Why would you waste one dollar or one hour on marketing that doesn’t work? It happens all the time and the reason is often just a lack of knowledge or understanding about what would work better. As small or solo business owners, who can afford to waste time or money on marketing your business that doesn’t work?
If you are doing what I call “shot in the dark” marketing, which means a little of this and a little of that, hoping something will hit the target, I want you to stop now. Before you spend another penny come up with a strategy and a plan—what I call a Marketing Design.
The goal of your marketing should be to attract qualified leads, so you can then create a trusting relationship and convert them to clients. Most marketing does not lead directly to a sale but to an inquiry. So forget about generic marketing whose only goal is to get your name out there. If you’re small you can’t afford that luxury. Your marketing needs to be all about generating qualified leads and opt-in subscribers.
So what works now? Some of the strategies that used to work are now less effective and others are taking over. So let’s look at a few.
E-mail marketing: it’s still crucial for you to have an opt-in form on your key web pages where people can sign up for your mailing list and receive a free gift in return. However, less people are choosing to opt-in than ever before because they just don’t want more email. That said, once people are on your subscriber list they are very valuable leads and as long as your emails are a mix of real value and gentle promotions you’ll see huge gains.
Twitter and Facebook: I’ve found that people either gravitate toward regularly using one or the other. Since you can connect your Twitter feed to appear on your Facebook wall you can “kill two birds with one stone” and save time. The key to succeeding with both is to find followers or friends who are in your target market by using the search tool. Build relationships with these people by responding personally and offering great advice. Then send them to your web page or blog when you have a special, limited time offer, tele-class, webinar or other time sensitive special event. Once there ask them to opt-in for more information, which they will gladly do if you are really offering value. The key here is value—not hype. Also build your followers by replying to and re-tweeting leaders in your niche who have a huge number of followers. Finally join groups on Facebook that contain your target clients.
Linked In: Perfect if your target clients are businesses. Be more subdued here in presenting special offers and give value by answering questions people ask in your field.
Industry specific and local social networking sites: There are now social networking sites for people who have specific interests. Consider Yahoo groups or groups on Meetup.com. If a group contains members of your target market, join it and contribute value to the group.
Video: it’s big and getting bigger. But don’t just expect to throw a video up on You Tube and get viewers. Make it relevant, creative, touching or shocking and you’ll generate interest. Also use TubeMogul to upload it to multiple video sites.
Blog comments: find the leading blogs in your niche and start adding valuable comments with a link back to your site in the signature. Form a relationship with the blog owner and they just may be interested in promoting your website or product.
Direct Mail: It’s making a resurgence as people tire of email. Try using Send Out Cards to create warm compelling messages with a variety of graphics. Creating a sequence of compelling direct mail pieces and mailing them to a warm list can be a great follow up to your email marketing.
Phone sales: Once we added phone calls back into our marketing mix sales dramatically increased. We call people who are already on our email list to see how we can help them. Also consider calling people who have customer service issues to see what they currently need. You don’t have to cold call. Call people on your subscriber list or who you connect with through social media or through networking. Or warm them up by sending a card or letter first. Each of these approaches will result in additional sales.
Look at the marketing you’re doing now and eliminate or tweak what isn’t working now. Put together a well thought out strategy to use a mix of the ideas above to create a powerful marketing program.© Copyright 2009 Janis Pettit