3 Things Your Online Business Needs in 2012

You may recall that back in September I told you it was time to start planning your 2012 online business strategy NOW.  While it is possible to instantly change your mindset, putting the new you into action – and seeing results – takes time. Which means that if you wait until December 31 and come up with a list of “New Year Resolutions,” 2012 isn’t going to start off for you much different that 2011 was.  And that can be kind of depressing.  And it can make you give up on your resolutions before all the streamers have been cleaned up off the streets in Times Square. So, if you listened to me, and began to plan your 2012 online business strategy months ago – good for you!  January is going to be a great month for you. But, if you never quite found the time for that, I understand.  Sometimes it’s hard to get your head around today.  Thinking about next year is out of the question. Which is why I am going to share with you three things I’ve put into practice to make 2012 my best year yet. When I look at all of the planning I’ve been doing to take my online business to the next level in 2012, these things are the early winners in the category of what’s really making a difference. 1.  Hire a Coach I mean pay someone every month to personally coach you.  I don’t mean choose a mentor and read their blog every day and purchase every course they’ve ever put out.  While that’s certainly a way to find...

Online Branding: What’s the Right Facebook Timeline Cover?

The new Facebook timeline has me thinking about branding strategies today.  The timeline is rolling out to everyone tomorrow, so like it or not, it’s time to think about how the changes are going to effect your online branding. Your new Facebook timeline is important to your branding strategies because of the huge space your cover photo occupies.  The cover photo is the first thing people see when they visit your timeline. Basically, its a person’s first impression of you.  So, if you use social media to grow your business, you really should make it a good one. But what makes a good first impression?  Is it a picture from your family vacation?  After all, marketing is all about relationships these days.  And people relate to people, not business logos. Or is it a professionally done graphic that incorporates your business brand?  People who are just on Facebook for “fun” will be showing their family pictures.  As a business professional, isn’t this a great way to show off your online branding?  An opportunity to convince people they should do business with you? The answer is, “it depends.”  It depends on who your market is.  And it depends on what your branding strategies are. If you are a social media manager, and people are looking at whether to hire you to manage their social media campaigns, the professional graphic is probably right for you.  My friend Kim Garst has one of the best looking professional covers I’ve seen. And remember, your personal profile picture is inserted at the bottom left side of your cover, so your visitors can still see...

Why Albert Pujols Would Fail at Online Business

Being a sports fan is in my blood.  My dad used to take me to Kansas City Royals baseball games and Chiefs football games on a regular basis.  It’s one of my favorite childhood memories. I know more “sophisticated” people find professional sports “silly” or a waste of time.  But for me, watching sports is a stress reliever.  A good way to “check out” for awhile.  Kind of like watching a soap opera. And the big news yesterday that my St. Louis Cardinals had lost their star, Albert Pujols, to the Los Angeles Angels is proof that the business of professional baseball is about as far from the reality of most business as a soap opera is from real life. Albert Pujols signed a 10-year, $250 million dollar contract with the Angels, after snubbing the Cardinals’ offer of a mere $200 million for the same time period. In the world of online business, where “relationship marketing” rules, Pujols’ move was a major fail. When it comes to baseball at least, St. Louisans understand relationship marketing.  Business isn’t really about clever advertising and price wars. It’s about developing positive relationships with people.  In the appropriate moment then, people will do business with you because they know, like and trust you. It appeared that the people of St. Louis had such a relationship with Albert Pujols.  We sat through cold and rain, biting wind and blistering heat.  Cheering loudly at his each “at bat.”  We spent hours fashioning handmade signs bearing Pujols’ name and number 5, and effort dragging them into the stadium and positioning them in already-too-small seats. We paid...

Online Branding and Standing Out: How to Grow Your Home Business

I stopped at a small, off-the-path restaurant and got a wrap for lunch the other day.  The server handed it to me in a somewhat typical clear plastic container.  Except that the top of the container was covered with the name and logo of the restaurant. “That’s cool,” I thought, “but I bet they paid quite a bit extra for that branding.” I hadn’t finished my lunch, so I brought it into a meeting I had.  After the meeting, someone noticed my leftovers and said, “oh, is that the place over on . . .”  “Yes,” I responded.  We discussed the place (she’d never been there), I gave it a good recommendation, and she plans to check it out. Had the restaurant chosen the cheap Styrofoam containers, and not put their name and logo on their take-out food, that conversation never would have occurred. Who knows how many new customers their branding brings in.  Or how many people see the containers and are reminded of the out-of-the-way eatery.  Or how many people stop in after driving by because they remember that a friend had take-out food from there once. This small out-of-the way sandwich place (I’ve often wondered how they stay in business), has good food, and good branding.  And it works. So much for my theory that their branding costs them money . . . There’s a crucial lesson here for your home business.  It feels like everyone is online these days.  Your home business has lots of competition. Chances are, you are not the McDonald’s of your niche.  So you need good products/services and good online branding....