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Work-at-home mom: take a deep breath and Do Life Different as you allow these devotions for work-at-home moms to fill the vacuum of your needy heart in the chaos of your busy world.
 
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Archive for 40 Days to a Better Business

Apr
07

40 Days to a Better Business: Day 40 – Putting It All Together

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40 Days to a Better Business

Over the last forty days we’ve found lots of new and exciting ways to improve our businesses. Now it’s time to pick out what we need to work on to make our businesses stronger and get to work.

For our last assignment:

1. Make a list of what you’re working on (or need to work on) in the coming days.

2. Set a goal date for each item

3. Create an action plan for each item. Remember, goals can get overwhelming so let’s break them down and tackle them one step at a time.

4. Mark your calendar at 6 months or a year from now to revisit your action plan. You can see where you’ve come and adjust anything that needs it at that time.

 

I hope I’ll hear from you on how this 40 Day journey has impacted you and your business! You can reach me directly at jill@cwahm.com. I’d love to know what you’ve learned, what you’ve put into action and how your business has changed!

Miss any posts from 40 Days To a Better Business? Read the entire series here.

Learn more about starting your own business HERE!

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Apr
06

40 Days to a Better Business: Day 39 – Your Marketing Plan: Blogging and Social Media

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40 Days to a Better Business

 

No matter what type of business you’re in, there will be some writing involved. (Don’t panic. You can do this!) There will be copywriting – writing of ads, product descriptions, etc. There will be most likely be blogging in one form or another, whether it’s traditional blogging or micro-blogger on a platform such as Twitter. And there will be post writing, on social media channels such as Facebook and LinkedIn. So, if you’re in business for yourself, get used to the thought of writing … or of hiring someone to do some writing for you.

For each of these needs, you will want to put together at least a loose strategy. Here are some ideas on how to do this in the least-painful way.

Blogging

* When you’re blogging for business, you want to be sure that you have a clear end-goal in mind.  Business blogging isn’t meant to entertain, although hopefully it will do that as well, it’s meant to connect with customers in such a way that they then desire to buy your product or work with your service. Know what you want your customer to do after reading your post and give a clear call-to-action at the end.

* Be clear in your blog writing. Choose topics that relate to your business and then share the expertise that you’ve gained during your time in business. If there are still things that you’re unsure of, do some research and don’t be afraid to quote sources.

* Don’t be afraid to branch out and guest post for other blogs once you’re comfortable writing for your own. Offer them fresh content in your area of expertise, but geared for their particular audience. If possible, offer to swap posts with bloggers and business owners that you admire. This creates a win-win situation.

 

Social Media

* In both blogging and social media, you want to be sure to keep things positive. Don’t knock the competition. Instead, focus on what your business does best and how you can help your customers. No complaining allowed in your social media interactions. Customers should leave thinking how positive and encouraging you are (think “KLOVE”), not frustrated by your rants.

* Another key to social media success it to automate the process when possible. Consider setting up the “Twitter” app on Facebook that will send all of your Facebook posts through to Twitter as well. The same can be done for LinkedIn and other social media channels.

* Last but not least, make it fun for your customers. Run contests, share pictures, share outtakes of your day. The more you connect with your clients on a personal basis, the more loyal followers you’ll have.

 

Miss any posts from 40 Days To a Better Business? Read the entire series here.

Learn more about starting your own business HERE!

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Apr
05

40 Days to a Better Business: Day 38 – Your Marketing Plan: Advertising – What, Where and How

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40 Days to a Better Business

 

Advertising is one of the most traditional – and most used – ways of spreading the word about your business. However, in today’s world there are so many options for advertising that it can be hard to know not only where to advertise, but how to make your ad stand out from all the rest. Here are some ideas to help you determine what will work best for your business and your budget.

Knowing Your Options

In this day and age there are so many advertising options available that it almost makes your head spin. You can advertise online, on TV, on the radio and in print. When you advertise online, you can pay a flat rate, per online click or even per impression.  TV, radio and print ad pricing will vary depending on the geographical location, time of day and size of the ad.

Choosing What’s Best

In order to determine what type of advertising will be right for your business, you first need to establish where your target market is. If your target market is made up of stay-at-home moms, think about where they might spend time – the grocery store, the park, in front of the TV, and online places like Facebook and possibly Twitter, depending on what type of mom you’re gearing towards (which is why it’s so important to be as specific as possible when deciding who your target market truly is).

Once you’ve come up with a list of places – both online and offline – where your target market is likely to be, it’s time to figure out how to reach them where they are. Decide on what where you want to place your ads and then think through what words or phrases might catch their attention. Also, look up keywords (using Google’s Keyword Tool) to see how people are searching online for your type of product or service and use the highest ranking keywords in your ad copy.

Budgeting For Your Business

Now it’s time to decide how much you can spend each month on your advertising campaign. Typically, a start-up will spend around  5% of it’s revenue on advertising. However, experts like those on SBA.gov recommend that you begin by spending closer to 7-8% of revenue on advertising, splitting this between “1) brand development costs (which includes all the channels you use to promote your brand such as your website, blogs, sales collateral, etc.), and 2) the costs of promoting your business (campaigns, advertising, events, etc.).”

Advertising is a necessity to grow your business. Take the time to lay out exactly where your target market can be found and then come up with a plan to reach them where they are. Budget a portion of your monthly revenue to go towards your advertising expenses and then be sure to do your best to create ads that will get your message across and attract buyers.

 

** Interested in advertising on CWAHM? As a thank you for being a part of our 40 Days To a Better Business Series, we would like to offer your $20 off any advertising order of $50 or more. Email jill@cwahm.com to take advantage of this offer!

Read More→

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Apr
04

40 Days to a Better Business: Day 37 – Your Marketing Plan: Exploring Audio and Video Options

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40 Days to a Better Business

One great thing about being in business today is that there are so many options available for your marketing use. There are websites, blogs, social media channels as well as the old standbys of print, tv, and radio ads. Within the last couple of years, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in online marketing. The online advertising realm is continually growing and now the future looks like it rests in learning to connect with your visitors in a meaningful way in every aspect – in person and online. A great way to truly build that connection online is using audio and video.

While blogging has been the go-to source for connecting with your audience online, we’re now seeing more and more websites using audio and video. It used to be that only large corporations had the money to record and process video, but with the advent of YouTube and the price drop in HD webcams, video is now accessible to everyone.

So, how can we best use these tools to reach our audience?

* Audio – A great way to use audio on your website is to conduct interview over the phone or through Skype. Record them and then use a free tool like Audacity (by SourceForge) to edit if needed. Then you can use a plugin such as PodPress to post the audio on your WordPress blog. There are many other tools out there to help you both edit and post your audio online. Simply search for them online to learn about all of your options.

* Video – Video blogging is becoming more and more popular. It is such a great way to interact with your audience and allow them to get to know you a bit. And nowadays you can even stream live video and allow others to join you using Google Hangouts. You can choose to record video interviews, open up for a time of Question and Answer live on the air, or simply record a clip of you sharing about your business. The opportunities are endless!

There are so many great ways to use audio and video to bring new life to your website. Depending on what type of business you run, brainstorm ideas on how you can use these tools to connect with your target market.

Here are a few to get you started: Read More→

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Apr
03

40 Days to a Better Business: Day 36 – Your Marketing Plan: Article Marketing Done Right

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40 Days to a Better Business

by Diana Ennen

So what is article marketing?  It’s writing quality articles and sending them out.  It’s allowing you to show your expertise by providing some of the knowledge you have with others.  It’s truly one of the best ways to get exposure for your business because thanks to Google and the Internet, your articles stay out there forever and you can get results even months later. It’s what you should be doing to get more business!

Let’s break it down.  It’s important to start with a great keyword-driven title, a title that contains the keyword phrases that your customers would be typing in when searching for your topic using a search engine.  It’s also important to keep those keywords flowing throughout the article, making sure your content is keyword rich as well.

Then you get right into the article.  Article content is important.  Be sure to provide information that your targeted audience needs. Your content needs to be interesting, it needs to be full of information, and it needs to have some take away value. Remember this is not an ad for your business.  You want to be really careful that your article is worthy of being read.

Choose your topic and then list four or five tips that support that topic, such as “5 Ways To Work With a Virtual Assistant” or “5 Best Holiday Gifts This Season,”  etc.

See how easy it is?  You open with an introductory paragraph, add in those 5 bullet points with tips, and then close with a paragraph summarizing your article.  Finish it off with your bio and bingo you’ve written an article.

But let’s give some additional tips:

TIPS TO UNDERSTANDING ARTICLE MARKETING BETTER

  • Be informative – you are an expert and people value your information.   Give it to them.
  • When writing an article, solve a problem, answer a question, tell others how to run their business better or provide tips for achieving a better lifestyle.
  • People love to read the top 10 tips, or the best tips for doing something. What area of your expertise can you create a top 10 tips article on?
  • Now go a step further, what other top ten articles can you write? It’s easy to follow up with MORE articles.  For example, start a series of articles on the top 10 ways to do something.  For me it would be top 10 ways to write a press release.  Top 10 ways to write an article.  Top 10 ways to distribute an article. Top 10 ways to write a press release.  Top 10 ways to get PR, etc.  See how easy it can be.
  • Do a keyword search BEFORE you submit article. Get those words that generate the most traffic as well as those unique keywords that will bring targeted customers to your site.
  • Add keywords to title (first few words). Add keywords to first sentence of article & then sparingly throughout.  Use anchor text where allowed.
  • BIO — Your bio is what sells you.  Use it wisely and really compel people to hit that link and go to your site.
  • You don’t want web links in the article itself, however you want to add them in the bio.  Use them wisely.
  • When submitting articles online make sure that you check your article stats. Many of the article submission places have this. Check to see if the articles have been accepted recently? How many hits?  If you discover that the last 5 articles haven’t been accepted, then wait to submit more then.  However, don’t totally disregard that site.  Go back after a short time and see if perhaps things have changed.  If the articles still haven’t been accepted, say good-bye to the site.
  • Make sure when submitting the article that you put it in the best topic or category.  For example, don’t just list it in Business.  What area of business best suits this particular article?  For example, business, entrepreneurs.
  • You can get great information on writing and distributing articles on the article submission sites themselves. See if they have information on what they accept and how they want it.

Read More→

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Apr
02

40 Days to a Better Business: Day 35 – Your Marketing Plan: Begin or Grow Your Mailing List

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40 Days to a Better Business

One of the first things that you should do when starting a business is to begin a mailing list. If you’ve been in business for a while and haven’t done this yet, now is the time to get started. Not only does a mailing list gain you the contact information of your customers, it can also serve to help you make sales.

When I started out, I sent an email newsletter once a month. I would feature articles that appeared on CWAHM, interviews with other entrepreneurs and other tidbits of information that I thought my audience would find interesting. I found that it was a great way to remind subscribers that CWAHM existed J and to draw them to the website to see what was new.

As my business grew, I continued to work towards growing my mailing list, too. Once I reached several thousand subscribers I decided to begin sending my newsletter out weekly. I was worried at first that this would backfire and cause people to unsubscribe, but thankfully it had the response that I was hoping for and helped my website traffic grow steadily.

I’ve tried many things over the years trying to make people aware of the CWAHM newsletter and to make it easy for them to subscribe. Here are the things that I’ve found work the best.

Stand Out Sign-Up Box

You want your newsletter signup form to stand out from the rest of your website. Use a bright color that clashes, or at least doesn’t blend in easily to the rest of your site. This will help draw the eye and get it noticed.

Freebie

Once you have their attention, offer a freebie that will get them excited about subscribing. You’ll want to change this out every so often, so that you can promote your new download or whatever it is that you’re offering for free.

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Mar
31

40 Days to a Better Business: Days 33 & 34 – Homework

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40 Days to a Better Business

This week we’ve covered:

*Goal Setting

* Building visibility for your business

* Branding

* Why your business needs a marketing plan

* The basics of creating your marketing plan

 

Next week we’ll discuss some specific strategies we can use to market our business.  What have you learned this week? What do you need to put into action?

 

Your homework over the weekend (next 2 days) is:

1. Assess your goals, business branding and marketing plan.

2. Begin setting goals for the next several months/years including, if necessary, creating or re-vamping your branding and marketing plans.

3. Set a deadline for when you will complete each task.

 

Get to work! 

 

Miss any posts from 40 Days To a Better Business? Read the entire series here.

Learn more about starting your own business HERE!

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Mar
30

40 Days to a Better Business: Day 32 – Your Marketing Plan

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40 Days to a Better Business

Yesterday Lori shared with us several reasons why our businesses need a marketing plan. We need to have specific, achievable goals in mind so that we know where our business is headed. This also allows us to discern what marketing options are best for our company and our budget to reach our target market.

Today we’re going to outline the basics of a marketing plan. Grab your notebook and create a page just for your marketing plan. Break it into sections including:

Your Market

It’s important to get to know your market as you get started. You’ll want to make note of what is already available to your market so that you can nail down a niche where you can meet needs that are not currently being met.

Also, make note of how your target market gets the information about products or services similar to yours. You’ll want to use these avenues, but more importantly you’ll want to try to come up with new and unique ways of reaching your audience.

Your Product/Service

Write out a full description for your product or service here. This will help you to define things for yourself and also to be able to easily describe your business to anyone who asks. Too often we have an idea in our heads, but find it hard to explain our business to others. By taking the time to lay it all out in this section, you’ll be confident anytime someone asks about your company.

Also, take time in this section to lay out what it is that makes your company unique. What sets you apart from your competitors? Maybe your less expensive or provide amazing customer service. Whatever it is that makes you stand out should be laid out in this section. Read More→

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Mar
29

40 Days to a Better Business: Day 31 – Why Your Business Needs a Marketing Plan

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40 Days to a Better Business

by Lori Twichell

No matter who you are or what the size of your company is, a marketing plan is always a good idea. It’s far more necessary than most people realize. Often, marketing is the last thing people consider when starting or growing their business. People tend to get so wrapped in what they are working on, creating it or maintaining it, that they expect the product will stand for itself. There’s an inherent assumption that all the time and effort you’ve spent building it will automatically turn into buzz. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

The most important reason that every business needs to have a marketing plan is that it helps us to solidify and clarify our goals. If you have a plan, you have not only clear end goals, but a path you can follow to get to those goals. This also allows you to measure opportunities that come your way and see if they fit into those plans or if they’ll get you to the end goal. It’s easy to get dazzled by someone else’s ideas and get excited about what they can do for you. If you don’t have a plan, it’s possible to get wrapped up in those ideas and get distracted from your own goals. A plan gives you a constant reference and measuring stick that you can use to help keep your business – and you – on track.

A marketing plan also help you understand your business from not only an owner’s perspective, but from your customer or client’s perspective. Putting together an effective plan requires you to understand your business, your audience, and how to reach that audience. This is invaluable information for any business owner to always have in mind. It’s pretty much impossible to get the word out to your audience if you aren’t sure who the audience is or what they would need from your business.

With a good, detailed plan, you learn about your business from the outside in rather than the inside out. You can fine tune your marketing message, branding, and make choices that will continue to move you toward you’re the end goals you’ve set for your business. An effective marketing plan will give you a reference manual for your business that includes a tagline, a mission statement (even if only for yourself), and a customer/audience profile. This encourages you to learn more about how to effectively share your business with those around you.

The final thing that a marketing plan offers you is control. It sounds strange to think that a business you own or manage might not be under your control but that’s very much the reality if you don’t have a good marketing plan in place. If you have a solid plan, you’ll be able to handle customer service issues, questions or problems that come along and you’ll be able to fine tune your message for your customers.

Read More→

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Mar
28

40 Days to a Better Business: Day 30 – Branding Your Business

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40 Days to a Better Business

by Roshanda Pratt

When you think of brands like Wal-Mart, Starbucks or Nike you probably think of very specific things.  For me, Wal-mart is one-stop shopping for all things.  Starbucks is the cool, trendy place to get a good cup of Java.  Nike is the sneaker that allows you to “Just Do it.” These companies and many like them have successfully branded us with their mission and vision.  Branding can be defined as consistently executing and promoting a specific set of values, both internally and externally, for the purpose of establishing ownership to those same values in the marketplace.

With that definition in mind, let’s consider Wal-Mart.  The store has branded itself as a low-cost store.  When you see a Wal-Mart you can count on saving more, living better.

Now, while your company name sets the tone for your brand, along with your logo and tagline, those elements alone are not the sum total of branding your business.  Simply put, branding is an impression; a mark you impart on your client or customer. The topic can be rather exhaustive; however, before you begin here are a few questions to consider:

What makes you different from the other guys? What are your competitors not doing?

The above questions are a starting point to showcasing your values and what you represent.  Remember Branding and Marketing are NOT the same.  Marketing can be simply defined as making specific people aware of who you are, what you do, and how it can add value to them. It is important to know the difference in order to effectively market and brand.

There is an effective, cost efficient way to brand your business, many of the tools you can do yourself as a small business owner.

  • Make sure your message is consistently delivered to every customer through the quality of product or service, packaging, logo, tagline and etc. Consistency is critical. It creates expectation.
  • Analyze the trends in your specific industry or niche and position yourself within the industry as an expert. You can do this by blogging, writing an E-book, creating a newsletter or providing media interviews.  This establishes your reputation and builds credibility.
  • Give something free to your target customers. Think Ice-Cream. Baskin Robbins gives away a free pink spoon of Ice-Cream as a taste test. How can your clients or customers “taste” or experience what you have to offer?
  • Let the customer get to know you.  Many people feel more comfortable purchasing or supporting people they know. Consider using yourself as the face of the brand and letting customers get to know you.
  • And most importantly, stay relevant. In a world constantly changing because of technology make sure you stay on top of what’s happening and how it could affect your business.

Read More→

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