Branding introduces your business to consumers and other businesses that could turn into loyal customers.
There are many ways to brand your business that is cost-effective and look professional.
SCREEN PRINTED AND EMBROIDERED SHIRTS
The cost of advertising can be very expensive and time-consuming. Printed shirts look professional, and are an inexpensive way of advertising. (Example: You or one of your employees is standing in line at a quick trip gas station, and a person behind you notices your business on the back of your shirt. That person is looking for your trade and taps you on the shoulder stating he/she is looking for your service) You just got a possible client.
Vehicle Magnets can help your business by advertising your business while you’re driving. With hundreds of people on the road, there’s a good chance someone will look at your magnet, and needs your service. This will lead to a call.
Name Badges can be used as an ice breaker, identifying you if you have an appointment with a new client that has never met you, and looks very professional.
Branding is so important in today’s world. As business owners, we need to get our name in front of people, and looking professional. You rarely ever get a second chance to make a first impression. Branding your company will help with that first impression.
Running a small business is hard and marketing on a budget can be even harder. Let’s face it, budgets are tight, but the importance of marketing is essential for business growth. So, how do you get the biggest bang for your buck when marketing on a budget? How does your small business continue to grow with a limited marketing budget?
Blogging for business is going to give you the biggest bang for your buck. Over time, you are going to be able to build an audience and find potential customers. Blogging for business also provides a platform to be seen as the industry expert, this is always good for business. Use your blog to attract the right customer and build a sales pipeline of qualified leads. Give your website a purpose. If your company does not have a blog it is not too late, get started today.
Context Is Queen
Okay, you are now blogging and driving traffic to your website. Don’t forget about the content of your blog posts. The context of your blog posts is just as important as actually sitting down and writing. You need to clarify a pain point, answer a question, or add value to the visitor. Get to know what your ideal customer is searching for and create content around that. Your context will connect you with your audience.
Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization is the marketing tactic that optimizes your website to be found on search engines like Google. SEO will help you drive more traffic to your website. More traffic to your website means more leads. More leads mean more customers. Get to know what your customers are looking for through search and optimize every page to drive more traffic. This will also help your blogging efforts.
Use Directory Sites
Use Redditt and StumbleUpon to promote your blog posts. These sites are a great way to promote your content to a new audience. There are tons of blog directories that you can submit your content to. Make sure to uses these services to grow your blog audience. Hey, they are free for the most part.
Furthermore, submit your business to local and national business directories. This might not help your search engine optimization, but it will provide a link to your website. Business directories can help drive traffic to your website, usually for free.
Video marketing is a big deal. Now that the largest social media network, Facebook, allows native video, it is time to start filming. Yes, I get it video can be demanding and intimidating. Just remember, video marketing does not have to be the next Star Wars. In fact, many of the biggest YouTube stars have a simple video strategy. Again, it comes back to the context of your video. Are you connecting with the right person at the right time?
Update: Have you see the amount of live video on social media? Live video is a great way to connect with your audience and continue to nurture leads. Live video is becoming a must for any social media strategy.
Have you ever been told that you have a face for radio? Well, podcasting is for you. This is a simple way to get your message in front of your customer. The best podcasts are those that help and add value. Yes, it is about the context of your message. Podcasting is very affordable to get started and can have huge benefits for your business. It is just another way to get your brand and marketing message out there.
Use Your PPC (Pay Per Click) Promo Credits
Typically, PPC is not an option for most small businesses. It can be very expensive and fail to yield the return your business is looking for. However, if you use Google or Facebook products, you can typically get some sort of promotion credit. Spend $25 and get $100 in free advertising is a typical Google promotion. You should also get free credits from your website hosting provider. Use these free credits to drive traffic to your site and test the market. Who knows, you might find a gold mine. There are plenty of business built on pay per click campaigns.
Use Social Media For Networking
I am sure that you knew social media marketing would pop up on the list. You are right, but use it for more than just promoting your products or services. Use it to network with the right people. There are over 1.5 billion active users on Facebook, you should be able to find 1 or 2 people that you can mutually benefit from a business relationship.
Social and Online Contests
These contests are becoming huge and simple to execute. There are programs out there like Raffle Copter that make these contest easy to set up, run, and monitor. Social media contests are a great way to grow your social media presence and promote your products or services. Just make sure your giveaway is worth signing up for.
Everyone loves a loyalty program. Now, you do not need to have anything as robust as your local grocery store. You can use the old fashion punch card, buy 10 get 1 free. The main focus is rewarding your customers with something that will continue to bring them back and promote your business to their friends. A loyalty program can go a long way.
Find Industry Partners
You cannot specialize in everything in your industry, but you can share leads. For example, if you own an insurance agency that specializes in auto or home insurance, you should find a legit financial partner to share leads. You have very similar customers and your customer can benefit from the services you both provide. Industry partners are a fantastic way to grow your business, just find the right-parters that actually share leads.
Join Your Local Chamber of Commerce
Should you join the Chamber of Commerce? Yes, this is where you are going to find your industry partners. Besides finding like-minded people, you are going to be able to build your network and build lasting business relationships. Your local Chamber of Commerce is a great place to start your marketing efforts. The Chamber of Commerce was built to help you grow your business.
Apply For Business Awards
This is a hard one. I am not a fan of tooting my own horn. However, it needs to be done. If there is an award in your town or industry you need to apply for it. Many times these awards come through the Chamber of Commerce. Think of the potential exposure it will bring your company. Business awards are great for exposure, do not miss the opportunity.
Host An Event
One of the most common real estate marketing ideas is the open house. Really, what is an open house? It is an event that showcases the product, the home. Events are a great way to gain exposure to your business. Give away a free seminar just to get people in your doors. Event marketing, when done correctly can be a great way of generating new leads for your business. This is also where having great industry partners comes in.
Attend An Event
Are there events in your industry? Sure, every industry has trade shows, conference, or annual awards dinners. Make sure to attend them. These events can be costly, I get it. However, they are really just pennies when you think about knowledge and relationships you will gain. If you really want to get benefit from these events, apply to be a speaker. Being seen as the industry guru helps customers come to you. Event marketing can become the cornerstone of your marketing plan.
Local Events/Farmers Markets
Every weekend there is a local farmers market, festival, sports event, etc. If it makes sense from your customer segmentation strategy, show up. You could even participate or volunteer to get to meet even more local residents. Local events are a great way to build your brand exposure in the community that you live in. I have even seen some of the larger companies participate in these marketing tactics.
Email marketing has the highest return on investment of any marketing tactic. In fact, it can yield a 4,600% return on your efforts. Start building your email list. Value always trumps promotion in email marketing. Take the give, give, give, ask mentality with email marketing. Give value 80% of the time and ask for the business 20% of the time. This will help you stay in the customer inbox.
Marketing automation services can be costly. The software alone can cost hundreds of dollars per month. However, it is the only way you are going to be able to custom tailor your marketing message to your audience. Marketing automation is about segmenting your marketing based on customer’s behaviors and preferences, not pushing your marketing message. Marketing automation will help your small business send the right marketing message at the right time. This will increase the chance your customer buys from you.
There are tons of different types of vehicle advertising out there. From the full out wrap to the car magnet, you can find something that fits your budget. You are driving anyway, you may as well use the miles to promote your business.
Hire The Right Marketing Agency
Finding is the right marketing partner can be hard. There are some really good marketing agencies and some not so good marketing agencies. The trick to finding the right marketing agency writing down the expectations and deliverables. If you and your marketing agency have a clear marketing plan and schedule of deliverables, everyone will be on the same page, making it easier for both parties involved. A marketing agency can be a great way to increase your marketing potential.
Measure Your Results
As a marketing professional, I tend to think this is a no-brainer. Most businesses take the approach of flinging some mud on the wall and seeing what sticks. Marketing without data is a no-win scenario. You need to know what is driving revenue for the business. Knowing what is working will help your small business stretch your marketing budget even further.
Friends & Family
Do you fear to market to friends and family? Now I am not talking about going all network marketing on them. We are not sitting our closest friends and family on your couch and telling them about an investment opportunity that they can’t miss. I am talking about asking for introductions to the right people. Avoid marketing to friends and family too much, you still have to live with them.
Follow Up With Old Leads
Once a lead goes silent, what do you do? Do you follow up or do you give up? For the majority of sales, we give up too early. We fail to make the seventh contact, the contact that would have sealed the deal. So take a look back at your contact database or CRM and fire off an email or pick up the phone and ask how they are doing. What’s the worst that can happen? They say no again.
Building a business is hard work. Nobody has ever said it was a cake walk. Marketing on a budget can be even harder when you do not have marketing assistance. It would be great to spend thousands of dollars on marketing every month, but the good news is you do not have to. These budget-friendly marketing tactics can help you grow your business fast. The trick to marketing on a budget is executing against your marketing strategy.
Over the years, your website has become more and more important to your marketing. Since 2006, inbound marketing continues to be a proven marketing framework that delivers results. Inbound marketing is a marketing framework that delivers marketing the way your customer wants it. The days of pushing your marketing message through television, print, and radio are gone.
Inbound marketing is the process of attracting a new customer to your website through compelling content. This content earns your customer’s attention because it is highly valuable to the end user. This content not only helps find new traffic, but it helps bring traffic back to your website over and over.
There are 4 phases of the inbound marketing methodology. These stages outperform other marketing techniques because they do not stop at finding new customers, inbound marketing helps nurture visitors through the entire buyer’s journey. The 4 phases of the inbound marketing methodology are attract, convert, close and delight.
Phase 1 of the inbound marketing methodology – Attract Visitors
The goal of any marketing campaign is to find new customers. Traditionally, this has been done through television, radio, and print. The goal was to place your advertisement in the right place and gain as many impressions as possible. The more people that saw or heard your marketing message, the more potential customers would knock on your door.
Well, times have changed. Think of the last time you watched television without DVR. That’s right, it has been awhile. If you did watch television without DVR, you probably picked up your phone and checked in on Facebook when that commercial came on.
Today, attracting potential customers is done a little different. The focus of inbound marketing is attracting your ideal customer with quality content. The content created for inbound marketing campaigns needs to answer a question, solve a pain point, or entertain the user.
There are 4 main things you can do to attract your ideal customer.
Blogging for Business
Starting a blog for your business is the best way to drive traffic to your website. Your customers are searching Google right now looking for answers. Every time you create a blog post, you are given the opportunity to answer this question for them. Blogging for business gives your company a platform to engage and add value to your customer base. Starting a blog for your business is the first step in the inbound methodology.
Quick tip: If you are not the written word type, maybe your business blog is video based. Video marketing can be another form of blogging. In fact, it is best practice to take your blog topic and turn it into a video.
Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing scares a lot of business owners, marketing managers, and just about everyone. However, this is where your customers are hanging out when they are watching television commercials. Creating compelling content for your customers and posting to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and any new flavor of the month social platform will get your inbound marketing message in front of your buyers.
If anything, social media is a great place to promote your blog that you worked so hard on. Creating a social media strategy that appeals to your buyers will attract more buyers to your business. Inbound marketing gives your social media a purpose, not just posting funny cat videos (unless you are a veterinarian, cat videos are great).
Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization is the marketing tactic of attracting visitors to your website through search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Finding the right keywords that your customers are searching for will attract more visitors to your website. Optimizing your website for high-traffic keywords will increase the effectiveness of your inbound marketing strategy.
Your blog and search engine optimization go hand in hand. Every time you blog for your business, the blog post should be optimized for one identified keyword. The more keywords your business targets, the more traffic your website will receive. Optimization of your website can pay off both short and long-term.
Phase 2 of the inbound marketing methodology – Convert Web Traffic
Your website is crawling with new traffic. Phase one of the inbound marketing methodology is starting to pay off. Phase two of the inbound methodology is about converting this website traffic into leads. The conversion process is what makes the inbound marketing method different and more effective than other marketing methods.
Let’s face it, marketing is only as good as the leads it creates. Without leads, marketing was a failure There are three main conversion mechanisms that will turn your website traffic into leads.
Call to Action
You have the attention of your potential customer. It is now time to tell them what you want them to do. Your call to action is going to be tied to the goal of your inbound marketing campaign. This can be as easy as downloading an eBook with further valuable information or scheduling a free inbound marketing consultation.
Your call to action is the first step in the conversion process. Typically, this is a link that directs the visitor to a landing page.
A landing page is a page on your website that has a specific purpose. This purpose is to pay off a call to action or give additional information about your product or services. Your landing page will include a form that the user can fill in order to get the offer from your call to action.
The exchange of information has happened. You now have a lead. Your customer database or CRM is a piece of software that holds the data and contact records. The customer database is vital to the inbound marketing method because it will aid in the close phase of the inbound marketing method.
In order to get the best results, your customer database should be tied in with your marketing platform and website. Having these pieces of software connected will ensure that your inbound marketing efforts are deployed and tracked accordingly. Your customer database is essential to the inbound marketing methodology.
Phase 3 of the inbound marketing methodology – Close Leads
In the past, it has been the job of sales to knock on doors, make cold calls, and attend as many networking events as possible. The inbound marketing method helps sales professionals close more deals because of the helping nature of inbound marketing. The close phase of the inbound marketing methodology is the phase where visitors are turned into revenue.
Now that your customer database has filled up with leads, it is now time to close these leads and create lifelong customers.
Finding Warm Opportunities
It is easier for sales professionals to close leads when the lead is ready and willing to make a purchase. Because inbound marketing is built on a customer database that is tracking leads behaviors, the inbound methodology is able to identify these willing customers through lead scoring. When your lead is ready to purchase, your sales team will be notified.
Sending The Right Message at The Right Time
When your potential customer is looking for a solution, odds are they are also shopping your competition. The inbound methodology is about adding value to the end user through valuable content. While looking to close a lead, sending the right piece of content at the right time is critical. Every lead takes a different path to close, so sending content through email based on the behaviors they take on your website will deliver content at the right time to close the deal.
Add Value Through Email
Sometimes leads go cold. Maybe the budget changed, they are demoing the competition, or maybe the needs of the business changed. This does not mean that they are a dead lead. Well-crafted email marketing can turn a cold lead into a ready and willing buyer. Email marketing is still one of the most profitable marketing tactics out there when executed correctly. Email marketing aligned with value-based content will help move the lead through the buyer’s journey.
Closing The Loop With Analytics
You did it. You landed that new lead. First off, congrats. This is a huge day for the company, the sales professional, and your marketing team. In the past, marketing has never been held responsible for revenue. The inbound marketing methodology is built around data. By tagging and tracking inbound marketing through your customer database, you are going to be able to track revenue back to the campaign and the source responsible for the revenue.
Phase 4 of the inbound marketing methodology – Delight Your Customers
The customer has officially closed and revenue has been recorded. It took time and hard work to get here. I hope you treated your team to coffee or lunch. Here is where most marketing efforts stop, at realized revenue. However, it is much easier to keep a customer and get a referral from a customer than find a new customer.
The last step of the inbound marketing methodology is to delight your existing customer. That is right the inbound method really never stops, it just continues to add value and pump revenue back into your business.
What does your company do when you close that deal? Turn on the app and walk away? A great onboarding campaign will help your customer understand the ins and outs of your product or service. Make sure that your new customer is getting the same attention as when they were a new lead.
Again, the on-boarding process is about creating valuable content through your blog, customer portal, or automated email series. Customer on-boarding is the first step to keeping and retaining a new customer.
Deliver The Right Up-Sell
By tracking your customer’s behavior, you are able to tell what problems or questions they are having. Maybe your company offers a service that compliments their already purchased product. Make sure to send them a relevant offer at the right time. Sending the wrong up-sell could tarnish the brand and the relationship you worked so hard to build.
Use Social Media
Yup, social media strikes again. Use your social media channels to deliver customer service or ask for that referral. Once your customer is fully on-board and loving your product or service, ask for that social media share. Social media is a great way to get your customer to share their feedback and review of your company. By delighting your customer, you are able to make the ask that many companies would love to get.
Stop Interrupting, Start Converting – The Inbound Marketing Methodology
The inbound marketing methodology is about adding value to the end consumer. It is time to deliver value to your customer. The inbound marketing methodology is about attracting new visitors, converting visitors to leads, closing leads to customers, and delighting customers to become brand advocates. The inbound marketing methodology will drive the results your business is looking for.
Blogging is the heart and soul of your inbound marketing, social media marketing, and overall content marketing. Blogging for business is a must for any company.
The other day I was talking with a prospective client. He had just paid $3,500 for a new great looking website and was really excited about the website. The client was also concerned that nobody would see it. He was right. Yes, the website looked great, but there was nothing driving traffic to the new site. So, we had a long conversation about how blogging for business would give his new website purpose.
These are the 25 reasons we talked about the client starting a blog for his business.
Let new customers find you.
When was the last time you had a question? I bet you hit the old internet to find your answer. Your customers is no different. They are looking for answers to their questions. Every new blog post gives your company the opportunity to answer these questions and be found by prospective customers.
Help explain your products or services.
Do you have a product that is hard to explain? Even if you are an air conditioning repair company, you have services that your customer had questions about. When the AC is out you are needed. This is an easy sell. How about your pre-summer AC checks and maintenance packages? A blog can help you explain these products to your customers.
Increase traffic to your website.
Okay, we have a website. We would like to see some traffic, right? Blogging for business is like giving your website an at bat and a chance to hit a home run. The more quality content you produce, the more opportunities you have to be found by your customers and clients. Start giving your website more at bats with more blog posts.
Become an industry leader.
Is your business the leader in the industry? Are you the best at what you do? Sure you are. Your blog is going to back this claim up. Think about it, if you write a book you are pretty much the guru in the room. Or at least seen as the guru. Blogging is very similar, you are able to share your expertise with the world. Blogging for business gives you the opportunity to show the world you are the leader in your industry.
Think of it this way. You are reading this blog post. I hope you think I am a blogging expert. If not, I have not done my job.
Build relationships with your customers.
Let’s face it, people are always thinking they are going to get ripped off. Blogging for business will show your potential customer that you are legit and start to build a relationship. Providing valuable information and helping them answer a question will help you build trust. Give away free advice and they will come knocking next time they need your service.
Identify new revenue streams.
I love to find new revenue streams and I bet you do as well. Building a blog for your business will give you the opportunity to ask your customers and clients questions. Use their responses to help build our new products or services.
For example. When I started my first marketing agency I was focused on inbound marketing services only. The more I blogged for my business the more I found out that I should also be consulting marketing teams on inbound marketing strategy. Cha Ching, new revenue stream.
You are falling behind.
This is pretty straightforward. Your competition is already blogging for their business and finding new customers. Don’t fall behind any further.
Tell your brand story.
Does your company have a story? There is a reason you got into the business. For example, I was laid off from a high-paying marketing job and needed a way to feed the family and pay bills. I decided that I was not going back to corporate America and went out and found some clients. The rest is history. Your blog gives you a chance to connect with people through your brand story.
I am sure you have been told to spend boatloads of money on trade shows, pay per click campaigns, social media ads, or direct mail. These are all still great ways to get new business, but blogging is one of the only free ways to promote your business. Yes, there is time involved in creating a great blog post, but it cost me $0 to write this post and you are now aware of the Symple brand.
Focus on your business.
Blogging for your business is a great way to learn more about you as a business person and learn about your business. The more you blog, the more you need to think about how each topic benefits your business. Blogging for business will have you thinking about your business differently.
Blogging creates free PR.
Does your business have a PR strategy? No, that is okay. Your blog is a great way for the press to find you and if you are willing (highly recommend) put your on camera. Your blog is a great way to get found and at least start the old PR machine.
Build links to your website.
Creating high-quality content allows you to be found on the internet. When you are found on the internet you have the chance of someone linking about to your article or website. The more links to your website, the more traffic. The more traffic to more customers.
Learn about your competition.
When was the last time you took a hard look at the competition? You analyzed the marketing tactics they are using to generate demand? If you are like most companies, potbelly never. When you start blogging for business, you are going to come across your competition as you do research. This is going to inform you of new competitors and also give you some insight into what your competition is doing.
Provide valuable information to your customers.
I am a huge believer that marketing should add value to the end consumer. Blogging for business is a great way to give your customer tips and tricks for free. I love giving away free advice because I know it will create a relationship and potentially create a new opportunity. Your blog should add value to the end user.
Share timely information with your customers.
Use your blog to let your customers know about an upcoming product release or let them know you are hosting an event. Your blog is a great way for your company to share important information with your customer base. It is also a great way to find new customers that are looking for something new.
Blogging for business is fun.
Okay, I might be the only one out there, but I really enjoy blogging for business. I am not a writer at heart, but I have learned the tricks of the trade and writing has become a way to relieve the stress of the business. I really enjoy writing and blogging for my business. You can too.
Gives your company a content marketing strategy.
Content marketing is the act of creating and sharing content (such as video, blogs, and social media) to promote your brand or company. Content marketing is intended to raise awareness and spark interest in your products or services. Blogging for business is the backbone of a content marketing strategy.
Gives your company a search engine optimization strategy.
Search engine optimization is the act of being found on Google, Bing, and Yahoo through organic search, not pay per click campaigns. Search engine optimization is important for any business because over 90% of transactions start with a Google. Every blog post you create gives your site a new indexed page in the search engines. Again, this gives you more at bats (l love baseball by the way).
Part of a lead nurturing strategy.
I am still surprised at how many companies, including marketing agencies, do not have a lead nurturing mechanism in place. Most customers are not ready to buy from you on the first introduction, but through marketing automation, you are able to continue to nurture leads and keep top of mind for when they are ready to buy. Blogging for business is one entry point into your lead nurturing campaigns.
Helps identify your customer wants.
Do you know what your customer is really looking for? Well, your blog will give you a pretty good indication of what they care about. The posts that have high interaction and engagement are the topics that your customers care about. This will also help you create new topics to blog about.
Build consumer confidence.
A blog on your website will build the confidence of your customers. As a marketing agency, I sit down with t a prospect and answer questions about the process, results, and tactics we are going to take. Through blogging and content, I am able to answer some of these questions before we even sit down. This helps the client build confidence in my services.
Helps your company innovate.
This goes hand in hand with competitive analysis. If you know what your competition is doing, you can create and innovate new products or services.
Part of your social media strategy.
Social media marketing is becoming more and more important to your business. Blogging for business helps fuel your social media with fresh new content. For example, this blog post will be broken up into 26 different social media post and shared across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Blogging for business is a great way to start engaging your customers on social media.
Expand your network.
Blogging for business can also help you find new connections in your community that can help grow your business. Team up with other like-minded bloggers and share content and guest post on their blog. This will help you build your hub of new power partners.
Helps you develop new skills.
Okay, writing might not be your strong suit. Storytelling might be your thing. Blogging for business can help you develop new skills you did not even know you wanted. From search engine optimization to writing, to photography blogging will give the platform to start learning something new.
Segment your customer base.
Customer segmentation is a strategy of creating micro groups of customers that have similar interests, demographics, or needs. If your business sells multiple products or has multiple target markets your blog will help you create valuable content for that individual group.
The first client I ever landed through inbound marketing was created from a blog post that was tailored to accountants. Within 3 days of publishing that blog post, the new lead was on the hook. Market segmentation can and will work for your business, let your blog be the guide.
Blogging For Business Conclusion
After the client created and started updating their blog traffic increased 71% over 5 months. The new website finally started to pay off for them. Blogging for business has become a part of their overall marketing plan and continue to drive new visitors, leads, and customers. The results from blogging have helped the client start looking for a second location.
Blogging for your business is very beneficial and no longer optional for your business. If you are not blogging or blog infrequently, it is time to get started today. According to HubSpot, Companies that published 16+ blog posts per month got almost 3.5X more traffic than companies that published between 0 – 4 monthly posts. There are going to be some bumps in the road, but the more you do it, the better you become.