As I am still considering starting my own business, I have read some of the 501 Killer Marketing Tactics to Increase Sales, Maximize Profits, and Stomp Your Competition: Revised and Expanded Second Edition . Technically, I am reading the previous book with a mere 401 tactics, but you'll get the idea. Here's my take on some of the tactics (keep in mind that I am skipping some of the numbers because if you wanted me to go through all of them, you should just buy the book):
1. Have a business plan.
The last book I read said a lot of people get stuck because they're trying so hard to create the perfect business plan. On the other hand, the last two business endeavors I was a part of never really got going, partially because of a failure to set strict goals (as part of a business plan, theoretically). The difference this time is that if I don't do it, we won't get fed as a family. I guess the point is that I'm desperate enough to do what it takes, but I'm also desperate enough to start making money instead of drafting plans to make money. Therefore, my plan is to make money, and when I have a few days when I'm not making money, I'll work on my business plan.
2. Declare Your Personality.
The author talks about finding drama and having catchy phrases here. I think Passive Ninja has some possibilities. I've always wanted to be the web designer who disappears because the client no longer needs me, but there might be a negative to that. Maybe "invisible" is better. Anyhow, I have another book that discusses how to create the right mission and catch phrases, so I'll check those out, too.
3. Naming Names
I've got some unique names, but I might need to work on my web consulting business a little, since Passive Ninja does not immediately say internet. However, Educabana is pretty good as an education site, and VoucherSchool.com was surprisingly available. Satisfamily is pretty, cool, right?
5. Logo Logic
My logo is supposed to be readable, clear, and bold. It's supposed to reflect what I do and not be like anyone else's. The color should be consistent with other tools I use. Since I develop a lot of websites with a lot of ideas, I think I'll keep all of them under my main logo, which is my own triangular version of the ying-yang symbol. I first designed it while doodling in high school, and I had versions of it all over my notebooks in college. However, it wasn't until 2013 that I decided to use a computer program to get it to look proportional. The idea behind it was that good and evil may exist with a little of the other within, but there's also a more gray area. Anyhow, it's unique, at least until others see it and decide to copy it.
6. Business Cards
I have to admit I have begun my business with the flimsy, self-printed cards. I distributed them to students before I was officially laid off as a teacher. Most of these cards probably didn't make it out of the school. The author says it's a miniature advertisement, and he's probably right, so I have to go and get some good ones made. You might want to go with the fold-out style and make a mini-brochure. I'm thinking two-sided so I can advertise both of my main ventures with one card.
8. Themes and Slogans
The author offers several good examples. His basic advice is to make it memorable if you want it to be a marketing device. I was kind of going with "Relaxation in Education" for Educabana.com. The website is supposed to let stressed-out teachers, students, and parents know that there might be an easier way to get things done. The problem might be that since no one accepts that way to educate, it might seem like I'm being too simplistic. As mentioned before, my "Design and Disappear" seems like it might work for Passive Ninja Web Design, but then again, words that imply I'm with them forever are supposed to work better. I DO want my theme to be that I'm not nickel and diming the customer before, during, and after the process, but since that's what we've gotten accustom to, it might be another hard sell if not explained properly.
12. The Price Should be Right
The author suggests looking at the competition to decide where you should position yourself for price. I read in another book to be sure not to under-price yourself too much, especially for a service, since you have to factor in a lot more than you might think into the price. I want my Educabana concept to take off nationwide, so I am willing to have the price set fairly low in order to gain customers who will hopefully renew the service. When I started Innovative School Funding with a friend, we had no idea how many hours it would take us to make each website, so we created a pricing scheme that basically paid us a few pennies an hour for our time. We also realized that the model could never produce more than a few dollars an hour unless we spent a lot of time restructuring, which we never really bothered to do. For Passive Ninja, I have to maintain a price point that indicates I know what I am doing but also want to win customers who have a lot of choices. I am not charging by the hour because I can sometimes get awesome results very quickly, but I can also spend a full hour resizing one photo to fit properly on a website.
16. Ready When They Are?
The advice here is to be open when others in your segment may not be available, like a dentist who's open on Sunday or a barber who cuts hair on Monday. I think my initial motto will be open anytime, and I will generally be coherent on the phone from about 6am until about midnight. When I worked one of my business ventures, my partner awoke at 4am and I often stayed up until 1 or even 2am, so we joked that we were never closed. For the service type of business I will be running, I think I will probably never be closed for new customers, but I'll have to put off answering emails from current clients until the next business day just to keep myself kind of sane.
18. Mail Bonding
The author suggests a well-organized mailing list and frequent contact. I am hoping that emails will work, though I am not against snail mail to get some initial leads. He claims to have ideas for creating the mailing list later in the book. For website building, it's a little like roofing in that I can cruise around and find customers if I look hard enough. The only question is whether or not they'll pay for the service. The same is true for my idea of an educational community. Maybe it should be free, but then again, maybe people want to pay to have some security, too. The problem with a mailing list for Educabana is that it would include every teacher and every parent and every teacher and every learner in every discipline at every level. Pretty huge.