Multi-Level Marketing and the Direct Sales industry are not generally considered to be a part of the Advertising Industry, but why not? Yes, the specific concentration is in sales and networking, but isn’t the success of both strictly dependent on the ability for a Direct Sales company to market itself?In your business, one of the keys to being successful is to gain a following. With an enthusiastic, informed and confident distributor base, a company will literally sell itself. But getting that dedicated downline isn’t easy, and sometimes impossible if you don’t have the proper tools. Your greatest and most accessible tool is advertising, or more specifically, your marketing website.We are now fully invested in the internet generation. Our laptops are smaller than the text books we carried around in College. Our cars tell us to turn left at the next light, and our cell phones are used first to manage our lives and last to actually make phone calls. We’re in an “in the moment” era where the motto seems to be “If it can’t be found on Google, it’s not worth the effort.”With that said, one of the most efficient ways to market your business is on the internet. Not only does it give your business visibility to the entire world, information about your company can be accessed anywhere.Knowing you need a good marketing site is essential, but what then? How do you get one? Once you find a vendor, how do you know if their product is a good one? Even more importantly, once you have one, what do you need to do to keep it new and fresh? This article should provide you with some valuable information about building and maintaining a successful marketing site.1.) Who should I have build my site?There is a common misconception that anyone can create a good website. Your nephew is likely a very intelligent, creative boy, and the site he made for your business works well enough. But the truth of the matter is, the image format he used isn’t compatible with some Internet browers, and it seems like every other day, there’s a broken link or page error. As a general rule of thumb, if you want a professional looking site, you will need to have a professional make it.2.) What should I look for in deciding on a Designer/Developer?There are a number of things you should do when selecting a Web Designer. Look at the Designer’s portfolio. Request URLs for sites the Designer has built and take the time to visit those sites. Look for broken links and consistency of design. Most importantly, see if you like the Designer’s style.You want your marketing site to speak for your company. It is a visitor’s first impression of your business, so you want the site’s style to not only be professional, easy to navigate, and pleasing to the eye, but also to make an artistic statement about your company. Also, check your potential Developer’s site. If they don’t have one, or the site is poorly built or maintained, scratch them off the list and keep looking!3.) Should I hire a Developer or a Designer? What is the difference?It is vital to have a clear understanding of the difference between a Developer and a Designer. A Web Designer is a professional who focuses on a website’s aesthetics. Most good Designers have experience in development, but their main focus is the layout, coloring, and visual components of the site.If you think of your marketing site as a house, the Designer plays the role of interior decorator and landscaper. The Developer, on the other hand, is your contractor. Developers focus on the functionality of your site. Links, functions and processes that your site is required to perform are all part of a Developer’s area of expertise.If something on the site breaks, or if visitors are receiving page errors, a Developer would be the one who would go in a fix the broken code. Your best bet is to find a Web Design vendor that has both Designers and Developers on staff. This way, you can be sure that your site design is produced by a specialist and if there are functional issues, a development programmer is on staff as well.4.) What about Replicated websites?You should always discuss replicated site creation before you decide on a potential Web Developer. Their ability to replicate your marketing site will be a key indicator of whether or not they are properly staffed to provide web development as well as web design. Also, if you discuss replication from the start, it can be integrated into your initial design contract. This will help you avoid being surprised later by excessive development fees tacked on for replication once you are invested in the company.5.) What should I focus on during the development of my website?Showcasing your product or service is the obvious answer, but there are other key factors to consider when planning your site. You should have a target market in mind. A target market is, specifically, the people your inventory or service is most likely to attract. If you’re selling environmentally friendly alternatives to baby-related merchandise, your target market is going to include parents and environmentally concerned consumers.You want your site to be open enough to speak to your non-market specific visitors, but you also want it to really catch the attention of those customers who are most likely to seek out your type of product. You want your site to be educational. Most people don’t want to have to call or visit your office to learn about your business, so your site should give them as much information as possible, but it’s important to find a healthy balance of simple and detailed.If visitors are overwhelmed by huge excerpts of unorganized text, they may feel more intimidated than informed. Keeping things simple, organized and easy to find is often better. Avoid excessively long passages right on your main page. Focus on short, concise summaries and provide links to more detailed pages. Website viewers tend to scan, not read, as they want the information quickly and easily. The easier that information is to find and understand the better.6.) Once my website is up and running is there anything I need to do to maintain it?Your marketing site is like any advertisement. No matter how catchy and effective it is, eventually it will get a little old. Consider TV commercials. When a new one comes out that catches your interest, every time it comes on you watch it with full focus.But after seeing the same commercial 15 times, it becomes predictable and stale, and sometimes even annoying. The same can be said of marketing sites. You want your site to be catchy, interesting and effective every time someone visits it. This requires that you switch things up every so often to keep your site fresh.Change your homepage images. Modify your introduction text. Add links to new pages. Your marketing site should be a living, virtual document. Someone who visited your site last month and wasn’t captured immediately, but is interested enough to return for a second look, might see your business in a new light and decide to join or shop.7.) Any Web Developer/Designer recommendations?ByDesign! ByDesign has launched ByDesign Creative, a marketing services department, and now provides website design, development and site replication. Headed by Art Director Jason Rivers, our Marketing Team offers years of industry experience. With a talented group of programmers, ByDesign can help you manage the creation, creative layout and maintenance of your marketing site.The marketing team focuses on aesthetics and usability in creating contemporary, user-friendly, well-designed websites, branding, packaging and marketing materials. With web design experience spanning from the early commercialization of the internet to today’s Web 2.0 environment, your website is in good hands with ByDesign’s Creative team.Using the latest standards and tools, solid design skills and no small amount of common sense, they’ll make sure your new site or redesign is what you’re looking for. Why should you choose ByDesign Creative over a 3rd-party designer? Here are a few reasons why we may be your perfect fit:Search Engine OptimizationThough we can’t promise your site will appear first when someone Googles “Direct Sales”, we can promise your site will be built to be search engine friendly. We use standard compliant code and keyword tagging to flag your site for consideration when searches are made. Also, during your site development, our experts will provide you with advice and recommendations on how to optimize your site’s “search-ability”.Traffic TrackingIt can sometimes be difficult to see how much visitor traffic your site gets. If you want to know if your site is pulling in visitors, we can implement site tracking add-ons like Google Analytics to assist you in determining your site’s success.Extras and Add-onsWe have a number of marketing packages available at reasonable prices to help you get what you need within a budget. In addition to what is provided within those packages, ByDesign Creative also offers add-ons and extras priced per project. We’re also willing to negotiate our packages. If you don’t require replicated sites, but want to include a representative locator, we can discuss swapping out package features for other options that better suit your needs.From blogs to video links, we have you covered. We also offer the unique ability to maintain your site content yourself through our Content Management System. You can login to your marketing site directly from the Freedom Corporate Back Office and actually edit the text and images yourself, without having to submit a change request!Replicated Site URL Format OptionsWith ByDesign Creative programmers, you have the option of selecting from two standard formats for your replicate site URLs. ByDesign’s team provides a unique alternative to the typical by allowing your reps to place their site name first in the URL. imaginarycompanyname.com/JohnSmith is also available as JohnSmith.imaginarycompanyname.com.A Provider You TrustByDesign has an intimate understanding of your company and how it works through the support we already provide you in using your Freedom Software. You put your trust in us to keep your business running smoothly. It simply seems logical to let us help market your organization as well.Whether you choose to go with ByDesign Creative for your marketing site design or another vendor, know that marketing your business effectively is the first key to success. Once the public knows who you are, what you do, and gains confidence in your product or service, recruiting those top sellers will be easy… well… easier!
Is it actually possible to get ‘ creative ‘ when considering a franchise finance business loan for you new Canadian role as an entrepreneur in franchise financing? There are some tried and trusted rules we use in the franchise lending area, but a little creativity has never hurt anyone we believe!If you haven’t considered how to finance your new business in the franchise industry then we feel it’s probably a little too late in some ways, as your ability to finance your business properly we think has a lot to do with the ultimate growth and success of your business. There are very focused lending sources for the franchise area of financing in Canada – the trick of course is to know what they are and more importantly how you can navigate the ‘ maze ‘ successfully.The reality is that if you have some industry experience in your new business and a proper finance plan you have a much better chance of financing your business properly.So, who can you turn to in terms of creativity and resources for franchise financing? Clients are amazed when we tell them the most creative partner in franchise financing in Canada is none other than the Canadian government!How could that possibly be? Simply because a program guaranteed by the government and administered by the banks could not be any more creative than this.The program is the ‘BIL’ loan program, and it provides you with financing up to 350k for your new business. Are the terms onerous? Hardly! The essence of the program is a 5-7 year term loan, with great rates, limited personal guarantees, and some other elements of flexibility. If that isn’t creative then we don’t know what is!Naturally all the creativity in a business loan of that type for your franchise finance scenario should not be reliant on just one lender – the other lender is someone you know very well. Yourself. That’s simply because when you look at the total financing of a franchise in Canada the two components are simply debt (the funds you have borrowed) and the equity, or money you have put in yourself. These equity funds, i.e. your commitment to the business, typical come from savings, the proverbial ‘ friends and family ‘ support, and investments or collateral that you have available.Getting back to our key subject of creativity, our above noted BIL loan program only covers certain aspects of a franchise finance scenario. You can augment that loan with flexible equipment financing that has low down payments and extended amortization terms, as well as, in some cases, a working capital term loan.We never forget to remind clients that the franchise financing plan is a two stage process, acquiring the business, and making sure they have some capital and funding to operate and grow their new business.In summary, you can be creative when you are looking for info on how Canadian franchise finance works. You need knowledge on what funding sources are available that are specialized to the franchise industry, and assistance in executing a proper financial plan. Speak to a trusted, credible and experienced Canadian business financing advisor who can assist you in maximizing that creativity!
10 ways to bring creative ideation to your organization. We all know that it’s no time for Business as Usual. The good news amidst the bad economic news is this: “Revolutionary Business Ideas– if not miracles are certain to occur during this economic crisis” and the reason is Painful. Organizations and individuals need Pain to Change. Pity but it’s true. We don’t give up smoking until we can no longer endure the cough. We don’t diet until we see the painful picture and we don’t change our business model until we have enough pain/loss to look at other options. Or is there another option? Imagine having a Think Tank before you need one? Imagine creating one now. Imagine Creative Thinking as a Year-Round Process and not a Crisis Situation Room.For years I have been asked about the ROI on “Business Ideation and Creativity Sessions” that force Executives and Teams to “forget about what is and imagine what could be”. While many companies talk about having innovation and creativity in their organizations and in their annual reports, the number of companies that host annual ideation sessions or think tanks and have a Chief Creativity Officer is much smaller. Note: Those that do, tend to be on the list of the most progressive companies. That is until now….Now there is sufficient pain to seek creative solutions and business revolutions in just about every industry and company.Here are 10 ways to bring creative ideation to your organization and move from pain to solutions:1. Make “Creativity & Solution Finding” a Core Employee Competency. Emphasize that all employees are expected to be “Solution Oriented, Not Problem Focused” and provide at least one potential solution for each identified problem.2. Establish a Chief Creativity Officer responsible for an ongoing creative process within your organization.3. Include a quadrant of time (20%) on every meeting agenda for “Creative Ideation” using ideation/think tank tools to improve an existing idea or create a revolutionary new idea.4. Start planning how your company will participate in the World-Wide Celebration of Creativity and Innovation Day-It’s actually a whole week April 15 – 21st, beginning on the birthday of Leonardo Da’Vinci. Set aside time this week to train your leadership team and employees on creative thinking processes, unveil a creativity room, or host a creative customer event.5. Post a “Problem” of the Week and “Solutions” Board in a Central Communications Area. You can use a Visual Collage and/or Mind-Map that will stimulate both Left and Right Brain Thinking. Ask employees to post their creative ideas and recommendations to a clearly stated problem of the week and watch the magic/solutions unfold before your eyes! Note: Include sticky notes or a special sticky board that is used by creativity facilitators and keep a supply of, markers and a stack of old magazines to encourage the creation of visual problem / solution collages.6. Give employees an hour or two each week to work on a project of their choosing. Working on not what they have to do, but what they could do to improve your company’s production and/or services. Companies who have incorporated this strategy report that their greatest innovations have very often been from these “self-directed employee creativity hours”.7. Introduce the Strategic and Creative Problem Solving Process to your organization. Yes there is an art and science to creative thinking along with tools and techniques used by professional facilitators in organizational think tanks.8. Shake up Creativity with an “Employee Brain Gym” Today’s savvy educators incorporate brain gym activities so students test better and get the left and right brain working. Yes, it also works for employees. Unleash the genius with mind-body/creativity exercises.9. Consider carving out a “Creativity Room” free of technology which provides a stimulating thinking environment for employees. Environment affects mood and yes Creativity. Look at Google if you want to see a mind-blowing model for fostering innovation in the workplace through design of creative spaces.10. Post Questions for Continuous Business Improvement such as “What are we doing that is just plain stupid? If you were in charge what are the top 3 things you would do to improve sales, service, communication, etc? How can we be more effective?