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From Darrell Zahorsky,
Your Guide to Small Business Information.

Beat the Do Not Call blues

Do Not Call Alternatives

Concentrate on Referral Business: Overcome the Do Not Call blues by gaining referrals from satisfied customers. Referral business has plenty of advantages including: added credibility, lower selling costs, and a prospect willing to listen to you. World-renowned sales trainer, Tom Hopkins, author of "Sales Prospecting for Dummies" says your closing ratio for non-qualified leads is 10% versus a 60% close ratio with referred leads.

Expand Your Revenue Streams: As a business owner you must relentlessly focus on profits. One effective means to improve profitability and drive down selling costs is to sell more to existing customers. Does your current product or service provide customers with a total solution? Look to expand into related offerings with less reliance on the Do Not Call dilemma.

For instance, a carpet cleaning business can provide existing clients with blind cleaning services.

This lowers marketing costs and complies with the Do Not Call registry laws in contacting your existing customers.

Embrace The Internet: Research from The Kelsey Group and ConStat Inc., indicated in 2004 that only 52% of small and mid-sized businesses have a website. Small business has been reluctant to adopt the Internet as a marketing and sales strategy. This stance has been justified in the past, however, three major developments in the recent years make the Internet an attractive method for small business marketing.

1. Web Development Costs: As a small business owner and Internet advocate for the past decade, I have been frustrated by the web development technology and services provided to small business. I have tried do-it-yourself website development technology resulting in a poorly designed website. Conversely, I have spent thousands on paying a web design firm for a professional site beyond my budget.

Now new advances exist for small business owners wanting a basic professional website at an affordable price. I recently built my business website in two hours using the easy-to-use services of a company called Homestead. Another viable alternative is creating a business blog with Blogger or TypePad. It's now easier and more affordable than ever to have a web presence today.

2. Search Engine Marketing: The cost of generating traffic from search engine marketing is much lower than traditional media. Search engine marketing has the lowest cost-per-lead and the highest return on investment. U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray, estimated that the cost per lead was $0.29 for search, $0.50 for e-mail, $1.18 for the yellow pages, $2.00 for banner ads, and $9.94 for direct mail.

3. Local Web Searching: The broad reach of the Internet has been more than the targeted marketing smaller companies need. The majority of small businesses are local businesses. Consumers have begun to use search engines and Internet yellow pages to find local companies. A quick Overture keyword search shows in April 2005, over 21,427 keyword entries were done for the word "Chicago beauty salon." According to Yellow Pages Integrated Media Association, the Internet yellow pages references were about 1.6 billion in 2003. Local search is now bringing together local consumers with local business.

Build Your Networks: Depending on your type of business, networking can be a viable alternative to overcome the challenges of the Do Not Call registry. Face to face contact is always more effective in establishing trust and building relationships than phone contact. Focus on the value you can bring to a network to successfully use this marketing tactic.

Gain Publicity: For many consumers, advertising is just a bunch of noise unless repeated over and over in a creative fashion. Small business can break through the clutter by using various publicity vehicles. Buying an ad in the paper promoting your pest cleaning business will generate less buzz than running the biggest bug contest in your town. Create news worthy events to drive new customers to your door and circumvent the effects of the Do Not Call regulations.

Use the Trade Show Circuit: Trade shows still continue to be big business for all businesses. The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) states business-to-business spending for trade shows is third to advertising and promotion. In a world of websites, emails, and voice mails, trade shows offer one of the true opportunities to build relationships with face to face contact. Something every business can use a little more of.

The Do Not Call registry should be a wake up call to all businesses to diversify their marketing channels. It's also an opportunity to re-examine the marketing and advertising models to see what consumers desire and what works. We clearly are ushering in a new era of marketing.