What you need to know about raising startup funds

What you need to know about raising startup fundsRaising Capital

When starting a new business, at some point you’re likely going to need to raise funds for it, and if you’re like most of us, you haven’t a clue as to the sort of questions you’ll need answers to, both for your business and for your potential investors.

Potential investors will want to know your answers as well, and rather than head into the process unprepared, let’s take a step to make you more ready by listing at least some of the important questions you’ll want to have answers to.

7 Basic questions you need to answer for startup funding

How much capital do you need? – Having a clear idea about how much you need obviously simplifies the task considerably. Assess what your costs are going to be, and understand that it always costs more!

What will it cost you? – What are you willing to offer for this money? Is it going to be shares of your company, and how much is that? 10%? 25%? This is something you need a firm grasp on, and at least initially not be swayed from.

When do you have to pay it back? – When will you be expected to repay this investment? Are the terms you’ll be getting conducive to running your business while doing so? How much strain will this produce on the business?

What’s your business growth strategy? – You and your investors should be quite interested in your plan for growth. Not only is the plan of importance, but also the time frame for growth.

What are you willing to risk? – Are you willing to put up equity (other than sweat equity) in your startup? This can sometimes make it easier for others to see their way clear to invest.

How much input do you want? – Making it crystal clear from the beginning how much outside input is welcome is a good idea. Many investors want nothing to do with this, but there are others…

Who buys and uses your product or service? – Who is the ideal customer, and how do you intend to market to them? Having a firm grip on your eventual buyers calms many investment fears!

How to Build Traffic to Your Blog

Getting Traffic to your Business BlogBlog

If you want to use your business blog to expand and engage your audience, you’re going to need to find ways to develop the traffic to a point where someone other than your immediate family is reading it, am I right?

There are fantastic advantages to having a vibrant and engaging business blog, chief among them items like new leads, brand building, helping with search rankings and many more.

Yet if this is taken up haphazardly, or worse yet, indifferently, you’re going to be preaching to the choir, and wondering why you started this dang blog in the first place.

To help get the blog going and create some momentum, many bloggers look to paid traffic to get the ball rolling. It can be a modest, yet wise investment. Let’s check out several places you can make this happen.

5 Places to buy paid ads for your blog

Outbrain – These text ads run on major websites like CNN.com, ESPN, FOXNews and others, and can get a far different set of eyeballs than what you might be seeing. Not to mention that these sites get massive traffic in the first place!

Facebook Ads – Maybe the best paid traffic opportunity currently available, mainly for the capability to precisely target your audience while not spending a fortune. Their audience insights tool alone is worth the price of admission!

Google Adwords – While they have been around forever, Adwords can nevertheless be useful if you know how to use it well. Otherwise, you’ll be paying far too much for what you’re after.

LinkedIn Sponsored Updates – Assuming you have content that appeals to professionals in any sense, this could be a goldmine for you. People on LinkedIn are more businesslike, and a bit more engaging, so if this one’s right for you, don’t hold back!

Pinterest Promoted Pins – A relative newcomer to paid ads, Pinterest can be handy if you have a great graphic and are appealing largely to females. If you do, prepare to have hordes of enthusiastic visitors descend upon your post!

How to Create a Winning Marketing Plan for your Small Business

Learn How to Craft a Marketing Plan for a Small Businessmarketingplan

Quite often when we’re starting out with a new business venture it’s all too easy to be lured into a Ready, Fire, Aim mindset, leaving the planning for later if at all. It’s our hope to talk you into restraining that enthusiasm just a pinch while you take the time to craft a marketing plan that will provide a roadmap for your small business, before you begin assigning a lot of money or effort to it.

This is not all that difficult, but it’s a needed step if you want to avoid a few possible pitfalls along the way. Here are 5 suggestions designed to help you create a marketing plan specific to your small business.

5 Tips for a killer small business marketing plan

Have a goal – Not simply one overarching goal, which is important, but a series of smaller, milestone type goals that make it easier to reach your eventual destination.

Define who your audience is – Taking a snapshot of who your ideal customer is, and what they like, dislike, where they hang out and more is a crucial step in making an intelligent marketing plan. Knowing this information ahead of time saves much time and money.

How to best deliver your marketing – Understanding the means of delivery is important as well. That may mean many things to many companies. For one it could very well be paid traffic, another may go the organic search route. Whatever it is, make sure you not only know what serves your particular audience best, but that you have the expertise and people to pull it off.

Know what else you need – There will more than likely be pieces in the puzzle that are essential to the plan that must be in pace as well. This can sometimes be a marketing funnel, landing pages or an email marketing sequence.

Set a timeline – Giving your campaign a timeline for implementation and completion is important to a successful marketing plan. It will also help keep all members of the team on task and striving towards the goal.

How to Develop Traffic Sources for Your Site

How to Decide What Type of Traffic is Best for Your SiteWhoWhatWhere

Probably the chief complaint heard among people attempting to run a business online is they simply don’t have enough traffic.

While this is no doubt true, the methodology they use to try and remedy this situation is entirely faulty. To be honest, there are literally hundreds of ways to generate traffic to your pages, some quite easy. However whether or not this traffic does you any good is another question entirely.

This seldom turns out well. What you’ll get, if anything, is a bunch of visitors who stay a couple of seconds each, seldom engaging or doing anything else worthwhile on your site. This is primarily because you have failed to figure out exactly what type of traffic best includes your audience, and how to effectively get it. What’s truly needed here is a plan that takes into account who your particular audience is, and where they typically hang out. Then you can begin to craft a strategy. Let’s have a look at what you need to consider to make this happen.

Questions to ask about your traffic campaign

There are several things to discover before you commence flinging ad money and content all over the joint.

  • Just who is your audience? – Understanding your ideal customer demographic is a major key to advertising effectively. What are the ages, sex and interests of your customer avatar? You have to know this to do the best job you can.
  • Where do they hang out? – Knowing where your audience congregates is great intelligence you need to have. This could be on a particular social network, industry forum, or other popular site.
  • What tools will you use? – Tools like Alexa for demographic information about a particular site is useful. One of the fastest and best ways to gather info about your audience is through Facebook’s Audience Insights. It’s free if you have an ad account, which is also free. This tool provides you with so much actionable info it’s ridiculous.

Okay, next step?

Now that you’ve gathered your data, you need to decide what traffic method will work best for your given audience. That could be Facebook ads, or ads on LinkedIn, Pinterest or Twitter. Possibly a content marketing campaign aimed at securing search rankings for your keywords. Or maybe a video marketing initiative.

There really are tons of great ways to get lots of visitors to your pages, but unless they’re targeted to what you’re trying to attract, you’re pretty much wasting your time!

See What’s New in Local SEO and 7 Ways to Make it Better!

How to Optimize for Local SEO in 2015Google SEO

By Google’s own admission, they make between 500-600 changes to the algorithm annually, so being aware of all of them and how they affect your site is a full time job. If you’re frustrated attempting to keep up with all the changes that transpire within the Google Local search space, you’re not alone!

If your head starts spinning at the mere mention of things like Pigeon, the Local Carousel, and MobileGeddon, then we have good news for you.

In order to keep things simple here, we’ve distilled our list of best Local SEO practices to a mere 7. Implement these as soon as you can for best results!

7 Best Practices for Local SEO

Don’t stop link building – But do it naturally! Be certain that you’re creating awesome content that is getting shared as widely as possible, and watch the links flow in. These are the best types of links you can acquire.

Be sure to GEO-target your pages – The Pigeon update was all about preferring local content over global when possible. Make it possible on your pages with local geo-modifiers.

Citations still matter – These days it’s about getting quality citations, and cleaning them up so as not to have duplicate entries and inconsistent data.

Solicit customer reviews – This is the highest form of social proof available, and studies are showing that the overwhelming majority (90%) consult product reviews before purchasing. Ask your present customers; they’ll usually be more than happy to comply.

Use Google My Business – Google’s local business tool suite is an incredible tool you’ll want to be fully invested in. There are so many ways this helps your business, but one of the main ones is being able to easily manage reviews.

Create and optimize local images – Use unique local images and make sure they are geo-tagged appropriately. This can help you in several ways, including Google Images, the 7 pack, Your Google My Business page and more.

Take advantage of social sharing – Make sure you have social media icons present on all your pages and content so as to provide your audience with the opportunity to share your content far and wide!

Choosing Between SEO and Clicks in your Title Tags and Headlines

How to Compromise Between Great Title Tags and Awesome HeadlinesBuiness SEO

There is often a tug of war going on in the struggle between optimizing your SEO title tags and the need to craft a killer headline that gets massive numbers of clicks. This is a legitimate concern, and often the answer lies in what your main purpose is for the page in the first place.

While at first blush the symbiotic relationship between title tags and headlines can seem at odds, but you have to be able to find a happy medium. Understand first that one without the other leads to failure is a good first step.

Let’s look at both needs and see where they intersect.

What goes into a good SEO title tag?

With a title tag limited to around 64 characters, you are space-challenged from the get-go. This is the amount of characters that will appear in the search results, so you have to make it count.

Remember, you want your primary page keyword in there, as close to the beginning as possible, and these days need to focus your wording towards satisfying search intent.

It’s fine if you can squeeze in another keyword without it becoming unreadable, but your words need to reflect what the searcher has in mind.

So what goes into a good page headline?

Conversely, your page headline has to entice the reader to read on, to want more information. A lot of great headlines will invoke curiosity, promise solutions, and inject emotions.

Satisfying the needs of the reader is your primary aim here, and if you can do that in a short, pithy way so much the better.

“How to write a novel in 30 days and stay married.” This is a title you might click through to read. It makes a promise, delivers urgency and hints at humor.

Finding the sweet spot

Often you’ll be confronted with a choice, and you’ll have to decide which is more important, the SEO or maximum clicks. The intersection where both come together is often quite small, and often the goal of the page comes into play, such as how you’re going to be using it. Is it a landing page destined to get mostly paid traffic, or a foundation website page that needs to rank well? Therein often lies the choice.

How to Market Your Business on Instagram

Learn How to Use Instagram for Your BusinessInstagram

Instagram seems to have taken the world by storm, and its recent acquisition by Facebook only confirms its entry and place in the big leagues. While it is every bit the social network that Facebook and Twitter are, there are some differences in marketing with Instagram that you need to understand if you intend to try marketing there.

First begin with absorbing two important facts: Instagram’s younger audience profile and your own market. The demographic facing you when marketing with Instagram is decidedly younger, and might not be a good fit for your business if your target market is over 30. Plain and simple. If you are marketing to the 15-28 crowd you’re golden — if the products you market are found in images on Instagram. If you’re selling gear for an SLR camera, you may need to get a bit creative to find any traction there.

Ways to effectively market on Instagram

Check out these 5 tips for marketing your business on Instagram.

  1. Use Video On Instagram – This newish feature in Instagram is much like Vine, but their videos are a massive 15 seconds as opposed to 6. Significantly more canvas to paint on.
  2. Use lots of hashtags – While engagement drops significantly on Twitter if you use more than 2 hashtags, the opposite appears to be the norm for Instagram. Load them up!
  3. Don’t post incessantly – Unlike many other social networks less can be more here. You don’t want to fill up your follower’s feeds and be less special. Focus on a few times a week and post great content.
  4. Optimize your Instagram Profile – Like other social networks, you’ll want to make sure your business profile is complete and utterly devoted to finding you and doing business with you.
  5. Follow other brands on Instagram – Finding and following related brands on Instagram is a must. Fortunately there are some good tools that help with this, like Statigram.

Instagram is a social media monster with a few specific caveats. Follow these and you may discover a rabid audience eager to do business with you.