By: Susan Wilson Solovic, CEO, SBTV.com
Q. Iâ m starting a business and I'm wondering: What is the best way to get my marketing going quickly?
Susan-Says: Without knowing anything about you or your business, I'm confident you decided to go into business because you are really good at providing a particular product or service and you believe in your ability to deliver it better than anyone else. Right? That being the case: You already have a great marketing resource.. you.
A lot of entrepreneurs panic over how they are going to market their business. That's because they don't understand true marketing involves every aspect of your business and there's no better salesperson than you.
Spread the Word. Start-up companies rarely have budgets for formal marketing programs; therefore, it's up to you to get the word out. Start networking right away so you can spread the word about your business. Join local business groups and get involved. Remember, people like doing business with people they know and feel as though they can trust.
Give it Away. Many small businesses build customers by giving their product or service away. Margaret McIntyre, the CEO and Founder of Candy Bouquet, International, grew her company by giving away candy bouquets to area businesses. Once people had seen and experienced her innovative and tasty alternative to traditional flower bouquets, the phone started ringing and the orders began rolling in. If you are in a service business such as public relations, consider taking on a pro bono project for a community organization, charity, church or school so that other business owners can see how well you perform.
Names and Taglines. Unless you have tons of money to build brand recognition, you should make sure the name of your company is easy to pronounce and says something about what it is you do. One of my favorite examples is the home-moving franchise company â Two Men and a Truck.â It's simple, easy to remember and it's clear what they do. Clever taglines can also be useful in describing your business and can help potential customers remember you easily.
Be Consistent. Communicate the same marketing messages and branding consistently throughout your organization. Potential customers need to connect with your marketing messages numerous times before they start to notice you. If you are constantly making changes, it's going to take longer for people to hear you. Even small things can make a big difference. Before I had a dog, I drove by a billboard advertising a pet grooming company called The Barking Lot.â The phone number was XXX-XXX-BARK. Months later when I got my first dog, I remembered the number and called for an appointment.
Create a Web site. There is no excuse for not creating a professional looking web site for your business. There are many resources that provide design templates that are simple to use, even for the technology-challenged. For example, Microsoft has a free service called Microsoft Office Live Small Business which makes it easy to create a professional-looking web site for business. The service provides free web hosting, a customer domain name, email accounts and e-commerce capabilities.
Speak Whenever Possible. Donâ t shy away from opportunities to speak to small business groups, trade associations or other professional organizations. This is a great way to establish credibility for you and your business. If you are uncomfortable speaking before a group, consider getting a presentation coach or joining an organization such as â Toastmasters.â
Finally, make sure you do at least one thing every single day to promote your business. Have lunch with a business acquaintance and let them know what type of person or business would make a good customer for you and then ask for introductions. Visit other businesses in your area and introduce yourself and your business. Add comments to blogs or join online social networking communities. Whatever you choose, donâ t end the day without knowing youâ ve done something to bring new business in the door.
Susan Wilson Solovic is CEO of SBTV.com â Small Business Television and author of â The Girlsâ Guide to Building a Million Dollar Business.â Her experience has taken her from the newsroom as a television anchor and correspondent, to the boardroom as an executive in a Fortune 100 company, to a successful entrepreneur, speaker and media personality. She sits on the board of several influential womenâ s business organizations and is a regular contributor to broadcast media and print publications on the issues facing small business owners today.
This results-oriented seminar shows you how to build a detailed, fully integrated working plan that positions your product or service above the noise of your competition.
* E-mail, Facebook,& Blogging: Employee Internet Policies You Need Now *
* Live, 60-Minute Audio Conference *
* Wednesday, September 30, 2009 - 1:00-2:00 p.m. ET *
Anyone can have a blog. As an employer, how should you react to blogs your employees may create on their own and post outside of the office?
Why Your Small Business Should Have a Blog by Rebecca Ritz
In the article, 10 ways to increase your web traffic, I briefly talked about how a blog can help drive traffic to your website. Large companies have people dedicated to blogging and social media, but how does that fit into a small business owners to-do list? And do you really need to have one? Below I will show you, 3 reasonsÂ your small business needs a blog:
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Blogs are great for driving more traffic to your website. How? Use your companyâs top keywords. The more keywords you mention in your blog that relate to what you are promoting, the higher your search engine ranking will be. This in turn will lead to more customers.
So, what are keywords? They are words that people type in to fine your type of small business. For example, if you are a winery, you want to mention your location, the name of the winery and any other keywords that describe your winery. Such as, do you have a lake? Outside seating? Wedding location?
Part of establishing a brand is building a relationship of trust. Letâs break this down, starting on a personal level. How do you build a friendship with a person? By getting to know them and sharing time and experiences together. How does a company build trust? By creating personal relationships with its customers. Donât you always want to return to the coffee shop that knows you by name?
Now, how does a company build trust online? The secret is to think of it as creating friendships. You arenât going to hard sell someone you meet at a networking event, so donât try to do it online. Then how do you create relationships online? Someone leaves a comment on your blog and you respond. You send out a recent blog post on Twitter and respond to comments or re-tweets. Ask for your readers opinions. As your customers, they can give you insight into what they value.
Tip: Talk about your life and passion for your company. This will lead people to have the perception that they know you. Remember, future clients want to get to know you, as a person, not as some corporate person they canât picture.
If your company receives praise in the paper or on another blog, what do you currently do with that information?Â One great way to build trust from future clients is to let others know of the recommendations you are getting from outside sources. This shows you as a leader in your field and increases your reputation as an expert.
Tip: To track what other people are saying about your company, set up Google Alerts. It will send you an email every time your company name is mentioned.
Remember that a blog for your business should be focused on your target customers. The look of your blog should match the rest of your companyâs branding â including your website, e-newsletters, social media and print collateral. Plus, it should be part of a larger online marketing strategy for your small business. Still not sure what should be on your company blog? Next week, Iâll take you through the steps of figuring out your own content.
Rebecca (Becca) Bauer Ritz is a logo, web and graphic designer that is passionate about helping start-ups and small businesses find their voice. She has over 12 years experience and is the owner of Bauerhaus Design, Inc.
What to Write about in your Small Business Blog by Rebecca Ritz.
Last week we talked about Why your small business should have a blog. This week, Iâll tell you what to write about. After all, blogging can seem intimidating. Coming up with words ever day or week? But each of us as business owners has an area of expertise or voice that no one else does. What do you know? What are you passionate about?
Create a strategy
Before you start any new marketing platform, it is essential that you have an online marketing strategy. This process will help you define your ideal customer, your goal, who is going to manage it, and budget concerns.
Set a schedule of updates
You can do this by creating a detailed color coded calendar or make it as simple as a list of topics to talk about that month. If you work better with deadlines, you could also plan to publish a blog every Tuesday and Thursday.
Pick a catchy headline
Many of my most popular articles have three things in common. One, they use adjectives in the headline Two, they are short and three, many have a number in them. Here are two examples of my most popular posts: 10 ways to increase your web traffic and How to create a fantastic Facebook page.
Know your audience
In order to pick the correct tone of voice, make sure you know your target customer. For example, on my blog, I always write picturing a small business owner. Who is yours? Also, remember you are not hard selling on your blog. Instead, picture yourself at a networking event introducing yourself to someone for the very first time.
Write about what you know
Do you sell fashion jewelry? Wine? How did you choose that? Remember each person has a unique perspective formed by their life experiences, so each of us has very different outlook. Share it. Talk about your personal life and what you are passionate about, so people feel like they know you. If you thought of a great idea while on a run, say so.
Do you need more topic ideas? Next week Iâll write about the top 10 topics to write about in your business blog.
Rebecca (Becca) Bauer Ritz is a logo, web and graphic designer who is passionate about helping start-ups and small businesses find their voice. She has over 12 years experience and is the owner of Bauerhaus Design, Inc.
Other firms use them to improve operations.
John Jantsch discusses how blogging can attract customers to your business and shares tips on how to make your small business blog a useful marketing tool.
This results-oriented seminar shows you how to build a detailed, fully integrated working plan that positions your product or service above the noise of your competition.
See 6 different marketing programs built and executed before your eyes to help you find more customers on the Internet.
In this webinar, speaker Jeanne Rossomme of Roadmap Marketing will help you focus on the key actions and key measures that can help you guide your business in the New Year.
Message Medium founder Maisha Walker will help you decide which internet and social media tools are right for your business.
Writing a Marketing Plan: 5 Things You Need to Know by Geoff Williams, AOL
You may have a great company, but you need to let the world know about it. How to write an effective marketing plan.
See the full storyÂ on AOL Small Business:
A web presence is a given for your business, but an effective web presence could be a gold mine for your company. Questions will be answered by our panel of experts including web companies as well as tech companies successfully deploying effective strategies.
Small business marketing with sweepstakes is within the reach of all sizes of enterprises with new contest options
Use Storytelling to Strengthen Your Marketing Message
Date/Time May 12, 19, and 26, and June 2, 2010, 12 noonâ1pm ET Duration 1 hour for 4 weeks Cost $300 REGISTER
When it comes to engaging the hearts and minds of your customers and prospects, as well as your employees, thereâs no better tool than a great story. Storytelling is an ideal way to connect with your audience, make your point and leave a lasting impression.
Increase Sales with Small Business Marketing
by Danita Blackwood, SBTV Small Business Blog
A new effort to step up small business marketing aimed at boosting sales at the nation’s small firms is underway on www.sbtv.com. Each day this week SBTV.com’s Biz Buzz is showcasing small business marketing thought leaders and experts to help small firms find easy and inexpensive ways to maximize sales. For example, the week began with a look at blogging to increase sales.
There are a number of segments on blogging and small business marketing for small business owners on SBTV.com including this video offering suggestions and tips from marketing expert John Jantsch . Jantsch is a featured advisor on www.SBTV.com and has a number of videos, articles and podcasts to help entrepreneurs learn how to make their business a marketing machine.
He is a marketing and digital technology coach, award-winning social media publisher and author. He coaches entrepreneurs on proven small business marketing ideas and strategies he created through his Duct Tape Marketing small business marketing system. His blog Duct Tape Marketing was chosen as a Forbes favorite for small business and marketing and can be found at http://www.ducttapemarketing.com/blog/
Jantsch’s newest book is the "The Referral Engine" which will be released nationwide on May 10, 2010.
I have a review copy and find it full of insights and tips into creating a marketing plan to get a business noticed. Jantsch emphasizes the importance of trust in creating a quality referral strategy for business. He offers action ideas and strategy plans for business owners to use in the planning process of engaging customers.
You can download a free chapter of the new book at http://referralenginebook.com/
Please consider following me on Twitter to learn more about small business trends and events you can put to work at http://twitter.com/danitablackwood
The National Federation of Independent Businesses presents âInternet Marketing: Which Options are the Best for Your Business?,â Wednesday, April 21 at noon Eastern. Lee Steele, president of Strategic Insight, is a 16-year veteran of Internet marketing who will share valuable tips about how to create successful internet marketing campaigns for your business. Youâll learn the pros and cons of each of the many online marketing options available and discover which options will be the best for your specific business. Youâll also learn how to track, measure, analyze and calculate your own online marketing ROI. Free to members, $29.95 for non-members. For more information, or to register, go to www.nfib.org/webinars
So, you want to master social media and become an internet marketing rock star, huh? Now's your chance to learn from the greats in this full-day workshop seminar
More small business owners and entrepreneurs will be going online with e-mail marketing messages to reach new customers, existing clients and build stronger relationships according to a report from Forrester Research Inc. The independent research company is forecasting e-mail marketing spending in the United States will reach two billion dollars by 2014.
"Spending on e-mail marketing in the US will balloon to $2 billion by 2014 - a nearly 11 percent compound annual growth rate," Forrester said in a media release to journalists. "Falling CPMs (cost per thousands), a high return on investment, and growing consumer use of social e-mail accounts will fuel the use of e-mail by direct marketing professionals,â according to analysts in the Forrester Research report.
Forrester analysts predict in five years, consumers will be deluged with more than 9,000 email marketing messages annually!
âBy 2014 direct marketers will waste $144 million on emails that never reach their primary target,â said Forrester Research Vice President and Principal Analyst David Daniels. âSuccessful Direct Marketing pros will alter their tactics to overcome inbox clutter and increase relevancy.â
The June, 2009 report notes some of the growth areas shaping the future of email marketing:
- Retention email â email that recipients have blessed with their permission â will continue to replace paper communications and will make up the largest share of marketing messages. Retention emails will account for more than a one-third of all marketing messages in consumersâ inboxes by 2014, representing increased competition for marketers.
- While the bulk of the market will continue to deploy email marketing on a self-service basis, the growing complexity associated with data integration and new tactics to increase relevancy will drive healthy growth in use of email service providers.
- Spending on ad-sponsored or ad-supported newsletters will double over the next five years as traditional print publishers face falling circulation and ad revenue.
âThe use of email in social networks will be one of the biggest challenges for direct marketers,â said Daniels. âOver the next five years, marketers must bridge the gap between social and traditional inboxes with social sharing tools.â
The Forrester report âUS Email Marketing Forecast 2009 To 2014â is currently available to Forrester clients and can be purchased directly at www.forrester.com/go?docid=53620
As Founder and Chief Penguin of Blue Penguin Development, Inc., Michael is a recognized expert in the development of electronic newsletters, and helps clients significantly increase sales by showing them how to build on their existing relationships. Since launching Blue Penguin in 2000, Michael has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Business Week Online, Bloomberg TV, The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald and other national and local media. He is the author of three books, and has published over 200 issues of his "E-Newsletter on E-Newsletters," a biweekly with 7,000 passionate subscribers in over 40 countries around the world. Michael has an MBA from Boston University and a BA in Psychology from McGill University in Montreal. He also has a second degree black belt in karate (Kempo), a first degree black belt in parenting (three children), and is a past winner of the New England Press Association award for "Best Humor Columnist."
Q. Iâm just starting a business and wondered what you think is the best way to get my marketing going.
Susan-Says: Marketing is an umbrella term that covers a lot of areas including sales, branding, advertising, online, direct mail, and so on. With so many different opportunities from which to choose, itâs challenging for a new business owner to determine whatâs best for their business so youâre not alone.
In addition to not knowing what type of marketing strategies to utilize, most small businesses have little or no funds to pay for big campaigns. One small business owner told me he decided to purchase a full-page advertisement in a national magazine to promote his business. He was convinced the ad would drive lots of business his way and put him on the road to profitability. Unfortunately, the one-time ad produced fewer than a dozen inquiries and the cost nearly put him out of business. The moral of this story is that sometimes the simplest marketing approaches are not only less expensive, but also more effective in building your business.
Good marketing decisions require MACS â Massive Amounts of Common Sense. I donât know what type of business you have or who your customers are, but if you try using good old common sense, youâll find hundreds of marketing opportunities. To get you started, let me give you some examples.
Networking is one of the quickest and easiest ways to start marketing your business. Get out of your office and get involved in organizations and events where you can meet your potential customers. Donât expect a sale every time you hand out your business card, however. An SBTV.com viewer recently wrote she had attended a couple of networking events, but explained they didnât work for her. When I inquired as to why she said, âI handed out lots of cards but I didnât get any business.â
Good networking takes time because itâs about building relationships, not hounding people for business. People do business with people they know and trust. Not everyone you meet is going to be a potential customer, however, they may be able to recommend you or open a door with someone who is.
Cross promotions with synergistic businesses are another inexpensive way to market your business. For example, if you have a hair salon you could give your clients a 10% off coupon from a nearby clothing store and the clothing store could do the same for you. Itâs a win-win for both businesses because you are rewarding your customers with a little something extra.
Finally, make sure you have a professional looking web site. When was the last time you picked up a printed phone book to find a particular type of business? I never use phone books anymore because I search for a business via the Internet. If you donât have an Internet presence, you are missing business opportunities.
Hopefully these ideas will get you started with your marketing efforts. Good luck.
If you are trying to find new customers for your personal training business, there are several ways to go about it.
The business of being a personal trainer is personal. Your clients hire you because they believe in you. You are the walking, talking, live and in person, marketing brochure for your business. Itâs difficult to build a personal training business by posting flyers on the gymâs bulletin board or running an ad in the local newspaper. That might work for a dog-walker or handyman, but this is a personal decision, and usually not one made lightly.
A personal trainer is someone who motivates us to reach our fitness goals just as a business coach helps us achieve our business objectives. Itâs highly unlikely a business owner would pick any âole business coach from the phone directory. Rather, theyâd do the proper due diligence before making a choice. The same is true for a personal trainer. For the relationship to work, your clients need to trust you and feel comfortable sharing personal information with you.
Most people chose a personal trainer in one of two ways. They either ask for a referral from friends or business associates or reach out to someone they have gotten to know through an organization or met at a networking event. Even before setting an initial meeting, a client wants some comfort level that the trainer is qualified, can produce results and that their personalities would be a good match.
Good advice to you is to get out in your community and get to know people. Donate a couple of hours of training to a charitable fundraising event. Seek out opportunities to speak for local groups or organizations about health and wellness. Write a 500 word informational column for a neighborhood newspaper or church/community newsletter. Local organizations often have newsletters interested in helpful content.
Volunteer with community or charity sponsored programs such as the Leukemia Societyâs âTeam in Trainingâ. These programs typically have volunteer coaches and mentors who help participants train to run or walk marathons, half-marathons or even triathlons. What an excellent way to meet potential clients and to build your reputation as a fitness professional in your community.
An alliance program with a synergistic business can bring new business to both companies. For example, if there is a small, locally owned health food store in your area, offer to provide seminars or demonstrations for their customers. In return, new clients who sign-up with you through the store get special discounts and/or promotional information.
Create an energized web site for your business. Provide content that will position you as an expert. You donât have to be a tech guru to build a professional web site. A number of companies such as Yahoo and Microsoft offer online small business web site programs that are free or cost a nominal amount. Even someone who canât draw stick figures can design a dynamite web site.
Finally, and most importantly, ask, ask, ask, ask for referrals from existing clients and other fitness professionals. In a service business, referrals are like gold. Customer testimonials are extremely valuable too. Youâll never be able to write marketing material as effective as your clients can say it for you.
NAWBO Women Owned Business Spotlight onÂ Kathy Swanson of Strategic Direct Marketing Solutions, whichÂ allowsÂ small businesses to target their customers and personalize their online marketing experience.
Social Media Tip of the DaySponsored by Vocus
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