Monday, March 30, 2009

Twitter for Marketing Your Business

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Sunday, March 1, 2009

2009 Small Business Marketing Guide

As a business owner you know that marketing is one of the most integral parts of driving your bottom line. Sales keep you in business, but marketing keeps you in sales. However, marketing does not have to be expensive. In fact some of the best ways to build a small business are through inexpensive marketing strategies. Listed below are some great ways to build your business without burning a hole in your pocket.

Chamber of Commerce Councils:
The general chamber can be too big and not worth the effort if you're in the city (Jacksonville is second largest in the US for example). I suggest starting by choosing a local council to get involved with. For those in Jacksonville, check out the following link which has a listing. ( The women's council in Jacksonville is very strong and the networking is phenomenal. Not in Jacksonville? Just google “[city name] chamber of commerce.”

American Marketing Association:
Develop relationships with people who get what marketing is all about. Business is all about relationship building. This a good source for building your natural market since most of these people are professional networkers and marketers. Listed below is the link to find a local chapter.(

Search Engine Optimization:
Websites need to be submitted properly to all search engines in order for them to start showing up in people's searches. Use map tools to get your business to show up on google maps, mapquest, etc. Identify appropriate key words for your website. Having appropriate keywords is helpful to boosting your websites search rankings. The better your content and keywords, the better quality of the visitors that go to your site.

Not sure how to set up Search Engine Optimization? Be careful when considering hiring an SEO consultant. Many are novices and deliver poor results, causing you a loss on your investment. Consider doing some basic research to understand what SEO is and how it can help your business. Tangent specializes in creating effective web marketing strategies. We offer SEO packages as well as per hour work.

Here is an informational link:

Craig's List for Recruitment:
You can also post listings on Craig’s List ( for business opportunities and it is free and is a huge resource for both job seekers and job posters.

Social Networking:
Online social networking communities (facebook, myspace, linkedin, etc.) are growing rapidly and can be used effectively to promote your business and products/services, many times for free. Here is an article on how to get started and doing effectively.

Trade Associations:
Look at the statewide as well as local trade organizations. Many times you can sponsor meetings or be an associate member. This will give you some opportunities to get in front of your target audience. Listed below two examples of Florida trade associations. Almost all professions have some sort of association, and many of them have a statewide association with chapters in individual cities.


Not in Florida? Just search google or yahoo to find one in your state.

Printing Costs and Production:
Kinko’s and other print shops are extremely expensive. As an example, Kinko’s may charge around ¢.50 per color copy. Our company’s rates start at just ¢20.9 per color copy and ¢3.9 per black and white copy. We also deliver right to your home or office.

Marketing your Business’s Events:
Press Releases - Write up press releases. It is important to know how to write an effective release. Poorly written releases end up in the trash. It is well worth the investment to find someone with experience to write them. Tangent charges between $20.00 and $40.00 for a professional release and submission to local newspapers.

Newspapers - Do some research and see if your paper has a column about your area of expertise. Start submitting content to them. Write something original. Remember, if it's published in the paper you are an expert in your field. If you’re short on time, consider outsourcing the work to a marketing firm. They can conduct research and put together professional work. Tangent does this on a per hour basis.

Craig's List - Under the community section you can post information about your events. This is FREE exposure for you and it takes 10 minutes. You can also post multiple listings in different communities within your city.

Gift’s that Keep on Giving:
Referrals - How much do you pay for your leads? Are they even hot? A referral is a free lead with an excellent response rate. Never cold call again! Get your customers to talk about you (positively). Provide your customers with incentives for talking about your product. Many people spend lots of money on marketing materials like pens and coffee mugs. While these can have a nice touch they are much less effective than a customer who sings your praises. Create a culture with your employees and clients that makes referrals an expectation. Be proactive, ask for referrals. Referrals are the cheapest and often most effective way to drive your bottom line. Not sure how to ask? See the link below:

Email Newsletters - Using email marketing campaigns is a great way to stay in front of clients and increase your sales. It is extremely important however that you use email marketing effectively and appropriately. Sending too many emails will turn off customers. Sending too few won’t produce results either. There are many different opinions on what is appropriate, but we recommend sending around one per week (typically on Monday’s). How many emails do you get that you don’t even read? Would you read them if you felt there was actual value in the email? Of course you would! Make sure you understand your customers needs and wants and provide them with tons of value!

I had the chance to meet Ryan Allis, CEO of at a conference in November. His company is one of the best for email marketing software. Go to to try a free trial. If you like it you can sign up for next to nothing.

Happy Marketing,

Grant Deken
Tangent Initiatives
Tel +1 (904) 254- 5768
Fax +1 (904) 212-1520

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Davis Entrepreneurs to Host First Meeting

The Davis Entrepreneurs, formally known as the Jacksonville Entrepreneurship Club, have reorganized to launch themselves as the premier business organization at the Davis College of Business at Jacksonville University. The organization plans to help students compete against some of the top schools and entrepreneurship programs in the world. "Business competitions, conference opportunities, and renown speakers are all part of our newly rolled out plan," said president Chris Salley.

The organization could not have come at a better time. With students looking for competitive opportunities to apply what they are learning in the classroom, organizations like the Davis Entrepreneurs are there to make it happen. "Students often take the concepts they learn in the classroom and file them away. We don't let that happen. We're preparing students to be better than the competition. People in our organization come out with the skills to start, run, and grow any type of business. You don't find these types of skills in most recent grads, who spend their summer breaks working in the retail or the restaurant business," said vice president Grant Deken. "We are aggressive, organized, and know what it takes to set ourselves apart."

If you're in the Jacksonville area, the organization's next meeting is January 22nd at 7PM at the Davis College of Business at Jacksonville University. For more information you can contact Chris Salley at or Grant Deken at

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Lets Talk Private Equity

I recently had the opportunity to interview the chairman of a mid-level private equity firm. Here's what he had to say about private equity, business degrees, and people skills.

Q: How did you find your way into this business?

A: I started my career as an attorney working on numerous types of mergers and acquisitions. I brought one of my clients into a deal based on my judgment and in turn made them about $350 million dollars. Soon after they asked me if I would be interested in starting a private investment firm with them and a few others. The rest as they say is history. We’ve been doing business for fourteen years now.

Q: It was tough to find much information out about your firm prior to our interview. Do you guys keep a pretty low profile?

A: We like to be mysterious. We find that being under the radar we are able to target the specific types of investments we want. When everyone knows about your firm you tend to get hundred of business plans and phone calls a week – most of them are exactly what you are not looking for.

Q: So how do you approach prospective businesses you may want to invest in?

A: Actually we don’t. We have a third party marketing firm create the initial marketing tools to contact prospective businesses. The reasoning behind this is that the marketing firm knows how to make us stand out from the crowd. If we just sent a letter out chances are it would get thrown away.

Q: How does communication play a role in what you do?

A: Communication is one of the most important aspects of this business. When we’re involved in a deal with a business and we need to find very specific people or resources, we are on the phones networking with everyone we know to find what we need. The interpersonal skills are invaluable in this business. We are a small firm so our ability to leverage our contacts and networking to find what we need is imperative.

Q: Leveraging resources is so important in this business. As a small firm, how are you guys competing with other firms how have so much more at their disposal?

A: We started a fund a few years back. We have social events for members to interact as peers and get involved. The events are huge for networking. People know what we’re investing in and since they have a stake they start sending us referrals for top-tier finance and management professionals we otherwise wouldn’t have known about. Since everyone has a stake in the investments people are eager to give us names and numbers. It makes getting your foot in the door that much easier. I can call a CEO and set a meeting. No gatekeepers, no voicemails.

Q: How do you primarily communicate with your team members and prospects?

A: I love email. While we do have a team, most of us are involved in specific things. One person usually stays somewhat involved as a back up person. Usually we keep each other informed primarily through email.

Q: One of the main documents you are giving me as a writing sample is the Letter of Intent. Can you tell me a little more about it?

A: The letter of intent is what we send businesses we are seriously interested in working with. It’s essentially a loose contract that formally states that both parties are interested in conducting business with each other. It’s very wordy and there is a reason for that. If we begin to work with a company and things go wrong before we commit [financially] we can get out of the contract. It’s important to build a back-door into everything. Sometimes things are not what they seem going into something.

Q: You graduated from Harvard Law School. Looking back, has a brand name like Harvard given you opportunities that other schools could not? Does the School make or break your options?

A: I’ve worked with people from all over that have been to top law schools and average law schools. Typically the person either has it or they don’t. The law school you go to doesn’t guarantee anything. I will say that going to Harvard provided me with excellent connections. All in all, going to a top school just makes it easier to get where you want to go.

Q: What’s some sound advice you would give to a business student who is on their way to graduating?

A: Two things come to mind. The first is to make sure you are very familiar with balance sheets and have a good financial background. A lot of people forget the basics. Don’t forget that stuff. Secondly, get solid experience. I can not count how many highly intelligent kids come out of top business schools with MBA’s but have no real experience.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

New Network for Young Entrepreneurs

Today’s youth are emerging as entrepreneurial powerhouses, and more and more are putting new ideas into action. These entrepreneurs refuse to accept things for the way they are. They’re relentlessly trying to push new concepts and practices into the world. They’re young, motivated, and unparalleled given today’s vast amount of available technology and resources. is the birth child of this “young entrepreneur” paradigm. A new social network geared primarily towards young entrepreneurs has emerged and is pushing the boundaries of social networking and interaction. My inherent first question was, “do we really need another social network?” I was sure I knew the answer to my somewhat rhetorical question. There’s so many networks out there all playing tug of war for users. It became clear soon after joining that even in its infancy, the guys at Under30 had asked themselves the very same question and vowed to make it clear that there is still plenty of space in the social network world.

“I remember when we first thought about this,” said co-founder Matt Wilson. “We all had finance, accounting, and business degrees, and graduation was coming up quick. Companies like KPMG and Price Waterhouse Coopers were recruiting from our class, but a few of us had this realization that the corporate job and lifestyle just wasn’t for us. We started thinking of a way to connect young entrepreneurs like us together to brainstorm and share resources.”

Under30CEO launched at the 2008 Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization in Chicago, IL. The site is utilizing a wide range of media to build a library of essential resources for young people looking to start a business.

“Whenever people start these things, they’re thinking, OK, how can we drive as much traffic to the site as possible. That’s the wrong mindset. We want the type of users who keep coming back and want to contribute to the site. If we build a great user base, and the mindset is kept on producing valuable content the rest will fall into place,” Wilson said.

You can check out Under30 at For more information on Under30, or to explore sponsorship opportunities, contact Matt Wilson.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

So You Want to Sell Advertising

Many people start sites with the preconceived notion that they can make tons of money by selling advertising. Don't be fooled, the road to riches is more detailed and complex than you know. For those of you moving forward, here are some tips for getting started.

What you need prior to selling anything is a detailed breakdown of your traffic. Understanding the types of visitors and members you have is going to be essential to successfully finding advertisers. You want a user base that is targeted, but not so targeted that you are limiting advertising prospects.

You need to know that in addition to users being interested in your site's primary focus, they are also within 'x' age range, 'x' income level, gender, etc. You absolutely need to understand figures such as bounce rates, the average time spent on your site, where the majority of traffic is coming from and the rate of growth/month.

Being that the economy is presumably slower than it was in the ad boom we saw about a year ago, you can be pretty sure that budgets for advertising are somewhat smaller. The rate of spending is still increasing, but at a slower rate than before. Because advertisers are a bit more cautious, a Pay Per Click (PPC) package may be more attractive, since the ROI is much more tangible.

CPM advertising (cost per thousand impressions) is the other alternative. Advertisers looking to maximize exposure in a specific market will likely flock to this option. Again though, the ROI is less tangible, and MOST companies, in my humble opinion, are looking at PPC options.

When you structure deals you want to emphasize the uniqueness of your audience and understand who your key prospective advertisers are going to be. Offer all encompassing advertising packages in addition to a single banner, like what you see on sites such as, where a company gets the banner, in-video ad, and perhaps a "free offer" opportunity from the advertiser. Sponsorship is a great word to use and paradigm to embrace since it feels less "advertisy" to consumers.

Traffic: this will be a tough barrier to overcome given that you probably don't have start up capital to spend on advertising yourself. My suggestion is to structure a vigorous grass roots campaign Which is often much better for long term results and for generating a consistent user base.

Blogs are a great first step in spreading the word and building natural traffic. Submit value based content to article databases as well. Original videos are also an emerging tactic that can build viral traffic to your site. My suggestion is keep it somewhat short, and very funny. Humor is key. Submit releases to other websites that may have an interest in your site. Offer to write stories on other companies in order to get them to post your story on their blogs.

Be creative. The more creative you can be as far as distribution methods the better.

Be patient! Don't expect your traffic and page rank to skyrocket over night. But also know that the harder you work and the more time you put in, the faster you will see results.

Visit to get more ideas and information on how to boost your company's marketing efforts!