Investigative Detective – Find Personal and Business Information Like a Professional

Do you love mysteries? Is there a detective lurking there in your subconscious? If you are like most of us, your mind can’t let a puzzle go until you have solved it, but sometimes the answer you are looking for eludes you.

We are all amazed at the flood of information available to us online. Do we need a recipe for chicken? We can find 101 ways to cook chicken. Do we need to know how to remove ink stains from a shirt pocket? We’ll find 99 different answers. We have seen how children and young people have put themselves at risk on Facebook, MySpace, and other social networks. Unscrupulous people are also on their computers in the middle of the night. We need a balance between our need for connecting and our need for protection and knowing the truth.

Most of us want information for very legitimate reasons and public information is available for anyone to see, and this includes our own records open to the public eye. Our privacy is important and we are warned about identity theft and how to protect ourselves. We want to be sure that information about ourselves is correct and then take steps to ensure we keep private matters private.

By the same token we have the right to public information about other people and services that concern us and this is where we can benefit from public information online. In this day and age when people are no longer growing up in places where everyone knows everyone else, we will need information services more than ever before. The data is there for our benefit and to assist us in making right choices in life, and to feel safe.

Here are some of the common kinds of information that you or someone close to you might need:

1. Mystery cell phone number or a misplaced important phone number. You have tried 411, the phone company and yellow pages and are stymied.
2. Background information on a company you would like to do business with. It’s a good idea to look before you leap.
3. Information on someone you would like to hire, but the personal references are insufficient. Perhaps you have moved to a new city and need a doctor or mechanic. Or you are looking for a church or particular kind of a minister. Perhaps you are interviewing for a nanny and you can’t take a chance on hiring just anyone. Our children are precious.
4. Information on possible tenants or even a neighbour that you don’t feel comfortable with. You don’t want to rely on gossip but would like to know more.
5. Your personal records — are they correct? Here is an opportunity to correct mistakes.
6. Doing a genealogical search? You can find this information too in public records.
7. An unexplained item on your bank account or credit card. The credit company has removed the charge, but you would like to know who used your card, for your own peace of mind.

Even though the information is completely open, searching online can be a long and tedious process of sifting through myriad data bases. It’s a good idea to look for packages specially designed to include all the specific needs described above. As the information age takes us into uncharted waters, we all need to be aware of what is at our fingertips to keep us safe and our privacy intact.

Business Information – The Double Dip Dilemma

We keep hearing that the economy is still in trouble, there’s even talk of the dreaded double dip recession. So if that’s what we facing, of even if we’re just in for a slower recovery, does that mean that you have to put your plans on hold?

The simple answer is no. But be smart about what you do. A downturn, or even a period of very slow growth, can present real opportunities for the smart business owner.

Whether you’re running a business now, or just thinking about getting started, these tips can help you make the most of the economic climate.

1. Look for the opportunities.

Some of the weaker businesses will fail. Those that don’t take the right actions to keep afloat, and that means there is a market share up for grabs. Look at how you can benefit from that. What new products can you introduce to take advantage? What new market areas could you move into? If you’re just starting up in business how can you position yourself to move into these gaps in the market?

2. Rethink your offering

Is what you’re selling, or planning to sell, still right for what your customers want today? If not what can you do to change it? Sometimes it’s just a case of changing how you sell the same product, or stating the benefits in a different way.

3. Seek out alliances

Look at other businesses around you and see if you can enter into a mutual arrangement to refer business to each other. Many other businesses will also be looking for ways to get more customers and this can be a great way to do it.

4. Do more networking

Make the time to find people who either could be your customers, or who could put you in touch with your potential customers, and spend time developing a relationship with them. You can do this at formal networking events or at social and sporting occasions, or at any other opportunity.

5. Increase your marketing

One of the first things many businesses cut back on when the belt has to be tightened is marketing. But actually it’s one of the last things you should sacrifice. Your business depends on income; your income depends on customers. You get new customers by marketing. If you increase your marketing efforts while your competitors are cutting back you will be able to increase your share of the market.

Scam or Review You Can Trust? Searching for Real Home-Based Business Information

When you want to buy a book online, you try to find a seller with 100% positive reviews, but when you research options your for home-based business, you are almost certain to encounter some contradictions. A home-based business opportunity leading one person to make hundreds of thousands of dollars is condemned by someone else as a scam. How can you decide who is worth believing? Maybe you decide to check a reputable sounding website that promises to review home-based businesses and reveal which ones are scams. But is this comparison website itself a scam or review that should command your attention? With all the competing and conflicting reviews out on the web today, it is difficult to sort out which ones can be believed.

What makes these so-called reviews so tricky is that they may even recommend more than one thing. While it may seem that not favoring just one means the reviews are impartial, the real reason may be that whoever is sponsoring the website or writing the review is involved in several different affiliate or multi-level marketing programs. It is common for people to be in several programs at once, so if they are featuring several of their own, whatever one you choose will be profitable for that person.

Even seemingly informative articles can be slanted, while claiming to be a review. There may be some valuable information contained in the article, but when it comes down to it, should you believe that the author can really offer a superior alternative? Probably not–at least not right away.

Reviews, scam websites, and articles are all used in the attempt to steer people away from certain programs to competing opportunities. If you want to find information and opinions in reviews that will be helpful, keep digging and getting many perspectives on the options you are considering. If you are looking to be 100% certain that you can trust a review, give up now. There will inevitably be people contradicting one another. Even so, you can glean insights and begin to discover who is being more honest.

You may seldom, if ever find a truly unbiased review. But by continuing to read more reviews and by investigating the people writing the reviews and recommending their particular business opportunity, the picture will become clearer. You still must decide which opportunity to pursue and take a risk. Yet doing a thorough job of discerning whether the information you researched was a scam or review will help give you confidence that you have made the best choice. The more confident you are in your choice, the greater your potential for success with your legitimate home-based business.

When Fishing for New Business, Information is the Best Bait!

People are always looking for information. This is the major reason Google has been so successful. With that as a given, how can we as marketers capitalize on this phenomenon? The simple answer is to give away information. It is the greatest premium item ever conceived. It usually costs less than a pen, a note pad, or a coffee mug; especially if it is repurposed from prior programs, and it’s much easier to deliver. Plus, delivery is actually the first step on the pathway to purchase.

There are several ways to find folks who are looking for the information that you have to offer.

First, to cast a wide net, there are many specialized Double Opt-In email lists available for rent, and a simple, carefully crafted message (usually a text message, no fancy photos or graphics) sent out to a thoughtfully selected group of potential clients, offering a simple report, media file, or white paper, then combined with personal follow up, will yield significant numbers of well qualified leads, and, most important, the start of a dialog. And dialogs frequently finish with sales. I cannot emphasize strongly enough using Double Opt-In lists. These are people who have agreed to get mailings because they are looking for information, and they know that they won’t get spammed from these senders. These people are also much more likely to open your email. Industry trade publications are very good sources for this type of mailing. See additional comments about this below.

Next, you can create web pages to offer your information in exchange for people’s email address. A page that is search engine friendly, targeted at people who are searching for your information will always yield people who will to give you their contact information to get your information – the start of a dialog.

Finally, of course, the people on your own lists. These are people with whom you already have an existing email relationship, so you can legitimately mail offers of additional RELEVANT information to them, and they will very likely respond positively.

In addition to electronic documents, remember also if you have valuable information in other media formats, you can also distribute them. It could be a podcast or other audio file, a video, an informational PowerPoint presentation or other media file. Repurposing works very well here. It all adds to the excitement, interest, and value that you are offering making it all the more likely that you will get high quality leads who will want do business with you.

Step by Step…

  • First, you need a choice of several white papers, reports or other information relevant to your target audience. Make absolutely certain you have all the requisite rights and clearances to distribute these pieces. Like any premium or incentive item, you will give them away.
  • Next, decide how you will reach your target audience. The simplest, most targeted, and generally least expensive way is with email lists rented from trade publications in your field. Usually the mailing will go out directly from the trade publication’s mailing service, so it can legitimately have the trade pub in the “From” field. And, because the recipient will most likely already have the publication “white listed” in his or her email system, you will increase the likelihood that the mail will end up in their inbox, not the spam bucket. It also gives the message added credibility, and increases the chances that the email will be opened and read. And the publication will be very selective about what information that it will send out under its own name.
  • The “Reply To” in the email is a person or group in your company who will respond to each email individually. Though this could very well be done with an auto responder, the personal communication puts you that much closer to an in-depth dialog with the prospect, and therefore, that much closer to a sale.
  • The Subject line should be consistent with the information being offered, and also appropriate from the publication to whose list you will be sending.
  • The message itself should be a simple text only message with no images or graphics.
  • The reply from your staff should have the information papers or media files as attachments, and an offer to immediately get involved to address the prospects’ problem.
  • Decide how much you would like to spend, and how big you want the mailing to be. Negotiate with the list owners to make sure you buy at the best CPM for your budget. You never know, by jumping to the next quantity level, you may be able to send to many more prospects for very little more, which will reduce your cost/lead. Since this is a numbers game, more is definitely better.

The critical element is follow up! The main goal of this process is to open a dialog between a prospect and someone in your company who can affect a sale as quickly as possible. If those people don’t follow up immediately, momentum is lost and must be regained before the sale can actually be made.

One of the major benefits of this type of marketing is its speed. From idea to interaction with clients, it can frequently be turned around in a week or so, and is, therefore, very cost effective.

Extending the value of this technique

There are a couple of things that you can do to easily extend the reach of a program like this.

First, publicize the effort. A well placed press release with the email address to contact (or web page) to get the white papers or media files costs very little, and will get you many additional leads. Also, when people see the information appearing in places other than their inbox, it lends more credibility to the story, and increases the response rate.

Next, using standard online list building techniques as mentioned before, add access to the white papers and media files through Search Engine Optimized pages on your web site. But don’t just put them there as downloads; use the same process as with the email send. If someone is interested, and clicks on the link to get information, get their email address, and respond in the same way as someone who responded to the email promotion. Again, minimal expense for added program reach.

The side benefit, of course, is that you will significantly grow your email list with LEGITIMATE names, ones with whom you can legally continue to correspond.

Last, but not least – Measure!

Remember, “If you didn’t measure it, you didn’t do it!” (See related three part article here.) You must track how many leads and sales were developed and how much they cost. This works on two levels. First, you must know if this effort was worth the dollars spent. Most likely it will be. Next, if you use several lists from different sources, you’ll want to know which performed better. If the program works well only from one publication, it may be worth repeating, but drop the underperforming pub, or select another one. But you won’t know unless you measure. You can also see what media draws best, static (PDF or other files to be printed) or dynamic (files to view or listen to). And, you will know how much those names added to your list cost.

And though simple text emails have proven very effective for programs such as this, you may want to test an HTML version with images and graphics to see which draws better in your situation with your audience.

This is a simple program, easy to implement, has many side benefits, and will yield good results – quickly.