For Business Success, Stand Out from the Crowd

March 2, 2013

How can you be successful in business?  Simple: have something that separates you from the pack. What makes you different is the unique selling proposition (USP) or a competitive advantage.  This advantage isn’t sustainable if it is easily copied. That’s one reason NOT TO use price points to position your business. There’s always a competitor who’s willing to do it cheaper. To identify your USP, start with a personal passion – what makes you stand our as say an artist or photographer. Focus on what you do best, make it a personal niche, and be able to describe in a few words. Linda Strickland of NatureRestoresMe photography, specializes in nature shots.  Linda will shoot photos in the sun for hours at Chicago’s Botanical Gardens to capture a colorful bird.  She certainly takes other photos, but her niche is nature photography and she is well-known for her work.


“I Look Good Around Pink” – All Rights Reserved Linda Strickland

Jack-of- all-trades suggests master of none—so why are you memorable? According to “Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind” (Ries & Trout, McGraw-Hill), it matters more what YOU do than what the competition does.  When positioning your business, say Ries and Trout, you need to know what consumers think of the competition. “Positioning is not what you do to a product [it’s how] you position the product in the mind of the prospect.” With hundreds to thousands of options in any industry, people typically remember only a few brands in any category. Once you own a niche in a consumer’s mind, it is difficult for others to copy and/or replace your established brand. According to Ries and Trout, positioning is not about creating something new and different, but manipulating an existing perception, and bridging to connections that already exist. If somebody already owns the position you want, work around it.  If you want to capture nature photographs and be known for the niche, travel to a different geographic area and take pictures of bluebirds and orioles instead of hummingbirds.

Photography is one example cited here, but the concept is true for any industry.  Why should a customer buy your line of little stuffed animals when Beanie Babies is the major player in that niche?  Maybe your offering is a hypo-allergenic version or a family of animals – mommy, daddy, and baby lions, rabbits, or deer?  Or pick exotic animals not found in your geographic area or country.  The point here is that many people and companies do the same thing that you want to do.  Many brands are established.  You need to think differently and market your version of the passion that drives you.

By Dion D. Shaw

Dion D. Shaw is the founder and owner of Homepreneurs

Homepreneurs.  New Day.  New Opportunity


Improve Website SEO with 4 Simple Steps

December 3, 2012

Every website wants to land in Google’s top 10 results list.  And many companies claim to provide superior SEO or search engine optimization improvement.  SEO – in part – ranks a website or blog higher on a search engine’s ranking.  Google dominates the search engine market, with Bing and Yahoo search well behind in 2nd and 3rd place.  Ask and AOL search round out the top five.1

Because of its sheer size, Google basically dictates the search engine market.  “Just Google it” is a common term.  Have you ever heard “Just Bing it” or “Yahoo it”?  Google uses – and often changes – proprietary methods to rank websites.  This information is a company secret and outsiders can only guess about the true formula.

There are ways to enhance a website’s SEO without knowing Google’s secrets.  Here are some simple tips that will improve SEO and search engine ranking:

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Using Instagram to Create Great Photos for Social Media Sites

October 11, 2012

Instagram is a free photo-sharing program and social network now owned by Facebook.  Instagram is useful for home business: it quickly allows users to post product pictures on social media sites for marketing. Instagram users can take a photo, apply a digital filter, and share the image with other Instagram users via a social network platform.  Instagram has about 100 million registered and is growing quickly.

Instragram supports iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and Android camera phones.  The application is available for free thru the iTunes App Store and Google Play.

Instragram addresses three problems associated with mobile cameras:

1) Mobile photos are average quality, but Instragram filters transform the photos into closer to professional quality images.

2) Uploading photos to social networks is a pain.  Instragram makes the process fast and efficient.

3) Sharing photos on multiple platforms requires multiple uploads, edits, etc.  Instagram will share a photo instantly on multiple services.

Instagram also automatically creates 4:4 square pictures.  This is different than the 4:3 aspect ratio used by mobile devices.

Instragram currently works with Flickr, Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook.

Also available is a limited Windows version of Instagram – Instagrille. Testing suggests the feature is limited to viewing and downloading; not uploading and editing.

Below is a famous Lipizzan horse taken in Vienna, Austria before Instagram filtering:

Below is the same Lipizan horse, after applying Instagram’s brightening and sharpening.  Sizing was automatic.

That process took 15 seconds after experimenting with the filters.  Neat, huh?  Think about how this can make your product photos pop!

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More on Building a Brand

May 4, 2012

In a previous post, we discussed building the brand: YOU.  We pointed out as a home business owner, you and the business are basically one and the same.  A different home business name may be used, but your clients know you as the owner, manager, and clerk.  Every business decision you make can help or hurt the brand: YOU.

What exactly is a brand or how is a brand defined?  Simply, a brand is a combination of perception, association, and expectation to an audience.  As a home business owner, your clients are the audience.

In an equation: Brand = Expectation + Association + Perception to the relevant community.

A brand communicates value, expertise, ideas, and personality to the audience.  Think about the comedian-ventriloquist Jeff Dunham.  If attending his show, you expect entertainment, laughter, and puppets.  Dunham created a perception, an expectation with Peanut, Walter, Jose, Achmed – and humor.  If your favorite puppets were missing, you’d be disappointed and the show’s value – to you – would drop.  Your expectations were not met, slightly tarnishing Dunham’s brand – to you.

Dunham’s puppets are the same as your service or product inventory.  You may be sick or sold out of certain items, but the client has expectations.  If you can’t deliver, your brand may be damaged a little.  One time is understandable, repeating the problem puts a negative spin on your brand.  Fortunately, the opposite is also true.  Exceed expectations and the following happens:

–        Puts you in a top position in your industry

–        Sets you above competitors – you deliver

–        Creates positive pre-sale expectations

–        Creates new opportunity

–        Adds value to your brand

Hopefully this brief article on branding helps you understand why brands are so important and valuable to individuals and business.  Your goal: create a positive image when the brand is mentioned, each time for every client, current or potential.

By Dion D. Shaw

Dion D. Shaw is the founder and owner of Homepreneurs

Homepreneurs.  New Day.  New Opportunity.


Homepreneurs does not endorse nor have any relationships with any of the services listed.  Homepreneurs receives no compensation or consideration for its suggestions.  Homepreneurs strongly urges all interested parties to conduct research and accepts no responsibility for any losses incurred.

© Homepreneurs 2010 – 2012, All Rights Reserved

Building The YOU Brand

May 2, 2012

You are a brand. Your personality, strengths, education, and accomplishments are all part of the personal brand: YOU. Like corporate brands, the YOU brand is viewed by others in unique ways: responsive, fun, cool, intense, etc. If you decide to start a home business, the YOU brand is associated with the business.

Personal branding is about expertise and marketing the YOU brand. You are an expert in your field and acknowledged as a reliable, go-to person. Ever hear of Conrad Hilton? Hilton was the founder of the well-known Hilton Hotels chain, a name associated with luxury and class. Hilton used his expertise in hotels to create a brand known throughout the world. Everyone is potentially no different than Hilton.

What is the YOU Brand?

Know yourself, what you do best, who you are, and how you want to be known. Are you a comedian? Serious and thought-provoking? A blend? Understanding YOU is the first step in successful building that brand: YOU. Consider the following messages the YOU brand sends:

– The qualities and results people expect

– The difference between your business and the competition

– Emotional reactions when the YOU brand is mentioned

When you sell services, people are buying YOU, not the service, per se. You will bring clients back with your work. That is branding. Be the best and YOU will become known.

Building the YOU Brand

The Internet has revolutionized personal and business branding. Write an article for a blog that gets re-blogged and quoted across the social network arena and YOU become instantly associated with that piece. Branding in days, weeks, and months not years. Repeat this action again and again, and YOU can be the next Suze Orman or Jim ‘Mad Money’ Cramer, Robert ‘Rich Dad’ Kiyosaki or Stephen ‘7 Habits’ Covey.

Choosing to brand using social media means working with the biggest and most frequently visited sites. Use Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, posting often and with unique views and ideas. Engage your readers, responding to their questions and comments, and link to other popular blogs and websites. Be consistent with the message YOU is conveying. Don’t mix messages and confuse people about YOU.

Face to face networking is effective too. Attend industry events and conferences, trade shows and conventions. Expose the YOU brand as much as possible to all interested parties. It is difficult to predict a potential customer or who will talk about YOU.

Use a website to display expertise and experience. Don’t attempt to cover too many areas. Instead, narrow your focus, and make the YOU brand known in that area. Websites are often the first impression for many people; be professional and relevant. People are affected by color, font, text size, and content. Research these and find out what works for your business.

Everything YOU do, every article YOU post, and all clients YOU help become part of the brand: YOU. Do it carefully, responsibly, and confidently, and YOU will be successful.

By Dion D. Shaw

Dion D. Shaw is the founder and owner of Homepreneurs

Homepreneurs. New Day. New Opportunity.

image credit:

Press Release for Business Exposure

March 21, 2012

A big issue facing all businesses – home, small, or large – is marketing or getting the word on the street.  How can others learn about my product and services?  Tweets, Facebook posts, emails and posting notices may help, but may not be enough.  This is a significant challenge if a business is locally based; more so when no brick and mortar presence (store front) is visible to passersby.  Internet businesses and home business fall into this category too.

Consider a press release.  The media is still the most significant and powerful form of marketing yet invented and provides instant credibility and exposure.  How often have we heard “I read it in…” or “I heard it on…” so it must be true?  This concept, known as ‘social proof‘, prods people to browse or purchase. A story in a local newspaper or trade publication is often a golden ticket for curious shoppers and can instantly create clientele.

Press releases are used on the Internet too, potentially creating traffic from search engines such as Google or Yahoo and exposing a business to a larger audience.  This is a major advantage when a target market is geographically large or the business sells via the Internet.

Tips for writing a winning press release

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7 Ways To Promote Your Business Online For Free

January 25, 2012

Every business needs promotion, regardless of size. This is especially true for the home and small business ventures that don’t have large box stores or sell online.  The big question: what are some effective yet cost-effective ways of marketing?  In the article, 7 Ways to Promote Your Business Online for Free, Kim Bhasin brings out several suggestions that are fairly easy and FREE.  Free does not mean cheap, ineffective or any less valuable.  To the contrary, many of Bhasin’s suggestions use the Internet as a communications media.  Using the Internet allows for potentially huge audiences and customers.  Nothing in history compares to the power and reach of the Internet as a marketing medium.


7 Ways To Promote Your Business Online For Free

By Kim Bhasin

You may not have wads of cash to spend on marketing in the early stages of your startup, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t effective ways to get your brand out there.

Before the Internet, small businesses only had a few ways to market their products cheaply, through methods like printing out fliers or sponsoring little local events. Now there are all kinds of opportunities out there on the Web—you just need to know where to look.

Here are seven ways to promote your business online that won’t cost you a dime:

1. Use the three big local listing services

Registering your business with Google Places allows it to be found more easily on Google searches and it shows up on Google Maps. All you have to do is fill out the form and register, then get your business verified through their confirmation process, which can be done either with a phone call or snail mail. Yahoo! also has a big database of businesses called Yahoo! Local. It’s free, and is certainly worth the few minutes it takes to set up. Microsoft’s Bing has a similar service that’s easy to sign up for.

2. Embrace social media

Social media isn’t just a tool to gain exposure—it has now become a necessary time investment for every business to make. You can tie in ads and offers on your Facebook page and have a direct channel with your customers on Twitter. Networking on LinkedIn—both at the personal and company level—can be another way to help your startup.

3. Start a blog

A blog not only helps your company get its name out through followers, but is a way to connect with your consumers more directly. But remember that one of the major keys of blogging is to keep your stream updated as frequently as you can. A dormant, abandoned blog is worth nothing.

4. Put up multimedia on YouTube and Flickr

YouTube provides a free way to distribute creative promotional videos, but in order to succeed you must put up content that people want to view and are relevant to your business—a simple ad will not work. A Flickr profile can also help by giving you one place to compile all the photos for your business, and allows you to link back to your website.

5. SEO your company website

Search engine optimization cannot be underestimated in the world of constant Googling. Pick up a book or head over to an online how-to-guide on SEO and make sure your site is primed for performance on search engines.

6. Press releases

Every time your business does something newsworthy, don’t hesitate to shoot off a press release—maybe folks will pick up on it. They’re a powerful media tool to use to help generate publicity, and having free distribution of them is a bonus. There are dozens of websites out there that you can use for your press releases, such as PRLog and 24/7 Press Release.

7. Join a relevant online community and contribute

Every niche has communities online that you can get involved in. But just signing up for a forum and posting every once in a while about your business isn’t beneficial for anyone, and will likely just annoy people. Actively contribute and build a rapport with the community, while keeping your business out of it. Passively promote your business by putting a link in your signature or mentioning it only when the context is appropriate.

Kim Bhasin is a reporter for the War Room section of Business Insider. Previously he worked for a financial and strategic management consulting firm.

He is also currently a graduate student in Business and Economic Reporting at New York University. Kim holds an MBA in Strategic Management from Pace University and a BSc in Business Administration from Sacred Heart University.

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Homepreneurs.  New Day.  New Opportunities.

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