Positioning Presentation Nov 2011

I had the chance to present some thoughts on positioning yourself, your products and your business in the marketplace recently. If you are interested, I’ve attached a pdf of my presentation notes here. The notes are half pages, so when you print them out, there are 2 per page for a total of 4 pages.

Essentially, I outlined why I think it is important to start with who you serve. So many times, we get caught up in very generic expectations of what we should be doing to market ourselves thinking that we have to conquer the entire world. In reality, most of us need to reach a steady, committed set of clients with whom we can be connected over time. Mass marketing can be very effective, but it is also very expensive. And even when you are engaged in mass marketing, you are really carefully targeting your audience.

So when in doubt, start with thinking about your ideal client. Focus on who is a good client or customer for you and you may find that you can be much more efficient with your time and talents.

Positioning Presentation 7Nov11

12 Tips for the Social Media Newbie

Social Media MarketingMany small business owners are silently watching social media marketing from the sidelines. They’re intrigued, interested and attracted by this new marketing channel, but don’t feel quite ready to join in on the game. But, no worries.

Here are twelve simple tips to help get your social media marketing in top form.

1. It’s not too late. Many small business owners think they’ve missed the boat when it comes to jumping on the social media bandwagon. But, nothing could be further from the truth. Social media is in its infancy and still considered a newborn in the marketing world.

2. Have a plan. You certainly wouldn’t jump into a new business without a plan of action. The same is true for social media marketing.  You should know exactly what you are trying to accomplish before you get involved.

3. Start slow. There are hundreds of social media platforms out there. But, limit your involvement to Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Once you’ve mastered these three, then you can broaden your horizons.

4. Be realistic with the time-commitment. If you’re going to fully succeed through social media marketing, then you’re going to have to commit some time and energy to making it work. As with all new marketing adventures, it always takes longer in the beginning.

5. Use automation. There are dozens of automation tools to help you manage your time on social media. Use them wisely and in moderation.

6. Get personal.
Don’t rely entirely on automated tools. You need to interact with your friends, followers and connections.  Social media doesn’t work if you aren’t interested in forming real relationships.

7. Don’t outsource from the start. Although eventually you can outsource some of the tedious social media tasks, it’s in your best interest to be personally involved in every aspect of social media so that you can understand exactly how it works. Then, once you have wrapped your brain around it, you can outsource.

8. Don’t expect a miracle. Social media is a tool. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s never going to fix a broken business.

9. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. There’s not a “rule book” for social media success. Go ahead and get started, if you make a mistake, it’s not the end of the world.

10. Don’t overcomplicate. Social media is mostly a mixture of common sense, interaction and dedication. Don’t make it more complicated than it is.

11. Have fun. At the end of the day, social media is, well, social. So, wipe that frown off your face and have a little fun Tweeting, updating and posting.

12. Just do it.
The most important tip of all is to just get started. You’re never going to learn to swim if you don’t jump in the pool.

There’s still plenty of time to get involved in social media marketing for your small business. Once you get started and find success, you’ll never look back.

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Jessica Swanson, “The Shoestring Marketer,” has helped entrepreneurs, all over the world, explode their businesses using cutting-edge, proven and completely free marketing strategies. To receive your FREE Shoestring Marketing Kit, which has helped thousands of entrepreneurs, just like you, learn the exact techniques for marketing their businesses for no-cost, visit: www.ShoestringMarketingKit.com

21 Shoestring Marketing Secrets for Small Business Success

Guest Author:  Jessica Swanson

21 Shoestring Marketing SecretsUnfortunately, many small business owners believe in the motto, “it takes money to make money” in the world of small business. The good news is that nothing could be further from the truth.

Here are twenty-one shoestring marketing secrets that will provide you with the right frame of mind so that you can begin the process of building a thriving small business without spending a dime on marketing.

What every small business needs to know is that Shoestring Marketing is:

1. Low-cost. In today’s internet and social media age, there are now more low-cost marketing options than ever before. Not only is it possible, but absolutely doable to substantially grow your small business on a shoestring budget.

2. Commitment. If your marketing is going to eventually take hold, then you need to make a strong commitment to see it through until it sticks. Don’t give up in the early stages.

3. Patience. The fruits of your marketing labors don’t happen overnight. You need to plant your marketing seeds and tend to them regularly before your marketing garden blooms.

4. Branding. Your clients and customers need to have a clear picture in their minds as to who you are and how your product or service can solve their most pressing problems.

5. Consistency.
Marketing is much like breathing. It’s the life of your small business and should be a regular part of your daily business activities.

6. Domination. If you want to explode your small business profits, then you must dominate a small part of your market. You need to become the “go-to” person in your particular niche.

7. Customer-focused. Your primary job is to clearly identify the problems that your prospects face and offer them the obvious solutions.

8. Identify your target market. It’s crucial that you know exactly who needs your product or service. Mass marketing doesn’t work in today’s business environment. Not only does it force you to water down your marketing message to please the masses, but it’s much too expensive for the shoestring marketer.

9. Elicits confidence and trust.
Create experiences and situations that boost the level of confidence from your prospects. At the end of the day, people buy from those whom they like and trust.

10. Massive visibility.
Since your prospects are exposed to over 4,000 ads every single day, you need to ensure that your small business is utilizing as many marketing platforms as possible. Your prospects should come across you in as many places as possible.

11. Repetition. Research suggests that prospects need to encounter your small business between seven and twelve times before they are ready to purchase. So, put yourself in front of your target market over and over again.

12. Ease of use. If your sales process, marketing materials or any other part of your business is too complicated, your customers will become confused.  Confused customers simply don’t buy.

13. The WOW Factor.
What are you doing to get noticed? How are you different than your competition? The fastest way to small business failure is to blend in with the crowd.

14. Quality.
If your product and/or services aren’t top quality, then you won’t get repeat business. Your long-term success depends on satisfied customers who spread the word about your business and purchase from you repeatedly.

15. Education. Position yourself as an expert and educate your prospects as to why your small business can offer them the remedy to their most pressing pain points.

16. Relationships. Create real relationships with your prospects and customers. Answer their questions, solve their problems and help them if they’re stuck.  Your prospects want to know that there’s a real person in front of your small business.

17. Increasing the lifetime value of customers. Over 20% of your existing customers will purchase from you again (since they already know and trust you), so create additional ways for them to make purchases.

18. Automation. We’re living in a fast-tracked society that doesn’t work using old-fashioned marketing methods. So, embrace automation tools such as landing pages, email autoresponders, shopping carts, customer management software, etc.

19. Tracking your results. It’s essential to your overall survival that you have a clear understanding what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to your marketing. Use link tracking software to track your ROI (even if your only investment is your time).

20. Flexibility.
Things change quickly and you must be willing to adapt. When the next “great” marketing platform emerges, be willing to jump on board and embrace it with excitement. If you are a flexible marketer, you’re always miles ahead of your competition.

21. Everything that you do. Marketing isn’t just about your advertising campaigns. Every single interaction that you have with your prospects promotes your small business. So, be careful how you answer the phone, respond to your emails and treat your customers because all of it makes an instant and lasting impression on them.

So, there you have it, twenty-one Shoestring Marketing strategies that will literally transform your small business from “just getting by” to “flourishing.”  And, the best part of all is that you can do it all on a shoestring marketing budget.

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Jessica Swanson, “The Shoestring Marketer,” has helped entrepreneurs, all over the world, explode their businesses using cutting-edge, proven and completely free marketing strategies. To receive your FREE Shoestring Marketing Kit, which has helped thousands of entrepreneurs, just like you, learn the exact techniques for marketing their businesses for no-cost, visit: www.ShoestringMarketingKit.com

Competitive Intelligence – Sophisticated or Quick & Dirty

Inc. has been posting some very good information on “how to” do things related to a small business.  One of their posts that caught my attention was about the secrets of competitive intelligence.  The post talked about how important it is for companies of all sizes to know what is going on around them and to pay attention to the competition.  And that small companies may need to be even more attentive to their competitors.

Two key suggestions in the article were that you should know yourself first and then figure out what matters in your competitive space.  The author quotes experts who offer ways to track what your competitors are doing and how to keep up with what your market is looking for from its suppliers.

A number of resources were mentioned in the article, including:

The writers at Inc. point out that you need clarity and discipline to “be in the game.”  The MBA in me got very excited to read about these tools and be reminded of SWOT analyses and competitive mapping, but I also thought about how much time and discipline these activities take.  If you can check out the Inc. article, I encourage you to do so, it is excellent, but if you don’t think you can implement the more sophisticated system they mention, you might want to read a little bit about Howie Jacobson’s Checkmate.  Don’t let the semi-cheesy sales page fool you, this is some really helpful stuff.  Howie has taken what he knows about Adwords — which is enough to get the “for Dummies” book people to ask him to write the Google Adwords for Dummies books — and has taken on competitive positioning.  In about an hour, using the Checkmate matrix, I was able to outline my client’s competitive space.  I used the Google search page for the keywords that were important to my client and then went to town.  I strongly believe in the competitive intelligence work outlined by Inc.  That’s good stuff, but for quick and dirty and getting me started, I have to say what I learned via Checkmate was pretty powerful and something I can do easily at any time I need to check in on my positioning.

I’ve gotten to know Howie since he moved to about an hour’s drive me, so let me know if you are interested in Checkmate, I might be able to help you get connected or even get a discount.  Just email me at info@barbarademarest.com.

Barbara Demarest (www.barbarademarest.com) received her MBA from the Babcock School of Management at Wake Forest University and her BA from Duke University. After 20 years at the Center for Creative Leadership, Barbara launched a strategy and development consulting practice focusing on people leading change in associations, foundations, universities, nonprofits and knowledge businesses.  You can find Barbara’s executive coaching profile on www.thecoachingassociation.com.

Morning Sports Talk: It’s Business

ESPN’s Mike and Mike in the Morning Show was on today as it is most mornings during my household’s get-up-get-ready-and-go period.  I was a bit more attentive today since the talk was college basketball and my alma mater had just won the championship in a squeaker.  I was about to tune out as the two Mikes moved on to the story about how the Philadelphia Eagles had traded Donovan McNabb to the Washington Redskins. At some point, the conversation turned to whether Redskins player Jason Campbell should or should not have been told about the trade before the public heard about it and the media questioned him.

This is Business

Mike Greenberg said yes, someone, even if it was an assistant should have talked to Campbell before he was blindsided by the media.  Mike Golic responded with a bit of a you-gotta-be-kidding-me-you-wimp face and a comment that let the audience know he thought Greenberg was being way too touchy-feely about the whole thing.  

Golic also postured that the Redskins had publicly stated that the quarterback position was open and that Campbell should not have hurt feelings about being passed over in a trade.  Then Golic said, “This is business.”

I’ll save for another post why I think “business” and treating well the people who are part of your organization are not mutually exclusive concepts and focus today on how taking the time to manage your message is absolutely about “business.”

Managing Your Message, Brand and Fan Experience

When Mike Greenberg suggested that Jason Campbell should have been informed about a trade that didn’t involve him personally – he wasn’t being traded and he hadn’t officially had the job that McNabb was being traded to take – Mike Golic reacted to the comment as if it was all about Jason Campbell’s feelings.  I’m suggesting that this was one way to react, but certainly not the only reaction if you are thinking about “business.”  Instead you could have thought about brand, the marketing message, and the fan experience.

Management guru Peter Drucker is often quoted as having said that there is only one valid purpose of a business and that is to create a customer.  He also said that there are only two basic functions of a business:  marketing and innovation.  It seems to me that the Redskins are taking care of the innovation function by trying out a new mix of players and shaking up their line up (not that I know ANYTHING about professional football).  Where I think Golic gets it wrong is on the marketing.

Marketing is about creating a great customer experience that keeps them coming back and buying your product or service.  It includes managing your message and maintaining your brand.  If for no other reason than “business,” it would have been a good idea to make sure Jason Campbell knew about the trade and that management knew what he would say to the press when asked.  If the press thinks that your fans, i.e. the Redskins’ customers, will be interested in what Jason Campbell thinks about the trade, then the leadership of the Redskins should be strategically thinking about that too.  Even if you aren’t going to like or can’t control what Jason Campbell says or does next, it is better to know and plan the next piece of your messaging strategy than to leave it as an unknown where you have to react in the moment to whatever is said to the public.

Manage your message, make sure everyone involved in creating the fan experience is on board with your strategy, and leverage your opportunities in front of the press to enhance and extend your fan base.  That’s business.

Barbara Demarest (www.barbarademarest.com) received her MBA from the Babcock School of Management at Wake Forest University and her BA from Duke University. After 20 years at the Center for Creative Leadership, Barbara launched a strategy and development consulting practice focusing on people leading change in associations, foundations, universities, nonprofits and knowledge businesses.  You can find Barbara’s executive coaching profile on www.thecoachingassociation.com.

Tips on Using Facebook in 15-minute Intervals

LinkedIn is my preferred social networking tool, but we can’t deny the power of Facebook.  I thought you might find this article from “Shoestring Marketer,” Jessica Swanson of interest.  See what you think and if Facebook can work as part of your overall positioning online – for yourself as a job seeker or sole proprietor or for your business, nonprofit, or agency.

Facebook Marketing In 15 Minutes a Day
by Jessica Swanson

Marketing your business on Facebook is a wonderful way to find new clients, business partners and customers. In fact, there are thousands of professionals who are members of Facebook just waiting to do business with you.   Of course, you want to make sure that you are not on Facebook to sell yourself and your services, but instead to offer helpful and valuable information and advice to your new community of friends.   The main problem that most small business owners face is that Facebook marketing can be extremely time-consuming and difficult to manage. Many log into their Facebook accounts and, hours later, still feel that they haven’t accomplished very much. They are not sure where to focus their energies and efforts when using Facebook as a marketing tool.

Here are the six areas that you should focus on every day when marketing using Facebook:

1) Make Friend Requests (5 minutes) When you first begin on Facebook, you will need to begin making friend requests in order to build your network. The easiest way to accomplish this is to join groups that fit nicely with your business industry. (i.e. If you are a realtor, then join a realtor’s group; if you own a dog training service, then join a dog-lovers group).   Once you have joined a few groups, begin sending out friend requests to the members of the group. You will want to attach a short note introducing yourself and explaining why you are contacting them.   In addition, Facebook policy only allows you to send out ten new friend requests per day. So, if you want to keep yourself withing the good graces of Facebook, then stick to this rule.  

2) Accept Friend Requests (2 minutes) Once you have been using Facebook actively for a couple of weeks, you will start receiving friend requests yourself. Take a couple of minutes to look through your requests and decide if you would like to accept them as a friend or not.   You shouldn’t spend a lot of time debating who to approve. My general rule of thumb is that if they have a professional profile picture, sent a personal message and we have a few friends in common, I will generally accept their friend request.

3)  Check and Answer Your Emails and Applications (5 minutes) You will receive emails from your friends for a variety of reasons. Some will contact you thanking you for your friendship. Others will send you an invitation to join their group. Still others will send you sales pitch to join their business. (Which, as a savvy marketer, you will never do!)   Take the time to answer the appropriate emails in one or two sentences and then wrap-up with a question in order to continue the relationship with your new friend.   In addition, sift through all of your applications (Christmas tree ornaments, snowmen requests, etc). To make better use of your time, you should delete most of these applications. Remember, if the application is not building your business, it’s not worth your effort.  

4)  Update Your Status (3 minute) Every FaceBook user is able to update their status as often as they would like. The best part is that whenever you update your status, you have a personal FaceBook newsfeed that will broadcast your update to all of your friends.   Make sure to mix your status updates with professional material (blog posts, twitter posts, articles, etc) and appropriate personal information. Of course, stay away from direct selling and advertising.  

5)  Write on Your Friends Walls (2 minutes) Remember, it’s important to develop relationships with your friends within your FaceBook community. You should take the time to visit some of your friends and write messages on their walls. You can simply make a comment, ask a question or wish them a great day.

6)   Make Comments On Your Friends Status Updates (3 minutes) Quickly scan through your friends’ status updates. When you see anything that peaks your interest, make a comment or give them a “thumbs up.” Your friends will love the idea that you took the time to comment on their status updates.   Facebook can be a very powerful place to market yourself and your business. However, remember that in order to be successful you will need to offer value, ask questions, and develop relationships with your Facebook friends.

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About Jessica Swanson:
Jessica Swanson, “The Shoestring Marketer,” has helped entrepreneurs, all over the world, explode their businesses using cutting-edge, proven and completely FREE internet marketing strategies. To receive your FREE Marketing Kit,  which has helped thousands of entrepreneurs, just like you, learn the exact techniques for marketing their businesses for NO-COST, visit: http://www.ShoestringMarketingKit.com

A Memorable Way to Think about Marketing

I subscribe to the IttyBiz mail list by the internet’s biggest potty-mouth, Naomi Dunford.  The thing about Naomi is that somehow even with all her “gutter talk” as my mom used to say, her insights, ideas, and explanations are always excellent.  I’ve bought several of her products because, well, she just makes so much sense.  Today she passed along an email from someone named Mel, who forwarded Naomi a definition of Marketing.  I just couldn’t pass up passing it along.  I hope you enjoy:

You’re a woman and you see a handsome guy at a party. You go up to him and say, “I’m fantastic in bed.” That’s Marketing.

You’re at a party with a bunch of friends and see a handsome guy. One of your friends goes up to him and pointing at you says, “She’s fantastic in bed.” That’s Advertising.

You see a handsome guy at a party. You go up to him and get his telephone number. The next day you call and say, “Hi, I’m fantastic in bed.” That’s Telemarketing.

You see a guy at a party, you straighten your dress. You walk up to him and pour him a drink. You say, “May I?” and reach up to straighten his tie brushing your breast lightly against his arm, and then say, “By the way, I’m fantastic in bed.” That’s Public Relations.

You’re at a party and see a handsome guy. He walks up to you and says, “I hear you’re fantastic in bed,” That’s Brand Recognition.

You’re at a party and see a handsome guy. You talk him into going home with your friend. That’s a Sales Rep.

Your friend can’t satisfy him so he calls you. That’s Tech Support.

You’re on your way to a party when you realize that there could be handsome men in all these houses you’re passing. So you climb onto the roof of one situated toward the center and shout at the top of your lungs, “I’m fantastic in bed!” That’s Junk Mail.

Thanks Naomi and Mel, that is actually very helpful, clear, and memorable!  To see the full post, go to Naomi’s site, www.IttyBiz.com.

Tumbleweed Tiny Houses

I am completely fascinated by Jay Shafer’s Tumbleweed Tiny Houses. I desperately want to build one and Jay makes me feel as if I could!  If you haven’t seen these amazingly small, compact and efficient homes, you might enjoy visiting Jay’s site and seeing the designs and room layouts.  (And Jay if you are reading this, I would love a B-53 with the additional bedroom downstairs.) Jay is a small space evangelist and I have absolutely no reason to talk about him on my blog… except I can’t stop looking at these designs and surely there is a marketing lesson to learn from that somewhere.

I’ve watched Jay’s work evolve and grow for about 6 years and I get excited when a new design appears.   I bought the little book of designs he produced and I pull it out every once in awhile and imagine what it might be like to “live small.”  Maybe it is my desire to have a space that is totally and completely my own, or maybe I just like the idea that I could build a whole house, or maybe it is the thought that you could pare your belongings down to the degree needed to live in one of Jay Shafer’s houses.

Bottom line is that I think there is a lesson to be learned from Jay.  He’s tapped into something deep in the American psyche about home ownership, living within your means, and managing your resources.  In marketing parlance, he’s found his unique selling position, he knows and engages with his clients, and he is clear about his message.  So, I will continue to justify my fascination with Jay Shafer’s Tumbleweed Tiny Houses and call it market research.

And maybe I will see you at one of Jay’s upcoming workshops where he teaches Tiny Housebuilding and Small Space Design:

Austin, TX                 Jan 16-17, 2010
Durham, NC            Mar 20-21, 2010
Boston, MA              May 22-23, 2010
Toronto, Canada    July 17-18, 2010
Portland, OR                Aug 7-8, 2010
Boulder, CO            Sep 18-19, 2010
Sebastopol, CA           Nov 6-7, 2010

Texting Etiquette

Is it OK to text on the toilet? If you were to ask 75% of respondents in a recent Intel survey, the answer would be yes. Yew. The Intel Holiday Mobile Etiquette survey, which questioned 2,625 adults over age 18, had less gross findings as well:

– 80% felt there were unspoken rules about mobile technology.

– 52% would be offended if someone secretly used an Internet-enabled device at the table during a holiday party.

– 62% said mobile devices are part of our daily lives and society needs to adapt accordingly.

– 62% would send an ecard instead of a traditional card.

– 88% would not be offended to receive a thank you email instead of a handwritten card.

– 30% would be offended by an online gift wish list from a friend or family member.

– 87% said the use of mobile devices is inappropriate at religious venues.

– 60% said using a mobile device on a date was inappropriate.

Over the age of 18 is a pretty broad age range. It would be interesting to see how attitudes break down according to age groups. Or, would a more metropolitan or tech savvy area (like Silicon Valley) be more tolerant of mobile activity? Fortunately or unfortunately for us, though, the holidays cut through geography and generations. So, happy early holidays, everyone! You’ve had fair warning. Now put away yer phones!

By Noelle Chun

Stop Interrupting and Start Interacting!

Guest Post by Jessica Swanson

A radical change has occurred in the world of marketing.  Just five short years ago, most companies utilized only traditional forms of advertising including: TV ads, radio ads, magazine ads, newspaper ads, etc.

As a result, most marketing consisted of advertising that interrupted whatever the consumer was doing. TV commercials are a perfect example of this advertising concept. As you watch your favorite Thursday night program, suddenly a commercial breaks onto the scene and interrupts you. Thus, the term “interruption marketing” was born!

Obviously, consumers began to rebel against interruptive advertising, because, let’s face it, no one likes to be rudely interrupted.

According to Kirby and Marsden (authors of Connected Marketing), 90% of people who can skip TV ads, do skip TV ads. In addition, 65% of people believe that they are constantly bombarded with too much advertising. So, as a small business owner, the first question that you must ask yourself is: “Am I rudely interrupting my prospects with directive advertising methods?”

As consumers pulled away and began to distrust directive forms of marketing, marketers were forced to make a change. No longer could marketers engage in the traditional, forceful ways of old; consumers were just too savvy for that.

As a result, interactional marketing was born! Developing relationships with your customers before they do business with you is an integral part of a successful marketing plan. No matter what business you are in, your motto should be: relationships first, sales second.

As a marketer what can you do to begin to develop relationships with today’s consumer? Here is a quick list to ensure that you are heading in the right direction:

1) Engage Your Prospects Through Real Conversations. Today’s clients desperately want personal relationships with those they choose to do business with. As a business owner this is relatively simple to accomplish through some of the popular social media sites:  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc. Ask questions, answer questions and provide helpful suggestions to your prospects on a regular basis. Marketing is not a one-way street. Today’s consumer wants to build a relationship with you.

2) Focus On Solving Your Prospect’s Problems. As a small business owner, you need to determine what problems your prospect needs solved – then work at providing the solution! Believe it or not, your prospects don’t care how successful, savvy or good-looking YOU are. All they care about is their own problems and how you can provide the solution. You must take the focus off of yourself and instead, convince your prospective clients and customers that you can help them.

3) Share Information. Offer your prospects valuable information about yourself and your company. Give them a taste of what they can expect if they develop a business relationship with you. You can accomplish this by giving away free reports, free ebooks, free product samples, etc.

4) Use The 80/20 Rule. No matter what platforms you use to interact with your prospects, always follow the 80/20 Rule (better known as the Pareto Principle). You should spend 80% of your time providing useful content, offering helpful suggestions and developing relationships and only 20% of your time promoting your company, blog, websites, etc.

5) Treat Your Clients and Customers Like Royalty. Once you start bringing in new clients and customers, make sure to wine and dine them! Your small business will grow ten times faster if you create loyal, lifetime fans of your products and services. Why? Simply because your current clients and customers are 40% more likely to buy from you again and 60% more likely to send you referrals.

Again, today’s consumers are extremely distrustful of interruptive and directive forms of advertising. Instead, they are interested in developing a relationship with their business partners. So, provide your prospective clients with plenty of ways to interact, connect and get to know you. Your business will thank you!

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Yes! You can use this article in your ezine, blog or website as long as you add the following bio box:
Jessica Swanson, “The Shoestring Marketer,” has helped entrepreneurs, all over the world, explode their businesses using cutting-edge, proven and completely FREE internet marketing strategies. To receive your FREE Marketing Kit,  which has helped thousands of entrepreneurs, just like you, learn the exact techniques for marketing their businesses for NO-COST, visit: http://www.ShoestringMarketingKit.com