Posts Tagged ‘online marketing’
If 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:
- All company policies and activities should be directed toward satisfying customer needs.
- 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.
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.
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:
- Geographical segmentation: Specializing in serving the needs of customers in a particular geographical area.
- 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.
Do 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.
Selling 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.
I 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.