Small Business Survival Tips–When The DOW Falls 777 Points

Posted by John Park on Sep 30th, 2008
Sep 30

Glass is Half Full

The Dow fell 777 points yesterday.  This was the biggest single day drop ever.  In addition, Wachovia was forced by the FDIC to sell most of its assets to Citigroup.  And finally, the United States Congress failed to pass the heavily debated 700 Billion economic bailout plan.  WHAT A DAY!  I think it’s an understatement to acknowledge that we would all rather forget this week or all of 2008 for that matter.  I cannot recall a time in my adult life that has caused me this much concern about the U.S. Economy.
During this real crisis, I have a deep and genuine concern for our American small businesses.  As a result, I will dedicate all of my next several blogs to offering tips, tactics and strategies to sustain your business during these times.  The information will come from me as well as others with expertise in the respective fields.
( Tip of the day )
In this economy, many businesses make the mistake of hunkering down to the point of detriment for their survival.  It is important not to cut costs in areas that are or will generate you direct income.  Here are some common mistakes to avoid.
1)  Avoid termination of employees that have a direct impact on incoming revenues.
2)  Avoid cutting back of advertisements that have proven to be reliable.
3)  Avoid looking to reduce overhead fees on services that have a direct impact on revenues.  For example, a restaurant decides to no longer accept credit cards to save on the credit card company fees.  We witnessed this exact scenario at lunch yesterday.
4)  Avoid raising prices and reducing the quality of your output product or service to save on material and process costs.
5)  Avoid buying inventory in small quantities thus paying more per unit even though your sales history requires otherwise.
6)  Avoid burning financial relationships with key primary vendors who have a direct impact on your future revenues.
7)  Avoid cutting your employee morale budget (not luxuries).  For example, when I was working as a District Sales Manager in 1996, my VP at the time ordered me to get rid of the coffee service for the office.  It would have saved us about $100 per month.  It backfired in a huge way and probably cost the company tens of thousands of dollars due to employee resentment.  Now more than ever, you need your employees to work as a team.
8)  Avoid being inflexible as a knee-jerk reaction.  Work with others and be flexible.  They are going through the same thing you are.  Value your vendor and client relationships and be flexible with them.
I’ll be the first to admit that these tips are “easier said than done.”  The point is that all small business owners must survive today but must not give up planning for the future.  The assumption must be that your business will survive this major downturn and go on.  Sanity will be on your side when it can co-exist with optimism.  And yes…The Glass is Half Full.


Posted by John Park on Sep 23rd, 2008
Sep 23
We’ve all seen the smart “Mac vs. PC” commercials.  Like most people, I thought they were really funny at first.  Here was the cool, fit and obviously self-confident Gen Y’er named MAC making fun of the slightly overweight, glasses wearing, badly out of fashion PC on everything from video capabilities to not being the computer of choice on college campuses.  It was a brilliant idea for an ad campaign and it certainly had legs.  We saw parodies on SNL and even some funny amateur remakes on You Tube.  And truth be told, it did help Apple sell more MACs.  This is especially true with the young aspirational audience that is always buying in to the latest “cool” gadget.  With this said, I believe that Apple underestimated the potential downside of this somewhat “snobby” campaign.
By starting this fight, Apple managed to do an amazing favor for Microsoft without really trying.  Steve Jobs and his cronies turned Microsoft in to an underdog.  And, no group of people loves an underdog more than the American public.  Just imagine how Rocky would have turned out if he didn’t live in the poor crime infested section of Philadelphia and if he didn’t have to train in a meat packing plant.  The bottom line is that we all have a soft spot for someone who is trying really hard but is against some formidable obstacles.  Compounding to this sentiment is the fact that MACs generally cost more than PCs furthering an aura of dare I say “elitism”.
Like many, I eventually grew tired of the commercials and began to root for the fat PC guy—subconsciously.  This past weekend, Microsoft finally retaliated against the barrage of Apple’s attacks by launching their “I am a PC” ad campaign.  Although the ads have only run for a few days, it has become the center of conversation at many marketing and ad agencies including our own.  It will be interesting to see how Apple responds.  I am sure they will answer in some clever Steve Jobs way.  But for now, the PC users are joining together to say to the world “I am a PC”.  Of course, the HUGE irony in all of this is we all know who the real bully is.  What is the point of this post?  Don’t turn your competition in to a crowd-pleasing underdog.
Check out the full commercial below.  By the way, I am a PC and I help businesses do more business.


If you cannot view the video in your e-mail, visit Biz Crusader directly.



SEO is not an EVENT. It is a STRATEGY.

Posted by John Park on Sep 19th, 2008
Sep 19

SEO Search Engine Optimization

The new buzz phrase in small business is “Search Engine Optimization” or SEO.  We hear this phrase over and over again these days from our clients and prospects.  With this post, I am hoping to shed some light on the issue or at least get you pointed in the right direction.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is basically a fancy phrase to describe if your web site is search engine friendly or not.  Do the search engines, through their automated systems (BOTS), like what they see?  And as a result, will the search engines rank your web site high in their listings? (INDEX).
( What you need )
In order to implement SEO properly, you need three players—-SEO Web Developer, SEO Copywriter and You.
1)  SEO Web Developer:  This person or firm needs to know how to properly code a web site for maximum Search Engine Optimization.  They need to have up to date knowledge of SEO guidelines and specific search engine guidelines from companies like Google, Yahoo and MSN.
2)  SEO Copywriter:  This person or firm needs to write original marketing text copy on your behalf with a focus on Search Engine Optimization.  Again, this person needs to have a high level of proficiency in SEO copywriting techniques and strategies.
3)  You:  Because no one knows your business better than you.  You need to be involved in the process.  Don’t be so quick to let the developers and copywriters tell you what’s good for your business especially if your business experience and instincts tell you otherwise
( What to AVOID )
There are many posers in the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) industry.  Be careful not to get burned.
1)  Avoid any firms that will guarantee a specific organic listing position.  No legitimate SEO firm will do this.
2)  Avoid any SEO person or firm that can’t show you proof of their previous results with clients.
3)  Avoid any SEO person or firm that cannot give you at least 3 solid references you can call.  YOU SHOULD CALL THEM.
4)  Avoid SEO firms based overseas.  This is one of the top fraud areas for Search Engine Optimization.
5)  Avoid SEO firms that say they will submit you automatically to thousands of search engines.  Only 3 matter—Google, Yahoo and MSN.
6)  Avoid any SEO person or firm that does not practice or commit to “white hat” SEO methodologies.  Getting associated with a firm using dirty tricks to fool search engines can get your web site blacklisted.
It’s important to keep in mind that Search Engine Optimization is not an event.  It is a STRATEGY.
Depending on the scope of your web site and the level of competition in your industry, a proper SEO strategy can cost anywhere from 5K to 75K.  Of course, this is a lot to invest but the idea is for your business to benefit tremendously from free web site traffic as a result of top placement for optimal keywords.  These free listings are called Organic Listings and the traffic from them is called Organic Traffic.  Only you can determine what being on the first page of Google for your top keyword choice is worth in “real” hard dollars.
In a future blog post, I will offer some SEO tips you can potentially implement without hiring professionals.  A little preview… Do you know how many times I used the phrases SEO and Search Engine Optimization in this blog post?

Video Remedy for The Last 48 Hours—Last Lecture

Posted by John Park on Sep 17th, 2008
Sep 17
It’s been a whirlwind (more like a tornado) in the last 48 hours.  Lehman Brothers (founded in 1850) went belly-up, Merrill Lynch gets bought by B of A and AIG gets a 85 Billion bail-out by the Feds.  On deck—Washington Mutual.  When I was graduating from college, these were some of the names that were at the top of the list for places we should strive to find employment.  Google wasn’t around then.
Yes, these are huge business blunders to blog about but because of the magnitude, there will be plenty of opinions flooding the WWW. 
Instead, I want to share with you an inspirational video.  It’s about life, priorities, what we found important as children and about that all important and elusive “balance”.  If you haven’t seen this video yet, you should.  I know an hour is a huge commitment of time I am asking of my business owner readers.  It’s worth it.  Save it for later if you have to.  As the world appears to turn upside down, it will help put things back in perspective while allowing you to refocus on the task at hand.


If you cannot view the video in your e-mail, please visit Biz Crusader directly.



Sep 11

Blackberry Keyboard


Today… a post about adjusting to the times.  For those of you business owners who are exclusively using toll-free vanity numbers on your ads, I have a message for you.  STOP doing it!


This is especially true if you insist on putting these phone numbers that spell something on your mobile or outdoor ads.  Yes, I am referring to the vans, trucks, billboards and etc.


THE REASON:  Many alphabet placements on cell phones are different than regular home or office phones.   That’s right.  The letters are not in the same place.  If I tried to dial 1-800-FLOWERS from my blackberry, I would have no idea how to do it and the call will most certainly end-up as a wrong number.  This is not counting the frustration and loss of that immediate and often emotionally-based inquiry.


What’s the solution?  The idea of vanity phone numbers are not completely bad because it allows us to memorize a number quickly but you cannot print the vanity phrase alone as many businesses still do.  Below is an example of how it should be publicized.  In essence, the real number should be present with the vanity phrase.



In addition, partial vanity numbers should be avoided completely in my opinion.  You’re much better off trying to get a number with consecutive same digits.  By the way, I have never met anyone that likes dialing a vanity number as you slowly focus in on each letter to translate it on your dial pad.


Sorry for the tirade.  I just drove by a van that was promoting a carpet cleaning service.  I am in need of such a service.  When I started to dial it, I realized that part of the toll-free number they were marketing was a vanity number.  Partial vanity phone numbers are the worst because they are harder to memorize thus BRAND.  I had to give up because I couldn’t dial the number.  They lost a prospect and a potential sale.


We live in a world of immediacy with instant communication tools at our disposal.  Make sure that your toll-free vanity phone number strategy is in line with the times and today’s technology.  You cannot expect a prospect to memorize your number or write it down only to wait and call you when they get home or to their office.  I know… I know… I could have taken a picture of it with my cell phone camera.  That thought escaped me at the time.

***By the way, the same exact problems arise when you have an automated answering system that asks the caller to spell the person’s first or last name.***



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