Small Business Marketing 101 (Online Version)
Congratulations! You have a small business and you’re either just starting out, or you know you need some help to move to another level. You’re seeking out some advice and ideas. This is the first step to getting to that next level. You’re already ahead of the thousands of other Small Businesses which feel that “figuring it out” is the best course of action. This is why you’ll still be in business when they’re packing up the final boxes and wondering what went wrong.
First bit of advice is when you’re choosing a Small Business marketing company to help you out, whether it’s for a website design, social media marketing, or any help at all, just know that it’s perfectly OK to judge a book by it’s cover. When you go to a company’s website and it looks horrid, their work is not aesthetically pleasing, or they won’t get specific with you on process or price, then it’s OK to feel that they won’t be able to help you achieve your goals. Many so-called “professionals” (so-called by themselves and no one else) and companies are just looking for as many clients and/or as much money as they can get. They don’t approach projects from that very important “win win” mindset. At Circle Marketing, for example, we don’t have “clients we close”…we have “partnerships we open.” This is because we want to be there for our clients every step of the way, and our very affordable packages and pricing are set up to measure your goals over the course of time and provide you with a very specific road map on how to do so.
Now on to the freebie advice! Yay!
YOUR WEBSITE AS A MARKETING TOOL
First thing first, you’ll need a new site in most cases. You should most likely have a CMS (Content Management System) site, which is focused on getting leads and selling your products and services. You’ll most likely want a blog, and might possibly even need forums, ad placement, or a number of other requirements, depending on your business. Your website is something you own and you control, and you won’t be effected by fads or trends. You want your website to be the main hub of content, information, and traffic for your business. If you’re getting more traffic on your Facebook page instead of your website, then your website isn’t being run properly. Everything you do in marketing should lead your customers and potential customers back to your website. There, you should be focused on capturing leads and increasing sales.
Your website should also be designed and developed with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in mind. This will help you rank higher on search engines for the search terms your customers are entering into Google, Bing and others to find your business. When you combine the idea that your website should look professional, is optimized for Search Engines, and you are focused on leads and conversions, then your site will be unstoppable and you should see your business increase just from a better website alone.
SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING
Next, you’ll have to figure out how you want to use Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks. Know that each social network has a different vibe, customer mindset and way of posting. Start on Facebook by creating a business/brand page, and asking people to connect with you there. Create some highly targeted Facebook Ads and publish only the best and most interesting and most helpful content which originates from your website. This way, you can pull your Facebook followers back to your main marketing hub, which is your website, and get more business. Facebook is an attraction tool, a publicity tool, and a customer relationship tool. Rarely is Facebook a direct sales tool.
Now on to Google Plus. At the time I’m writing this, Google Plus is rewarding their users with extra SEO muscle. So, get on Google Plus, create a brand page, and tie that in to your Google Places/Google Local page. Oh, you don’t have a Google Places page? Well, if you’re a brick-and-mortar business (i.e. you have a physical location where customers can go to) then you must have your business page on Google Places (aka Google Local). Connect the two pages together so you can post all your blogs, news, etc on one page, and have that one page be able to accept user reviews and be found easier when people are doing local searches on Google.
Bonus Tip: Also set up a Bing Local account as well, because Facebook and many others are starting to tie in to Bing and it’s popularity is rising. And…it’ll help you cover your bases.
SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION (SEO)
You’re going to get list on the top of Google’s and Bing’s search results two ways. The first way is you’re going to have to buy ads. The second way is by having some high-quality, long-lasted, completely 100% by-the-book Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Why mention “by the book?” Well, because there are way too many individuals and companies out there who know SEO takes a while and is never guaranteed, so they try to get a company on a long-term contract which the client can’t get out of. The best SEO strategies involve a lot of work, a little bit of money to pay a service or company to do that work, and also a lot of knowledge. Search Engines change their algorithms constantly to keep providing their users with the most relevant search results to their queries.
The basic idea of SEO is it’s like a referral system. Think of Google/Bing as your elite 5-Star hotel concierge. They know everything about whatever you want to know, and they’ll help you find whatever you’re looking for and give you the best advice and answers to your questions. These are modern day search engines. How do they know? They look at a great number of statistics, but the simplest way to explain it is that the more higher profile websites which are linking to your site and mentioning your site as an expert in your field, then the higher you will rank in the search results.
Hire an expert with proven results, no long-term contracts, and stay on them with charts and reports to make sure you’re seeing results…or move on to someone with a better reputation and better results.
1. Get an Email Marketing and Email List provider like MailChimp or Constant Contact so you can regularly and easily communicate with your customers and leads.
2. Explore what other Social Networks might also be right for your particular business to use in your marketing. Examples: Pinterest is great for e-commerce, LinkedIn is great for B2B, Facebook is not so great for B2B and much better for B2C, and Google Plus is great for SEO (as of right now, which will probably change as Google keeps changing their search algorithms).
3. Buy some Ads on Google Adwords and Bing Ads. Until your SEO kicks in, you’re going to need visibility. To get great visibility quickly, you’re going to have to buy it. However, that’s why we’re suggesting SEO, so you won’t have to buy is for long!
With these tips, you’ll be able to hit the ground running and start going in the right direction. Give us a Call or E-Mail and mention that you saw this blog for a detailed and customized Free Consultation. We’ll help you figure out specifics for your particular business and target market, and we’ll help get you going in the right direction!