Advertising in Regional Parenting and Family Magazines – An Ideal Small Business Solution

When it comes to advertising your products and services, regional parenting magazines may be one of the best kept secrets in town. They present the advertiser with an opportunity to speak directly to an attentive and targeted audience, while offering low-cost ad rates. No doubt, the perfect small business advertising alternative.

When you reach parents during their child rearing years, you are reaching a very motivated group of consumers who are at the highest acquisition stage of their lives. Large corporations are keenly aware of the purchasing power of this influential parenting market, which is why they place $90,000 display ads in the most popular mainstream parenting publications month-after-month.

However, they routinely ignore the regional parent and family magazines because these magazines don’t have large enough circulation. This creates a wonderful opportunity for a small business with a limited advertising budget, who can use these regional family-oriented publications to reach out to passionate parents across the country. And the best part, is that the advertising rates for these local regional publications are infinitesimally lower than any mainstream parent magazine.As consumers, parents and grandparents across the U.S. and Canada are demographically linked together by an imperative desire to do what’s right for their families, and to buy the best services and products for their children. Parenting magazine readers actually read the ads in these magazines. In fact, surveys conducted across the country have shown that 74% of these readers say they read the advertisements in the parenting publications most of the time or all of the time, and most of these readers use these ads to make their buying decisions.

You don’t need to be a marketing genius to figure out the potential here. The real question is, does your product or service fit this market? Let’s examine some of the readers’ characteristics and lifestyle. First of all, with the exception of some major magazines of nationwide distribution, regional parenting magazines are usually distributed for free to their readers. These readers make shopping decisions for their families and for themselves.

  • 78% are women (52% of them work full-time)
  • 75% are mothers, 20% are expecting mothers, and 33% are planning to have more children
  • 78% have children under the age of 6
  • 57% have children in grade school
  • 38% have at least one preteen or teenager at home
  • 32% have at least one parent who works at home
  • Average household income is $68,000 (national average)

These are busy, time-starved parents who are 80% either college graduates or have some college background. The type of products and services they have purchased in the past and plan to purchase in the future includes everything from vacation packages, financial investments and services, to children books and clothing, children toys, home furnishings, work from home opportunities, health services, recorded music, electronics, and much more.Circulation for these publications range anywhere from a few thousand to several hundred thousand per issue. You can target specific geographic regions of the U.S. and Canada, which is an ideal way to test your ads, or advertise at a nationwide level. And display advertising prices in some cases could start as low as $100, with many publications offering low-cost marketplace and classified ad sections.

In addition, most of these publications offer several theme-based supplemental editions throughout the year, giving the advertiser extra options to focus their message. Regional parenting and family magazines offer the small business a golden opportunity to reach a targeted market at affordable rates. It’s time you explore how it could work for you.

Comparing VoIP Providers For Small Business

It is no secret that communication is key to survival for small business. The advantage to small busineses of using a VoIP solution is that the market is very competitive. While there are relatively few companies from which to choose for normal phone service, many VoIP providers will gladly offer VoIP phone service at a very competitive rate and with unlimited long distance.

But….you need to do your homework first.

Phone service features indispensable to your business, such as voicemail, conferencing and call waiting, allow business to flow smoothly and efficiently. So….how do you decide if a VoIP solution is best for your business?

One of the first steps when analyzing your current service is to decide what features your business needs. Does it need multiple lines to accommodate the sales force? What about a toll free number for customer service? Make a list of all the features your office uses and think about others you might want to try.

The next step is to make an estimate of all intrastate (in- state), interstate (state-to-state) and international calls. An easy way to estimate these numbers is to view a recent phone bill. You might be surprised at how large or small your call volume actually is. If you rely heavily on fax machines, consider the number of incoming and outgoing faxes. As you review these numbers, remember to consult growth projections for the rest of the year.

Once you’ve done all this…you’re ready to go comparison shopping.

Here’s some resources to help you do that:

* VoIP Comparison Reviews

VoIPReview does a good job comparing feature sets from each of the providers. Its user reviews seem a bit skewed, but otherwise the site looks good.

* ZDNet Reviews

ZDNet usually has objective reviews. Read through its commentary on any of the providers you are considering.

* Broadband Reports

Broadband reports has a specific area for review by users…with a regularly updated scoring system. It’s often skewed with a tad bit of emotion….and reviews are mostly residential. But it does give you an idea for business use.* Google

I’m sure most of you already do this, but once you’ve figured out what you’re looking for, perform a search on companies on Google to see what others have said about it.

If you’re willing to do a bit more work, contact various providers and create your own comparison chart. You can begin your research by visiting voipreview.org. The site offers VoIP facts and reviews of various broadband phone service providers. Compare the business plans for different providers and research the various features offered with each plan. Also, make sure your current Internet connection can handle VoIP calls. The Web site testyourvoip.com [http://www.testyourvoip.com] will evaluate and score your Internet connection. You’ll know if it makes sense to run your phone traffic over your broadband connection.

Here is a list and description of the top ten (supposedly) VoIP providers (includes home plans for telecommuter staff).

– Axvoice

Axvoice has many plans for you to sign up. Unlimited call to USA/Canada plan costs $ 18.99 per month. Unlimited international & USA/Canada plan costs $29.99. Axvoice also has business plan starting from $ 39.99 per month.

– INVIVNI

INVIVNI has three plans, Residentials, Small Office, and Business. The Residential plan costs $24.95 per month. The Small Office plan costs $32.95 per month, and the Business plan costs is negotiable.

– VCInetwork

VCInetwork has three plans, Unlimited Long Distance :Home, Unlimited Long Distance: Business and 500 minutes to USA/Canada and Europe. Unlimited Long Distance : Home plan costs $28.95 per month. Unlimited Long Distance : Business plan costs $49.95 per month and 500 minutes to USA/Canada and Europe plan costs $14.50 per month.

– Skype

Skype is famous for their slogan, “The Whole World can Talk for Free”. Skype is a free download and users can make free calls via, Skype to Skype. For a fee, you can advance your Skype to Skype Out and make calls to landline phones. Skype In will let your choose your area code and phone number. This way, friends and relatives can call you locally, if you select the same area code. Skype is compatible with Windows, Mac, Linux, and Pocket Pc operating systems. Not really a good business solution.

– Vonage

Probably the most well known VoIP providers, you may be surprised to discover that Vonage is also one of the more expensive providers. Vonage offers two plans, residential and small business. Residential users may choose between the Basic 500 plan and Unlimited. The Basic 500 plan offers 500 minutes of talk time for $14.99 a month. The Premium Unlimited residential plan costs $24.99 per month.

The Small Business Basic plan costs $39.99 per month and allows 1500 minutes. The Small Business Unlimited plan costs $49.99 a month and provides unlimited calls throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, and Canada.

– Dialpad

Dialpad and Yahoo have merged services. Currently, Dialpad offers three plans- Dialpad Monthly 300, Dialpad Monthly 500, and Dialpad USA. The cost for Dialpad Monthly 300 is $7.50 per month, Dialpad Monthly 500 costs $9.99 per month, and Dialpad USA costs $11.99 per month.

– Broadvox Direct

Broadvox Direct offers residential and small business services. Their residential services include the Residential Choice Plus plan for $9.95 per month. The Residential Choice Plus plan includes 100 outbound minutes and unlimited incoming minutes. Their Residential Unlimited Plan costs $29.95 a month and includes unlimited calling anywhere in the US and Canada. The SoHo Small Business Regional Plan costs $34.95 per month and includes 1500 monthly minutes in the US and in Canada. The SoHo Small Business Unlimited Plan costs $44.95 per month and includes unlimited calls in the US and Canada and also includes a free fax line and Yellow Page listing.

– Galaxy Voice

Galaxy Voice offers two plans, Residential and Business. Their residential plan costs $19.95 a month and includes unlimited calling, Voicemail, Caller Id, Call Waiting, Call Return, Three Way Calling, and Call Forwarding. Their business plan costs $39.95 per month and includes unlimited calling, Free Voice Mail, Free Call Transfer, Free Call Forwarding, Free Repeat Dialing, and Free Caller ID block.

– Voice Pulse

Voice Pulse has three plans, America Unlimited, Local Unlimited +200, and Business Unlimited. The America Unlimited plan costs $24.99 per month. The Local Unlimited +200 costs $14.99 per month, and the Business Unlimited costs $45.99 per month.- VoIP American

VoIP American has three different plans. These are the VoIP American PBX plan, the VoIP American Voice plan and the VoIP American bVoice plan. The VoIP American PBX plan cost $19.99 a month for a private line and $44.99 a month for unlimited calling. The VoIP Voice Residential Basic plan costs $14.99 per month and the VoIP Voice Residential Unlimited plan costs $29.99 per month. The bVoice Business plan costs $34.99 per month.

– Packet 8

Packet 8 not only offers phone plans, but they also offer videophone plans. Their residential plans are the Freedom International and Freedom Unlimited. Both of these plans cost $19.99 per month. [note: currently they’re running a special for $9.95 per month for your 1st 3 months.] The Videophone plan is the Freedom Unlimited and that too is $19.99 per month. Their business plans consists of three different plans. These are the Virtual Office service plans, the Virtual Attendant Service plans, and the Business Phone Service plans. The Virtual office phone plan costs $39.95 per month, the Virtual Attendant service plan costs $14.95 per month, and the Business Attendant service plan costs $34.95 per month.

– Sun Rocket

Sun Rocket offers their signature service for either $24.95 per month or $199.00 per year.

– Speakeasy

Speakeasy offers many different plans ranging from Home Office, Small Office I, Small Office II, and Small Business. Their Home Office plan costs 79.90 per month, the Small Office I plan costs $560.00 per month, the Small Office II plan costs 1,039 per month and the Small Business plan costs $2,349 per month.

Analyzing phone service is often a real headache. However, unreliable line quality, which results in poor customer service and huge monthly bills are even worse. In the end, doing your research will pay dividends for your business. Personally, I have no reservations recommending Packet8 for your business VoIP solution right now. However, go through the above steps first for your own peace of mind…..you’ll likely reach the same conclusion.

Business VoIP – Tips For Evaluating a VoIP Small Business Solution

Is the VoIP System Scalable?
When you are analyzing a new VoIP phone system you need to make sure the solution is scalable. By scalable we mean can you easily add phones and take away phones without incurring extra costs. Hosted VoIP PBX systems are excellent options here because they allow you to do just that. If you purchase a hosted PBX you will be able to cancel and add lines and add and remove VoIP phones easily. While some plans do differ, this is usually a big benefit. This can be more difficult with a premise based system, which may require you to purchases equipment to cope with growth.How is the Systems QOS?
No matter what solution you are evaluating this is a big one. QOS stands for Quality of Service, and all business VoIP solutions need to be put to this test. The main issue here is that not all small business phone systems offer the level of service you want to represent your business. When you are picking a solution, you should test the service first. You can also interview previous customers or look at the company’s testimonials section to make sure they have good reviews. In addition, when you are selecting your service it is important to confirm with the company that they offer a high QOS in your particular area. This is important to keep in mind because some business VoIP providers specialize in certain regions.

Does the Service Provider Have a Sweet Spot?
Many VoIP providers can only support small installations. They may only be able to cope with 20 seats per company. Make sure you know what the provider is capable of. If they usually only sell 5 seats and you have 400 employees they may not be the right business VoIP solution for you.How is the Customer Service?
In this day in age quality customer service is vital, especially in the VoIP world. If your phone system goes down for one reason or another you want to make sure your service provider is there waiting with open arms, ready and willing to help for no additional charge. When picking a business VoIP provider, make sure there customer service is up to your standards. Talk to a past customer or call customer service and see what a normal wait time is. Overall, make sure the company is responsive to your needs.