But… I don’t have an E*Trade account. Never have, never will. Why should I?

What benefits do they offer me as a potential buyer of online trading services that any of the hundreds of other stock trading services offer? See my point? Does a smart-aleck, wise-cracking baby have any relevance to online stock trading whatsoever? Of course not. So why does E*Trade continue to make these commercials? Believe it or not, there is a reason… and by the end of this short presentation, you’ll fully understand what that reason is.

Businesses today are led to believe that all they have to do to build a successful business is create some type of attention-grabbing form of marketing and they will generate leads at will. Nothing could be further from the truth. And that’s just in the area of marketing. What about generating fast cash flow? EVERY small business needs to generate fast cash flow. So how do you do that as a small business owner? What about generating profits? Generating more cash flow is great… but not if you don’t get to put any of it in your pocket at the end of the day. How would you like the answers to all of these problems?

In this article I am going to reveal to you the three biggest lead generation mistakes small business owners make… and outline how you can overcome them.

Here are the three mistakes. Mistake #1… they fail to get professional help. Mistake #2… they don’t know the fundamentals required to successfully market their business and attract as many new clients as their business can handle. And mistake #3… they have no idea how to use their marketing to generate immediate cash flow. Let’s explore these three in depth, and show you how you can easily and systematically overcome each one of them.

Mistake #1… small business owners fail to get professional help. Can you name me just one professional athlete who does NOT have a coach? There aren’t any. Tiger Woods actually has a total of 9 coaches guiding him in everything from his golf game to his financial investments. But do small business owners really need professional help? Remember the TV ads we previously discussed? Those ads are created by “professionals.” Unfortunately, those professionals have no clue what they’re doing. Everything they’re doing in marketing and advertising today is wrong! But let me prove that to you right now.

If you currently use any form of marketing such as a print ad, brochure, postcard, flyer… or for that matter… your company website, take it out and look at it carefully. And if you don’t have any form of marketing right now, take out a sheet of paper and sketch out what you think would make for an effective ad for your business. It doesn’t have to be anything formal or fancy… just create a basic outline of the ad and where you would locate the various elements on the page.

Now that you have your ad… or a mock up of your ad sitting in front of you, let me provide you with the little known secrets that produce more leads than your business can handle. 99% of all marketing professionals DON’T know the lead generation secrets I’m about to reveal to you. This information is so powerful and compelling, it will position you in the top 1% of all lead generation professionals today. This example will show you why every small business owner should acquire our step-by-step roadmap as they start to generate leads for their business.

Here’s what a true marketing professional will know… and help you implement into your marketing. It’s known as the “marketing equation.” This marketing equation will let you quit competing on price… and let you start selling your product or service for what it’s really worth. You will drive in more leads and increase your advertising response by 10 to more than 100 times. You will convert a higher percentage of those leads and dramatically increase your number of sales. You will get a bigger bang for your marketing buck. The bottom line is this you will literally create a profit faucet that you will have TOTAL control over.

First, you MUST understand what marketing is supposed to do. Its purpose is actually three fold. Its first job is to capture the attention of your target market. Second, it must give them the hope that reading or listening to your marketing will give them enough information to help them make the best decision possible when buying whatever you sell. In other words, train and teach them how to recognize the true value of your product or service… and conclude that you… and you alone… offer the best value versus your competition. Marketing’s third job is to lower the risk of taking the next step in the buying process… and if necessary… continue to educate the prospect regarding the value you offer.

Marketing that accomplishes these three objectives will result in your prospects and customers coming to one single conclusion, that they would have to be an absolute fool to do business with anyone else but you, regardless of price. It’s estimated that as many as 96% of all small businesses fail within their first 5 years. The main reason for this tremendously high failure rate has to do with the lack of expertise when it comes to generating leads and making the phone ring.

Most small businesses don’t know anything about those three things that marketing is supposed to do. But there’s also an additional problem to consider. Most small business owners use a tactical marketing approach instead of a strategic approach. Let me explain.

Running an ad in the local newspaper… sending out an email or direct mail letter… airing a radio or TV ad on a local media station are all examples of tactical marketing. Now don’t get me wrong… the newspaper, radio or direct mail can be successful marketing channels… If your marketing message is powerful and compelling. But that’s the problem… the message is the strategic side of marketing… and yet, it’s the most neglected.

This distinction between strategic and tactical marketing is huge and one you need to be acutely aware of anytime you start talking about generating more leads. Many companies mistakenly assume that when you talk about lead generation, you’re automatically talking about tactical lead generation… placing ads, sending out mailers, joining a networking group, attending tradeshows, implementing a prospect follow up system and so on.

They fail to realize that the strategic side of the coin, what you say in your marketing and how you say it is almost always more important than the marketing medium where you say it. If you fail to make this distinction, then you risk becoming jaded towards certain forms of marketing and advertising that should be a part of your tactical plan, but you eliminate them from consideration because they haven’t worked for you in the past.

When lead generation results are less than optimal, small business owners tend to almost always blame the marketing medium… like the newspaper the ad ran in or the postcards they sent out. They blame the tactical part of the plan… without any regard for how good or how bad the strategic messaging in that marketing piece was. People often say things like, “we tried radio and it doesn’t work for our kind of business,” or “we sent out 50,000 pieces of direct mail and only generated 3 orders. It just doesn’t work.”

Just because it didn’t work, don’t assume that it won’t work. Most people don’t have the evaluation skills or the know-how to judge whether poor marketing results from poor strategy or poor tactical execution. This is where our step-by-step roadmap can generate more leads than your business can handle.

For example, most small business owners rely heavily on platitudes in their marketing. They say things like – we have the lowest prices… the best service… we’re family owned and operated… we offer convenient hours… the best value… not to mention that we’ve been in business since 1431 B.C. Look at your own marketing that I asked you to acquire or create earlier. How many platitudes did you use in your own marketing?

By the way, this is NOT your fault. Small business owners have been conditioned to think this is the proper way to market their businesses… since most advertising follows this same pathetic marketing formula… including the Fortune 500 types.

As human beings, we’re all after just one thing when we buy something… the best deal! Unfortunately, when you use platitudes in your marketing, there’s absolutely no way to tell who is actually offering the best deal. Everyone says they have the lowest prices, the highest quality and the best rates. So who do you believe? There’s only one way to know… and that’s to research every single business that offers what you want to buy. How many of us have the time or patience to do that?

So most of us just automatically assume that everyone is pretty much the same, and therefore we default to calling on the business that offers us the lowest price. When you can’t communicate the true value your business offers, you’re doomed to forever compete on price. Our marketing equation will change all of that for you forever. It’s going to be the backbone of your strategic marketing plan. It’s the foundation on which everything else we build for you is based. Let me give you a quick overview and then spend some time going through it with you in detail.

A proper marketing equation has four main components. First, it must interrupt your prospects. It must get your qualified prospect to pay attention to your lead generation marketing. Simple enough to say, but a lot more difficult to pull off in real life unless you understand what you’re about to learn here. The interrupt is done through your headline if your marketing is in print… or it’s the first thing you say if your marketing through radio or TV. The second component is engage. Once your prospect is interrupted, it’s critical you give your reader the promise that information is forthcoming that will help the prospect make the best buying decision possible. In other words, it must help facilitate their decision to pick you over anyone else. This is the job of our subheadline.

The interrupt is our headline that highlights a specific problem that your prospects are looking for a solution to… and the engage is our subheadline that promises them that you offer a solution to the problem we mentioned in our headline.

The third component you need to include is ‘educate’. Once you have interrupted and engaged your prospect, you have to give information that allows them to logically understand how and why you solve the problem they’re facing. This is accomplished by giving detailed, quantifiable, specific and revealing information. This is typically done in the body copy of your ad. When you educate, you need to reveal to your prospects the important and relevant information they need to know when making a good decision, and that your business… and yours alone… provides it to them. The interrupt and engage hit the prospects emotional hot buttons. Educate is the logic they need to justify picking up the phone and calling you.

The fourth and final component of the marketing equation is your offer. Now that you have interrupted your prospect based on problems that are important to them… engaged by a promise of the solution… and they’ve examined the educational information that makes your solution real and believable… the last step you need to take is to give them a low risk way to take the next step in your sales process. You do this by offering a free marketing tool, such as a report, brochure, seminar, audio, video or something that will continue to educate them. Your offer will allow your prospect to feel in control of their final decision to call and buy from you.

So your marketing equation is interrupt, engage, educate and offer and together they equal market domination. Now here’s the problem. Most marketing today only contains two of these components. They interrupt by throwing something at you that’s either familiar like Tiger Woods… or unusual like a monkey or talking pets. Sometimes they like to use both, as in the case of the E*Trade baby. Then once they grab your attention, they make you some type of offer such as “call now for whatever.” They have left out the engage and the educate, and marketing seldom succeeds when that happens.

In fact, the only time this type of marketing does succeed is when you can afford to run the ad over and over nonstop for an extended period of time. Plop, plop, fizz, fizz… melts in your mouth, not in your hand… and the burgers are better at… have literally been rammed down our throats by Fortune 500 types. After hearing these slogans thousands of times, of course we’re going to remember them. But how can a small business owner like you that doesn’t have a billion dollar marketing budget successfully market your business. The answer… you can’t… UNLESS you follow the entire marketing equation.

And finally the third biggest mistake small business owners make is that they have no idea how to use their marketing to generate immediate cash flow. When you follow this marketing equation in every form of marketing you do… from your business cards to your company website, the financial results are instantaneous and immediate.

So in conclusion, the three biggest lead generation mistakes small businesses make are #1… they fail to get professional help. #2… they don’t know the fundamentals required to successfully market their business and attract as many new clients as their business can handle. And #3… they have no idea how to use their marketing to generate immediate cash flow.

The above marketing equation contains the fundamental components for instantly making your phone ring and positioning your business as the dominant force in your market. It provides the marketing foundation that will enable you to generate immediate cash flow. And small businesses can use this information as a minimum standard when seeking out professional help for their business.

When you can overcome these three biggest lead generation mistakes, you will generate all the leads your business can handle.

Getting More Leads For Your Small Business

When you have started a small business, one of the worst mistakes that someone could make is by not having enough leads out there so that they can get the right kind of customers shopping with them. It’s really hard for some people to get exactly the right kind of audience interested in what a small business might be providing. This is no longer an issue when you really start focusing on generation of the best leads that you can get.

You are not a Scam

When website business burst onto the scene, everyone was really excited about it. Now people are a touch more leery because of all the scams, bogus products and unreliable services that have become almost commonplace. With some expertise and research, you will learn how to set yourself apart from other companies who have fallen into the pit of scams and who simply have a fraudulent reputation because they weren’t smart enough to use their brains that would help them avoid fraudulent activities. You will also learn how to have people understand what it is that you are selling or offering, so that they see your company for what it really is and not for what makes you stand still in a sea of scam artists already.

Professional Lead Generation

When you get your hands on the most powerful lead generator tool out in the market today, it will teach you exactly what you need to know about making new contacts, building trust and having people truly understand and recommend you to others. You want happy customers and this would be the first step in doing just that. Word of mouth is just as important now as it was when industry started long ago. Getting proper leads into the door means that you can truly have people who will like your product or service and they will tell their family and friends about it. By this, you will have not only word of mouth business, but also repeat business that is absolutely needed for a good company.

Focused One on One Attention

When you start having a clear picture of where you want your business to go, then you will be able to focus on one on one attention that each customer deserves to have. You will be able to get yourself that laser focus, so that you can really tend to each customer on their own levels and with a style that will truly depicts that you are listening to them and want to improve their experience with your company. This is not just another bogus scam, this is an investment in the future of your small business and generating leads to help you succeed.