BuiltWith launches Datanyze competitor

Builtwith has sort of been the industry standard for providing data about websites and their technologies. The Australian company has been around since 2007 according to Crunchbase. They consistently crawl the web to see which companies and websites use specific technologies. For example, you might want to know which companies use Marketo or Hubspot.

Recently, Datanyze launched. They focused not just on crawling the www for technologies, but crawling them every single day. This is helpful for sales people because you can find out which companies are testing out your competitors’ products and then offer your services as well. For example, let’s say you are a lesser known marketing automation SaaS like LoopFuse. Wouldn’t it be interesting for you to see which companies are testing out the Marketo solution?

Today, Builtwith launched their version of this solution with the featured called “Builtwith Alerts” – You can see more information . We recently added a new feature to our Enterprise solution that allows users to select specific technologies when creating/exporting our company and people lists. So you not only get to find out which websites are using what, but you also get to download specific executives.

Does Your Business Structure Protect You?

There are a surprising number of small businesses and startups who never file as a specific type of business structure. While it’s perfectly fine to run as a sole proprietorship or partnership, you should at least know what that means from a legal perspective.

If you’re a sole proprietor or a partner, your personal assets may be subject to risk. In the off chance that you are ever sued or if you file bankruptcy, your assets (home, car, other real estate) can be taken as payment. On the other hand, filing as a corporation or LLC protects your personal side.

Corporations have their own sets of benefits. There are tax deductions you wouldn’t otherwise qualify for, and the corporation acts as its own entity, so you file business taxes rather than reporting its income on your personal taxes. But there are a lot of hoops to jump through. You need a Board of Directors and have to file Board minutes several times a year. Read More

10 Must-Haves for Retail Store Success

Being a small business retailer isn’t easy. You’re competing — not just against the Big Box players — but also against other small retailers. You need every advantage you can get. Here are 10 things you need to be on top of in order to compete effectively.

1. Smart Signage

That hand drawn sign isn’t going to cut it if you want to get the attention of passersby. Invest in good signage that is visually appealing and professional looking. The good news is  you don’t have to go overboard in hiring a designer to get good business signs. Online sign companies like Store Signs provide customizable templates that fulfill many retailers’ needs, without the cost of a fancy designer and printer.

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How to Accept Payments on the Go

Ain’t technology great? These days, you can accept payments no matter where you are, from your smartphone or tablet. This is great if you sell products at a farmer’s market or need to process customers’ credit cards when you’re out of the office. Heck, mobile payments are great even if you have a brick and mortar location and just want a more flexible (and cost effective) option than your traditional merchant payment processor.

Here are some of the latest and greatest apps to help you accept payments on the go.

Square

Square was one of the first mobile payment options to really take off. You can use Square with an iPhone or iPad to swipe credit cards (they’ll send you a tiny card swiping device you plug into your phone). Transaction fees are 2.75% per swipe. Read More

What Google Analytics Tells You About Your Website

I always assume business owners know what to do with Google Analytics, but after speaking at a conference recently, I realize that might not be the case. So I want to go over what the free analytics tool can do for your business, as well as give you tips for using it properly.

analytics

Essentially, Google Analytics tells you about the number of visitors your website gets, as well as where they’re coming from, and what pages they like the most. Any marketing you do can be measured by looking at your analytics. You can:

  • See what blog posts resonated with your readers
  • See what days traffic spiked on your site, and correlate that with any sales or promotions you’ve done
  • Find out what other sites are referring the most traffic to your site
  • See if a press release generated clicks to your site
  • Check how many visitors a blog review netted
  • Determine how many of your visitors end up buying on your site.

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7 Predictions for Startups in 2012

Everyone else likes to wax on about what we might expect in 2012, so I thought I’d throw my hat in and give you my two cents about what I think we’ll see in 2012.

1. Businesses will continue to ignore the economy. If you haven’t noticed, we stopped whining about the down economy about a year ago, yet conditions haven’t really improved. That shows that the startups and entrepreneurs who have survived the recession are finding ways to trudge on, despite financial conditions. In 2012, I think we’ll see more of that. More businesses reporting profit, more startups launching.

2. Freemium products will grow. A few years ago, no one had heard of MailChimp. Now the email marketing provider is seeing 2,000 or more signups for its free accounts, and has increased paying customers by 150%. Clearly the freemium model works. Small businesses are abandoning companies that charge in favor of free services that offer more. (see my post about why I switched from Constant Contact to MailChimp for that very reason)

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What’s Your Marketing Plan for 2012?

If it’s been a while since you worked on your marketing plan, what better time to update it than before the fresh start of a new year? Because technology, tools and pricing for marketing services change, it’s important to keep your marketing strategy updated continually.

Before you start sweating, your marketing plan doesn’t have to be a novel-sized document. It’s simply a couple of pages that explain your goals and how you want to market to reach them this year. You can find dozens of free templates for marketing plans online, and many are different from one another. Find the one you’re comfortable working with. Once you have a plan in place, it’s easy enough to update it each year.

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10 Ways to Prepare for the Holiday Season for Your Biz

I really should have written this post in July. Small businesses (or at least newbies) tend to underestimate the ramp-up time you need to get ready for the holiday season, especially if you’re in retail. But let’s assume you’re not in retail and there’s still time to prepare for the fourth quarter. Here’s what you should be doing today.

1. Set up your strategy. This is the big picture: will you be sending holiday themed newsletters and emails for the next six weeks? Sending clients cards and/or gifts? Marking down products or services? Use a holiday-themed approach to social media? You should take advantage of the fact that people are merrier (and more harried) during this season. Play up on the holiday thing to your benefit.

2. Start shopping for client gifts. The longer you wait, the more expensive these get, mainly thanks to last minute shipping fees. If you’re shipping food (cookies, chocolate), you may have to pay a premium to get the food there before it perishes. Look for discount codes for online stores that sell wine gift baskets, flowers, and other goodie gifts. The Entertainment Book has some great discounts that can save your business a bundle, and you may be able to find daily deals for gift sites as well. Pick a handful of your best clients and decide what your budget is. Remember: if they’re great clients, you can certainly afford to shell out $100 for a thank you gift.

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Author! Author! (Is That You?)

A surprising number of business owners and founders are also authors. It makes sense, really. Books are great trust builders. After all, when you read a great business book, you trust the author a bit. If he sells something, you’re that much more likely to buy from him. So why not write a book? Even if you’re not a great writer, there could be a book (or two) in your future.

Metallic ballpen tips / biro Ballpen Ballpoint pen in silver with handwritten random blue text on quad-ruled paper

Your Options for Writing (or Not)

Yes, I said you don’t have to be a great writer. Or even a good one. There’s a little thing called ghostwriting that lets a talented writer draft a book using your information. You’d be surprised how well we ghostwriters can capture your voice. You couldn’t have said it better yourself. I know. And while, yes, you have to pay a ghostwriter, it’s well worth it, as you’ll recoup the expenses through both your book sales and increased visibility for your brand.

If you enjoy writing, by all means, give it a go. Especially if you blog; you likely have a lot to say on your industry, and it’ll be great in a book.

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Have You Said No Lately?

When I started Egg, I’d take any kind of work, as long as it related to marketing. Annual report creation? Um, sure, we can figure that out do that. Write resumes? Yea. It’s money, right?

no?

But the longer I was in business, the more I realized I/we weren’t good at some things, and other things I plain hated. Like pitching the media. No reporter loves a PR consultant. And so I decided to stop doing those things. It’s scary saying no, especially when it means less money in your bank account. But the funny thing is, the more dead weight you remove, the more buoyant your boat (we’re using a boat analogy here; keep up!).

What about you? Do you take on any and every project that comes your way? Do you fear saying no, as it might put you in the poor house?

Take a deep breath with me and practice saying it:

Nooooooooooo.

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