Category Archives: News

Free Small Business Marketing Ideas – Are Any Worthwhile?

Free small business marketing ideas: Sounds great, but like almost everything else, does “free” mean worthless?

I am asked this question often. People have a small enterprise of some sort and are afraid of its stagnating, of staying where they are. As a matter of fact, with the world economy in tatters like it is right now, can it get worse and thus make their revenues even smaller?

Yes, things can get worse, much worse, but that is not in the scope of this article. You have a product or service that you are selling and you want to sell more of it.

If you sell something that you manufacture: Here are some things for you to consider before examining any free small business marketing ideas:

 

  • Can you handle a large increase in orders?
  • Do you require a great deal of lead time to train new employees if your online ideas skyrocket and you need to hire?
  • I am sure you would want to keep increased sales in your pocket, not the pockets of employees, so, is there any product or service that would add value to what you are doing right now and that which would not require hiring?

The best small business ideas to increase any business involve affiliate marketing. Basically, you become a sales agent for someone else. If you sell bulldozers, you might become an affiliate for a company selling bulldozer garages or bulldozer trailers. If you own a corner convenience store, you might want to add a particular item to your inventory and go with Google Local Searches (it’s free and very effective). This also applies if you are a trades person or professional like a plumber, a nurse or a lawyer.

If you are selling something that someone else manufactures and you grow because of your hard work and cleverness, consider these possible problems as you build your free small business marketing ideas portfolio:

 

  • Do you have room and money to handle the extra inventory?
  • The subject of hiring creeps up again.
  • Can you handle the extra customer care issues like complaints and returns?
  • What if your supplier shuts down on you? Do you have a back-up plan?
  • And so forth. I’m sure you can think of many other possible problems.

Again, the affiliate business model is the best for you and I urge you to get more information on it. It is the wave of the future, risk is zero and the sky is the limit. Do some research on it and blend the concept into your small business ideas.

Here are some free small business marketing ideas to get you started:

 

  1. Register with Google Local Searches. (Free, easy to use and highly effective)
  2. Start a small news letter or online magazine (called an ezine) to give out handy tips on whatever kind of business you are in. They are easy to set up if you offer a free incentive for people to sign up for it and put out a free issue once a week, a month or whatever. A lawyer could give his readers information on the latest laws relating to his specialty like estate planning. A bulldozer dealer could give tips on the latest lubricants, environmental and labor laws for your area. People love these and you cannot believe the trust factor that the regular contact builds in your subscribers.
  3. Buy a video camera (a cheap one will do fine) and make your own informative videos on anything pertaining to your product or business. Offer them free on the internet or sell them. The choice is yours. A plumber might offer simple tips on how to repair a leak. If the reader can’t do it, you just picked up a service call. A bakery could offer free recipes or cooking classes. Why not charge for the video cooking classes? People love quality instruction in the comfort of their own homes. Be funny, don’t worry about mistakes and have fun.
  4. Go through your list of previous buyers and ask yourself this question: “If people who bought (whatever you are selling), what else might they be interested in?” If someone bought a used couch from your used furniture store, they might like to buy a book or eBook on furniture recovering or a catalogue of fabrics that you can be an affiliate for. Give people that “aha!” feeling and you will win their business for life.

An excellent example of what I am talking about is a lady I know who lives in a small town. She had a small business in her home where she sold health foods and vitamins. She built up a list of free small business marketing ideas, thought about what was her best marketing bet and set forth into the world with an open mind.

She found a manufacturer of quality equipment for older people that improves the quality of their lives. They also manufacture and sell high quality prostheses. She struck a deal with them, learned how to build a simple web site and learned the ways of the web. Now, she is earning in the low six figures. People come to her site, see what they want and order directly from the manufacturer. They ship, collect the money and handle all customer issues. It’s all on autopilot. This is affiliate marketing. Want free small business marketing ideas? There is an excellent example of the small business ideas you are looking for explained in two paragraphs.

Do the research.

In conclusion, there are many viable free small business marketing ideas. Marketing is important, but so are all the other things mentioned above like cost of inventory and so forth. If you are just starting, consider the above as you build your list of small business ideas.

 

Networking for Your Small Business

Networking is perhaps second only to cold calling in terms of the contention it creates as an effective small business marketing strategy. Some small business marketing experts say that networking is a waste of time; others insist that it’s the only small business marketing tool that’s really vital to success.

The debate probably arises because of differences in what networking is. Staying in touch with past customers, for example, is undoubtedly a highly effective and important small business marketing tool. Regularly attending networking functions may or may not be as effective a small business marketing tool.

So let’s consider those two types of networking separately:

Networking type 1: Staying in touch with past and current customers as well as those who have inquired about your services

This type of networking is probably one of the most important small business marketing tools you have. Past and current customers, as well as those who have inquired about your services make up the ideal small business marketing list: people for whom you have complete contact information and who, you know, are interested in your products or services.

To successfully network with these customers and prospective customers, set up a way to contact them on a regular basis. One way to do that is through a monthly (or quarterly) newsletter in which you offer relevant information (newsletters have the added benefit of positioning you as the expert). Another is to send out promotional offers that will entice those customers to return and do business with you again. Yet another is to send holiday cards (try sending cards on holidays that aren’t traditionally celebrated with cards, such as the Fourth of July or Thanksgiving to really stand out from your competition).

Networking type 2: Attending networking functions with other business owners

Attending networking association functions is no doubt less effective than the first type of networking. Some small business owners consider this second type of small business marketing to be a complete waste of time, while others find that they make contacts that turn in to business customers.

Perhaps the best argument against attending networking association functions as a means of small business marketing is that your network association is made up of other small business owners just like you who are anxious for customers, not looking to make friends with other small business owners.

The flip side of that argument is that networking associations, when run well, offer you a chance to network with other small business owners selling different kinds of products or services from whom you may get referrals or with whom you may start a joint venture.

If network associations are going to help your small business marketing efforts, though, they should meet a few conditions:

1. They should limit members to one business in each market sector, so that you’re not “networking” with your competition

2. They should require each member to meet a leads quota – to ensure that no one is trying to free ride

Whichever type networking fits well within your small business marketing strategy, the key point to remember is that staying at the forefront of your contacts’ minds is critical to getting the referral (or the repeat business, in the case of current and past customers). There are a number of software programs that will help you establish a list of contacts and remind you when it’s time to follow up.

 

Is Your Small Business Using Internet Marketing Strategies to Attract Customers Like a Magnet?

Smart business people are leveraging the power of Internet marketing strategies to attract more qualified customers to their small business. Small Businesses that you would not expect to find on the Internet are now using online marketing to draw in customers like a magnet. Traditional small business marketing methods are expensive and the results are not measurable. Positioning yourself as the expert in your field and providing valuable information to your potential customers will magically attract qualified prospects to you. This article will provide valuable small business marketing ideas to help you develop marketing strategies for your small business.

My time is limited, and I have found that using the search engines is a great way to find products and services that meet my needs. The information available on the Internet lets me compare products and services and get reviews from other customers who have purchased the products I am looking for.

Last week I purchased a generator for my home through the Internet, and I needed to find a local electrician to install it.   I hate calling people from the yellow pages, so I decided to search the Internet for someone who could help me. I found three different electricians.

Electrician A had very good information on their website about some simple electrical jobs and things to watch out for when picking an electrician.

Electricians B and C simply had a “yellow page” website with a phone number and address.

Because Electrician A had shared valuable information with me first, I already trusted him more, but I wanted to get three bids to make sure I paid a reasonable amount of money for my job.

I sent all three electricians an email asking for a bid on my job. Then I spoke with each of them on the phone to answer their questions and give them directions to my property.

Electrician B bid on the job sight unseen. Electrician A and C both made time to come out to my property and look over the job before bidding.

Electrician A made a couple of good suggestions that actually saved me money and helped me avoid a costly mistake. Electrician C bid almost twice what the other two electricians did.

After getting all of the bids, I chose Electrician A because he took the time to come out and look over my job, and actually helped me save money, even though he did not have the cheapest overall bid. Electrician B, who bid on my job sight unseen, had the lowest bid, but would have actually cost me more money because of the issues that Electrician A had pointed out when he took the time to come out to my property to see the job before bidding on it. Electrician C looked over the same job site as electrician A, but did not give me a lot of confidence when he did not point out the same issues that Electrician A had.

The combination of a website with valuable information to help build my confidence coupled with free advice to help me save money actually won this electrician my business. This is an example of how effective marketing a small business using the Internet coupled with a consultative sales approach can help attract and win customers for your business.

Because of their power to attract customers, I have implemented these Internet marketing strategies in my own small business. I have a website that has valuable information available to the prospective customers who search for my services. Because of this useful information, the customers who find me already trust what I have to say. They know something about me before we even speak with each other. This helps filter out the tire kickers and helps me leverage my time to work with only those customers who truly have an interest in my services as a small business Internet marketing coach.

By reading this article you’ll learn why it is important to market your small business on the Internet. You will learn small business marketing ideas that will attract more customers to you who are already interested in what you have to offer. You will learn how to gain the trust of these customers allowing you to win more business and make more money.

Why it is so important to market your small business on the Internet

More than ever, people start their search for information about products and services on the Internet. In fact, as a business medium, the Internet is growing while many other sectors of the economy are declining. Your customers are looking for you on the Internet…trust me I know this. The question is “are they going to find you when they search?” and if they do, “will they learn enough about you to trust you and contact you to do business?”

Many people no longer think of the yellow pages when they are searching for information about a product or service. The major search engines are the most accessed websites on the Internet. Google has over 91 million searches per day, and Yahoo has over 60 million searches per day, together they represent 151 million searches per day.

Now the population of the United States is just over 304 million and the population of the whole world is just over 6 billion (Wikipedia – Jul 2008). One out of every two people in the United States could be searching for something or one out of every 40 people in the world could be doing the same. This is a staggering number of searches every day, which reinforces the fact that people are relying on the Internet to search for and find quality information.

You can see why, more than ever before, it is important to have an Internet marketing strategy for your small business.

How to attract more customers to you who are already interested in what you offer

Ok…so now we can agree that your business should be on the Internet, but how can you be sure that your business will be found out of all of the others out there? How can you effectively market your small business on the Internet? Probably not the way you would think.

Hype-based or hard selling techniques no longer work. The way to attract customers to you is to offer valuable free information to the people who find you.   They will find you because you will use the same words that people are searching for when describing your products or services. This is called search engine optimization (SEO) and all it means is that when you write the content for your website or blog, you use the words that people are typing into the search engines so that they can find you when they search. If you are using a replicated website, it is very likely that it has not been optimized to be found by the search engines. Search engines hate replicated websites.

Your small business marketing strategy should include writing articles about topics that are interesting to your customers. To do this, you have to figure out who your target customer is, and what they are interested in. This is probably the hardest part of your small business marketing strategy. This is the essence of attraction marketing and is how you will build an audience for your information, which in turn will draw customers to you like magic.

Then it is just a matter of placing your content all over the Internet so that it is found when your customers search. If you are a local business, there are ways to localize your content, so that customers in your geographic area can find you first before you competitors when they search.

How the value you provide helps you gain the trust of your customers

Once your customer types in the search words at the search engine and your content comes up, you have started building trust and credibility in their minds. The more valuable the content you offer for free, the more trust you will build. The more frequently your content comes up, the more credibility you will gain. Securing the trust of your customers is the hardest step in making the sale. Using these small business Internet marketing strategies does this hard step for you, so that when your customers come to you, they are ready to learn what you have to offer.

If the valuable free content that you offer is perceived to be more valuable than that of your competitors, you will differentiate yourself in the eyes of your prospective customer. If your content comes up first on the search engines, you are guaranteed that your customer will see what you have to offer. If what you offer is of value, you have just won a customer.

You too can leverage these ideas for marketing your small business on the Internet

There are many tools that you can leverage today for your small business marketing strategies. Some of these include websites, blogs, articles, images, Google maps, videos, etc.  In addition to these, there are many social media options to help build your reputation with your customers. These include such things as Face book, MySpace, Squidoo, and Twitter.

For example, my small business has a website which I use as the hub of my business activities. I have written articles, such as the one you are reading, which are found by the search engines when my target customers type in certain search words. My articles then link back to my website for my customers to find more information about my services. In addition to my articles, I have Squidoo lenses, and a Face book page which also link back to my website. My offline marketing also has the link to my website. Again, the target of all of my marketing is to drive prospective customers to my website where they can prequalify themselves by learning more about my business and requesting more information if they are interested. Notice, I am not chasing customers, nor am I wasting my money on the yellow pages. Instead, I am attracting customers to me through the valuable information that I provide.

You can easily implement these same marketing strategies for your small business also.

If winning more business and making more money is important to you…

If all of this information is a bit overwhelming to you, or you just don’t know how to get started, I suggest that you find someone who can guide you through developing and implementing the Internet marketing strategies for your small business. Find someone who can show you the ropes and teach you what you need to know to be self-sufficient.

Don’t just sign up with anyone who claims to build or host websites, though. Not everyone knows the secret of attraction marketing like I have described for you here. Find someone who understands these concepts and has demonstrated their ability to apply them the way that I have demonstrated it to you when you found this article.

When you do find someone, the more they know the more costly their time will be.  Look for someone who knows just a little more than you but who isn’t so good at it they charge you a fortune.

They can show you how to set up your small business marketing strategies on the Internet, or if you don’t have the time to do it, they can do it for you.

Now you know how to easily win more business and make more money.

Leveraging an Internet marketing strategy will help you with the hardest part of establishing any business relationship. It will help you gain the trust of your potential customers before you have even spoken with them yet. You will be able to attract more customers to you, and the ones you attract are already interested in what you have to offer. After that, all you have to do is offer great service and close the sale. These great small business marketing ideas can give you a leg up on your competitors, and help you grow your small business.   Now you know why it is so important for you develop an Internet marketing strategy for your small business.

As a customer, I have found that small businesses who provide valuable information to me when I am searching for products or services are much more likely to get my initial inquiry about their products or services.  Businesses who are not on the Internet or who have a replicated brochure website are usually not in the running at all. In fact, I usually forget to even look in the yellow pages. My first stop to search is now the search engines like Google or yahoo. I have implemented these small business marketing strategies in my own consulting business. Now I have customers calling me, instead of me trying to chase them or spending thousands of dollars on ads that don’t bring in anyone.

Give me a call or shoot me an email and I’d be happy to spend 20 minutes on a free consultation with you to get you started on the right track.