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Web News & Tips - Issue #235

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Appearance Pays Big Dividends for the SOHO

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Appearance Pays Big Dividends for the SOHO

By Mike Burstein

Promotion takes many forms in the small business arena. A key piece of the success puzzle is appearance.

This sounds like a simple task - to have your business appear to be more than it currently is - but in reality there are numerous facets to consider.

Your corporate image is immediately on display by your business cards, brochures and letterhead. Don't scrimp here - buy the best quality that you can afford - maybe more!

The way your phone is answered speaks volumes to your size and stature in the business world - buy a small office phone system that utilizes an auto attendant to route your calls. This immediately creates the appearance of size for your company. 

Spend the money necessary to have the latest and greatest in computers and software. Nothing makes your company seem small more than telling a prospective customer that you are unable to open a document because the software version you are using is too old or that your Internet connection is too slow to download a large file.

Every successful business has a presence on the Internet now. Create or pay to have a website created under your own domain name. Using your domain name in your email address is standard practice today. Insert this address on all printed materials and signs.

Your personal appearance tells a story. Depending on the type of business you are running, always dress sharply. If it's a service business, clean uniforms are required daily. If it's a professional service, dress the part - nothing spells success better than an expensive suit with matching accessories.

The vehicle you drive can be a great promotional tool. Don't scrimp on signage for service vehicles and whatever type of business you run, be sure that your vehicles are always clean - inside and out.

If your business is home based, there are lots of great places to get acquainted with customers when a meeting is required. The lobby of most upscale hotels has an appropriate area to hold a meeting. Even a local Starbucks or similar store can make a suitable meeting place. Always pick up the tab for your prospective or current customer -it's just a cost of doing business.

Promotional items are an expense that pays you dividends. Try to select items that your customer or prospect will have a need for throughout the year - keeping your name, number and URL within easy reach. 

Keep in mind that people like to do business with those that appear to be successful. Your image needs to make you appear to be a thriving businessperson in your chosen field - even if you haven't hit the jackpot yet!

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Web News

With students downloading everything from music to software, college campuses are becoming a breeding ground for software piracy, according to a study. 

Nearly two-thirds of students surveyed say the would potentially download pirated software and a majority of academics say downloading software is a real problem on campus, notes the report from the Business Software Alliance (BSA), the trade organization for the commercial software industry. Students also say they don't think their professors discourage software theft. 

The demographic "Generation Y" can be segmented into three distinct age groups, with a combined spending power of $172 billion per year, according to research by Harris Interactive. 

This group of 8-to-21-year-olds represents 57 million Americans who earn roughly $211 billion per year, and they spend all but $39 billion of it. "This shows that this age group has been willing to forgo savings in order to keep their spending levels consistent," said John Geraci, vice president of youth research at Harris Interactive. 

Generation Y puts 62 percent of their income into savings at some point, but only 19 percent of their total income ends up in savings in the long term, Geraci explained. "On average, young people carry less than $30 with them, so they need to constantly connect to their income source or savings to buy things." 

The health insurance industry has recognized the advantage of offering online access to customers, but few have seized the opportunity. Jupiter Research (a unit of this site's corporate parent) estimates that 55 percent of the U.S. online population demand access to their health insurance, yet only 22 percent of online consumers with health insurance use the Internet monthly to access their provider's site. 

Those accessing their insurance information are typically over age 50, have annual incomes of $75,000 or more, and have been online for more than five years. Jupiter estimates that this demographic will experience significant growth between 2003 and 2007, and health insurance providers should have online initiatives deployed to capitalize on the swell of consumers. 

Music is ubiquitous, as research from The NPD Group finds that nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of all U.S. households with Internet access had at least one digital music file on their hard drives, and more than half of that group had up to 100 digital music files. While all of these music files aren't the result of Internet downloading, NPD says that two-thirds of all digital music file acquisition can be attributed to file sharing, and the remainder is mainly attributed to ripping tracks directly from CDs. 

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