How to Operate the Back Office of Your Main Street Business on a Budget
In a previous article about building your brand on a budget, it was suggested that a brand is a success if it outlasts the campaign that launched it and A Diamond Is Forever was an example. Another example of a campaign that has stood the test of time is Does She or Doesn't She?
What is the background of this campaign and how did this happen?
Back in the mid 1950s, the Clairol girl was invented as a wholesome girl next door with a shocking secret; her hair color might be fake.
This launched a campaign with a series of ads for tints and dyes that posed the titillating Q&A: Does she or doesn't she? (Only her hairdresser knows for sure.)
This campaign and series of ads launched the birth of shockvertising that generated buzz by tapping into the sexual revolution. Sex sells and ten years later, annual sales of hair coloring had risen by more than $160 million and this campaign has stood the test of time.
It also paved the way for Brooke (Nothing comes between me and my Calvins) Shields and Pam (naked for PETA) Anderson.
The previous blog post concluded with examples of how to use Social Media to build a brand on a budget. This blog post will continue and provide examples of how to operate, on a budget, the back-office of your small business using an ever growing array of virtual services at your disposal spanning 8 categories.
The UnOffice. You can save office rent and work with your colleagues anywhere that has a WiFi signal. Basecamp is a web-based project management application that lets you assign tasks, send instant messages, collaboratively edit documents, create presentations, and track projects with employees and clients. This tool is offered as a service for web design professionals and other creative resources that are completing longer-term assignments.
Credit Cards. Setting up a conventional credit card payment system involves contracts, equipment rental, and thousands in transaction fees. The ex Twitter CEO has a new startup called Square that allows you to plug a simple device into the headphone jack of an iPhone or iPod. This allows your customers to make a purchase from anywhere and you can swipe their plastic with the device to accept payment; and the system is paperless.
The Phone. Telecom systems killed the receptionist. Now Google Voice is set to kill telecom. Voice gives you the local number of your choice and lets you forward it to as many landlines or cell phones as you please giving you an office number even if your office consists of nothing more than you and your dog or cat. This service also transcribes voicemail messages and provides them as text messages or email.
The Fax. Buying a bulky fax machine is so 1990s. And then there is the monthly cost of the dedicated landline needed to run the thing. With eFax, you get a landline based fax number of your choosing and up to 130 incoming fax pages each month. Incoming faxes are sent to you by eFax as an email attachment.
IT Department. Get the perks of a corporate computer network with Dropbox's free downloadable software. Just drag and drop files into a desktop folder to synch them to computers and PDAs; and no IT guys are needed.
Accounting Department. Freshbooks is an online invoicing, time-tracking, and expense service. It automates the accounting department with an easy web interface that sends documents with your logo to clients. Manage as many as three clients for free; upgrade to a version that manages up to 25, for $19 a month.
Complaint Department. Get Satisfaction is a startup that mint dot com and Nike are already using. It collects questions, complaints and feedback from throughout the Social Media universe and organizes it inot a customer service platform that can be used on your website.
Make It Legal. Create a simple LLC, or trademark your business name, with LegalZoom or PROLaw; both are low cost alternatives to hiring counsel. Services include additional document preparation, filing fees, and custom operating agreements.
You must build your brand organically. You must operate your business as efficiently as possible. Follow the steps suggested above and use the suggested tools to build your online brand and operate your business on a budget. Boost your online image and get branded for life. Operate your business in a lean manner so that your small business pays and pays.
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Happy Reading and Here's to Your Success!