Building A Website 101

So you’re looking to build a website?  Whatever your reason for it, whether you are attracting potential customers or to show off your goods and services, you probably realize that a good website can add greatly to your company’s bottom line.  Making sure you include some basics such as selecting a host, server monitoring tools, and securing a domain. These are all key ingredients to building an effective website. Follow the below guide to help create your dream website that will attract and retain customers.

  • Site Must Haves – Grab a pen and pencil and jot down the must haves for your website.  Some key components of a website include an “about us” page that details important information about your company.  A separate page of goods and services is a great way to introduce potential customers to what your company can do for them.  Depending on your line of work, including an online portfolio, which showcases your best projects, may also be of interest.  Outlining possible pages for your site will also help you gather all of the content for your website.  It is also crucial for you to include your contact information throughout the site to make it easy for customers to reach you.
  • Secure a Domain Name – Select a domain name that includes your company name or, if that is not available, select something that is catchy and will be easy for potential clients to remember.
  • DIY or Not – Once you have a grasp on the framework of your site, it’s time to decide whether you want to build the site on your own or hire a company to create it for you.  If you’re computer savvy, you might be comfortable designing it on your own and choosing a host.  Don’t be afraid to admit that you can’t do it yourself and look into the many companies that offer web page design and hosting.  Be sure to communicate your expectations and wants so that your vision is their vision.
  • Server Monitoring Tools – Selecting server monitoring tools to make sure that your site is always working effectively is a great way to keep traffic flowing to your site. It is an inexpensive way to make sure your site is up and running when your clients need to “see” you.

Taking the above suggestions in mind when creating your business’ website will ensure that you are meeting your potential clients’ expectations, all while putting your company in the best light.

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Mike has built many websites and knows what it takes to create a successful site that will attract many visitors.

5 Minute Guide To Pinterest For Beginners

If you are a business owner who wonders what Pinterest is and don’t know whether or not it’s something to learn about for your business, then it most likely is! Launched in 2010, Pinterest is a photo-sharing website that uses pinboards so its users can create and manage image collections based on themes. In short, Pinterest is all about sharing visual content. The site has gained considerable momentum during the past year or two and is now being used by businesses and brands so that they too can share their photos and stories in a visually appealing way to amp up sales.

For example’s sake, we’ll assume that you are in the business of selling landscape lighting for the home. Let’s take a look at how you can leverage Pinterest to help you sell more lighting.

Setting Up Your Account

It’s super easy to set up a business account on Pinterest. Take the time to fill out all the details and profile info for your business page. Once you’re done, click ‘Join as a Business’ wherein you’ll be asked to agree to the privacy and business terms of service agreements and that’s it!

Setting up your Pinboard

Your pinboards are the categories where your shared content will be located. For your business, you’ll want to ‘pin’ or post photos of your landscape lighting here. You’ll also need to consider what other things your prospective customers would be interested in such as lighting technology, useful websites and so on. You’ll be prompted to enter the basic info about your board such as its name, category and who can pin there and then you click “Create Board”. You’ll need to choose the correct category so that people can find your pins so choose with care.

How to Pin

A pin starts with an image or video of your landscape lighting. You can use the “Pin it” bookmarklet to add a pin from your business site or upload a photo directly from your PC. It’s important to know that any pin is allowed to be re-pinned and all pins link back to their source.

It’s crucial to pin things that express who you are and what your business is all about so be human and remember that Pinterest does have a social aspect to it. If you can attract your targeted audience to your pinboard and give them what they’d like to share, you will drive traffic to your landscape lighting website. Make the effort to share exciting information about lighting you find online at other blogs and sites and encourage people to share your photos, videos and blog as much as possible.

To have a photo identified as a product for sale, you need to include a price with a dollar symbol in your pin description. Pins with a dollar value in them are automatically added to the ‘Gifts’ section on Pinterest. When pinning your products, add the url link of the product into the comment section so people don’t have to search for your landscape lighting but instead can simply click-through to your purchasing page.

Put a Pin it Button On Your Website and Blog

Finally, to ensure that all of your website and blog content is pinnable, place a ‘Pin it’ button on your site and blog. Make sure it shows next to your blog posts and images that you want others to share. Because Pinterest is all about image sharing, you need to be sure that your images are of very good quality.

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Betty Fox writes about family, travel and gardening. Pinterest has been her favorite tool for organizing all wonderful images found on the web.

4 Great Tips If You’re Being Made Redundant

In this gloomy economic climate, many businesses are tightening shoestrings and making cuts wherever possible just to survive. Unfortunately, this is leading to the greatest redundancy figures for decades, and while scores of people are being left without a job, hard-nosed businesses are doing what they can to pay out as little as possible to those out on the streets. However, there are measures in place that mean that you should walk away with a fair redundancy package – and if not, there are steps you can take.

Notice and Payment
The first thing to do is check the small print on your contract. This will let you know what kind of package you could be looking to receive, and how long your notice period will be. Your period of notice starts at one week if employed for between a month and two years, and then is calculated at a week per year of employment, to a maximum of 12 years. This can be paid in lieu, if your contract is terminated, but full wages, plus all extras, must still be paid.

If you’ve been with the company for more than two years, you are entitled to half a week’s pay for every year of employment, if you are between 18 and 21. For those over 21, this rises to a full week’s pay per year of employment, and then 1.5 week’s pay if you’re older than 45. This runs to a maximum of 20 years, however, and is capped at £330 a week. To check your entitlement, you can use a redundancy pay calculator.

If you believe what you have been offered isn’t a fair reflection on your time with the company, you can always try to speak to your employers to try to get a little extra. The maximum amount you can receive as a payment before the taxman comes knocking is £30,000, so you could try to get any amount on top of this paid into a pension fund.

If there is no budging on a cash settlement, try and negotiate over things such as your notice period or even company possessions (if no one is using your work laptop, then why not ask to have it?). For more advice on how to negotiate your redundancy package, you can always speak to trained professionals with years of experience at Instant Law Line.

Collective redundancies
If you’re one of over 20 employees being made redundant within 90 days, consultation is mandatory between the employer and a trade union rep or an elected employee rep. The consultations will cover how to avoid redundancies or keep them to a minimum, and whether a retraining program can be implemented. For batches of redundancies of up to 99 people, the consultation period should be 30 days prior to any dismissals taking effect, or 90 days if there is a greater number.

Contesting your redundancy
There are a few different ways an employee can select who is to be made redundant, including the last-in-first-out method, asking for volunteers for redundancy or looking at disciplinary records and appraisal markings, skills and qualifications.

If you think you’ve been unfairly made redundant due to a discriminatory reason, such as age, religion, or exercising any of your statutory rights, then you will be able to contest your employer’s decision.

You can also bring the decision to an employment tribunal if you don’t think your company has tried to find you a suitable alternative job, either within the company or associated businesses, or if you are still unhappy with the amount of redundancy payment being offered. To read more about redundancy, and your rights, check, or get in touch with legal professionals for advice and help, to make this difficult time in your life that little bit easier.

Written by Jimmy Sheehan, a writer and blogger with past paralegal experience.

Picking The Right HR Software For Your Business

HR software is an important need for most businesses. This software can help your company keep important and confidential employee information organized, can help handle the tasks associated with hiring new employees, and can help with other needs such as payroll processing. If you’re in search of new HR software, you want to make sure that you’re choosing the best software for your business. Take a look at the following information to learn what important factors you will want to consider before making this important purchase.

Take Time to Determine Your Business Needs

Before choosing a specific HR software, you will want to think about your company’s needs. Each business has individual HR needs. If you’re a very small company, for example, you may have a small staff and only need a small level of solutions. Perhaps you almost never have to bring on new staff. Big or small, a business needs to outline goals and needs before choosing HR software so that they’re satisfied with their purchase. You may want to outline needs with several members of your staff so that you consider all issues.

Set a Budget, But Don’t Just Go For Cheap

When choosing software, it’s a good idea to have a budget in mind so that you don’t overspend. You should be aware though, cheapest isn’t always the best option. The most expensive software also isn’t guaranteed to be the best. When considering the price of software, also be sure to note the best features and determine which important features may be missing. You want to make sure that you’re spending your money on something that will work well for your business. This can help you get more bang for your buck.

Choose HR Software That Is User-Friendly

User friendly software can allow you to complete your important tasks more quickly and with ease. The less time your spent trying to figure out how to work the software, the more time you will have to handle other business needs. Be sure to look at the ease of use of all of your software options. Some software also offers training, which may be beneficial to your business if you have multiple users using the software.

Consider Software That Gives Employees Some Control

When comparing options, consider software that allow your employees to have records of their documents and data. Some software will allow employees to have online access to payroll data and other important forms. This can allow you to save time during the workday because employees won’t be asking to get copies of important documents. Instead, they can easily log in to the system to get what is needed.

Allow your business to function as smoothly as possible with the use of HR software. Don’t simply make an HR software purchase before reviewing all of your options. Take the time to compare features and benefits of all HR software so that you can make an educated decision and choose a program that will meet your business’s individual HR needs.

Authored By: Rebecca Whiteside. Find more information on HR, with these helpful HRIS articles.

How Vagueness Can Hurt Your Online Business

Any time you become convinced you have to try a new product, it’s because you got excited about the results it offered. Think of the infomercials on television showing how a product is used, how it compares to the competition and the convincing user testimonials. All these things build up your expectation for your own results. Then there are some commercials that are so vague, you have no idea what the company sells, life pharmaceutical commercials. If you’re creating a new online business, you need to be able to clearly define what your unique product or service promises. Vague, mysterious and fanciful wording won’t deliver that message. If people can’t visualize how your product or service is better or offers some type of benefit, it will be difficult to draw people in.

Example 1

An organization was formed to offer teaching in a food industry, promising a degree. The curriculum was not complete at the time the website was launched. There was no clear explanation how the person paying for the classes would benefit. The most you could derive from the offer was that you’d receive a piece of paper to hang on the wall. This same organization had a store selling related products, diluting the effectiveness of coming across as a reputable learning organization.

The idea did not go over well. There was plenty of excitement and expectation, but when launched, it fell flat. There was no clarity about the classes and the type of career it would lead to. This organization used the words “prestigious” and “accredited” frequently without any evidence to back them up.  Wrong language.  Wrong promises.  Wrong approach. What it could have done instead, was demonstrate the benefits over other, similar learning methods and provide proof of results.

Example 2

This next business relied on referrals to survive. Their website used such vague language that no one could tell for sure what type of seminars they offered. Vague promises of achieving and doing amazing things with your life after taking the seminars did little to define what they offered. This approach led to their being perceived by outsiders as a “cult.” That cult reputation led to bad online reviews;  their lack of an online presence did very little to refute the claim. As a result, this business has been unable to grow and recently closed a location.

If people have to physically see or experience your product or service in order to be convinced of its value, your website is not doing a good job of selling. It’s one thing if you are selling something people use on a regular basis. You do not have to convince consumers that they need the product. You just need to convince them they should buy it from you. But, when you are bringing a unique idea to the market, your vision is not enough to make it succeed. If you can’t get others to visualize the end result, the idea will fall flat on the floor.

Unique ideas require research and a vision is not research. Research requires analysis of information available about the target market, the existing market and the potential for growth within that market. This research will provide you with the information you need to understand your market’s needs. From there, you need to develop language and a selling point that appeals to this market. If your wording is just grandiose, like your vision, people won’t see it. If it sounds too good to be true and doesn’t provide proof of results, the wording doesn’t sell.

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works with where you can read more online business tips here: Name Find Blog

If Time is Money, How Much Could You Save by Outsourcing Your Payroll?

Think back to the last time you restructured your office. You might have reduced your team, redefined roles and rearranged the furniture but what did you think to reconsider any processes that may be holding you back?

It’s often the older, more set-in-stone processes that go on behind the scenes that get left behind when we’re busy rethinking how other aspects of the business could affect performances.

Take payroll for instance, did you know that according to research from ADP, a staggering 55% of companies fail to measure the true costs of payroll? That’s a pretty significant number and one, which could be drastically cut if companies reconsidered their options, particularly outsourcing.

A few years ago, an article in HRWorld magazine stated: ‘Big businesses can afford to maintain big payroll departments. For small businesses however, an in-house payroll service is a money burner.’ With that in mind, let’s take a look at exactly how outsourcing payroll could save you time and money…

On the clock
Regardless of the size of your company, outsourcing payroll can save you crucial time. That time that could be utilised more efficiently to look at other areas of the business that need improving or fine-tuning.

Or perhaps the time is given back to employees to carry out their jobs efficiently without having to rush tasks at the last-minute in order to squeeze both the payroll paperwork and their projects into the out tray by the end of the day.

Whether it’s your time, your staff’s time or a mix of both, the chances are the hours could be divided up more efficiently. After all, working late is no one’s idea of fun and could lead to errors, an unmotivated work force and a bitter office atmosphere.

Outsourcing your payroll will save time by enabling professionals who are experts in their field to administer tasks such as:

  • Processing payroll
  • Cutting and distributing pay slips
  • Calculating and paying withholding and employment taxes
  • Preparing and distributing HMRC and tax paperwork
  • Keeping up with HMRC and tax legislation updates
  • Handling employee payroll enquiries

Underestimate costs; prepare to overspend
Remember that figure we stated earlier? That over half of companies fail to measure the true costs of payroll? If you’re not tallying up all the hours spent and resources used to complete payroll duties, you could wind up falling into this category.

A thorough cost assessment usually proves that businesses of all sizes save money by outsourcing the processing, tracking and filing of payroll documents. If you’re wondering how much time and money you currently spend on payroll administration, consider the following:

  • Whose time is being used up and just how important is that time if it could be switched to another area of the business? Consider both your time and anyone who processes or gets involved with payroll. Often, many people in a small company will be involved whereas if you outsource, you’re handing over the responsibility to one sole provider who can release this burden from the rest of the team
  • What savings would outsourcing provide? You may actually be able to downsize your team depending on how many people are involved in the process, saving you money which could be invested into other areas which are more in need of development
  • Trust the statistics. According to a 2011 survey by BPO analysts Nelson Hall, the number one reason for outsourcing payroll continues to be cost reduction, with approximately 85% of respondents citing this as their primary business goal

If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em
You’re never going to get anywhere in business copying someone else. In almost all other areas, it pays to buck the trend and be original. But when it comes to processing payroll, did you know that a recent survey of UK firms by the CIPD revealed that around half of organisations intend to outsource part of their HR activities within the next three years?

There are countless reasons why outsourcing payroll has become so popular (increased quality of service, streamlined processes, increased compliance, reduced risk and introduction of advanced new HR technology) and it’s a rare that you will ever match the exceptionally high standards of the professionals who pride themselves on delivering meticulously accurate, prompt payroll services so if you can’t beat ‘em, it might pay to join ‘em.

About the author: Morgan Danaher is Managing Director of Ceridian Ireland

Tips For Designing Your Cloud Network

One of a company’s most precious assets is its cloud network. It is here that valuable information pertaining to the business – its assets and activities – are stored and shared among staff members and employees. It was predicted early in 2011 that by the following year “85 percent of net-new applications would be specifically designed to live in the cloud.” Designing your cloud network can, however, be a somewhat complicated venture. Some tips and nuggets to help you through the process are outlined below.

The structure of a cloud network

Before we go into the subject of how to design a cloud network, let us take a brief look at its structure. The central part is, of course, the computer system itself, with all of its active directories, backups, applications and accounting databases, and supported by the PBX telephone system. Attached to these components are the work stations, the VoIP audio and video phones, the LAN switches, the router and the firewall, plus surveillance cameras.
Finally, there are the remote locations and office users with their VoIP phones, smartphones and PDAs.

Tip #1 – Infrastructure is the key.

When we speak of infrastructure, we mean the basic structures necessary for a system to operate. Its computer definition, more specifically, is given by Netlingo as “the underlying basis for a system, supporting the flow and processing of information.” Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is one of the many “as a service” models offered by the cloud.

The first question that you will want to answer is what kind of cloud network you want to set up – private, public or hybrid. In all likelihood you will – if not in the beginning, then eventually – go for the hybrid option, which will allow you to use different clouds and establish a different tier in each one. Anything that relates to management and billing matters can be stored in the public section, while those of a more sensitive nature can be stored in the private section.

It is always necessary to weigh the costs of any venture against its potential benefits before making the final decision. Thus, with a public cloud you will have no need to buy an infrastructure and set it up; while on the other hand, a private cloud, though it can initially be more expensive, offers greater flexibility and more room to monitor traffic for optimization.

Tip #2 Then there is the topology.

By analogy with the structure of the a geometric object, cloud developers often speak of the “topology”of a network – how “flat” or “high” the configuration of its components is. Data and applications can move much more easily through a flat network than through a non-flat one. IT shops often decide to go for the flat type when making the shift from a public to a private or hybrid network.

Tip #3 – Implementing network automation

Automation is a major part of any networking system. It is invaluable for two main reasons: It eliminates the more mundane and repetitive tasks, thus freeing people for those things that absolutely require human judgment, and it does away with the possibility of human error. In addition, it can save time and money on such routine tasks as resetting the passwords, provisioning the devices and simple moves by employees.

Tip #4 – Heed the words of Albert Einstein

The famous scientist once said: “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not one bit simpler.” And this is most certainly true when it comes to designing a cloud network – if things are too complicated, then neither you nor any of your staff members or employees will be able to find their way around, but if any essential element is not present, then the system will not be able to function the way it is supposed to. It is crucial that you know the exact direction your traffic will be taking; otherwise, paths that are not accustomed to handling large amounts of it will become congested to point where nothing can move at all.

Rosa Smith uses aVirtual hosting cloud servers from ProfitBricks when working remotely on her personal blog and online for business! Check out their website here

The Pros And Cons Of Building With Shipping Containers

The environment is becoming significantly more important to everyone as we are constantly bombarded with information about the damage that we’re causing to the planet. In light of this people are looking for green alternatives to everyday living, including construction.

Using shipping containers in construction is a great way to make use of an otherwise waste product. Most shipping containers are only ever used once because it costs more to ship them back to their original location than it does for companies to buy new ones which is why a lot of people have been trying to find other ways to use them effectively.

Shipping containers are now used as offices, toilet blocks, schools, playgrounds, community centres, hotels and homes. Since people have started to realise the benefits of building with shipping containers they’re used for just about everything. Some of the huge benefits are the strength, durability, cost and availability. As far as cost goes, they’re not expensive to buy compared to other construction materials and they’re built to last as they’re intended as ship cargo. The majority of shipping containers nowadays come from the clothing industry as companies aim to get their products to the widest market they can.

Shipping container buildings are so popular today that some of them have a real global presence and are recognised by almost everyone – to the same degree as some other huge global landmarks – like Puma City.

Nowadays shipping container buildings and homes are seen as a trendy way to be green and environmentally friendly while also setting the next trend. Shipping container houses, although popular, are still not a common sight so people looking for the next best thing will definitely be moving into these types of constructions soon.

However, as well as the positives of building with shipping containers you should also bear in mind the negatives including the fact that the coating that’s put on them in order to help them survive their journeys at sea is actually full of chemicals that are harmful to humans so they have to be stripped down in order to make them safe.

The floors inside the containers are also filled with harmful chemicals including arsenic in order to keep pests away from the contents so all of this also has to be treated in order to make the containers safe for people to use.

As well as getting rid of the harmful chemicals that are included in the shipping containers they also have to be somehow redesigned in order to create a habitable space which isn’t the cheapest thing to do.

Emily Woodhouse sells green and ethical clothing and she wanted a shop to reflect this so she bought shipping containers from CS Shipping Containers and had them stripped out and developed into the perfect store.

Failed Social Networks: A Case Study Of Their Decline

Less than 10 years ago, most of the world was constricted to online message boards and e-mail inboxes to manage their internet friendships. Today, we are bombarded with more information about people we hardly know, from sources that we are just getting used to, that it’s impossible to keep up with. The father of the social networking scene was, a well-known face (many of us were his friend), Tom. He and his MySpace brought together millions of users from all over the world, but just as soon as it arrived, it was gone. This will eventually happen to every site, and some of them never even got off the ground. Here are 3 such sites:

iTunes Ping

For those who can recall this one as anything more than a mysterious button on their iTunes panel that they were afraid to touch, you are certainly not alone. Ping had a notoriously mysterious platform, and most people didn’t have the patience to figure out a whole new social network when they had just been introduced to Facebook and Twitter. Although Apple had all the right intentions, and the funds to back it up, it was timing that killed their social brainchild.


In Google’s second attempt at a social networking (not many people remember Orkut outside of Brazil; it’s very popular there for some reason), they’ve set out of the gate at full speed. They already had a giant stash of users at their disposal, all those with Gmail accounts, or any of the plethora of other services they offer, were automatically turned into Google+ account holders. As in normal Google style, they did it without causing distress to their loyal audience, and this has worked to their success for the moment. But will it stand the test of time? Some experts say no.


Hoping to drive a wedge between Zuckerberg and his millions upon millions of highly addicted users, Diaspora came in with an angle of providing privacy over personal information; an area where the Facebook crew had been taking a beating in the press. The site launched with a nearly identical platform, which was a great way to transition people from one site to another; sort of sweep the rug out from under them. Possibly, their fatal error was attempting to cut Facebook of at the pass by not allowing their new users to post items from their Facebook news feed onto their Diaspora profiles. This was a major disappointment for those in transition, and it shows us that, while a site can turn to vapor in a short amount of time, it’s not going to happen overnight.

The lifespan of a social network has been just about the most unpredictable thing since the birth of the internet. Unlike other organizations, a social site’s health depends on an international democracy who can vote them out of their place at any moment. What seems to be the key to life is attracting whatever enormous number of people it takes to reach ‘the tipping point’. People don’t want to spend time on a site where they don’t know anyone, so it takes a lot more than consistently accumulating users; you’ve got to get the bulk of the lot all at once to capture the flag. Despite the difficulty, it is bound to happen one day.

Alex L. is a writer and internet marketing specialist for over 5 years. Alex recommends for all your web design, web development, e-commerce solutions, online marketing, SEO and post production services.

Branding On A Budget: How To Create A Memorable Look For Your Company Without Breaking The Bank

Getting the right look for your business can be a difficult thing to master. The look of a business determines its motives, its abilities and the overall feeling consumers have about your company. Would you trust a large corporation whose logo appears to have been hastily designed with a variety of fonts from Microsoft Office? It can be almost irritating- you want a particular type of branding (and a logo in particular) that makes the right statement about your business, yet you also don’t want to spend a lot of money; indeed, you might not have a lot of money to spend, particularly if you’re starting a small business. But this is OK- money most definitely doesn’t guarantee success when it comes to designing a logo. Consider the logo of the 2012 London Olympics: designed by the renowned Wolff Olins for a reported $615,000, the logo (a pair of indistinctive pink cartoonish shapes) was met with much derision, and the frenetically shaking animated version actually prompted warnings from various epilepsy groups that prolonged viewing could in fact trigger seizures. Naturally, you don’t have a spare $615,000 to design a logo for your new enterprise, but not to worry- there are some far easier ways to create a logo that creates the right feeling for your new enterprise.

The Importance Of The Logo

A good logo is instantly recognizable- just a glimpse of the logo creates an immediate association with the service or product in question. The iconic apple logo (with a small bite) is glowing from the back of the Apple MacBook Pro on which this article is being written. White ribbons on a red background automatically means Coca Cola, and while you might not be able to achieve this level of recognition with your company logo, with a little trial and error you can certainly end up with an emblem that sums up your business, and the subsequent reaction that’s impressed upon your customers. Brainstorming is key- if you already have a staff or business partners, bounce ideas off each other, even if you lack the artistic skills to realize said idea. If you’re a sole trader without business partners who requires a logo, then ask friends and family members for feedback.

Why You Might Need Outside Help

No matter what the size of your business, you should always allocate a certain amount in development and setup costs. This might seem like an unnecessary extravagance, but it’s more or less mandatory to bring your business from conception to an operational (and profitable) enterprise. These development/setup costs will include things like logo design. While you may be a talented illustrator and feel perfectly comfortable attempting to design the logo yourself, remember that a professional graphic designer is perhaps a sensible investment. They’re skilled at intuiting your desired goal for the logo and can present you with a number of options. Not only do they present you with a completed logo, but it’s also delivered in a variety of electronic formats, easily transposed onto business cards, websites, outdoor vinyl banners or whatever you may need.

Outside Help On A Budget

If your new baby of a business is opening on a very limited budget (and of course this is a common occurrence), you want to seem bigger than you are, and you want to do things cheaply, without it actually appearing as such. When it comes to branding and logo design, if you’re not able to afford the services of a professional graphic designer, consider a talented student. Consult a local college or design academy and put a notice on campus, or on their website (if they have one). At a greatly reduced rate, you can hire a student to design your company logo, meaning that you’ll get a professional product without breaking the bank (although this might require a number of additional consultations- something you will be unlikely to have to do with an experienced graphic designer). The student will be grateful for the payment, as well as the opportunity to add something to their design portfolio. Just ensure that you have a solid agreement with the student, so that they have no future claim on the design.

You want to create a brand that sums up your company and lodges itself in the public’s collective mind, without being irritating. The trick is to not do it by yourself: consultation is the key, whether it’s with business partners, friends/family or a graphic designer. Your brilliant idea might not seem so straightforward when you attempt to explain it to other people…

This is a guest post by Kate Simmons, a freelance writer on topics related to business development and small business marketing.

Modern Marketing For Traditional Businesses

There’s just no two ways about it: image is everything in the world of big business. The fact is that a company just can’t get ahead if it doesn’t have the sort of image that appeals to its target audience. Competitors are likely to work very hard on presenting the right image to the world and those that fail to respond are likely to fall by the wayside.

This is also true for small businesses. Small businesses have felt the pinch due to testing financial times in recent years, but some are doing really well because of a revival of public interest in cottage industries and independent outfits. Small scale enterprises appeal to people when they do not trust the bigger names, but image still matters to an increasingly image savvy public.

Devon is home to a lot of small businesses that are very traditional in terms of their products and services. The country is home to a lot of enterprises that supply natural produce in various forms. That’s because Devon is one of England’s real garden counties – a place where the production of things like meat, honey, yoghurt, fruit, drinks and so on is a genuine tradition.
However, it’s easy for traditional businesses that deal in this sort of production to fall behind because they are not up for embracing modern ways of marketing – they’re simply not on board with what the public is telling them: that image matters in this day and age and that marketing is very influential in terms of what the public choose to spend their money on.

So how can these traditional businesses in parts of the UK like Devon actually make the step into the modern age? Well, the most obvious change they can make is to get online with their operations. A good website is really important because it is the first point of contact for a lot of people.

A website increases the presence of a business even when it is just a page of information and branding complete with contact details. However, businesses can go the extra step and set up social media accounts, online shop capabilities, blogs and all sorts to strengthen their online operations.

Other modern techniques businesses can use to get ahead include things like viral videos that spread very quickly and help to make sure the company name gets into new markets. The key thing to remember about modern ways of marketing is that they don’t impact on the traditional nature of the business – that stays the same, so you get the best of both worlds when it comes to appealing to people.

Jacqui Horan is a small business owner who has benefitted greatly from web design in Devon.

Tips For Finding A Job In A New City

Moving to a new city is an exciting adventure. You can enjoy the new sights and exciting atmosphere. New friends are everywhere. There is only one downside: finding a job. You probably have very few professional contacts and almost no knowledge of business world in your new location. What is the best way to approach your job search in a new city? There are a number of very effective tactics to implement as you hunt for a job.

Go Online

The first step is to develop a list of companies that might be a good fit for your skill set. You can start by using search engines to identify companies. For example, if you are interested in digital media jobs, you might type “digital media company” with the new city name into a search engine. You can browse through the companies that turn up in the search, research them further and identify those that might be prospective employers. You should make a list of 30 to 50 companies in your region that you will continue to investigate and monitor.

Get Connected

The next step is to identify individuals at those companies who you might connect with. You can use LinkedIn or another social media tool to discover these contacts. You can search for people who have digital media jobs and introduce yourself to them online. There are also great databases at the library that provide information about specific companies and their key employees. You also might ask your old contacts if they know anyone in your new city. As you meet new people, you are going to want to connect with them on the various social media platforms that you are using.

Pound the Pavement

Networking is going to be essential as you try to get a job in your new city. You want to get out and meet as many people as possible. You are not necessarily asking for a job, but you are trying to identify leads and cultivate relationships. Attend networking events, join professional associations and ask your family and friends for contacts.

Cultivate an Inside Champion

Your overall goal is to meet someone within a company that you have targeted who actively advocates for you from within that company. This person lets you know when a job is going to be available before it is posted on a job board or the company website. He or she makes sure that you have opportunities to meet the people who are responsible for hiring. You want to cultivate these relationships so that you have the inside track when a job opens up at the target company.

When searching for a job in a new city, a job seeker must focus on targeting specific companies, connecting with people from those companies and cultivating an inside champion. This diligent and focused strategy will pay off in the end.

Ursula Jones is a well-known recruitment writer helping job seekers and employers get their next jobs in digital marketing

Is An Import Business Right For You?

When starting a business, one of the most important considerations is what is going to make you stand out from your competition. For some business owners, they will attempt to differentiate themselves through the items they sell in their store, and what can be more unique than something imported from another country? Before diving into the world of importing goods and dealing with international shipping and customs, you need to consider whether or not it is a practical and logical decision for you and your business.

Why Import Goods?

What is so great about products from another country in the first place? The main allure of imported goods lies in a system of balance, according to eHow. A given business would want to import certain goods if:

  1. The local demand is greater than the available supply.
  2. The price of a particular good is cheaper on the global market than it is on the local market.

The balance of a country’s imports and exports overall need to be balanced out, but for the sake of an individual business, not much consideration needs to be paid there. Imported goods can come in the form of either consumer or industrial products.  According to the eHow report, there are three general reasons as to why a business would want to import goods:

  1. They want products to sell
  2. They want the cheapest price
  3. They are using importing as a facet of their global supply chain

What Do Businesses Import?

Anything and everything. Whatever you are looking to sell, there is a good chance you can find it cheaper outside of the country and import the goods to sell. Worlds Richest Countries reports that the fastest-growing imports in the United States in 2011 were not items you may have expected, they included:

–          Gum and resins

–          Coffee, tea, and spices

–          Animal, vegetable fats and oils

–          Sugar

–          Fertilizers

–          Cocoa

–          Tin

–          Flour

–          Rubber

Other popular imports from around the world included:

–          Cars from Japan

–          Clothing and footwear from China

–          Alcoholic beverages from France

–          Collector items, antiques, and art from the United Kingdom

–          Coins, precious metals, and gems from Germany

–          Fish from Russia

–          Textiles from India

Planning Your Business’ Imports

If you do decide that importing certain goods will be right for your business, then you will need to look into finding manufacturers abroad to deal with, international shipping companies, customs requirements, and other import requirements set by the U.S. government. Importing goods can give your business and exotic edge over your competitors while helping you to get the best prices on the global market.

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Chuck Stevens is an avid blogger always looking to share his experiences and recommendations. He has been a business advisor for over 10 years. You can follow him on Twitter @chuckstevens12.

Blog Promotion Strategies

In this day and age of social media, blogging is still a viable way of generating income. Like always, though, the key is promotion. And, like in any business, the product that you are promoting – in this case your blog’s content – must be attractive to your blog’s visitors. Therefore, updating your blog regularly with fresh, relevant, high-quality content is the first priority in blog promotion. Visitors are not likely to revisit a blog if it is outdated and its content is of poor quality, no matter what strategy you used to get them there the first time.

Ironically, one of the best promotion tools that today’s bloggers have are social networks. What began as a forum for exchanging thoughts, ideas, and images by ordinary people has morphed into a fertile consumer breeding ground to be exploited by the business community. Consequently, mainstream businesses – who initially shunned social networks – have done an about-face and established their own social media presence. Therefore, any serious blogger would be remiss if he neglected to take into account the potentially explosive impact social networking sites could have on his blog’s traffic.

The question now becomes, just how does a blogger take advantage of this smorgasbord of potential viewers? Well, one of the newest and more innovative ways of generating traffic is through YouTube views. YouTube is the largest video networking site in the world with millions – if not billions – of views each day, creating an almost limitless supply of viewers for your blog. But, just how do you go about tapping into this limitless reservoir and translating video viewers into blog readers? Simple: create a video highlighting what your blog has to offer.

For example, you can produce a video overview of you explaining what your blog is all about. It may even be a good idea to read a couple of your articles, and some of the responses, on the video to give the viewer a more in-depth look at what he’ll find there. Also, and this is extremely important, make sure that your blog’s web address is prominently displayed on the video so that the viewer can easily find it.

However, just making a video and uploading it to YouTube isn’t enough. Millions of videos are uploaded to YouTube each day. So, just how do you keep yours from being lost in the mix? Well, there is a way.

Have you ever wondered why some videos seem to go viral almost overnight and others never see the light of day? Well, the producers of those videos have learned a secret that you, too, can now take advantage of. All that is required of you to level the playing field is for you to make small investment to jumpstart your video’s viewership. Then, sit back and watch your YouTube views multiply exponentially. And, since you were wise enough to include your blog’s web address in the video, tens of thousands of interested viewers will now be exposed to it.

Now you’re probably wondering just how to go about buying YouTube views. Well, that’s the easy part. Since the secret of jump starting video viewership was discovered, a number of web sites have sprung up where you can buy YouTube views cheap. A simple web search is all it takes to find one. Once there, you’ll find a number of pricing packages to choose from. Simply choose the one that best fits your budget and watch your blog’s viewership take off!

In recent years public relations has abruptly changed. The great cyber effect on the present-day PR impelled Roman to found a marketing company that would offer such services as to buy YouTube views or Facebook fans, so that people could easily integrate into the online environment by promoting their social account. Now he owns Frozzo marketing company that helps its customers to reach online success.

How To Start Freelancing

Many people have a dream of becoming self-employed and following their passion, but many never get there because they fail to take the first step. But taking that first step isn’t always as difficult as it may seem, and you don’t even necessarily have to quit your day job!


First steps

The first thing you need to do is set up a space to work from in your own home. Even if you’re doing the kind of freelancing where you’re away carrying out projects a lot, it’s important to have a base where you can carry out the more mundane aspects of your business, such as planning, keeping your accounts up to date and record-keeping. If you’ve got a spare room then that’s ideal, simply get a desk in there and your ready to go! But if you’re going to be spending a lot of time in there (if you’re a freelance writer, for instance), then make an extra effort to personalise it with perhaps a few pictures, a plant or too and anything else that makes it more homely.

Once you’re up and running you’ll need to set your rates. This can be one of the hardest aspects for any new freelancer. Charge too little and you may struggle to make ends meet and begin to resent the work. On the other hand if you charge too much then you may find yourself struggling to get clients. When setting your rates it’s good to do whatever research you can into what the competition is charging to get an idea of the current market level. You can then determine a fair rate that takes into account your experience. It is, of course, also vitally important to consider how much you actually need to live on and what your business costs will be, remembering that there are no employee benefits or paid holidays if you’re self-employed.

Getting your name out there

Once you’re set up with your office space and any equipment you may need, it’s time to find some clients. The most important and effective way to get your name out there today is via your own website. Though it is possible to build your own, if you’re unsure of what you’re doing the results can look unprofessional and could damage your reputation before you’ve even begun. It may therefore be worth investing a little in commissioning a professional web designer to build a simple site for you.

Once you’ve got a website you can start publicising it and your services in other ways, such as business cards, leaflets and flyers.

Keeping records and doing your invoices

Once you start getting the work coming in its important to make sure that your accounts are in order, not only for your own records but for the time when you have to sort out your taxes. Accountancy software such as Intuit Quickbooks can be a vital helping hand, particularly if you’re not numerically-minded. For those whose freelance work takes them far and wide, it’s even possible to do your accounting online via cloud-based applications.

Finally, it’s essential to invoice promptly to avoid cash flow problems later down the line, and there are a range of invoice software tools that can help you do so easily.

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John McKenzie is a freelancer based in Jakarta and blogs about finance, marketing and technology. In this post, he outline his working experience as a freelancer in Indonesia.

5 Tips For Getting Back Into Employment As Soon As Possible

Anyone who has ever found themselves out of work will know how difficult and frustrating it can be sometimes to get back into employment and that someone merely telling you to ‘get a job’ is not helping in any way. The truth is that the job market is as fluctuating as ever and unemployment figures are as unstable as a game of Jenga being played by two nonchalant individuals but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to find a new job.

Getting back into employment is obviously going to take patience and perseverance and it’s important that if you really are determined to start work again you show this in your job searching. Here are 5 ways to reduce the time you face out of work.

Get Dressed –

Being without a job may make you feel like there is no need for urgency in your day and that you can merely laze around at home because there are no deadlines but this is a great way to limit motivation. It may sound like a minor thing but ensuring that you get dressed each and every day will give you fresh impetus and put you in the right frame of mind to find a new job.

Never Be Generic –

Job hunting has a way of wearing you down until you are just blindly sending out applications in an automated fashion, but this will never get you noticed. You need to ensure that you tailor each individual job application to the specific job requirements and to the person responsible for the recruitment. Very rarely are two jobs the same and so sending the same email and cover letter to each job is futile. Take the time to research the person’s name who will be receiving your application and try to make reference to as many of the criteria mentioned in the advert.

Join A Recruitment Agency –

In a time where many people are on the hunt for employment there are now recruitment agencies on every high-street around the country. These companies can be a valuable asset as they will be able to tap into a wealth of contacts and put you across in a way that you perhaps couldn’t yourself.

They can also help you to focus your job search on specific job sectors, for example there are recruitment companies that deal solely with office jobs, those that deal in the hospitality industry and even recruitment to recruitment agencies. Don’t just hand everything over to them and expect them to find you a job though; work with them and continue your own efforts.

Don’t Be Afraid To Change Things –

If it has been a while since you started your job search and you still haven’t received many responses from the applications you have sent out then you shouldn’t be afraid to change things. Review your CV and covering letter and see if there is anything that you can improve. There may be things you have missed out or a better way of wording something so that it makes you sound better. Failing to realise when something isn’t working and re-evaluating it to change this is tantamount to knowing your fate but doing nothing to avoid it.

Treat Every Open Door As An Opportunity –

The sad fact is that when you are out of work there is no room for turning down opportunities and therefore you may have to accept something that may not seem the most desirable option. It is important to treat these instances as though it is the first step back into the job world. It is a lot easier to get another job when you already have one but if you find yourself continually turning down opportunities then your unemployment may end up being a lot longer than you expected or can afford it to be.

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Chris Mayhew has recewntly spent an extended period out of work and knows how tough unemployment can be. He is working for Ashley Associates who are a recruitment to recruitment agency helping people get back into work.

6 Questions To Ask Yourself Before You Start Work On Your Home Office

If you plan on setting up a home office you need to remember that it’s no easy task. You can’t just throw a table and chair into the spare room and expect it to look great. You need to make sure you plan everything carefully before you do anything. It will help if you ask yourself a few questions and once you answer them you will know exactly what you need to do. Let’s look at them now and you can write down the answers as you go through them.

What work will you be doing?

Before you worry about what you need to buy you will first have to decide what kind of work you will be doing. If you’re just going to be sitting at a computer all day you won’t need much space, but if you have a creative job you might need room for moving around. If you use a lot of technology there will need to be room for it inside your office. Once you have a list of everything you will be doing on a daily basis you can move onto the more in-depth questions.

How much money do you have?

You will need money if you want to fill your office with everything you need. If you don’t have any in your savings account you can start saving more right now. When you know how much you have to spend it will be easy to work out a price limit for each item you need to buy. If something isn’t essential you might decide to buy it at a later date. Don’t sacrifice a quality chair or desk because you want a whiteboard for the wall.

Do you need to share?

You might not be the only one using your office. Perhaps you have a partner who also works from home and they will need to squeeze in too. If you have someone else working for you it might be necessary for them to work alongside you. If you don’t have the entire office space to yourself you will obviously need to change a few things. The room you are planning on using might not be big enough and you will need to set up the office somewhere else.

What furniture do you need?

Now you can start trying to decide what will go into the room. You can measure how much space you have and when you’re buying anything you won’t have to take it back to the shop because it’s too big. How do you want your office to look? If it’s going to look like a professional office you won’t be able to buy certain styles of furniture. You might prefer to work in an office that has a more relaxing feel to it. You just have to decide before you start looking for anything.

Where will everything go?

Everything will need a home and once you know what furniture you are going to buy you can decide where it’s going to sit. If you need to plug-in any electrical equipment it will need to be positioned near a socket. If you want to look out of the window while you work it doesn’t leave a lot of places your desk can go. Get a little piece of paper and try to sketch out a rough copy of what the office will look like when it’s finished.

Does any work need to be carried out?

Before you buy everything and start setting it up you might need to get someone in to carry out some work. If there is not a lot of light in the room you could get an electrician in to fit more lights into the ceiling. If you don’t have enough plug sockets you can ask them to put more in. You’ll also probably need a phone jack because when you’re running a business you will need to answer the telephone. Get the room sorted before you start putting stuff inside it and it will make your life much easier.

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  •  License: Royalty Free or iStock source:

Today’s guest post is contributed by Ruth Kenny, a leading dealer of home office furniture. He is quite impressed with the concept of having a home office as it provides flexible work timings and intends to have one made for himself. Apart from his usual work, he also indulges in reading novels in his spare time.

Three Business Essentials You Need To Get Right

Setting up a retail business can seem like a risk, especially in these difficult economic times. With so many high street businesses losing money due to the financial downturn, you could be forgiven for thinking that the retail sector represents a road to sure-fire financial ruin.

However, that doesn’t have to be the case. Running a successful shop is tough, certainly, but by getting a few key basics right to start with you could find yourself with a nice little business and a highly rewarding career to boot.

Find the Right Products

If you’re going to set up a shop then you need to sell something and if you’re going to be successful you’ll need to sell something people actually want to buy. It might sound obvious, but carving a marketplace niche for yourself is the quickest way to make any real money in the retail game.

The key here is research. Make a list of products you are interesting in selling, then explore your local area to see which businesses you are in competition with and what prices they are charging. You also need to make note of the demographics of people in your area to get a better idea of what products will appeal locally.

Although you should definitely take an interest in your products, it’s a good idea to be wary of selling items that you are too passionate about. If you’re an avid snowboarder, for example, you might be unable to see that setting up a snowboarding shop in a sleepy country village is probably not the best way to turn a profit.

Find the Right Premises

Location is all important when it comes to finding the right retail premises, and what location is right for you will depend heavily on what you sell. Sellers with a niche market can afford to use premises that are a little bit more out of the way – a “destination” of sorts – while those who are going for mass appeal will probably need to stay close to their competitors. Of course, prime locations can command high rent prices, too, so be careful not to overburden yourself with expenses.

You’ll also need to make sure that your premise has everything you need in terms of facilities: enough shop space, a storeroom and an office, for example. If possible, look at premises that have parking attached, too, as giving your customers a place to park can be a great draw for trade. If you do find a place with a car park, you’ll need to manage it to prevent non-customers from using it. Consider contracting a private car parking enforcement service, as these organisations can massively reduce the hassle of maintaining a parking area.

Get the Right Marketing

With your location and products chosen, it’s time to start publicising your business. This is one area of running a business that has been transformed over the last few years, with Internet-savvy shop owners now able to start publicity campaigns for a fraction of the cost it would take to run traditional poster and flyer campaigns.

Social media is a must. At the very least you need to give your business a presence on Facebook, with Twitter also a good option for businesses targeted at a younger demographic. Make sure that your social media marketing is interesting, too. Use it to engage with your audience and run competitions, not just bombard them with advertising messages.

However, traditional offline marketing is still important. Building a relationship with the local press, running a grand opening day for your business and joining your local trade association are all good ways of getting your business in the spotlight.

Stuart Edge is a retail expert and store owner. He’s had significantly fewer parking-related grey hairs since he contracted a private car parking enforcement firm to run his car park.

Ingredients For Cooking Up Your Homemade Business

Could 2013 be the year of the entrepreneur? It certainly seems like it could be! The sound of a home based business to many is of pure perfection, especially when they consider the perks that come with one.

The biggest is of course that you are at home and are always close to your family, yet other big perks include being able to work on your very own schedule and there is of course the savings you can make on everything from travel expenses to  buying food on your lunch break.

A small business can turn into a large one with hard work and the correct planning; however some people do like to keep them small. So whether you are planning world domination with an offshore company formation set up or just looking to do something you love, it has to start somewhere.

Though a home based business sounds like a dream come true, many people make a variety of mistakes that can eventually result in their business turning into a failure. These mistakes often range from not making sure they are complying with government regulations, not putting into practice an effective marketing strategy and simply not having the correct business plan in place.

For this reason I am going to warn you of the mistakes you should be avoiding if you are seriously contemplating starting a home based business.

Mistake Number One – Ignoring Planning

Many people dive into a home based business without drawing up a business plan; they play it by ear and often get themselves into trouble. A business plan can be instrumental in helping you to find much needed funding, keeping you on track during the tougher times whilst also ensuring that your business develops and progresses year on year.

If you do not get a business plan together you could find that your business will start to suffer financial loss and eventually fold.

  • Check with your local and national government to find out if there are any regulations your home business should be complying with and make sure you have everything from the correct paperwork to some form of business insurance set up.
  • Take time doing some competitive research, which means finding out who you competition is going to be. Look at what they seem to be doing successfully and what they are not doing as well at as they should be.
  • If you are hoping to get some form of business loan, a business plan is essential. You will need to ensure that it is well presented, thought out as well as being completely accurate and honest. It will need to include any research you have done on your competition as well as your profit and expense forecasts.

Mistake Number Two – Borrowing either Too Much or Not Enough

In instances where people want to start a home based business but do not have the capital to do so, they will have to go down the route of looking for loans, finding some investors or even getting a business credit card.

  • If you do have to borrow money, ensure that you get the amount right. Do not overspend on things you may not need, as having too much debt when setting up your company can end up putting it in jeopardy. On the other hand, not having enough money when starting out can cause plenty of problems too.
  • Only purchase what you really need. Make sure that what you are buying is going to be needed early on, things such as additional equipment and materials can be purchased later on when your business starts turning some good profits.

Mistake Number Three – Not Enough Marketing

Marketing is of massive importance for any new home based business, which really does not have to cost an arm and a leg. A very effective method is to make use of the many free or low-cost resources available to get your word out to your particular target audience, with these generally being via social media, blogs and of course radio stations and your areas local newspapers.

  • Get help from your friends and family by asking them to spread the word for you. They could do this verbally or through their own social media outlets.
  • Make use of the biggest social media devices that are free, like Facebook and Twitter.

With these tips of what mistakes to avoid in mind, you should be in a better position to ensure that your home based business turns into a success.

Bill Jobs has been an expert in business for many years and likes to share his thoughts through writing his own guest blogs. Whether you need advice on offshore company formation or simply want some tips on how to market your business more effectively, he is the man who can help you.

Five Tips To Ensure The Success Of Your Online Video Marketing Efforts

One of the most effective weapons that small business owners have at their disposal is video marketing. With the rise of social media, small business owners no longer have to spend lots of money to advertise their companies on television. They can make their own videos and distribute them online to millions of people all over the world. This is a huge asset that small business owners would be foolish to ignore. Here are five tips that small business owners can use to boost their video marketing success.

1. Keep it Intimate and Real

Many small business owners make the mistake of thinking that their Internet videos need to be as polished as TV commercials with loads of special effects. In fact, just the opposite is true. Many of the online videos that get the best responses are the ones that are filmed simply and honestly. Even an iPhone is able to produce quality video that will impress customers.

2. Search Engine Optimization

This is a crucial component of any online marketing activity, including video marketing. Search engine optimization sounds very intimidating, but in fact it is quite simple. To ensure the ultimate search engine optimization for your videos, just be sure to add as many categories that relate to your video as you can when you post it. Also, be sure to write a good description that contains words that your customers will be searching for.

3. Harness the Power of Facebook

It is incredible to think about what a force Facebook truly is. It is staggering to realize that it has been around for less than a decade, yet there are very few people anywhere on the planet who have not heard about it. The majority of your customers will have accounts on Facebook, so take advantage of their presence there to market to them. Whenever you post a video online, be sure to share it on Facebook. Sharing videos on Facebook is one of the easiest ways to help them gain exposure.

4. Don’t Forget Google Either

Even though Facebook has the bulk of the social media presence these days, Google is rapidly catching up to them. Make sure that your company has a spot on the Google local business listings. If it doesn’t, then you need to go to Google+ and add your company to the local business listings immediately. Just like you share your videos on Facebook, you also need to share them on your Google+ listing as well. This is just another way that your company will maximize its exposure.

5. Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket

Even though YouTube is the dominant player in the online video realm, it doesn’t mean that you want to post all of your videos there. You need to vary your online video presence to ensure maximum exposure. Post the majority of your videos on YouTube, but you should also post some on your website, Vimeo, Crackle and Dailymotion as well. Using as many sites as possible will increase the base of your viewers, which will in turn lead to more business.

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Jenny Whitney enjoys blogging about marketing and business. She specializes in kickstarter video marketing for online business advertisement and crowd funding platforms.

Winning in Business by Making Live Chat Accessible to Elderly Customers

Our parents had the patience to teach us how to read, ride a bike and drive a car. Now, it’s our turn to give back. We all know elderly folks love to chat, but do they know how to live chat? Does your grandmother realize she could circumvent 30 minutes of waiting for a live agent while listening to the Muzak version of Metallica’s ‘Master of Puppets’ by jumping onto her laptop and chatting with a customer service rep online? Probably not. But that’s no fault of your grandmother.

I’d guess the businesses she works either don’t offer a live chat option or don’t advertise it enough to their over 65 customer base. Your hip grandmother would love to ‘live chat it up’ but she probably doesn’t even know it exists! Businesses are funny that way in that they aren’t going to push anything if they don’t think it’s going to be received well (except Pepsi Kona & Pepsi Clear – totally pushed out). Why introduce live chat to your elderly customers if you think they are going to scoff at it? Hey business, you’re wrong.

Regardless of what age group you hail from, live chat works as a customer service and sales gateway and should be presented to all customers, especially the elderly, as an alternate communication channel. Grandparents will not only use live chat to communicate but it’s a way better method of communication for their age group because it caters to their learning strengths.

Live chat interactions harken back to the days when the customer came first. Companies that offer live chat as a multi-channel interaction are basically saying ‘Hey customer, I love you. I know you may not want to waste time on the phones waiting for an agent. You are a multi-tasker. I understand that and totally respect your POV. Just jump online and I’ll answer your questions while you do other things.’ Live chat is as much a part of great customer service as cookie dough is an essential part of a great ice cream flavor. But can live chat be used to improve customer relationships to an over 65 client base? You bet!

If you are a small business with a large over 65 client base and thinking you shouldn’t invest in live chat because it’s going to be as popular as a McDonalds kiosk at a vegetarian convention, think again. The over-65 age group is growing twice as fast as the general population. More people = more customers = you should have multiple communication channels to please the communication tastes of a broader audience. If you enjoyed that last ice cream analogy, think less single flavor and more Neapolitan. If you show up at a party with that Neapolitan half-gallon, you are going to make more people happy than rolling in with the strawberry alone.

Maybe you aren’t impressed by population growth statistics or analogies involving frozen milk. Maybe you think live chat as a customer contact channel for the elderly is more of a ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ issue, so why bother. Well, consider these facts. In the last 3 months, the age group of 65 – 100 recorded the biggest gain in Facebook users. And the second largest gain was from the 55 – 64 age group. Furthermore, the fastest growing age group among tablet users as a whole is the elderly (65+). The elderly are embracing technology. If your business isn’t adopting new communication technology like live chat, you could be losing out on winning over the hip grandparent market.

Implementing live chat could be the difference between winning and losing the business love of any age group. 65% of American shoppers use it. 20% say it’s the best way to communicate with customer service reps in real-time. Most importantly, it’s an easy technology to use. No complicated website navigation or learning curve. If you know how to use FireFox and how to type, you can use live chat. That’s good for the elderly because researchers have found that as a group, they are more easily distracted than younger adults when learning something new.

Open chat sessions represent an easy to follow running log of the entire agent – customer conversation. With live chat, the end-user can refer back to the conversation saved in the chat box rather than having to recall every detail spoken over the phone. Did you know elderly people learn better by reading? Studies have shown print media is best for conveying information to the elderly. This is because they can process the info at their own pace. Pertaining to live chat, this means your elderly customers can read and re-read the chat session until it sinks in, no matter how long it takes.

By this point you are probably pretty convinced your elderly customers are going to start using live chat and really benefit from it. Hooray for you! When you are ready to install it, here are some recommendations on how to make sure your live chat module is retiree friendly:

  1. Font size should be large enough for the older consumer.
  2. The Chat box should be uncluttered and structurally pretty simple.
  3. Maximum contrast in color combinations should be used to compensate for age-related reduction in contrast perception. (HINT: Reds, yellows, and oranges are best perceived by the elderly)

Now that your chat module is installed and loved by all age groups, you need to understand basic chat etiquette. Translation: how should your agents behave in a chat session.

Live chat for business isn’t the same as chatting on Skype or AIM where it’s appropriate to LOL and IDK all over the place. Here are some tips that are applicable to all age groups.

The live chatters in your organization should be warm and friendly, making folks feel comfortable and appreciated. With respect to the elderly, mimicking familiar phrases such as “Hi there! How can I help you today?” can make the chat session less alien to older folks. Be formally-informal and avoid any ‘Mr. Roboto’ type answers. But be machine fast. Instant response prevents frustrating confusion. 89% of Live Chat users say speediness is critical. Know your stuff. 93% say knowledgeable chatters are the most important factor in determining the success of problem resolution. To be universally age group friendly, chatters should be able to communicate technological jargon in lay terms.

The bottom line is live chat works and is growing in terms of a preferred customer service or sales channel. The elderly population is flocking to new technology like Trekkies to a Start Trek Convention so marketing live chat better to your elderly customers makes sense. And the makeup of a chat session works better with how elderly people learn. It’s a win – win situation!


This article has been provided by Nicolas D’Alleva. Nicolas is a marketing consultant for Specialty Answering Service. In addition to basic answering service with live operator support, Specialty can also manage more advanced call applications like live chat campaigns. Please follow SAS on Twitter and Google + for more great posts.

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