Have a Safe and Happy New Year!
20 Creative Marketing Ideas for Small Business
By Theresa Sheridan Let’s face it, sometimes ideas are just hard to come by. We are so overloaded with things to remember and things to do, that coming up with some newer ways to help promote our business can be challenging. Over the past few weeks, I’ve jotted down some ideas that appealed to me. Some I thought of myself, some I discovered through all of my surfing ventures of late.
1) Create a calendar to give away. If it applies, and the photos can relate to your business all the better. Of course, this calendar will have your business name and contact information on it!
2) Conduct a free clinic or seminar about a product or service that you offer. These can be webinars as well. They don’t have to be complicated, but they do need to be relevant.
3) Put together a marketing video. Google loves video. When it’s complete, upload it to YouTube and then embed it on your website, and whereever else you can think of.
4) Write an article about what you know and post it on your website, blog, other websites, everywhere! We all know more about something than someone else does, so promote yourself as an expert in that!
5) Write a press release and submit it to your local newspaper. There are also numerous websites that you can submit your press release to, and some of them are free.
6) Create an annual award for something and publicize it.
7) Join your Chamber of Commerce, mostly for the incredible networking opportunities that it will offer you, but also to show your sense of community.
8) Volunteer to give a speech, or for career day at a local high school.
9) Create a customer loyalty program.
10) Create a monthly newsletter and start an email marketing campaign.
11) Team up with a non-competing business to offer a promotional package.
12) If possible, loan your facility out for meetings and other events. This is a great way to spread the word locally about your business and what you can offer.
13) Spotlight a customer as Customer of the Month. Be sure to advertise this in numerous places.
14) Start a blog.
15) Scan the Public Notices section of your local newspaper for Fictitious Business Name Statement announcements and send them a brochure, a business card and whatever your latest promotion is.
16) Have a treasure hunt on your website.
17) Write a book, or write an e-book that you can give away for free on your website. People love free stuff.
18) Help a reporter out. Make your expertise available to reporters all over the country who are looking for people to interview on literally every subject you could think of. Not exactly marketing, but could help in the overall exposure of your venture. http://www.helpareporter.com.
19) Affiliate marketing: Not a new concept by any means, but worth the effort. Check out www.clickbank.com.
20) Join a leads club. If you can’t find one, start one! I’ve implemented a few of these myself and have plans to work on a few more. I hope you find these useful, and if you have any ideas of your own that you’d like to pass along, please feel free to comment! I love hearing new ideas.
About the Author: Theresa Sheridan Theresa Sheridan Enterprises Website Design – Graphic Design – Virtual Assistance http://www.theresasheridan.com Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?20-Creative-Marketing-Ideas-For-Small-Business&id=3168319
From John Jantsch:
Dec 21, 2009 –
Let’s face it; most small businesses do the bulk of their business locally. So, the thought of gaining access to Facebook’s 300 trillion users (may be more by now) isn’t that relevant or useful.
However, if those local businesses could use the some of the new powerful online tools and platforms to gain access to the 200-300 social media users in their town, now that might just make some sense.
There are many ways to filter, sort, aggregate and otherwise take advantage of social media tools that can specifically benefit even the smallest neighborhood oriented business.
Below are five things any local business can do to get more business using social media tools
1) Start a Local Group Online
Most social network platforms offer some form of group creation. Any member has the ability to start a group around a niche or pretty much any topic – including a local topic. Sites such as Flickr, Facebook, LinkedIn and Slideshare all allow members to create and manage groups.
For example here’s a local independent merchant group in Austin, TX using a Flickr Group to promote it’s “Keep Austin Weird” slogan.
This Boston Networking Group on LinkedIn was founded by Jeff Popin, owner of BostonEventGuide.com. With over 3,000 members, there’s a pretty good bet this group serves as a conduit for Popin’s main business locally.
2) Find and Network with Local Bloggers
Using tools such as Placeblogger, outside.in, Bloglines you can locate bloggers in your community that might have an interest in writing about your business or industry or actively linking to your blog.
Networking with relevant bloggers locally, commenting on their blog posts, and maybe even contributing a post is a great way to create additional local exposure. Don’t forget to seek out and add blogs from traditional media publications locally as well. Most radio, TV and news journalists have been asked to write a blog as part of their job, these can be great local social media contacts if you take the time to build relationships though their blogs.
3) Hold Meetups and Tweetups
Using a social media tool like MeetUp, you create and promote local events and tap the user base of MeetUp to create additional awareness about your seminars, product demonstrations, open houses, and grand openings.
Here a home remodeler in Encinitas, CA is offering a workshop on green remodeling through MeetUP.
TweetUps, a gathering of people in a community using Twitter, have become very popular ways to meet others locally that believe in the power of social media. That alone can be enough common ground to network on. Search locally for the term TweetUp and don’t be surprised to find one schedule in your community.
The online social media network Biznik allows members to join its online platform, but belong to a local community and promote in-person local events on the site.
4) Find local leads
Finding local prospects or potential strategic partners on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter is pretty simple through the use of the powerful search interfaces built into all. Simply searching by City is a great way to find other people using social media in your community. A service such as Twellowhood or LocalTweeps may aid in your search to find other businesses in your community using Twitter.
Many smart marketers are also employing some of the advanced features of Twitter Search to find people locally and filter their tweets to turn up leads. An auto body shop might set-up searches for people talking about being in an accident and reach out to them with advice for what to do to get the best quote. A computer network service provider can use advanced search to find people locally complaining about their network being down.
Naked Pizza in New Orleans uses Twitter to publish exclusive offers to followers and attributes a significant rise in business using to this tactic.
Cupcakes on Wheels, a Los Angeles mobile cupcake business, tweets its location throughout the day so followers can find its signature brown vans.
Facebook’s Ad Targeting is also another great way to reach only local prospects on the Facebook platform. One of the targeting criteria is geography, so you can create ads that promote your web site or Facebook Fan page that are only shown to people in the geographic region you choose
5) Enhance Local Search Results
No matter how you put social media to use to create engagement locally, simply creating profiles on dozens of social media sites and linking those sites with local keyword content back to your main web site will help your site do better when people search locally. Creating very brand and local optimized profiles on sites like YouTube, Flickr and Slideshare will help with overall links to your site. Creating and enhancing local profiles on Google Maps, Yahoo and Bing Local will help you show up higher in the local results.
Finally, don’t forget to get active with the social review sites like Yelp! and Insider Pages. Ask, and even teach, your local customers hot to write reviews about your business. Currently Google Maps and Bing Local add these reviews to their local profile database too.
Using the technology and ability to access large groups of social media users locally has become a proven small business marketing tactic and is a great way to further enhance the face-to-face relationship building you already do.
Image credit: gloom
John Jantsch is a marketing and digital technology coach, award winning social media publisher and author of Duct Tape Marketing.
From Jill Konrath’s Blog:
Part II: Selling to the C-Suite
Q. So what should sellers do to gain access to these corporate bigwigs?
There are typically four ways to gain access to senior client executives.
- The Overt approach is a direct phone call or a phone call preceded by either a letter or an email.
- Using a Credible Sponsor in the client organization to help you secure access.
- Using a Referral (someone outside the organization, such as a consultant or business associate) to help you secure access.
- Treating the Gatekeeper as a Resource to help you get access.
In our research, executives told us that (from their perspective) the best way to gain access to them was by using a credible sponsor within their organization. 84% of the time, executives said that by using that approach salespeople would obtain a meeting with them!
Q. How can salespeople quickly establish trust and credibility with senior-level decision makers?
When we asked senior client executives “How does a salesperson establish credibility and trust with you?”, they gave the following answers (listed in their order of importance):
- Ability to marshal resources
- Understands my business goals and objectives
- Responsive to my requests
- Willingness to be held accountable
What they mean by “Ability to marshal resources” was that when there was a problem during an installation, for example, they wanted a single point of contact within the sales organization who has the responsibility and accountability for the solution.
Even if the installation involved multiple business partners, they wanted to be able to go to one person who could “marshal the resources” to solve the problem.
Notice that factors like understanding their business goals and objectives, being responsive to their requests and willingness to be held accountable also show up as key factors.
Credibility is the intersection of capability – the ability to get things done – and integrity – the trust factor – and those two factors are the most important ones when dealing with senior client executives.
Q. If you could give sellers only one piece of advice for selling to the C-suite, what one it be?
My advice would to be persistent – but focus on developing relationships with credible players in the client organization who could help you obtain access to the executive you are attempting to reach. When that person helps you gain access to the senior executive, make certain that you do your homework before that critical first meeting.
Don’t expect the executive to educate you – be prepared with questions that ask for the executives insight (something you typically can’t get from the Internet). Then, make certain that you are consistently responsive to the client and demonstrate a willingness to be held accountable.
In the book, we talk about the need to get access to the relevant executive for the sales opportunity. This executive is often overlooked – even by the most experienced salespeople. We make the point in the book that you may not always need to get to the CEO of the client organization to sell your solutions.
In fact, in many cases, salespeople are better served by not getting to that level to try to close deals involving their solutions.You need to find the executive with the highest rank and greatest influence for the specific sales opportunity.
We identify that executive as the relevant executive – and we also point out that the relevant executive could be defined as the executive who stands to gain the most or lose the most as a result of the application or project associated with the sales opportunity.
If you can align with that executive you will find that s/he will be able to exert an element of informal power as it relates to the buying decision.
Steve Bistritz, founder of SellXL, a sales training and consulting company that helps sales teams gain access, describe their value, and ultimately, become perceived as trusted advisers, to senior executives in client organizations.
He spent more than 27 years at IBM where he managed and led the instructional design, development and implementation of numerous national sales training programs. In 1994, he left IBM and led the development of nationally recognized sales training programs and processes such as Target Account Selling and Selling to Senior Executives for Target Marketing System. He started SellXL in 2002.
Click here to download an excerpt from his new book, Selling to the C-Suite.
Lose weight with Taco Bell?
It must be the season…
How do you create and establish a successful brand that brings loyal, profitable customers to your door?
1) Build your business around your best customers instead of trying to aimlessly drive sales. Over time, your return on marketing and innovation efforts will rise. Apple is masterful at creating products especially for customers who love style, creativity, and simplicity.
2) Listen to what your best customers are telling you. Don’t be a transaction-making machine. Be a real person and build a business to serve real people. This is the key to cultivating customer loyalty. Southwest Airlines isn’t just another airline to its loyal customers who perceive Southwest as the “heart of the sky.”
3) Focus on what your brand does best. If you try to be all things to all people, you’ll end up being nothing to everyone. Be bold. Be unique. Differentiate your brand around your strengths. Ritz Carlton is a hotel of ladies and gentleman serving ladies and gentleman. Volkswagen Beetle has built a distinctive brand around a special little car.
4) Understand what makes your customers tick. Learn how they think, feel, and behave towards your brand. This isn’t easy, but if you can decode these drivers, you’ll be better positioned to create long-term customers. Talk to your customers. Read their comments about you and your products on the web. Read blog posts related to your brand. Most of all, truly listen to what your customers are saying.
5) Identify your customers’ drivers of choice. Why are your current customers buying from you instead of your competitors? Knowing the answer to this question can define the future of your enterprise. Understanding drivers of choice isn’t easy because you need to decode the conscious and unconscious motivators influencing your customers’ buying decisions.
6) Be relentless in serving your best customers better than anyone else. Give them plenty of reasons to stay with you and no reasons to leave. Push your business to continually find ways to make your customers’ lives easier and better. Brands like Amazon.com and Netflix are constantly finding ways to enhance the customer experience by refining algorithms to recommend products and movies the customer will enjoy.
7) Find ways to wow and surprise your best customers. Do something extraordinary and unexpected for them. Instead of playing with “word-of-mouth marketing” programs, focus on better serving your customers and word of mouth will happen naturally. Online retailer Zappos is masterful at producing the wow factor by providing free, surprise upgrades to overnight delivery, random gifts, and hand-written notes to their customers.
8) Determine what your brand stands for and deliver on your promise. You must become relentless in your dedication to deliver on your brand promise each and every day. Harley-Davidson customers love the freedom of the open road and the brand promises that freedom. Oprah stands for empowerment, hope, and the promise of a better tomorrow.
9) Build a brand model that identifies the psychological motivators, key characteristics, and emotional connections your customers have with you. An effective brand model will describe your customers’ mindsets, attitudes, and behaviors toward your brand. Every successful brand has some form of a brand model. Major brands go through formal processes to construct their brand models.
10) Use your brand model to make all business decisions. An effective brand model accurately predicts customer behavior because the model takes into account the psychological drivers of your customers. If your new ad doesn’t hit on what’s important to your customers, don’t run it. If you’re innovating in a direction that isn’t relevant to your brand lovers, change directions. An effective brand model removes the guesswork in building a magnetic brand that attracts more loyal customers.
Most businesses struggle because they don’t identify whom their business is especially for. Market research and focus groups don’t provide the answers because 90% of consumer behavior is unconscious. Customers rarely articulate their true motivations even when directly questioned — people simply cannot describe why they really do what they do.
Your job as an entrepreneur, brand manager or chief marketing executive is to figure out what motivates your best customers. You need psychological insights into the motivations behind your customers’ behaviors — how they think and feel about your brand. These consumer insights will provide the business lens needed to evaluate marketing strategies, advertising campaigns, and product innovations.
|BJ Bueno is founder of The Cult Branding Company, a brand loyalty research firm. His company uses behavioral research and psychological assessments to help businesses identify the patterns their best customers share. He is the author of “Cult Branding Workbook” (2008) and co-author of “The Power of Cult Branding” (2002). Reach him here.|
Today I have two articles on customer retention. The first is from MarketingProfs.com
Tips to Keep ’em Coming Back
We all know the adage: It costs far more to get a new customer than to keep one you already have. And in today’s economic climate, customer retention has become a precious commodity in its own right. So, how do you keep ’em coming back?
In a recent guest post at the Return Customer blog, Joseph Eitan offers a few timely tips to ensure customers stay happy and loyal. Among them:
Respond to emails within 15 minutes. “In the viral world, it is very hard to cause a customer to say ‘Wow!’, but it’s not impossible,” Eitan notes. His advice: “[M]ake it a business policy to respond [to emails] as soon as possible.” Your best bet: respond while the customer is still at your site. Score!
Create a variety of ‘new’ offers. Some folks love a price drop, some value free delivery. Diversify your offers “to keep your products as appealing to [a wide range of customers] as the first time they bought from you,” he advises.
Walk and talk like a pro. To encourage loyalty, “become an authority on the product or service you offer,” Eitan says. “The brand image, the language you use, and the level of service offered should all spell professionalism.”
Surprise ’em. “Do something beyond what you have to,” Eitan suggests. “Send a promotion code to loyal customers, create a high-quality how-to guide sharing your extensive industry experience,” or just send them emails on their birthdays. They’ll love the attention.
The Po!nt: If you please them, they will stay. What’s the bottom line for customer retention in tough times? “Just show you really care,” Eitan says.
Source: Return Customer. Read the full post here.