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Are you running your business, or is your business running you?

We've all seen it before: A person walking a dog. Sometimes that dog looks more like a small bear than a dog, and sometimes you can't tell just who's actually walking whom. If you're not careful, the same thing can happen to you and your business.


I'm not talking about your business getting taken over by bears or dogs. I'm talking about you ending up on the wrong side of the leash of your business, and letting it run you.


If this sounds like you, keep reading for ways to get back in control of your business. If this doesn't sound like you, keep reading anyway so you'll make sure to know how to stay in the clear of your business running you.


Are you doing everything yourself?


How to Know if You Should Create Content

Creating content for your business is a fantastic way to tell everyone in the world a bit about yourself, your products, and the story behind what you're doing. It's a great way for you to make sure you're staying up to date on what's going on in your industry. And it can drive visitors to your website through exuding the essence of your brand.


If you're thinking about creating some content, there are a few things you should consider to make sure you and your audience both get the most out of your efforts.


Is creating content right for you? Check out these tips:


How to Exude the Essence of Your Brand

You may hear the word “brand” and think that it doesn’t apply to you. After all, you run a business. And the branding thing? It’s not in your wheelhouse. So, you just go about running your business, and not pay it any attention.


Unfortunately, this is a big mistake. Why? Your brand is the essence of your business. You’ll want to ask yourself a few tough questions to get to its heart, and so you can exude its essence:


• Does your company’s product or service have a strong point of difference?


• Can you summarize your brand into one word or statement?


• Do you build every level of the organization around the brand?


The Top 5 Mobile Apps for Your Small Business

As of June 2013, there are 900,000 apps in the app store. The options are endless when it comes to choosing the best apps to help your business run efficiently (hint: playing Angry Birds will not get you there). So, how do you find the best mobile apps that best suit your small business needs?


Here are a few that stand out from the noise:


1. Expensify


Things small businesses should do in 2013: Growing your email lists

Things small businesses should do in 2013: Growing your email lists

As the world of digital marketing continues its evolution, I'm sensing a growing anxiety among small business marketers about how they're possibly going to reach customers across every single platform.

Online shoppers are using more channels now than ever. Many of them have two-plus social media accounts these days, and oftentimes they're logging in from remote locations via their smartphones or tablets.

If you were hoping to get some good news from me - that I would say it'll be easier than you think - well, today's your lucky day. It'll be easier than you think.

You don't have to have the most comprehensive strategy that's tailor-made to every single social networking site, or an entirely separate marketing campaign for mobile devices.

How real-time analytics can change the email marketing game

How real-time analytics can change the email marketing game

Email marketing has been around for what feels like forever, at least relative to the other digital advertising techniques.

Social, mobile and other types of ads are like shiny new toys for children. When they initially arrive, they feel like the greatest thing ever. They have kids' entire attention, and everything else seems old or boring in comparison.

There's a chance that new advertising methods could turn out to be Buzz Lightyear, but email marketing is definitely Woody.

Power in numbers
So what about email advertising has enabled these campaigns to transcend their time as the new kid on the block? Largely the same reasons that newspaper, TV, phone calls and face-to-face marketing hasn't died away.

Don't let marketing run your business into the ground

Everyone has probably heard the philosophical question about the tree falling in the woods. If you need a refresher, here it is:


If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?


In a lot of ways, this question is applicable to startup companies. You could have the best business plan in place, a well-designed store or website, a new product line that could be revolutionary in nature - but if no one has a clue that your company exists, it will never grow roots in the first place. 


Needless to say, marketing campaigns are vital for new and small companies to even have a chance at survival. Without generating enough buzz through word of mouth before opening, you could be setting your business up to fail. 


Things small businesses should do in 2013 - Part 1

I've compared online consumers to needy children in the past, but now I'm not so sure if that's an apt comparison.


Web shoppers are more like teenagers. They have next-to-no patience, especially if you're their parent, and they don't seem to possess the ability to be rational no matter how much you try to reason with them.


Unfortunately, punishing your customers isn't an option like it is with your teenage son or daughter. If you want to continue making money going forward, you will simply have to meet the needs of online consumers.


Unexpected places to grow your network

There are a lot of important elements that make a successful marketing campaign, many of which we've covered in recent months. You need to make your ads engaging, you have to have strong SEO strategies to boost your website's visibility and your site should be well-designed to influence customers to make purchases once they're there.


Another very important component - and one that sometimes gets overlooked - is building up your customer base to begin with.


You might have the funniest ad ever, the most sophisticated social media strategies or the most interactive website yet. None of that matters if there aren't any viewers to see it.


Google AdWords can be invaluable tool

One of the most frustrating components of traditional marketing is the inability to track results.


Unless you polled every single customer as to whether or not he or she noticed a particular ad, there's really no way to gauge its effectiveness. All you could do was measure sales numbers before and after you launched a marketing campaign, which is an inexact science to say the least.


Insert online marketing.


Digital advertising has been a breath of fresh air for companies for a number of reasons, as it's generally cheaper and can reach a wider audience.


But perhaps the biggest advantage of online marketing is your ability to track everything - conversions, click rates, follow-up actions and more. You never have to just assume a campaign's effectiveness anymore based on loose statistical relationships.