Small Business Digital Marketing: Using the Internet to Grow Your Business

If you are a small business and you are not yet marketing yourself online then you are really missing out. On the other hand, maybe you’ve tried it but you just haven’t been able to generate the results you’d like? Either way, it’s time to change things and get serious about this opportunity…

The sad truth is that most small businesses aren’t marketing themselves effectively using the internet. This is usually because they lack the expertise to implement their marketing campaigns in the right way, or they believe that it is expensive and thus not something they can afford.

What can you achieve with small business digital marketing?

The reality is that digital marketing is a constantly changing landscape. If you really want to succeed with it and generate great results for your business then you definitely need to know what you are doing. If it is done in the right way however then this type of marketing can enable you to grow your business and reach new customers in a way that has never been possible before.

The digital world creates a wonderful opportunity for small businesses to grow their income, find new clients and better engage existing ones. From advertising through social media to reach new audiences, generating leads through carefully crafted website landing pages, or engaging existing customers through content-filled email newsletters, this tool can generate real tangible results for your company.

Getting started with small business digital marketing

The first thing to get clear on is that you need a definite plan. Diving straight into the field without thinking about what you want to achieve, and how you are going to achieve it, is simply setting yourself up for failure. Failing to plan is probably the number one reason why most small businesses fail with this inception.

It is very important to have a clear and detailed strategy. You should set out specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound marketing objectives and targets, and you should ensure that you think carefully about the digital marketing channels you are going to use to get your message out there.

It is also important to remember that digital marketing isn’t an instant solution. Achieving effective results requires consistent action, on-going testing and regular reviewing of progress.

Getting help with small business digital marketing

As we have already touched upon, digital marketing is a complex field that’s constantly changing. It is therefore crucial to have a good understanding of the subject and know exactly how to plan and implement digital campaigns for maximum results.

Many small business lack in-house expertise and thus choose to seek the help of a digital marketing agency. This is often a smart decision because it brings much-needed expertise to the table. A digital marketing implemented by professionals is much more likely to generate great results than a campaign implemented by someone who is relying in trial and error. In addition, getting external help with small business digital marketing frees the company to concentrate on running their business, without worrying about their digital campaigns.

Business Intelligence Solutions Is a Necessity for Quick Analysis

The overall purpose of the business intelligence (BI) software is to make discovery and analysis of processes easier for end users or decision-makers at every level of an organization. Business Intelligence solutions allow decision makers to make decisions quickly since data is interpreted in a simpler format. Hours of analysis can be done within minutes now.

Analyzing and understanding spread sheets at times can get complex. Your boss tells you that the meeting has been rescheduled to an earlier date. How do you interpret and come up with relevant conclusions quickly? There is a simple solution, find yourself an appropriate BI suite. This suite usually includes business intelligence applications that enable users to easily analyze information, plan ahead, report and manage dashboards.

Every organization large or small has large quantities of data which needs to be simplified. A good business intelligence open source software helps users to analyze the data by making sense of it all. Make sure you install a central BI server that supports GPU processing technology. This server instantly integrates data from every source for instance financial accounting products like SAP, SAP BW, SQL Server Oracle and more. End users can write comfortably from their web browser, mobile device or excel sheet and prepare documents as done by them earlier.

There are several categories of BI tools such as spreadsheets (excel sheets), OLAP, Digital Dashboards, Data mining, Data warehousing and local information systems among other. OLAP or Online Analytical Processing refers to swiftly solving multi-dimensional analytical queries. This module is a high performance data server application that enables workers in a firm to access, change and collaborate on BI data immediately.

As for digital dashboards they help to track down the inherent flow of processes. It begins with complex high-level processes into simpler low-level data. These days three kinds of digital dashboards are popular – web browser based applications, stand-alone software applications and desktop applications.

Staying ahead of your competitors is the first step. With BI software know the latest trends, how to generate more revenue and other crucial steps being carried out by your competition. Without this knowledge you are not in a position to make the relevant changes. Data mining helps decision-makers gather information in a timelier manner. The software will check with newspapers and trade journals for the latest happenings in a particular field that keeps you updated and informed. BI system allows decision makers to face the most difficult financial times with greater confidence.

Start an Internet Business – Digital Product Affiliate and Article Marketing

Online marketing is not hard as you think. If you do it right, give it your best effort and do it consistently everyday, you are one of the millionaires in this world. Now I want to teach you one of the best online marketing tactics that you can implement right away. If you really do this, you can see the result in 7 days. This tactic is called article marketing. I will guide you in this article step by step.

Step 1: Sign-up at Clickbank

The first step I want you to do is register an account at Clickbank.com. It is free. The reason for this is to make you able to sell their products. Clickbank has thousands of digital products for us to sell them and they give us commission as high as 75%.

Step 2: Select Topic or Niche Relates to You

Go to Clickbank marketplace. Right there, you can see the digital products were categorized in several topics. Go to topic of your interest and select a product to promote. Click the ‘promote’ button and enter your Clickbank ID and you will get your affiliate link. You will use this link to promote the product.

Step 3: Do Market Research (Keyword Research)

Market research is the essential step in any successful business. When is comes to online marketing, you must remember market research is synonym to keyword research. You must make research and know what actually people or your prospects type in the search engine to find solutions to their problems. And our role here is to provide them solution. Sell them our product to solve their problems. The free method to do keyword research is by using AdWords keyword tool. Just type in Google “AdWords keyword tool” and you will find it and start using it. Research the keywords about the product you choose and choose keyword wisely base on its traffic.

Step 4: Create Landing Page

A landing page basically is a page contains your review of the product you are promoting. Creating a landing page is easy. You can use free method like blogspot.com or WordPress.com. Setup a blog there and create your landing page. You have to include in the landing page your review of the product. You must make your review persuasive. You must put your affiliate link in your review. Your prospects will click on this link to buy the product and you get the money.

Step 4: Make Your Offer Reach Your Prospects with Article Marketing

Firstly, go to EzineArticles.com and register an account there for free. After you have an account, you can start publishing articles to promote your offer. You can write your own article but I recommend you to outsource it to someone else. You can go to place like rentacode.com, guru.com and elance.com to find someone to write articles for you. EzineArticles allows you to include an author resource box at the bottom of your article. You must put the link to your landing page inside of the author resource box. Readers will click at your link at your resource box.

Try out this tactic and let me know your performance. Click the link below to get contact with me and learn more about online marketing.

Digital Solutions For Film Lovers – Flat Bed Scanner Fustrations

A question I am frequently asked – ‘what flat bed scanner do you recommend I should buy?’

This is a nightmare of a question and one which is not easily answered without first responding with the question ‘what do you know about image post processing and pre-press?’, followed, usually in my case, by the whole book preamble on the history of photography. It serves little purpose. Most individuals in my experience of this subject, are impulse buyers who have swallowed the manufacturer carrot and purchase on the basis of product appearance and little understanding of the mechanics or specification. By the time I have gotten to Niepce, listeners are already bored stiff. You know the glazed eye look…

This aside, there are novices with a genuine interest and limited budgets to spend. So here goes.

Several years before I purchased my first flat bed scanner and at a time when I was building digital stock for the future digital archive, I used a local lab which had invested (early to mid 1990s) in some expensive kit. They had Agfa digital film recorders, a raft of Apple Mac computers, a Scitex flat bed and top-end Umax scanners. With all this stuff, the lab could meet the professional quality demands of its advertising agency client requirements – and believe me, they had some big players in the game.

I used their Scitex and Umax scanning services mainly for digitalising medium and large format film. Costs ran at around £10 – £20 per image, depending on set-up time. This was expensive and I only used the service when I knew I could sell the image and have the client pay for everything on top of the repro fee. Still, it was cheaper than another local lab which offered laser drum scans.

In time, I acquired my own flat bed scanner; a Microtek, which I was running on an Apple Mac Performa-Pro (1993). The only time you could tell you had done things right was when the magazine came out; my Performa screen had pitiful resolution and this combined with some dreadful scanning software was a non starter when it came to visualising what was right or wrong. It was very much seat of the pants scanning; you just crossed your fingers and hoped. And most of the time, reproduction was acceptable, only occasionally could I tell it had been a really long night on the pixels.

Soon I graduated to an iMac G3. The screen resolution was higher and a lot clearer. I bought one of the then new Heidelberg Linoscan flat bed scanners with a tranny hood, having first investigated the software it was bundled with and sweet-talked the distributor into demo scanning a stack of 120 format Kodachrome’s – yes, in the 1990s, my preferred reversal stock was available in medium format.

The demo scans were not perfect but the difference in quality between them and what I had been paying an arm and a leg for off the Scitex or Umax, was marginal. The test would be in the final repro quality and after a few weeks I had sold enough and seen the results to have a pretty good idea of what the machine could do.

Life went on. I scanned and scanned and spent a lot of time making up special holders for old glass plates and larger format transparencies to avoid the problem of Newton’s Rings. I hardly thought about what went on inside the box until one day, the lamp used for reflective scans gave out.

To fit the new lamp, follow the maker’s instructions by undoing two retaining machine screws and lift off the plastic glass platen frame. It was then that it hit me.

Light travels in straight lines right?

Right. Except when it’s inside a flat bed scanner.

Then it gets bent all over the place by thin mirror strips before finally being focused through a tiny objective onto a CCD.

Let’s just have a short think here about what we are dealing with. Light, imaging and scanning. A sort of electronic enlarger. The principle is almost the same. Light is passed through film and its rays are collected somewhere in the box to make a digital image.

Now, if I recall, the old film enlargers I used in my darkrooms in decades past, all had their insides well painted with a matt black, non light reflecting paint. Indeed, in high quality machines, light baffling was so sophisticated, one never had any concern for leakages. More attention was paid to the darkroom door.

But what have we here in the average flat bed scanner? Well, light is transmitted first through two large sheets of platen glass (one in the tranny hood, one on the bed) between which are sandwiched the negs or trannies being scanned. These are glass sheets the size of foolscap paper (or larger on A3 models.) Hold one sheet up to a lamp and anyone can see what it does to light transmitted through it – scatter, scatter,scatter. And lo, the whole of the interior box of the machine is a nice shiny grey plastic. All the bits of metal and other plastic used to house the lights are all highly reflective. Even the black plastic bed on which the thin mirror strips are mounted for collecting the reflected rays and bouncing them to another mirror strip before transmission to the lens, is all shiny and new.

What were the dumbells who designed this machine thinking of? Rhetorical. This Heidelberg turned out to be a rebadged Umax – made in Japan. I suspect many other similar products are put together the same way, with little thought given by designers or engineers to the real purpose of the device.

The question trickling through my mind at the time was, what happens if I paint all of the accessible shiny parts with matt black paint? Would this have any effect on improving image quality? Would it push up contrast; would it increase the dynamic density range?

There was nothing to lose. Out came the matt black Humbrol, masking tape and a paint brush. Soon, all of the parts I could reach were matted. On some of the edges of black plastic mouldings where it looked as if light rays would almost certainly be reflected back but which were difficult to reach with a loaded brush, I used double side tape and strips of black velvet from the gates of old film canisters. When I figured I had done enough, I cleaned the insides of both platen glasses and reassembled the machine.

Immediately, there was a noticeable improvement in the final scans, particularly in the area of shadow detail where the Heidelberg had not previously been able to extract much detail. Contrast went up and with it, apparent sharpness. So far so good. Scan quality improved as I learned to tweak the finer points of the bundled LinoColor software; clients were happy.

A note about the software.

LinocolorElite was put together by a company whose origins were deeply rooted in the British printing industry – remember Linotype machines? The German company Heidelberg bought Linocolor, marketed a raft of hi-end and low end rebadged Umax scanners with bundled Linocolor software and then jumped out of the business. Used Heidelberg machines can still be found but the better specified machines from the 1400 model up usually only run on old SCSI connections.

But I digress. The point about this is that most current flat beds have not significantly improved in mechanical design at the same rate at which resolution capacities have increased and while reproduction quality generally looks acceptable, I don’t see the giant leap. Visual appearance depends on printing methods, paper, inks and all the rest of that side of the business, but what I want in an ideal world is the near perfect scan and for this, one usually has to pay a premium.

Just recently, I noticed a slight fall off in scanned image quality while digitalising a batch of old b+w prints. One side of the image was o.k. the other side slightly fuzzy, as if someone had sprayed the screen image with diluted milk. I cleaned the monitor. It made no difference. An inspection of the flat bed platen glass provided no clue as to the cause.

In a fit of pique, I stripped the machine again. The thought of micro bugs similar to those sometimes seen in a camera viewfinder crawling all over the three line CCD low pass filter and leaving their minute traces of dirt, was uppermost.

I could neither find nor see anything. The interior was spotless, except when I shone a high powered torch onto one of the thin collecting mirrors; a barley visible thin patch of surface blooming like a small cloud such as would be visible on a steamed up lens, was the obvious culprit.

I suppose that even if one worked these machines in a scientifically audited clean room, foreign matter and atmospheric pollution would, in time, affect component performance. In the real world home or office environment, the risk of attack over a short period of time is much higher. I still do not know what caused the blooming, but for good measure I cleaned all the mirror strips and the collecting lens with impregnated tissues supplied by Carl Zeiss. And while I had the top off the mirror box, I added more velvet strips to parts which looked vulnerable to light scatter and blacked out the inside of the fluorescent light tube housing with more Humbrol.

The mirror cleaning cured the original problem, and now there was also another hike in both contrast and apparent sharpness levels. An acquaintance in the USA with access to special measuring equipment reported a recent set of scans from 5X4 inch Fujichrome originals having only a 1.2% colour balance error; better than the 2-3% normally experienced from scans produced on high end machines and far better than the 10 -20% errors often experienced on off-the-shelf consumer products. And this from the raw un-post processed scans made using my own ICC profile for the film.

Now I have a new project in hand.

I purchased a second Heidleberg for spares.

I am now going to strip both it and the old Microtek and matt spray paint the parts which can be and remodel the mirror housing, lens and CCD assemblies with matt paint and whatever else it takes to stop the light scatter. Some solution of soft pliable baffles will also have to be found for the undersides of the platen glass, which I am certain is just one of a number of contributing causes of scanned image chromatic aberrations. The aim is to reach a scan quality level which approaches that obtained for medium format film on a Howtek drum scanner.