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Posts Tagged ‘online marketing

Small Business Marketing BasicsIf you have started up a new small business, and need to build your company name, it is important to understand the fundamentals of marketing. Marketing requires an integrated method of multiple activities that is much more than just advertising your product.

The U.S. Small Business Administration gives a great detailed explanation of the basics of marketing and why it works.

According to the SBA, marketing has two main principles:

  1. All company policies and activities should be directed toward satisfying customer needs.
  2. Profitable sales volume is more important than maximum sales volume.

The SBA also says that there are very specific ways to use these principles such as using market research to determine the needs of their customers, analyzing competitive advantages, selecting specific markets to target, and figuring out how to satisfy customer needs.

Market Research

It is important to conduct market research by using simple questionnaires to give you an idea of current customer preferences, dissatisfaction, or possible new product ideas. You can also use market research to find trends in the market that can encourage or shut down certain sales ideas.

Target Marketing

Most small businesses don’t have unlimited resources to devote to marketing; however, the SBA wants you to know that you can still see excellent returns while sticking to your budget if you focus on target marketing. By concentrating your efforts on one or a few key market segments, you’ll reap the most from small investments. There are two methods used to segment a market:

  1. Geographical segmentation: Specializing in serving the needs of customers in a particular geographical area.
  2. Customer segmentation: Identifying those people most likely to buy the product or service and targeting those groups.

Figuring out Customer Needs

It is important to know how to satisfy your customers. You need to develop a highly specialized product or service, or have some sort of high-quality service. You need to stand out among your competitors.

Distributed by IntelBuilder Social Media Platform

5 Rules To Follow When Picking Keywordsseo keywordsDo you have a business website? Are you frustrated that you have a fantastic business website with every bell and whistle you can think of and yet no one seems to notice it? Many small business owners feel the same way. Thankfully, there’s something you can do to change that.

If you want your small business website to appear higher up on Google so that people will see it and have access to it when searching for your product, you need to have a selection of very deliberate keywords throughout your website. This will give you higher search engine rankings and ultimately – higher traffic.

Here are some guidelines to follow when choosing keywords to include in your website content.

1. Keep it relevant

Every keyword you choose should have relevance to the product or service you provide. The more relevant keywords you have, the higher search engines will rank your site.

2. Conduct research

When choosing keywords, you need to make sure that you are choosing keywords that people are actually searching for. Use Google AdWords to find out if the keywords you are using are actually in demand. This will ensure that you are selling to a market that needs your product.

3. Beware of your competition

When you are researching the possible keywords you should use, you will be able to see how competitive they are. Try specifying and refining your keywords, use phrases instead of just one word, to set yourself apart from your competition.

4. Keyword stuffing

Try to avoid stuffing your content with repetitive keywords. Also, it is important that you have enough keywords on your page to make it count. There is a particular balance that you need to pay attention to. If you have too many keywords, you will be labeled as a spammer. If you don’t have enough, your page will not be considered relevant when people are searching for those keywords.

5. Quality content

Even if you select the best keywords, and insert them perfectly into your content, your efforts will continue to suffer unless you have quality content. Quality content means content that is relevant to your business, targeted towards your target market, and well written.

Distributed by IntelBuilder Social Media Platform

customer serviceSelling is a process, not an event. The ability to make sales takes the building of relationships and establishing credibility in the minds of your consumers. If you don’t take the time to let your customer feel a certain comfort zone with you, you will undoubtedly lose the sale.

The art of engaging a customer takes practice, time, and effort. Many experts say it can take anywhere from seven to 12 contacts with a customer before he or she is ready to buy. Each of these contacts should give the consumer a genuine reason why your product will make his or her life better.

Here are 4 tips from Joanna L. Krotz, a writer for Microsoft Business.

1. First, define your prospects.

Selling professional services requires a different scenario. “It’s a more complex sale. You need to have a comprehensive conversation and touch one customer many times,” says New York sales trainer Wendy Weiss. She advises skipping e-mail and going straight to human-to-human contact.

Your goal is to contact as many prospects as possible. If you have a list of 200 or so, leave your information, move on and circle back. But if your industry is limited to a half-dozen or so big fish, keep making contact until you establish a relationship. Doing your homework is a must. Research your industry and prepare your list or database of high-level targets before you start.

2. Then calculate the costs.

For online marketing, that means actual conversion rates, not click-throughs to your Web site. For offline sales, it means analyzing the numbers so you know exactly how much you must invest — upfront — before you bank one check or ring up one sale.

No question, this takes sustained effort. But think it through. If you send out 100,000 e-mails and get 10 sales in return versus mailing 10,000 postcards that generate 1,000 sales — the higher postage and print costs probably provide the better the ROI. Or, set up a one-two punch that combines two channels. Just because a channel is cheap to use doesn’t make it cost-effective. Many marketers like to send early e-mail notices or offers to “warm up” prospects.

3. Know that effective messages match the medium.

Before choosing any channel, create a consistent sales message. This should be your product’s point of difference, which must be clearly communicated in any and all contacts. What’s your sales story? What’s your response to every customer objection? Why should anyone buy your product? Even commodity products, such as janitorial services or fast food, must have a story that makes them stand out, whether it’s an emphasis on experience, reliability, convenient locations or better service. Then adjust the message so it’s appropriate for the channels you choose.

save moneyIf you own a small business and you do most of your work at home, it is likely that you are probably feeling the strain of your business costs. Here are a few easy ways to save money and allocate money where it should go – towards driving your income. Having a small business can be trying, so do what you can to make it easier for yourself.

Lesley Spencer Pyle, author of The Work-at-Home Workbook: Your Step-by-Step Guide on Selecting and Starting the Perfect Home Business for You, wrote a great article recently on Entrepreneur.com. Here are a few small tips to save money while working at home, as according to the article.

Reduce Marketing and Advertising Costs

Reducing doesn’t mean you should stop advertising. In fact, this is the time you need to get as much exposure as possible to keep customers coming in. Take advantage of free or low-cost advertising.
• Use social media marketing, such as Twitter, Facebook, and blogging channels like WordPress or LiveJournal
• Find local networking events that are easy for you to attend
• Submit press releases to free news wires like PRNewsWire
• Make phone calls to existing and potential customers, send emails with various promotional offers

Office Supplies

• Buy in bulk and share expenses with other small business owners.
• Shop on e-Bay for great deals on both office and shipping supplies.

Pay Bills Online

Paying bills online will save on the cost of checks, postage, and envelopes – you name it. It will also help you manage your time better and stay organized. Organization is the key to being efficient. Allow yourself time to take care of other things, like making money – not paying money.

Tax Deductions

It’s recommended to meet with your accountant to ensure you’re taking advantage of all tax deductions.
• Are you utilizing all possible deductions for your workspace in your home?
• Are you deducting business miles?
• Are you tracking meals and entertainment expenses?

Reduce or Eliminate Travel Expenses

It’s important in business to have a human connection. Many times we feel the need to meet in person for lunch or a meeting. One way to keep that connection but not have the expense is to take advantage of conference calls. Using a webinar service is an excellent way to connect with a group of people without paying travel expenses.

By cutting costs where it doesn’t hurt you, specifically with your marketing strategy, you can maximize your effort into improving your small business. Don’t let little things like initial business expenses take you backwards.

Affiliate MarketingIn theory, affiliate marketing is the fuel that powers e-commerce. Everyone wins with affiliate marketing. The company profits, affiliate marketers earn a commission, and consumers have more access to the products they are searching for.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Many businesses expand on affiliate marketing in an effort to gain more traffic to their website and business. Affiliate marketing is the idea of rewarding other blogs or websites for every customer that is referred to the original company. So, the affiliate marketer’s priority is to bring as many visitors to the affiliate’s website as possible.

Often times, affiliate marketers sell high-involvement products that require the consumer to be educated before the purchase. Affiliate marketers are required to not only advertise and promote the product to consumers, but also begin the education process required by uninformed consumers.

Generally each individual affiliate marketer has his or her own set of regulations about how the advertising will be done. Due to the fact that there is no association or organization for the industry of affiliate marketing, there is a lot of room and flexibility in marketing methods. It is extremely cost-effective, because affiliate marketers earn a commission from converted consumers, as opposed to traditional marketing strategies that have upfront costs and financial risks.

Affiliate Marketing for your Business

If you are trying to market your small business online, you should certainly consider employing the use of affiliate marketing. The main reason being: it’s cost effective. It’s a strategy that would only cost you after you have already converted a customer. So regardless, you profit.

There are varying types of strategies a business can use to drive traffic to their sites. These strategies may include e-mail lead nurturing, or social media marketing. However, while these tactics may very well drive an increased amount of traffic to a business’s website, what does it do for converting viewers into buyers?

Affiliate marketers deliberately seek out potential customers and pitch the product to them by addressing how the product will solve whatever dilemma they are facing. This strategy allows marketing efforts to be completely focused and targeted, rather than casting a giant net out into cyberspace, hoping to catch and keep a few customers. Using affiliate marketing will allow you as a business to increase sales at a much lower cost.

BrandingEd Roach, a writer for Small Business Branding, wrote a great article called the Barriers to Branding Success. The idea is that branding your business successfully can be extremely difficult when you are starting out. The important thing to remember is marketing your brand tactfully is the surest way to ensure your branding success.

Using successful marketing tools like social media marketing, can inspire positive conversation about your brand. There is nothing more powerful for a business’s reputation than word of mouth marketing among your consumers.

Read the excerpt from Roach’s article below to learn about the negative barriers to branding your business.

Everything that touches your brand affects it. How you market it, is the voice of your brand. Positioning is the stand you take. Community involvement is the heart of your brand. Brand perception is reality to your audience. How stake holders describe and talk about you has some impact on your brand standing and the perception factor. With all these influencers (and more that I haven’t mentioned) there are any number of barriers that affect your brand’s success.

Your job ( and a mighty big one) is to minimize any negative impact these influencers may have. Some of these are external and internal barriers. External barriers are situations like compliance issues and not keeping current with technology – this impacts productivity, dragging you down. Uninspired marketing addresses nothing and flies under the radar of your audience. Lousy service and union problems are massive barriers to your brand’s success.

Every day in business something pops up that challenges your brand. How you react to them or not, impacts the brand. Couple the stress of this with personal barriers. One would be your alertness. Depending on how you tackle everything, fatigue has a huge impact on your efforts. Family responsibilities are another influencer.

Whether you have a positive or negative point of view is a barrier. Have you noticed that when you dwell on the negative, it seems to attract more negative things to you? Lack of education – upgrading is another barrier.

Barriers are a fact of life. How you plan for them and how you overcome them are the bench marks of a truly great brand. Don’t allow barriers to overwhelm you, and view their challenges as just another way to improve your overall performance. As I hurdle each one, I take pride in knowing I am in control. Surrendering to barriers is just the top of the spiral down.

A good exercise is to list your own external and internal barriers and develop a strategy to overcome and build on them.

generosityI recently read a great post on Copyblogger by Dean Rick, a very popular freelance writer. The post is called Give and Grow Rich: The Power of Focused Generosity.

The idea is that being generous, as an online business will bring you more customer loyalty and brand awareness that your business can’t help but succeed. It is these little practices of generosity that will make your small business stand out among your competition.

Here are a few key points from the post by Dean Rick:

Offer something free.

It can be an ebook, a blog tool, a product sample, a subscription to a genuinely terrific newsletter, or any form of valuable information. It can be anything really, as long as it’s free and relates to your core product or service.

One newsletter I subscribe to used to barrage me with products to buy. I was just about to unsubscribe when suddenly the publisher started being generous, sending occasional emails with valuable information and tips with no hard sales pitch. That made the other more product-focused emails a lot easier to swallow, and I remain a loyal subscriber to this day.

Give something beneficial.

Of course you have reasons for being generous, but don’t make people feel manipulated. Do something for the recipient’s benefit. No conditions. No self-serving verbiage.

Allow the “payback,” if and when it happens, to come naturally. Not only does this make you more likable, it can actually change the way you think about people. They stop being “marks” or even “prospects,” and start being real people you honestly care about. And that will come through in your content.

Give something of value.

What you give should have real value for the person on the receiving end. If you run a blog on financial planning and want to “upsell” your readers to a paid online seminar, don’t just give them a self-serving “tease” that piles on the sales patter . Offer an informative sample of the course with solid value even for those who don’t sign up.

Put a personal face on your gift.

Take off the corporate suit and tie. Don’t have the gift coming from your “business.” It should come from you personally. It is much easier to feel indebted to a person than to a faceless, formal company. And people are more likely to be loyal to you as a person than to your business empire.


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