Ask an Expert: Being small has its advantages, especially now

• AT&T (whom I do some work with) allows you to place ads using the online Yellow Pages, on mobile devises, in search engine results, and more. They also have some great local search options.

Google AdWords, as you likely know, allows you to place ads on Google and throughout the Google world.

• Of course the other big player is Yahoo.

All of these tools allow you to try something new, inexpensively, and see if it works. If this idea of shifting into new markets is of interest to you, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

1. Consider line extensions:A line extension is, as the name suggests, simply a logical expansion of the line of products you already carry. But remember to think broadly — Beau Coup did not just consider wedding products, they thought about celebrations generally.

2. Consider new customers:Who else may be interested in what you offer? How can you reach them? What might they want?

3. Start small, tweak, expand:The beauty of these tools is that you can look before you leap. Test, see what works, don't spend a lot, test some more, analyze results, and then go for it.

4. Keep your brand in mind:Going in a wholly new direction could hurt your brand. Be careful of that.

Today's tip:Know a great woman entrepreneur? Ernst & Young is looking for her. The company is now hosting its second annual Entrepreneurial Winning Women contest. Winners

• Receive ongoing personalized business advice from Ernst & Young professionals as well as entrepreneurs, executives and advisors;

• Will get to meet role models, coaches and mentors;• Will connect with possible investors, partners, customers, and suppliers; and • Can participate in formal and informal educational sessions

Apply here.

Ask an Expert appears Mondays. You can e-mail Steve Strauss at: sstrauss@mrallbiz.com.And you can click here to see previous columns. Steven D. Strauss is a lawyer, author and speaker who specializes in small business and entrepreneurship. His latest book is The Small Business Bible. You can sign up for his free newsletter, "Small Business Success Secrets!" at his website —www.mrallbiz.com.

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