Online marketing can produce incredible results for businesses who are willing to learn the ropes, work at it, and put themselves out there.
These small businesses, whether they’re a florist, a pool seller, a roofer, a yoga studio, a real estate agent, a life coach or a craft creator, are the ones who have the opportunity to create a strategic advantage over their competitors. It’s not always easy, but effort applied in the right places can really pay off.
How can you find out if you’re on the right track?
You Can Learn From Other Small Businesses. You can see what worked (and what didn’t) for other small businesses. You can learn where they focused their efforts, what tools they used and what they stopped doing. I covered this in my previous post about 9 companies who’ve taken the plunge and have seen it pay off: 9 Lessons From 9 Innovative Marketers.
You Can Learn From Marketing Experts. In addition to following examples of other businesses, it’s important to learn from the experts who have coached and trained thousands of small business owners, entrepreneurs and sole proprietors. These are the people who have researched the markets, tested the different technologies, developed new strategies, and who have seen what works across multiple businesses and structured it into easy-to-understand and actionable steps.
10 Marketing Tips From The Experts
I’ve had the good fortune to interview 8 top experts on the topics of content marketing, blogging, social media, information products, content curation and guest blogging. In the following section, you’ll find 10 important tips that cut across the main areas of your company’s marketing strategy. These statements and quotes have been paraphrased from the interviews I conducted with each of these experts. For deep dives on each of these topics, register now for the free Business Blogging Telesummit (it runs from 12/12 – 12/16).
“Think of your market as an ecosystem”
To increase from an audience of two or three [for your blog], think of your market as an ecosystem. First, define your client avatars; for example, a 55-year old lawyer in Midwest. Then, build an ecosystem around these avatars. Figure out who they listen to. What blogs, magazines and books do they read? Who and where are all their influencers? Identify them right down to individual names of authors, bloggers, press and publications. That’s where you want your blog posts to show up – in those places.
“Be visible everywhere your clients hang out”
When people see your content around in the places they frequent, they conclude that you are on top of your game, very knowledgeable and an expert. Take social networking sites, such as Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, one step at a time. Set yourself up on one site, figure out how it works for you and then move on to the next. Look beyond the major social networking sites. For example, a photographer might post to Flickr, a film maker to YouTube and a business to LinkedIn Groups.
“Your competition is colorful, like Facebook and Angry Birds”
Anyone can do keyword research and figure out a good content development plan. But, only you can do what you do the way you do. People can’t replicate your personality and what you bring to the table. To generate leads, include your quirky personality in everything you do! The Internet is not a place people go to for dry and boring stuff. Your competition is colorful, like Facebook and Angry Birds.
“Give blogging a try…Don’t ever think you’re not good enough”
Give blogging a try. You don’t have to commit hours every week to it. If you just post once a week or every two weeks, that’s enough to build up some genuine momentum for your business blog. It’s a great way to bring in new clients, keep your current customers engaged for possible repeat business, remind everyone that you exist and occasionally let them know about a new service or product you have. Don’t ever think you’re not good enough. Whether you’re good or not, you can improve. Blogging is really rewarding and good fun.
“Initially, blogging will feel like you’re pushing a snowball up a mountain”
But remember that you will crest the mountain eventually and then it’ll go on its own. I still produce content, maybe one or two posts a week as opposed to the two or four per week in the beginning. Today, our website is a cash cow. It generates a lot of leads. Manufacturers approach us all the time with offers to buy it.
“Wow your audience with great content”
Pick topics and create content that’s a cut above anything else out there and that satisfies both people who like to share content and your potential customers. Address their pain points and fill in key information gaps. For example, create a resource guide on some aspect of your business, a series of how-to posts or address industry FAQs. This will build your reputation as a resource and expert and increase the likelihood that they will choose you above someone else to help them when they need it.
“For time-stretched business owners consider using content curation”
For many business owners, the Web is almost like a phobia. Traditional blogging demands too much of them to be constantly creating original content. For these folks, I recommend curation.
“Approach guest blogging with humility”
Recognize that other blogs are giving you more than you are giving them. Be respectful. Do your homework before you pitch a post and then submit the best possible content for the blog’s audience. Don’t forget to thank the blogger afterward, and use the opportunity to get feedback and improve, build your relationship further and suggest future posts.
“A freebie can’t make them think ‘Okay. I’ll never have that hour back'”
When you’re giving away a free report or free training, the worst thing is to give content that makes them feel like they’ve wasted their time! Give them something of high quality, that’s actionable, and that helps them make actual progress. Something that moves them one step closer to their ultimate goal or gives them an “a-ha” moment. Then they’ll be more inclined to want to know you and will trust your more.
“Physical products have a place…even in our digital world”
Some people are more comfortable receiving product in the mail. Others are not yet familiar with the concept of downloading. Still others fear that they may lose all their digital products in a crash. What’s more, they come in handy at live events, such as seminars; you can hold up a book or CD and say, “I made this” and you can sell them right after an event.
To find these experts online:
Pamela Slim, Escape From Cubicle Nation | Denise Wakeman, DeniseWakeman.com | Jack Humphrey, JackHumphrey.com | Ali Luke, Aliventures.com | Marcus Sheridan, TheSalesLion.com | Danny Iny, FirePoleMarketing.com | Chris Garrett, ChrisG.com | Cathy Stucker, CathyStucker.com | Tom Treanor, Right Mix Marketing