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Word Of Mouth – The Power Of A Positive Testimonial

word of mouthWord of mouth has always been an incredibly powerful marketing tool.

We’re far likelier to trust a product recommendation from a friend, neighbor, loved one, or even acquaintance than we are from even the slickest sales associate.

There are a few reasons for that, but it’s primarily because we know deep down that other consumers probably aren’t trying to sell us anything.

As a result, we’re far likelier to take their testimony at face value.

Thing is, until recently there wasn’t really any reliable way to tap into word of mouth.

Sure, we had product testimonials in magazines and on TV, but those always came across as sort of fake. We had no way of knowing whether or not the people ranting and raving about their brand were paid actors; ultimately, the people giving out those testimonials were little different from salespeople or billboard ads.

They were talking at us rather than to us. Continue Reading →

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5 Ways You Can Appeal To The Local Market

dewsberry market“Marketing is not easy,” writes Neil Asher of Roar Local. “If you’re a small local business with a small budget, it can be even more difficult.”

He couldn’t be more right – especially if you’re a small business owner, marketing can be one of the most difficult challenges you’ll ever tackle.

And yes, that applies even if you start with local marketing.

See, when you’re talking your brand up to prospective consumers, you’re walking a delicate line. On the one hand, if you don’t come on strong enough, you’ll end up being completely forgettable, and people will just go with the competition.

On the other, if you come on too strong, you’ll turn people off from your brand.

What’s a business owner to do? How can you strike a balance with your local marketing efforts; how can you get your foot in the door without irritating everyone around you? Don’t worry – we can help.

Today, we’re going to go over a few awesome (and mostly inexpensive) tactics that’ll get you in good with local consumers – and help you take the first steps towards growing your business beyond its roots. Continue Reading →

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How You Can Keep Your Personal Life Straight While Bootstrapping Your Business

osaka business park“Bootstrapping a business is not without its challenges,” writes Entrepreneur’s Michelle Goodman.

“Besides the long hours and the strain on personal relationships, it can be tricky to split one’s creative juices between two professional pursuits.”

She’s certainly not wrong.

Even when pulling investment capital from other sources, starting a business is an immense, all-consuming undertaking; one which can easily take over your life if not properly managed.

It’s an even more monumental task when bootstrapping. You’ll often find yourself having to juggle multiple professional and personal pursuits – up to and including their business. Continue Reading →

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6 Must Haves When Starting A Small Business

light bulb business“Starting a small business,” explains BrightGauge co-founder Eric Dosal, “is a lot like riding an intense roller coaster. There are tons of twists, turns, loops, ups, and downs.”

He’s not wrong. Running a small business is one of the most intense – yet most intensely rewarding – experiences you’ll likely ever go through.

That said, it’s also one of the most difficult. One slip-up, and everything could come crashing down.

So how can you keep yourself from falling off the proverbial roller coaster?

Here are a few essential tips to help you get your small business off the ground – and keep it afloat. Ignore them at your own peril. Continue Reading →

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How Often Should You Backup Your Data, Really?

HP EVA4400 storage arrayWhether you’re storing your information in a digital environment or on a physical server, it should go without saying that you need to keep it properly backed up.

After all, no server installation is perfect, and there’s always a chance that something will go wrong.

You need to make sure that you’re prepared for the event that it does – and that you don’t lose anything mission-critical in the process.

To that end, today’s piece is going to address a fairly simple question: how often should you update your backups?

The answer to that isn’t as obvious as you’d think. There’s a huge range of different factors that come into play when determining your backup system, and most organizations don’t really have a definitive idea of how frequently they should save their stuff. They’ve only got their best guess to work with.

Bacula – the backup solution used by Server Mania – lists several different questions an organization should ask itself before setting up a backup/restore system – a decision which it maintains should be made on a case-by-case basis. Continue Reading →

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From Controversy To Catastrophe – How To Avoid A Brand Meltdown

meltdownI’d like to start today’s piece off with a question – how many of you are avid watchers of Chef Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmare?

As a follow up, do any of you remember when, a few years back, the good chef decided to visit Amy’s Baking Company?

Don’t worry, there is actually a point to these questions.

For those of you who don’t know, Kitchen Nightmare is one example of a new breed of reality TV where an expert consultant is hired on to save a seemingly hopeless venue from its clueless managers, ignorant owners, and half-cocked staff. Since the cameras are left rolling pretty much the whole time, viewers tend to get a look at some pretty extreme personalities…but none have ever been more extreme than the owners of Amy’s Baking Company, Amy and Samy Bouzaglos. They were the first clients that caused Ramsay to legitimately walk out. Continue Reading →

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5 Questions You Need To Ask Before Ditching Your Dedicated Server

serversA dedicated server is one of the most powerful hosting options out there.

You’ve got more power at your fingertips than with any other solution, and significantly higher performance as a result.

Even better, if you’re using an unmanaged option, you have complete root access – meaning you can control pretty much everything.

As with anything, there are trade-offs, however. Dedicated servers are the most expensive of any hosting plan, and they generally require a great deal more technical knowledge to operate than shared or cloud hosting.

With that in mind, when is it worth ditching a dedicated hosting plan in favor of a VPS or a cloud solution? Continue Reading →

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Why Every Small Business Needs An Elevator Pitch

An Era Of Distraction

elevatorIf you have an interest in marketing, you’ve probably heard the term “elevator pitch” on at least one occasion.

It’s a short, compelling summary of a business which sums up exactly what it does – and exactly how it’s useful to a prospective client.

In the fast-paced world brought about by modern technology, it’s also one of the most essential marketing tools in any small business owner’s arsenal.

“The current generation of Internet consumers,” writes The Guardian’s Rob Weatherhead, citing a study by Pew; “live in a world of ‘instant gratification and quick fixes,’ which leads to a ‘loss of patience and a lack of deep thinking.’”

Let me put that another way. A recent study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that the average human attention span has dropped by 33% since 2000 – from twelve seconds to eight seconds. To add some perspective, goldfish have an attention span of approximately nine seconds.

The result of this loss of attention, the study explains, is all of the external stimuli we’re constantly subjected to. At any given moment in time, we could be receiving information from hundreds (or even thousands) of different sources. It’s not surprising that we’d start to check out – we’re living in the age of information overload.

This is exactly why elevator pitches are so integral to the success of a small business. These days, if you don’t get your message out the door right away, you probably won’t get it out at all. People aren’t going to bother with your pitch – they’ll either get bored or distracted.

So, now that you understand why you need an elevator pitch…how do you craft one? Continue Reading →

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The Top 5 Reasons Small Businesses Fail (And How You Can Conquer Them)

success failureBeing a small business owner is no easy task.

More often than not, you’re trying to break into a well-established market, going head-to-head with industry veterans.

On top of that, there are literally hundreds of variables you need to account for – from marketing to staff to supply and demand.

“Starting a company is no walk in the park,” writes Roy Osing of The Globe and Mail. “Entrepreneurs and small business owners will tell you that growing a business requires hard work, dedication, and strategic planning to succeed.”

In other words, it’s not a job that just anyone can do. With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that more than half of businesses don’t survive past their fifth year. How can you ensure your small business is one of those that does?

Easy – by understanding how you might fail and taking preventative measures against that failure. Continue Reading →

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October’s Roundup of the Best Startup, Hosting, & Technology Content

reading the newsIn the month or so since our last roundup, there’s been a lot going on in the world of small business, web hosting, and general technology news. This is a time of year to reflect on what’s happened through the year and start looking toward next year. Gartner’s list of the top 10 IT trends for 2015 is very insightful to where business is heading and can provide you with some ideas of what may be helpful to your business. Security, mobile, and gamification have been hot topics this year and we tried to address these in on our blog as well as include several great articles below covering those topics. To catch up on all the rest of the major happenings from October, check out the rest of the roundup below. And make sure you read all the way to the end to see which famous person made their very first tweet. If you enjoy this collection of industry news, feel free to follow us over on Facebook and Twitter. Enjoy!

Small Business and Startup

This Is Not A Startup Story

When you start a small business it can be hard to know the difference between success and failure at first glance. This is a fascinating story of what many businesses experience when starting out. Hopefully it can provide you with some guidance if you’re just starting out.

What Makes Mobile So Vital For Small Businesses?

What is it about mobile that makes it such a powerful tool for business? And why, specifically, is it so important to your organization in particular? This post looks to answer those questions and many more in helping you create a mobile plan for your business. Continue Reading →

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