I regularly interview small and solo business owners who call my coaching company looking for help. After getting a sense of what their businessmarketonline is all about, what their biggest goals are, and what lifestyle they are trying to create, I ask them what their biggest challenges are.
Nine times out of ten, it’s getting more clients and the problem is marketing. Most work very hard at trying to get one client at a time. They try many different small business marketing methods that they’ve heard about or which they’ve seen their competitors use. In other words, a little of this and a little of that. The results are inevitably mediocre. It’s easy to get discouraged when you know you have a great skill or talent to offer the world and yet no one is listening to what you have to say.
The mistake made by the majority of early stage small or solo businesses, and even some who have been around for years, is to do what I call “shot in the dark marketing”. This is like playing darts with a blindfold on and being convinced that you’ll hit the bull’s eye. You may occasionally do so, but you’ll do it rarely. The same is true if you are an entrepreneur who has not mastered marketing.
I bet you’re great at what you do. But, are you also great at building and running a business? These are two separate and distinct skill sets and both are crucial to your success. When it comes to small business marketing, the real truth is that people who are marketing masters can make money even with mediocre products, yet many people with excellent products and services fail because they haven’t mastered marketing. If no one knows you exist how can you expect to get lots of clients and make a great income?
Here are some tips on what you need to think about in order to begin to master marketing:
It’s a mistake to decide what you want to sell, create a product and then try to find some people who need it and are willing to pay you for it. Instead use the Internet to find out what people are searching for within your area of expertise and to research what and how your top competitors are selling. Also figure out where your prospects congregate online or offline so you know where you can reach them with your marketing.
Create a Marketing Design
This is a detailed plan that locks in what marketing activities you’ll pursue and how you’ll measure and track the results to know if those activities are working. Make a list of all the different ways you could generate leads both online and offline. Then pick only those that will focus on your target market. For example, join social media groups that attract your target market, mail marketing materials, postcards and brochures only to your target market. The same applies to print ads and sales calls. Don’t waste time on broad groups of people, but on the type of person who you know would buy your type of product or service.
Then pick three activities from the list and get started. You most definitely need at least one of them to include online marketing, either. That’s why I teach my online lead generation system. You can use a variety of methods such as article marketing, video marketing, blogging and social media to organically generate traffic. You can also use search engine optimization and pay per click advertising to generate search leads.
Follow Your Plan
Stick to your plan and see what works. Give it a bit of time, then focus tightly on what works and get rid of the rest. Don’t waste time, for example, going to networking meetings just because you like the people when you’re not connecting with potential clients or referral sources. Your time is limited so use it wisely.
Why do $15 an hour tasks when you can outsource them and spend your time being the strategist and servicing clients? As soon as you outsource rote marketing tasks, you’ll find they get done more quickly and consistently and you’ll start generating a steady, reliable stream of qualified leads.
Once someone is on your mailing list or has called your company, have a follow up system ready to go into action so you don’t miss out on closing sales with people who are ready and willing to work with you!
The universe of business marketing has entered a new era during the past decade or so, and the Internet most definitely has its place in this changing dynamic. Companies have typically included mail, website, email, and telesales promotions in their marketing mixes. They have widened their promotional scopes to include the amazingly popular social networking web pages currently dominating the world wide web. It is of interest to provide a detailed discussion of each of these promotional methods and their surrounding trends.
Direct mail, whether it be in the form of a brochure, postcard or catalog, has traditionally been a mainstay of businesses’ marketing mixes. There is nothing like having a tangible and colorful marketing piece on hand that effectively communicates what a company is trying to sell. As more and more marketing pieces are sent electronically today, it is rather refreshing to receive a promotional piece in the mail, especially if it is personalized as in the case of a letter. However, the increasingly high cost of direct mail has caused many businesses to cut back on this form of promotion. There are design, printing, postage, copywriting, mailhouse, and mailing list costs to consider when sending out direct mail pieces. All of these costs have gone up in recent years.
Websites are another prominent form of business marketing. Sites should be designed effectively, allowing users to navigate them easily. Another must is that the HTML code used in building a website should be constructed in such a way so as to optimize word searches. The end goal of this action is to have a website come up high on a search list after a person types some keywords into one of the major search engines. It is a must for businesses big and small to have a quality website as part of their marketing mix.
Electronic communications, or emails, are another important component of a company’s marketing activities. As opposed to mail pieces, emails tend to be cheap to send out, and they can be sent out right away. They are an inexpensive method of getting the word out quickly. Emails need to have subject lines and content that stand out, as they will be one of many electronic promotions that are sent out by businesses. They should furthermore not have any elements in their subject lines that can make them end up in someone’s spam folder. Spam considerations as well as the high volume of email marketing pieces that already go out are two cons of using email promotions in fact.
Telemarketing promotions can also be used to promote businesses. This involves a company’s hiring salespeople to call other businesses or individuals in the quest to sell the organization’s products or services. These salespeople either work off of hot lead lists containing past customers or they make cold calls to brand new prospects. They typically have to fulfill a certain quota of sales each month, or they could possibly be terminated. A sales team in many cases is responsible for a sizable portion of a company’s profits. Where telemarketing is concerned, a company has to think about hiring a top sales director who will motivate his or her staff to the fullest.
Fax promotions are also a part of business marketing mixes though to a much lesser extent than in years past. It is typically easier to get a list of qualified direct mail or email opt-ins than it is to get one for faxes. A lot of people are concerned about faxes jamming up their machines, and the last thing that they want to see is a sales piece from a business as the cause of a fax machine clog up. Fax laws in recent years have also placed great restrictions on the amount of faxes which can be sent out.
In addition to all of the promotional vehicles discussed that are a part of the business marketing mix, social networking sites have of late proven to be useful promotional tools for companies. Companies large and small can set up pages on one of the sites. These pages can possibly contain information about a company and its offerings along with a hyperlink to the business’s website. Photos of the business’s products can also be stored on the page. A company can invite friends to join its page initially, something especially done in the case of a small business. The business’s place on a social networking site can be promoted in its other marketing materials as well.
The world of business marketing has been transformed dramatically in recent years due to Internet-based promotions and social networking sites. Email, fax, direct mail, telemarketing, website, and most recently social networking sites all have their places in different companies’ marketing plans.