Posts Tagged ‘small business marketing ideas’

SEO for small business: How hard is it?

Posted in Building customer loyalty, Marketing strategies, Search engine optimization, Social media Be the first to comment

We all want magic wands. To lose weight. Get strong. Become rich. Find the perfect mate. “Just do this or buy that and you dream will come true.”

As small business owners, we want magic wands, too.  “Just wave it and customers will find you and flock to your store, office, or Website and buy, buy, buy.”

Today’s marketing “magic wands” often involve social media and search engine optimization.  “Just put up a Facebook page. Just use certain keywords in your Website text. Or just buy “top-rated” links.” Or more likely, “Just pay us to do it, and you’ll have to beat the customers away.”

Uh, no.

Like most of our other instant-success fantasies, social media success involves many tasks. It takes lots of planning, time, and hard work.

SEO success is also complex and requires hard work on many fronts. Take a look at the chart above, created by Marketing Sherpa. It’s based on the experiences of more than 1,500 search marketers.

Remember this chart the next time someone promises you that their magic wand is all you need.

How to attract customers: The best way

Posted in Building customer loyalty, Copywriting and content, E-mail marketing, Marketing strategies, Print materials, Search engine optimization, Social media, Web design Be the first to comment

I get lots of e-mails–as we all do. Most of mine contain information I’ve requested from expert resources in all areas of marketing. Hey, ‘ya gotta keep up!

Just saw a simple explanation of today’s marketing landscape. It was in a white paper on Twitter as a business tool that I downloaded from Hubspot, a company that sells marketing automation software. This paragraph summed up today’s marketing landscape clearly and succinctly:

“Th[e] changing nature of consumers‘ shopping habits means that instead of continuing to push marketing messages out, effective marketers must adapt to consumers‘ new behavior by creating marketing campaigns that pull people in to their business. This strategy is called inbound marketing. Inbound marketers offer useful information, tools, and resources to attract people to their business and its website, while also interacting and developing relationships with consumers on the web…”

Put more simply: Offer information that customers will find interesting and helpful. That way, they’ll see you as a great resource, someone they can trust.  And they’ll want to come to you–to learn more about you and your business.

The bottom line: Don’t waste your money on marketing that focuses on you.  Think about what your customers want and give it to them.

You really can be a customer magnet. Easily and affordably.

To download the Hubspot whitepaper (registration required) click here.

Small business marketing plans encouraging

Posted in Advertising, Building customer loyalty, Copywriting and content, E-mail marketing, Search engine optimization, Web design Be the first to comment

Finally, some good news about small business owners’ outlook for the future. Signs of increasing optimism have finally shown up as concrete numbers.

A study by MerchantCircle during the first quarter of 2011 shows positive expectations on all fronts.

The numbers certainly aren’t of the pop-the-cork variety. But as most of us know–for better or worse–when companies fear for the future, the first budget item to go is marketing.

At long last, small business owners are planning to spend more on marketing in the next few months. That  means they’re encouraged that their revenue will grow in 2011.

Of course, we’re happy to see the study. But that kind of optimism benefits everyone.

Good customer service isn’t a differentiator, it’s an expectation

Posted in Advertising, Building customer loyalty, Copywriting and content, E-mail marketing, Print materials, Selling tips, Social media Be the first to comment

One of my favorite sources for marketing guidance is  OPEN Forum, which is operated by American Express.

In its marketing section, AmEx features articles from some of the top names in the field.  Among them: John Jantsch, founder of Duct Tape Marketing.

Jantsch is always right to the point. He offers no-nonsense insights that can benefit any small business owner. The next few paragraphs are excerpted from his “7 Steps to Creating a Sure-Fire Marketing System,” which ran on Nov. 12th. Great advice, as always:

“Develop strategy before tactics.

“Most business owners take the idea of the week, tactical approach when a good marketing strategy is the most important aspect of any successful marketing implementation.

“Before you decide on direct mail or a Facebook page, you must adopt and commit to a marketing strategy. All tactical decisions should be filtered through your strategy to see if they make sense or support the overall marketing strategy…

“…a marketing strategy may seem foreign or out of reach, but it’s really little more than determining and narrowly defining your ideal client and creating and communicating some key point of differentiation.

“The challenge in this comes when business owners realize it means they can’t be all things to all people, and saying they offer good service isn’t a differentiator, it’s an expectation.”

To read the entire article, click here.

Small business local marketing caution

Posted in Advertising, Building customer loyalty, Social media Be the first to comment

You may have heard about the center of one of the latest marketing feeding-frenzies. It’s called the location-based social network (LBSN).

Foursquare, Gowalla, Loopt, and Brightkite are among the most well-known LBSNs.

Simply put, “Location-based social networks (LBSNs)…offer interactive marketers the promise of right-time, right-place marketing by connecting people and nearby points of sale with geotargeted media,” explains Melissa Parrish, an analyst at Forrester Research.

And while reaching the customer when he or she is at or near your place of business sounds like the pinnacle of small business local marketing success, you probably shouldn’t rush to join the frenzy. Here’s why. According to the research:

  • Only 4% of  U.S. online adults have ever used location-based mobile apps.
  • Only 1% use these services more than once per week.
  • Fully 84% of respondents said they are not familiar with such apps, “leaving the vast majority of Americans online still in the dark about location-based apps, which have had the marketing world obsessing over them in recent months.”

For now, checking out LBSN’s may be a good idea if your business targets young men. Almost “80% of location-based service users are male. Close to 70% of them are between the ages of 19 and 35,” reports Forrester.

Stay tuned, however. Mobile marketing may soon catch up to its hype. And when it does, it will be good news for owners of small businesses.