Category Archives: Marketing Tips

Marketing in a Bad Economy

People are spending less and less these days, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t spending. Small businesses and big businesses both need to be aware of this and figure out 1) how do we make people spend money and 2) how do we make people spend their money on our products and our services?

Think about what makes your business unique and better than the competition. Why should people buy from you? What are people looking for? How can you present your products and services in a way that is desirable to people?

While people are still buying, they are shopping around a lot more to see which business offers the lowest price and best products or services. They also want their shopping experience to be smooth and quick. Efficiency is important.

The other day I was helping a friend look for bulk blank Gildan Heavyweight Cotton t-shirts at the cheapest price with quick delivery. We wanted specific colors and specific sizes including youth sizes. Price was the most important along with delivery. We visited over 10 websites and wrote down prices, shipping prices, and shipping times. Once we found something we liked, we used that as the baseline. Is this next website cheaper? If it’s not, then we move on. We were looking for a good deal and we found it. We ended up with great prices and delivery was only 2 days!

Your customers will probably be looking for the same thing. Can you offer them a discount? People want a bargain. People also like free things, can you offer a Buy One Get One Free (BOGO) special? How about throwing in a free gift? Free shipping is also huge these days! Think about what you can offer and present it in an appealing way. Think like the customer not like the business owner.

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Marketing Promotions for Special Events or Occasions

Each calendar year has tons of holidays, special events, or occasions that your business can and should use to promote your business. Aside from the well-known holidays like the fourth of July, Thanksgiving, Labor Day, or Christmas, there are plenty of smaller holidays that might not be known to your customers. Using these smaller holidays or events can make others aware of the occasion and also gives you an excuse as a business to have a sale or some type of special promotion or event to celebrate the date. Not only can you have a special promotion for the event, you can also use it as a chance to engage your customers with games or gifts all while promoting your company.

As a marketer, you must plan ahead. The bigger the promotion or holiday, the more in advance you should start planning. Start brainstorming and jotting down ideas, then plan on your resources, timeline, etc. For example, December promotions should finish up planning in the next few months and start implementation. This way, when the time comes to execute, you’re ready and you haven’t missed out!

Creativity also goes a long way when promoting your business. I remember visiting this local coffee shop that had a chalkboard at the front door. Depending on what holiday was coming up, it would have a trivia question about that holiday. If you answered the question correctly when you went to order, you would get 10% off your drink.

Here’s an idea: Super Bowl is this weekend. Have you thought about how you can incorporate that into your small business marketing? If you own a food store, this is a perfect time to offer discounts on bulk orders. How about making a deal with your customers? If X team wins or wins by x number of points, then all your customers will get 15% off on Monday or Free Shipping on their order.

It’s also a good idea to save your big promotions for the big events. As for the smaller occasions, use it to throw in a BOGO (Buy One Get One) or 10% off offer.

If you aren’t sure what types of holidays or special events are out there, try to search for an events calendar in Google or you can use the promotional events calendar we feature on our website.

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Building a Good Landing Page

Setting up a landing page properly is absolutely crucial to maximizing conversions. When I shop for something online, I like to do a lot of research, I like to shop around for the best deal, and I want to purchase from a company that looks like they know what they are doing.

I was prompted to write about landing pages after I saw this article on PPC Landing Pages: Surprising Examples at Search Engine Watch. It is absolutely amazing to see that some large, credible retailers still do not understand the important elements that belong on a landing page. While the article focuses mainly on pay-per-click ads and their landing pages, I think that these simple tips are relevant to landing pages for email promos, SEO, or any other type of landing pages. Think of it as a best practice guide.

Whether your prospect is coming from an email promotion or an advertisement, when the user clicks on your landing page, they should be presented with exactly what they are looking for. If the visitor can not locate what they went there to find, they will leave almost immediately. Such as the case in the article I mentioned above. If I was looking for a specific running shoe by name and I clicked on an ad that took me to their home page with the running shoe nowhere in sight, I would leave. I don’t want to waste my time searching AGAIN for the product and neither do your customers.

Make sure your ad copy matches from the ad to the landing page. If I am looking for a “blue Adidas Superstar” shoe, make sure the landing page states “blue Adidas Superstar”, not just Adidas shoes or Superstar. The more your copy matches, the more relevant your landing page will be to the visitor. Also, make sure your copy is short and to the point. No one wants to read long paragraphs, keep things simple in bullets. Lastly, make sure your ad copy is grammatically correct. It is unprofessional to have misspellings and punctuation errors on your website.

What are the benefits of the product? What are the benefits of ordering from you? What can your business provide that others can’t? 100% Guarantees? Free Shipping? List these in clear easy to read bullet points.

Call to Action
A call to action is important as it encourages the visitor to act whether it may be to buy, leave a review, or contact you. The call to action should be visible and easy to understand. The visitor should not be confused on how to purchase or use your services.

Keep graphics simple. There is no need to get fancy. Reflect the product in a way that is satisfying and useful for the visitor. What are visitors interested in seeing? If it is a product, try showing different views, close-ups, and different colors.

By following these simple tips, you will create a better experience for your visitors. A better, friendly experience makes visitors more likely to convert.

The key to all elements: keep it simple and concise.

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Promoting Your Business Offline

Visibility in the online space is important, but it is just as important to promote yourself offline. Chris Crum from Small Business Newz wrote a great article on places you could advertise your business offline.

Throw in a few stickers in the package or bag your customers receive. People love free things. Plus stickers are an effective way to promote your business to those who normally don’t surf the web. You may be able to reach a new group of people with your logo and website imprinted on a sticker.

Handing out flyers does not seem to be as effective as posting them somewhere. Post up your flyer in places where people often have to wait or spend a short amount of time such as bus stops, subways, telephone poles, etc.

Bulletin Boards
Often times bulletin boards are put up so people can advertise local services or goods. Check out your local stores, school, or library for bulletins to leave your business card or flyer.

Give away free shirts to your customers and employees! There is a good chance that they will wear it out in public for all to see. They can be a walking billboard for your company!

Look for people who are willing to promote your services or goods on their cars. I’m sure you’ve seen cars with advertisements on the window. This is a good way to reach a large amount of people.

Most importantly, whichever offline methods you use, make sure you stay consistent with your messaging, logo, information in all forms of media (on the web, stickers, flyers, catalogs, etc). Also, don’t forget to include your website address and any other important contact information.

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Halloween Marketing – Pumpkins and Goodie Bags Can Go A Long Way

Happy Halloween!

Each year is filled with holidays and special occasions that you can use as an opportunity to promote your business and services. Halloween is one such opportunity where you can engage with your current customers and try to attract new customers.

A few years ago, a few days before Halloween, I arrived home to find a pumpkin at my door. Attached to the pumpkin was a little goodie bag with pumpkin carving tools, carving designs, a few pieces of candy, and a note from a local realtor wishing me a Happy Halloween.

What a great idea! I’m sure many people were surprised and delighted to receive a gift and I’m sure that families with kids enjoyed the pumpkin and goodies even more. Leaving a pumpkin with some treats to market your business or just let people in the community know that you care and are interested in them is such a simple and nice way to promote yourself.

Buying a pumpkin for many people may end up costing more than you would like, but handing out little goodie bags with your information, a small note, and some treats is inexpensive and will still get the message across. Many party stores sell Halloween goodie bags and you can often get a bag of candy for $2-3 at your local supermarket. As for promoting yourself, there are many promotional product companies out there that sell items you can put your name and logo on. Other ideas include making your own personal Halloween cards or creating little tags with your business information that you can attach to the goodies in the bag.

It’s simple and effective. Create and give out a gift that will be remembered.

Have fun and be safe this Halloween!

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Low Cost Ways to Support Your Community

Have you ever noticed all those organizations that sponsor the local Girl Scouts, little league games, community picnics, etc.? People support those businesses that sponsor because they have shown an interest in the community and want to help. You can be one of those companies.

Sponsoring local events will build your image in the community. As an extra bonus, if the event is run by a non-profit organization, contributions are tax-deductible. There are many inexpensive ways to show your support and get your community’s support in return.

Provide food. Bringing hot dogs or drinks to a small event could cost under $50, but will get you remembered.

Donate products for a raffle. Many events use raffles or other competitions to raise money. Donate products for gifts and you’ll be appreciated by everyone at the event, not just the winner.
Offer services for the event. If you own a printing service, offer to print flyers or programs. If you are a furniture rental service, loan chairs. Anything you can offer a community event will be welcome.

Donate employee time. Sometimes the best thing you can do is offer a helping hand. Offering multiple pairs of hands will show your company’s generosity.

Sponsoring community events will not only get you known by attendees, but your name will be spread around town as a business that cares.

How have you helped out your local community?

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How a Waning Economy Can Boost Your Business

With gas prices on the rise and the fall of the American dollar, it can be a scary time to be a small business owner. It doesn’t have to be. If you use these facts to your advantage, you can take over, or at least be competitive in, your local marketplace.

Customers Are Shopping Around. In tighter economies, people need to stretch their dollar further. Many of your competitor’s customers will shop around to find the best deal. This is a great chance to lure people in with sales, first-time client discounts and more.

Loyal Customers Need Love Too. Maintain your existing customer base by pairing good prices with a loyalty program. Hold on to your customers -if you offer them good reasons to stick with you, they will.

Competitors May Disappear. Some businesses will not compete successfully in a bad economy and may downsize, scale back their product/service lines or even go under. Make it easy for their past customers to transition to your company and they’ll be happy to make the switch.

Customers Want Satisfaction. The best way to keep customers happy is by offering great customer service. In times of hardship, people need to know who they can trust. Give customers a reason to trust you and they will stay by your side.

Fewer Companies Are Advertising. Your competitors will not pay for advertising when profit margins are shrinking. Take advantage of this by following our instructions on marketing for virtually free.

Being a successful business person doesn’t depend on the economy so much as knowing how to manipulate information to your advantage. Using the marketplace to give you an upper hand is a helpful business tactic that can be used in all economies.

How do you fare in bad economies? Do you have any advice?

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Stay Consistent!

We have, and will, say it over and over. Staying consistent is one of the most important things a business can do to maintain customer loyalty and branding. Remember the “New Coke” disaster? Consider the following:

If It Ain’t Broke… You will likely get tired of the same message, but your customer relies on hearing it. They want to be assured over and over. And, let’s face it -they aren’t hearing the message nearly as often as you are.

Be Flexible. Don’t try to resist change. Willingness to change is important, but do it slowly to maintain consistency. If you want to update the logo you’ve used for 15 years, hire a graphic designer to modernize it–don’t throw it out.

Think Integrity. Being steady shows you’re reliable.

Did you know Coke’s market share skyrocketed after they brought back their classic formula 3 months after replacing it with “New Coke?”

If things aren’t working it may be time to revamp your message, but this should be a last resort. Don’t under estimate the negative reactions that may come with a change in your company image.

Bottom line: Be Coca-Cola Classic, not New Coke.

When (if ever) do you think it’s time to change your brand image?

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8 Virtually Free Ways to Market Your Business

All businesses need to advertise, but not all of them have the budget to do a full-fledged marketing campaign. Of those who can afford to advertise, many find they still cannot afford all the promotion they need. I imagine you, like most of us, are in one of these boats. Advertising is hard for small businesses. You don’t have a budget for much, especially non-essentials.

Advertising is essential, but it can be relatively inexpensive. Here’s what can you do to advertise on a low or non-existent budget.

Spend time near your customers. Whether it’s online, a spa, a coffee shop or a sporting event, building a relationship with your customers will make them like and trust you more. This is something every small business owner should be practicing. Aside from marketing to them, you can also learn valuable information about your customers and how to please them.

Offer free samples. People love freebies. I sure do. Offering your product or service for free shows customers you have good stuff to offer. Plus, it provides a feeling of goodwill towards you -always a plus.

Send out press releases. Local papers -especially small neighborhood publications- frequently need more stories. Send them information on your promotions and business practices and you just might get coverage. If your first few don’t get picked up, keep writing. You never know when they will be interested in the next one.

Hang signs around town. Print up signs with your company info and post them on community bulletin boards, telephone poles, etc. Check your local laws about this as some places have requirements of where signs can or cannot be hung.

Did you know 1-800-GOT-JUNK started to get big only after owner Ben Hopper posted wooden signs for the company throughout his community? He advises putting the signs up high so no one can mess with them.

Offer rewards for referrals. A fast way to build loyalty and increase your customer base is by thanking customers who sending you new business. This can be done by offering discounts or monetary credits toward their next purchase for every new customer they bring you.

Write for trade publications. Websites and magazines in your field always need new articles from business owners. If you write articles for these publications, your name will spread as being established and credible.

Offer gifts to help sales. Try offering a promotional product or inexpensive merchandise to motivate buyers. The best way to do this is to pair the offer with another ad medium and warn that supplies are limited.

Test out social networking. MySpace, Facebook and other sites can work wonders for marketing. While they don’t work for everyone, the sites are free. There’s no harm in trying.

Send hand-written thank yous. Thank you notes are a rare commodity in the modern world. Sending one written by hand shows customers you did more than print and sign a pre-written form. You care.

Enhance your marketing campaign with these simple tricks and you’ll see a boost in sales in no time –without a big budget ad campaign.

Do you have any tips to market your company without spending much?

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