18 Essential Tools For Marketing Your Small Business

Growing and maintaining a small business is not easy. It takes stamina, patience and perseverance to keep the doors open every day. It also takes money and marketing to succeed at getting your message to the right prospects. Small business owners need to pay close attention to the message they convey and how it is perceived by their target audience in order to their promotional budget.

Knowing what works and what doesn’t in the arena of promotional advertising and marketing is one of the most common problems business owners face. When you are working with limited resources it is extremely difficult to apportion time and money to every new idea that comes around. This is one reason why Internet marketing has still eluded a lot of local companies. They often don’t know what to do and where to best allocate resources.

Trying to keep up with the various trends that seem to pop up on a regular basis takes a lot of work and no small business owner has the time keep up when they must also wear 100 other hats in their industry. What I found is that the basic principles of marketing still holds true even in the digital age regardless of the type of product or service being offered there are still fundamental applications that fit even the most cutting-edge marketing model. I have distilled the processes down to a basic set of tools that any business owner can use to succeed at generating leads.

There are marketing 18 tools that are vital to the health and growth of a small business in today’s competitive world. There is no doubt that technology has made life easier for small business operation but it is also made it more frustrating. But the essence of marketing is still finding and influencing the people who have a need for what you are selling. You can use any of these 18 tools in a variety of configurations based on your budget or unique requirements.

1. A Company Website
2. A Separate Blog
3. Affiliate Or Referral Program
4. Customer Retention Program
5. Direct Mail
6. E-Mail Marketing
7. Google Maps
8. Internet Advertising
9. Monthly Articles
10. Monthly Newsletters
11. Online Videos Channel
12. Podcast Channel
13. Print Ads
14. Radio and Television Advertising
15. Regular Press Releases
16. Search Engine Marketing
17. Social Media Interaction
18. Telemarketing

These tools offer your business a fighting chance at staying ahead of the competition and can also dramatically improve your bottom line. I wouldn’t necessarily stress one particular tool over another because they all have their pluses and minuses when it comes to effectiveness based on particular markets. It isn’t necessary to utilize all the tools every month; that may be impractical for many small businesses.

If you are just starting to pay attention to marketing, choose a collection of tools that can easily be tracked to gauge their performance. For example establish a company website and a separate blog. Use e-mail marketing and direct mail to promote your company. Establish a customer retention program and affiliate or referral program using your e-mail marketing campaign and direct mail campaign to generate interest.

Craft your message and stick to it. Conduct market research and establish a series of keywords that can be used throughout your promotional campaign both on the web and off-line. Keep your message consistent with the keywords in order to generate a solid message to a target audience.

Promote your message through a variety of media sources for example articles and video or develop a podcast series dealing with the specific topics surrounding your message. Get the word out through social networks and your blog and drive traffic and search engine marketing techniques.

Sketch out your entire campaign on the calendar in order to simplify the entire process. This also allows you to identify your milestones and help in tracking your progress. Marketing should never be an afterthought in your business. Delivering your message and converting prospects to customers is essential for generating consistent profits.

Four Common Misconceptions on Social Media Marketing Among Small Business Owners

Marketing through Social media websites like Google+, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. is called social media marketing (SMM). It is gaining popularity these days and for many businesses, it has become a part of their marketing strategy. Despite the popularity, there are some misconceptions among small business owners on SMM and for this reason, many of them have not adopted it. In this article, we will discuss four common misconceptions on SMM among small business owners.

Misconception #1: Social media networking is only for teens
Most small business owners have a misconception that Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites are meant for fun and entertainment and mostly used by teenagers only. It is true that when these websites started, initially they were mostly used by teens. But slowly, the scenario changed. People of all age groups are using social media websites today. According to State of Search, users aged 45 to 54 years are the fastest growing segment. 55% of the Internet users in this age group have an account on at least one social media website.

Misconception #2: SMM is easy
Registering on websites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. is easy. But, it takes time and effort to maintain profiles and be active. You need to invest time and effort in
• Creating and updating content, videos, graphics, inform developments in industry/products/services, etc.
• Interacting with customers and providing solutions whenever there are queries from customers

Misconception #3: SMM delivers immediate results
Having a good profile in Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and posting blogs regularly doesn’t mean you will get immediate results in the form of sales/leads. It may take few months before you see the results. For that, you have to be patient and interested in building relationship with customers by effective SMM campaign. Over time, you will see the results.

Misconception #4: Social media is meant only for marketing
Another misconception in some small business owners on SMM is that it is meant only for marketing products/services. Though broadly the purpose is the same, it is more than just marketing. Social media also helps small businesses in following ways
• Acquire new customer and retain existing customers – It is one of the best methods to reach out large number of target audiences with less efforts and within less time. By posting informational content, you can attract and acquire new customers and by updating the developments in business and products/services, you can keep your existing customers informed. This helps in building relationship with customers.
• Finding hires and partners for your business – Small businesses can also find people to hire for their businesses on social media sites. For example, LinkedIn is ideal for B2B businesses to find candidates and business partners.
• Search engine ranking – It is believed that Google and Bing search engines consider social signals – shares, retweets, G+ posts, etc. while ranking websites. Businesses that are active on social media websites have chances of ranking on search engine result pages.
• Customer service – According to Social Media Today, 53% of small businesses are using SMM as a two-way communication tool to serve their customers. It enables one-to-one dialogue/conversation with the customers. This leads to building customer loyalty and trust with your service.

It is a good time to have the presence on social media websites and leverage the benefits they offer. We suggest you to hire professionals for monitoring and maintaining profiles on these websites as it is not that easy as it looks.

Small Business Internet Marketing Promotion

One of the most frequent questions emailed to me throughout last year was related to how to go about internet marketing promotions for small businesses.

It’s quite amusing how small businesses consider themselves to be a whole different kettle of fish when it comes to doing business online. The truth is that the online space is the only place where small business can actually compete head to head with big business.

In the offline world big business dominates because they have the financial clout, however the online world things are slightly different.

If you can create enough buzz online, you can outwit big business and beat them at their own game. Small business internet marketing promotions are fundamentally no different to internet marketing promotion for big business; there are a few basic principals that apply:

  • Get loads of qualified traffic
  • Convert the traffic to leads
  • Convert your leads to sales

More traffic means more leads, and more leads means more sales… it really is that simple.

And the great part is that doing business online gives you and equal chance to compete with any other business out there.

To get you started here are some great ideas on how to get your loins share of website visitors with some simple, but often overlooked internet marketing promotion strategies.

  1. Build an email list to encourage repeat visits
  2. Create Viral Marketing Videos
  3. Participate in pay per click (PPC) advertising
  4. Participate in banner exchange programs
  5. Target value keywords in your Search Engine Optimisation strategy
  6. Create Joint Ventures with your competition
  7. Use podcasts to attract new visitors
  8. Exchange links with highly relevant websites
  9. Participate in Co-registration lead building
  10. Do plenty of press releases
  11. Participate in product review exchanges
  12. Post in forums relevant to your industry
  13. Participate in newsgroups relevant to your industry
  14. Participate in traffic exchange programs

If you started at ZERO and got just 10 leads a day from each of the above strategies, that would account for a whopping 4200 new leads per month.

The only thing left to do is TAKE action!

Good Luck and Happy Marketing

Smart And Useful Tips To Keep In Mind When Choosing A Provider Of Phone Systems For Small Business

It is really great to know that leading phone solutions specialists today can provide practical solutions that will let all businesses or companies, big or small, experience all the benefits that first-rate phone systems for offices can bring, and at affordable prices.

And to get the best value of investing in a business phone system, start by choosing the right phone services provider. Their professional experience and reliability can provide all businesses the needed solutions and technologies that are truly beneficial and their expertise can help the business-owner or decision-maker to understand the options better and therefore lead them to make smarter, well-informed decisions.

Here are some useful tips to consider in choosing a good phone system provider:

Look for a provider that offers plans and/or systems that are simple and clear. Choose a provider who can deliver all-in-one solutions that can make life simpler and more manageable for the business and all the staff. Leading providers present easy-to-understand proposals to help clients select the best option according to their business type and requirements.

They can be flexible with the payment methods. Reputable well-known providers can come up with friendly pricing and easy payment options by giving customized solutions that are relevant to the unique business needs of their clients. As such, phone systems for small business is highly attainable and can really materialize.

They have a well-experienced and responsive customer service and technical team. The best and most reliable provider makes sure they employ only experienced and qualified professionals who can provide technical services and comprehensive, ongoing support to clients. They are also easy to reach and very helpful anytime they called up.

The provider has a wide range of selections from leading brands. Smart businesses know that investing in established phone system brands such as Avaya, Panasonic, LG-Ericsson, Samsung and Alcatel is more practical in the long run because of the reliable performance and more innovative features these manufacturers offer. Choose a provider that is also an authorised seller of solutions from established brands and ensure top-rate performance and service, as well as significant return on investment.

Keeping the above traits or features in mind when looking for and choosing your phone system provider will certainly enable you to have one less worry in running your business and have the best and dependable communication system in the company that you, your staff and customers can always use effectively and rely on.