SBK023 Internet Marketing Tips for Small Business, an Expert’s Viewpoint.

Kelvin Newman is the resident expert on Internet Marketing Podcast,  UK’s most popular internet marketing podcast, downloaded by over half a million people. In this episode, I ask him what it takes to have such a well-respected podcast that continues to attract a huge following.

With over 138 episodes to date, the Internet marketing podcast mixes topical news and views, questions and answer sessions, as well as expert interviews from the likes of bestselling author Seth Godin, lifestyle experimentalist, Tim Ferris and the godfather of website usability, Jacob Nielsen.

Subject Matter Experts do not come any larger than this, as Kelvin is also the Creative Director, at Sitevisibilty, one of UK’s leading Search Engine Marketing & Optimisation agencies. He’s written an awesome link building book, “Becoming a Clockwork Pirate” that he offers for free. I get to know why he gives so much valuable information for free. There’s a good business reason behind this.

Kelvin explains key steps on how to quickly find out if, and what Social Media networks are best suited for the small business owner. I also ask him to take us through practical steps any entrepreneur should be taking in-order to “bootstrap it on the internet”, or spending as little money as possible to get set up and running effectively on the internet.

If you are looking for real, proven, solid, free tips and advice relating to Internet Marketing, the next 30 minutes will prove to be the best time you’ll invest today. Take a good listen, learn and enjoy.

 Links

The Internet Marketing Podcast

Site Visibility

 

SBK022 Everybody, Everyday is the true Continuous Improvement Way.

Today’s episode is a special one as I go back to my true Kaizen roots and speak with Bruce Hamilton, the President of the GBMP (Greater Boston Manufacturing Partnership), a non-profit provider of lean technology.  Bruce has extensive experience in all forms of Continuous Improvement including TPS, Lean and Kaizen, having worked in manufacturing and administration roles for a number of organisations.

Bruce is an author and actor in the 2004 video, Toast Kaizen (recipient of 2005 Academic Shingo Prize), used world-wide to introduce the basics of lean manufacturing, as well as Toast VSM (recipient of the 2011 Academic Shingo Prize).

We talk about the book he co-authored, a comprehensive multimedia training package, e2 Continuous Improvement System, the famous Toast Kaizen DVD and how this has taken a life of its own.

Bruce acknowledges the importance of having the right environment within an organisation in which ideas can be put into practice and one in which employees are not afraid to take chances.

Check out Bruce’s blog at www.oldleandude.org that covers a wide range of TPS-related anecdotes.

Links :

GBMP

Toast Kaizen DVD

23rd Annual Shingo Prize Conference

Gallery Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

SBK021 Problem Solving for a Better Business

Problem Solving is the essence of any Continuous Improvement effort.  In this episode, I go back to the fundamentals of Kaizen and focus on the art of problem solving as a basic business improvement tool.

I discuss 10 common problem solving tools and techniques that will bring sustainable solutions and show how all of these methods hinge on 3 vital principles of

a)      Measuring the Impact of the Problem

b)      Taking Action

c)      Reviewing and Measuring the Impact of the Action

My Top 10 Problem Solving Tools

  1. Is/Is Not Tool
  2. Pareto’s 80:20 Rule
  3. The 5 Why’s
  4. Brainstorming
  5. Checklists
  6. Poka Yoke
  7. Process Imagineering
  8. Value Stream Mapping
  9. Fishbone / Ishikawa / Cause and Effect
  10. DMAIC

Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

SBK020 Are You Listening to Your Customers?

Listening to your customers’ feedback is a vital, fundamental element for any business.

At the very least, the voice of the customer is a sure way to ignite the innovation and continuous improvement flames for your business.

Yet, how often is this “back to basics” requirement neglected when a business conducts market research, opting instead to go with gambles, gut-feels and untested assumptions ?

Today however, the advent of social networks and unlimited access to the internet has opened up new ways to listen to your customers.

One such innovative product is IdeaScale, a powerful online tool, based on empowering communities to have a say in driving innovation for a business.

The tool automates the process of collecting ideas from your customers and encourages a voting process to ensure the most important ideas “bubble” to the top of the list.

In this podcast episode, I speak to Rob Hoehn, the co-founder and president of customer development at IdeaScale and ask him where it all began for his company and what inspired him and his colleagues to come up with this idea generation and management tool.

We discuss the main features of this online tool such as the seamless integration with Facebook, Twitter, WordPress and  smart phones as well as the several cool applications this tool has.

For a typical small business, the free, fully functional version of  IdeaScale will probably suffice for your crowd-sourcing needs, with an option to upgrade to feature rich price plans.

If your business is serious about improvement through innovation, then start by listening to what your customers really want, instead of trying to figure out what they want.

Listen to your customers, listen to the Podcast!

Go on and test drive IdeaScale.

Read about the Idea Scale Case Studies

Rob Hoehn’s inspiration comes from this book

19 How to Get Free Business Intelligence

Running any business without the use of Intelligence or Insight is foolhardy. It’s akin to driving a car in pitch darkness, with the headlights turned off ! Although you might start the car, move a few metres, will you reach your destination? I doubt it.

Business Intelligence is what informs the best of business decisions, serving as the headlights for your business by showing where to turn, slow down and avoid obstacles on the journey to achieving your business objectives.

There are many ways to collect business intelligence and fortunately, today the internet provides a vast array of  free methods and tools to gather business intelligence and empower your decisions.

In this episode, I provide practical methods, mostly free and web based, to source for a balanced view of your overall business insight.

In particular, I cover details on how you can collect business insight around the 4 key areas of your business:

Customer Insight – listening to the “Voice of the Customer”
Organisational Insight – a powerful SWOT analysis tool
Competitive Analysis – spark Innovation by analysing your competition
Market Trends – strategies to stay ahead of the game

Enjoy !

References made in the podcast:

Techcrunch

Euromonitor

Nielsen

The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman

Viral Heat

Action Plan Download Link

Dont forget to send me your questions on any Business Improvement , Kaizen or Continuous Improvement topic or issue.

The first 3 people to send me a question will receive the complete PIMP YOUR BIZ Package, 100% free !

Send an email to brian@smallbizkaizen.com or use the Contact Us Page to pose your question and stand a chance to win this awesome book package prize .

Main Photo Credit

18 Business Planning Made Simple

Writing a solid Business Plan doesn’t have to be as hard as you think.  If 2011 is the year you want to start a business, chances are, you’re going to need a Business Plan.

Whilst some people see the process of writing a good Business Plan challenging, good practical help  is always at hand, if you look for it in the right places.

In this episode, I speak to Craig Frazier of Business Plan Examples about what inspired him to come up with  The Business Plan Toolkit, a DIY  business plan writing template. It is based on a real life coffee shop business plan and uses the familiar MS Word format so it can be updated for any small business.

The Toolkit also includes the 1 year financial Pro-Forma used to project profit and loss, as well as a break-even analysis chart to graphically display to investors where the break-even point is for sales and profit.

Craig discusses:

  • His entrepreneurial beginnings and what keeps him motivated
  • Why the Executive Summary is the Make or Break element of a Business Plan
  • Why a Business Plan should be for a specific audience  – i.e  board of directors, a bank or venture capitalist or for personal use
  • Getting Started and taking the first Step in Writing a Wining Business Plan
  • How he draws inspiration for the book Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose written by Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos  and to “stick with your gut”  while growing a business.

“If you can’t articulate who you are and what you want to be through a business plan then your company will lack direction and focus”

As a special gratuity gesture to a few lucky Small Biz Kaizen Podcast Listeners, Business Plan Examples has kindly donated 5 Free Business Plan Toolkits to the first 5 people to write a comment on this very post !

So Hurry and be one of the first 5 people to comment, and receive a FREE complimentary copy of this tried and proven template.

Leave Your Comments Below !

17 Son Grills Dad over Book

A really special episode in which my son, Tinashe, a Journalism and Communications undergraduate student, interviews me about my book, PIMP YOR BIZ, launched this week.

It was great to be in the hot seat for a change and face the music. Amongst other things, I get grilled on:

What inspired me to write The Book?

How I came up with Book Title?

A brief outline of the book itself

My reasons for opting for an eBook format

What makes my book different from other books covering similar subjects?

This young man is so smart, he managed to plug his own blog in the first minute of our interview, on my own show !

Check out Tinashe’ s Blog

For a Sneak Preview of the Book, Here is your complimentary  Download   Link.

How to Get The Full eBook Package

16 Twelve Business Improvement Ideas for Christmas

A brand new 2011 year presents a great opportunity to start something new for your business.

Why not tap into the many, mostly free, productivity and business improvement tools available and unleash the power of web 2.0 business tools for your business.

True to the Christmas spirit, this episode focuses on:

12 Tools to Improve your Business.

  1. Mindmeister – An online mind mapping brainstorming  software for Project Management, Brain Storming, great for innovative people and businesses collaboration in real time.  http://www.mindmeister.com/
  2.  IdeaScale – Idea collection platform where customers submit their ideas and vote for the best ones http://ideascale.com/
  3. Evernote – Capture images, text, audio and video as a means to help you remember everything. http://evernote.com
  4. Viral Heat – Track who is mentioning what in any of the Social Network Platforms. Viralheat covers every corner of the social web from Google Buzz, Facebook, Twitter, Real-time web, to YouTube.  http://www.viralheat.com/?r=8833
  5. Twitter
  6. Google
  7. YouTube
  8. Zune
  9. Yahoo Answers
  10. Mocking Bird  
  11. DropBox
  12. oDesk

Subscribe to the Podcast via Zune

Photo Credit

13 Ten Ways to Optimise Your Website – Part 2

We conclude the “10 Ways to Optimise your Website and Boost Conversion”. This episode focuses on often overlooked things like optimising the size of images, configuring javascript  so it loads asynchronously and the concept of “keep alive”,  a setting allowing your webserver to keep a connection to the browser open.

There’s in-depth coverage of the importance of Monitoring which in true Kaizen style, is the essence of Continuous Improvement. We also cover how the proper use of DNS and Content Distribution Networks allows websites to distribute content through points of presence globally.

Lastly, whilst your users and customers may be located in specific geographical location, remember your website is being accessed from anywhere on the globe through web crawlers and search engine spiders, confirming  the need for speed for your website to rank higher.  

It was a pleasure to have Kyle York of Dyn DNS and Andy Piggott of Incutio as our guests for these past 2 episodes and hope you’ve picked a few gold nuggets for your website optimisation efforts.

Links referred to:

http://www.smallbizkaizen.com/thebook

http://www.incutio.com/

http://dyn.com/

http://www.incutio.com/blog/2010/10/19/ecommerce-expo-seminar/

http://bytecheck.com/

http://www.webpagetest.org/

http://css-tricks.com/css-sprites/

http://www.whatsmyip.org/http_compression/

http://code.google.com/speed/page-speed/docs/caching.html

Photo Credit

12 Is Your Website Up for the Speed Race?

Optimising your website for speed brings numerous benefits for an online business. An increase in conversions, customer satisfaction plus a reduction in operational costs all positively impacts the bottom line.   In terms of SEO, the faster your website, the higher it will rank in the natural or organic searches.

In this episode we focus on 10 ways to optimise your website and increase conversions. I speak to Kyle York , the VP in charge of Sales and Marketing for Dyn and Andy Piggott, the Managing Director of Incutio. We cover the main factors affecting the speed of a website and more importantly, the steps you can take today to make your website faster and reap the benefits of speed.

In true Kaizen style, we also cover ways in which you can measure some of the more critical metrics . The measurements you should really care about are:

1. TTFB – Time To First Byte. This is the measure of how long it takes for your browser to get data back from a web server after you’ve hit go. During this time the browser must ‘locate’ the website (convert name to number) and then ask the address its given for the relevant webpage. As soon as that webserver sends the first bit of data back, we have our TTFB. This is an important metric as browsers will often start showing the user to the page as soon as the first bytes come back. This test is the best indicator as to whether you have infrastructure problems (DNS, Hosting).

2. TTSR – Time To Start Render. This is the measure of when a site will start rendering the page, this may not be because of infrastructure problems but due to how your site is built, sites with a lot of images or with bad Javascript often experience poor render times.

The Ten Ways to Optimise Your Website :

1. Check your TTFB at: www.bytecheck.com, if it’s higher than say 500m/s, pursue your hosting company as it’s likely to be infrastructure related (eg: slow or overloaded servers).

2. Compress text components using gzip, check if it’s enabled on your site: http://www.whatsmyip.org/http_compression/ – if it isn’t, get your development company or hosting company to enable it.

3. Reduce number of HTTP requests – merge your stylesheets into one document, merge javascript filess together and think about using css sprites: http://css-tricks.com/css-sprites/

4. Use caching, it’s a good thing, read about what Google recommend: http://code.google.com/speed/page-speed/docs/caching.html

5. Optimise your images and use the right ones in the right place; For most logos and computer generated graphics you should be using 8-bit PNGs unless you require animation, when you should be using a GIF. Photographs should usually be saved as JPEGs, and optimised to balance quality and size.

6. Most browsers will download and execute any Javascript files referenced in the ‘head’ section of the page before attempting to render the page to the user, so move what you can to the end of the page. Some scripts (such as Google Analytics) can be loaded asynchronously, which means the browser will download them without delaying other resources.

7. Enable Keep Alive – this allows the browser to download multiple objects from the server without having to create a new connection for each one.  You can find out if Keep Alive is enabled via: www.webpagetest.org, once you test your site then you can see in the “Details” section whether the connections show “Keep Alive”.

8. Monitor everything – we monitor our internal application performance using RPM from newrelic.com and user experience via catchpoint.com, both offer a free trial, why not see how they can enable your business?

9. DNS – hosting companies DNS servers tend to perform inconsistently and slower than dedicated DNS services.  Incutio moved their DNS to the Dynect platform from Dyn.com and experienced improvements of 80 to 3000m/s in different areas of the world.

10. CDN – get your content onto a CDN.  Both Incutio and Dyn partner with Edgecast who have a fantastic network.  Using a CDN improves the performance of your site by delivering the content from locations nearer the user, it also means your servers have to do a lot less work and ultimately reduces costs as well as improving your performance and therefore your conversion.

This Top 10 list has been made possible by Incutio, a web development business that has been specialising in eCommerce Solutions and Content Management Systems for over 10 years.  They run two platforms – www.salesonrails.co.uk for eCommerce and Fabric their content management system.  Incutio does more than just build brilliant sites, the team produce and execute online marketing strategies to grow their clients businesses at a manageable rate.  This includes search engine optimisation, pay-per-click marketing and social media services.  If you’d like to find out how Incutio could help your online business grow, get in touch with them via www.incutio.com or reach out to Andy Piggott at andy@incutio.com