How to Make Internet Marketing an Effective Tool For Lead Generation

Internet marketing, also known as online or inbound marketing, is how many businesses reach new prospects and stay connected with their current customers. By using the Internet (and its ancillary branches, such as email and social media) to market their business, they are able to get their message out to people across the globe in a fraction of the time it would take using more “traditional” methods. Because people are increasingly spending a lot of their time online, it’s important to know how to use Internet marketing methods in the most effective way possible. Here are some tips and techniques you can use to take full advantage of this type of marketing.TIPS AND TECHNIQUES FOR INTERNET MARKETING SUCCESSSocial Media MarketingOne thing people have always had in common is the desire to stay connected. Today, tools such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn allow people to connect immediately with friends and family as well as the world at large. Social media marketing is very important for businesses because it helps them nurture their current customer base while also giving them the opportunity to make contact with new customers.Whether you want to leverage your online presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any of the many social media platforms out there, the aim is the same: giving your customers the chance to connect with your business on a more personalized level via a two-way interaction. You may utilize your social media accounts to promote your business,; however, your primary goal should be to establish a conversation with customers and prospects to find out how you can better solve their problems and deliver what they are looking for. Professional internet marketers agree that selling on these platforms should be minimized; the focus is on engagement, creating interest and curiosity. Continual and overused sales pitches will likely have the reverse effect, and posts will be ignored.Mobile MarketingSimilar to social media marketing is mobile marketing. More often than not, your customers and prospects will be connecting with your business through their smartphones or tablets instead of their computers. It is much easier to check websites or social media on the go rather than to sit down at a computer, so it is essential your marketing approach is mobile-friendly. This means having your website transferrable from desktop to mobile without glitches, as well as utilizing apps or creating your own. Internet advertising also includes banner ads on relevant websites and SMS (short message service),or text message marketing. In the case of text messaging, the protocol requirement is for customers to opt in to an automated system by texting a reply or shortcode. Once the customer has opted in, text message specials or important product and service updates are welcomed.SEO (Search Engine Optimization) Marketing – Visibility MarketingWhen a person is looking online for something similar to fit their needs, they enter search terms in a search engine, such as Google, Yahoo, or Bing. If your website or page isn’t optimized for search engines, your page ranking may be so low that no one will find you – or you may not even show up at all! In order to be “found”, your website needs to be visible to all of the major search engines. The way you make this happen is by SEO marketing, which utilizes specific tools (such as keywords, link building, and relevant content, to name just a few) to increase visibility and elevate page ranking. At 1st Straw, we refer to SEO as “visibility marketing”, because every technique used is designed to make your website more visible to search engines. Improving your SEO marketing strategies will help get your business at the top of the search list instead of lost in all the other website links. Do this by thinking about what customers will search for instead of using typical words and phrases. The key to great SEO marketing is to think like a customer, and to create your keywords, build your links, and craft your content accordingly.E-Mail MarketingFor many of us, our first thought at the words “email marketing” brings to mind the annoying “junk” or “spam” messages that land in our inbox each day. This is a prime example of email marketing done wrong. The purpose of email marketing is to maintain contact with your customers and prospects. Effectively done, it can be a powerful tool to generate more leads for your business.You’ll want to design your email content to be compelling and relevant to your recipients. You can craft an online newsletter that’s distributed on a regular basis (e.g., monthly or semi-monthly). A successful email campaign has a clear objective, includes an “opt in” technique, and gets through the junk/spam filters so that it can actually be read. Be sure to use an email marketing provider that allows you to track your results so that you know who is opening your email and clicking through to your website or other links.Internet marketing is a significant marketing channel that can reap measurable results. Use these strategies to step up your inbound marketing game and improve your online presence. The end result is more leads to convert into sales!

Alternative Financing Vs. Venture Capital: Which Option Is Best for Boosting Working Capital?

There are several potential financing options available to cash-strapped businesses that need a healthy dose of working capital. A bank loan or line of credit is often the first option that owners think of – and for businesses that qualify, this may be the best option.

In today’s uncertain business, economic and regulatory environment, qualifying for a bank loan can be difficult – especially for start-up companies and those that have experienced any type of financial difficulty. Sometimes, owners of businesses that don’t qualify for a bank loan decide that seeking venture capital or bringing on equity investors are other viable options.

But are they really? While there are some potential benefits to bringing venture capital and so-called “angel” investors into your business, there are drawbacks as well. Unfortunately, owners sometimes don’t think about these drawbacks until the ink has dried on a contract with a venture capitalist or angel investor – and it’s too late to back out of the deal.

Different Types of Financing

One problem with bringing in equity investors to help provide a working capital boost is that working capital and equity are really two different types of financing.

Working capital – or the money that is used to pay business expenses incurred during the time lag until cash from sales (or accounts receivable) is collected – is short-term in nature, so it should be financed via a short-term financing tool. Equity, however, should generally be used to finance rapid growth, business expansion, acquisitions or the purchase of long-term assets, which are defined as assets that are repaid over more than one 12-month business cycle.

But the biggest drawback to bringing equity investors into your business is a potential loss of control. When you sell equity (or shares) in your business to venture capitalists or angels, you are giving up a percentage of ownership in your business, and you may be doing so at an inopportune time. With this dilution of ownership most often comes a loss of control over some or all of the most important business decisions that must be made.

Sometimes, owners are enticed to sell equity by the fact that there is little (if any) out-of-pocket expense. Unlike debt financing, you don’t usually pay interest with equity financing. The equity investor gains its return via the ownership stake gained in your business. But the long-term “cost” of selling equity is always much higher than the short-term cost of debt, in terms of both actual cash cost as well as soft costs like the loss of control and stewardship of your company and the potential future value of the ownership shares that are sold.

Alternative Financing Solutions

But what if your business needs working capital and you don’t qualify for a bank loan or line of credit? Alternative financing solutions are often appropriate for injecting working capital into businesses in this situation. Three of the most common types of alternative financing used by such businesses are:

1. Full-Service Factoring – Businesses sell outstanding accounts receivable on an ongoing basis to a commercial finance (or factoring) company at a discount. The factoring company then manages the receivable until it is paid. Factoring is a well-established and accepted method of temporary alternative finance that is especially well-suited for rapidly growing companies and those with customer concentrations.

2. Accounts Receivable (A/R) Financing – A/R financing is an ideal solution for companies that are not yet bankable but have a stable financial condition and a more diverse customer base. Here, the business provides details on all accounts receivable and pledges those assets as collateral. The proceeds of those receivables are sent to a lockbox while the finance company calculates a borrowing base to determine the amount the company can borrow. When the borrower needs money, it makes an advance request and the finance company advances money using a percentage of the accounts receivable.

3. Asset-Based Lending (ABL) – This is a credit facility secured by all of a company’s assets, which may include A/R, equipment and inventory. Unlike with factoring, the business continues to manage and collect its own receivables and submits collateral reports on an ongoing basis to the finance company, which will review and periodically audit the reports.

In addition to providing working capital and enabling owners to maintain business control, alternative financing may provide other benefits as well:

It’s easy to determine the exact cost of financing and obtain an increase.
Professional collateral management can be included depending on the facility type and the lender.
Real-time, online interactive reporting is often available.
It may provide the business with access to more capital.
It’s flexible – financing ebbs and flows with the business’ needs.
It’s important to note that there are some circumstances in which equity is a viable and attractive financing solution. This is especially true in cases of business expansion and acquisition and new product launches – these are capital needs that are not generally well suited to debt financing. However, equity is not usually the appropriate financing solution to solve a working capital problem or help plug a cash-flow gap.

A Precious Commodity

Remember that business equity is a precious commodity that should only be considered under the right circumstances and at the right time. When equity financing is sought, ideally this should be done at a time when the company has good growth prospects and a significant cash need for this growth. Ideally, majority ownership (and thus, absolute control) should remain with the company founder(s).

Alternative financing solutions like factoring, A/R financing and ABL can provide the working capital boost many cash-strapped businesses that don’t qualify for bank financing need – without diluting ownership and possibly giving up business control at an inopportune time for the owner. If and when these companies become bankable later, it’s often an easy transition to a traditional bank line of credit. Your banker may be able to refer you to a commercial finance company that can offer the right type of alternative financing solution for your particular situation.

Taking the time to understand all the different financing options available to your business, and the pros and cons of each, is the best way to make sure you choose the best option for your business. The use of alternative financing can help your company grow without diluting your ownership. After all, it’s your business – shouldn’t you keep as much of it as possible?

Establish Your Own Bar Business

If you are a person who wishes to have his own bar business to manage, then here are some guidelines that may help you. The most critical factors in establishing any business include the following: location, space of the establishment, choice of furniture and equipment and the people involved in running the entire business. This article briefly discusses the importance of each factor and relay the factor’s impact to the business.Location is the first major concern whenever planning where to put up the business. It is directly connected to the target market and source of materials that may be needed in running the business. All management concepts play vital roles in every business but your location and proximity to target market assures whether you will be profitable in the long run or otherwise. If your business is strategically located near or close to your target market, there is a higher chance of making a sale and therefore increase potential profits. Since you bar or pub business targets those active and working professionals, you will never place it near the schools to avoid serving minors. Instead, place it near the working business centers, where it can be easily seen by people as they come out of their respective offices.Second point to consider in establishing a bar business is the space availability. Given the nature of a pub business where customers would love to walk around, make friends with new acquaintances, dance with the music or just spend hours for drinks and conversations, the available space for them to move around may also spell the comfortability of the bar. If area is too crowded with furniture already, there can be no more space for the customers to move around and this could bore down the customers eventually.In order to maximize the use of space, the choice of furniture and equipment for the bar business should be taken seriously and with great expertise. The interior design of the bar should be done according to the chosen pieces of furniture. Business owner may utilize the bar counter as extra table by placing pub chairs in front of the bar counter. Just make sure that whichever kind of furniture and equipment you bring in should be sturdy and durable enough for frequent usage. As owner, you have to consider the welfare and possible conditions of your clients when relaxing in your bar. Therefore, you should avoid placing accident-prone equipment and furniture around the bar.People involved in running the business are essential factors to consider as well because the profitability of the business depends on them. Any business can be largely affected by the level of customer service as it will in turn impact the loyalty from the customers. If customers get high quality service, they will return and patronize your bar more often.With the above stated factors, any one may now start looking for capital and confidently run a bar business. However, always remember to place customers before self and it will minimize your risk failure rate significantly in this industry.