Posts Tagged small business marketing strategies

The Web Marketing Connection

Image courtesy of Sommai from

Image courtesy of Sommai from

In the hustle and bustle of running a business it can be easy to be confused and concerned about the things that matter. You’re trying to run the business, your mind full of daily details, it’s easy to miss out on what should or could be happening in the business.

Not everyone is good at all areas of the business, many are technically adept at the ‘doing’ side of the business, others more marketing or management focussed. So when things happen you need to know about to grow your business you can soon be overwhelmed. Let’s take marketing for instance.

In the ‘good old days’ marketing was a somewhat simpler affair, sales reps would drop in and sell you everything from T.V. space to to print advertising and sign writing, to name a few. These days there seems to be a more to it.

The technology revolution means people are now hassled via email and directly by organisations saying they can get their website on the first page of google, others say your website needs updating, oh and  how is that email campaign going… The list of questions, technical details and so on is seemingly endless.

Also know that some of these people can provide you with a solution that may not work, it may look alright to you but in the back end functionality details can be missed and performance may not be all you want it to be.

Like anything in business there are times when you have to trust your gut instinct about the people you are dealing with and the way you want to do business. Knowing if the technology solution is right for you can be a minefield but also know that with some research and effective questioning you can find more answers without being too bogged down with ‘techno babble’ here are a few points to consider…

The sales rep says…

  • We can get you on the first page of google – Any body can get on the first page if they google their own business name, ask them to show you examples of sites they have done which have achieved this ranking with appropriate key words. Now call that business and ask them what they thought of the web company in question
  • We can give you an email campaign that works for just $x per month – That’s good any examples of that? Do you have a red hot copy writer that will work directly with me to create sales letter type emails that will suit my prospects?
  • We can link with your social media – Yep so can I, generally it’s a no brainer to add in a link to your site
  • We make it so you can add in new info to your site – Great but is there a catch? Do you train me how to do that? Any others you have done that for? There are free options on the web for creating websites that you can add information to, photo’s videos, text etc so you should have full control of the content on your site.
  • We look after you – That’s great, but can I still have the access details for the hosting, the domain name registration etc so IF I change my mind I can take my web details elsewhere? Some will baulk at this, wanting you to be a customer for life. Others will give you all the details you need to be in control
  • It won’t cost much – For now… What about ongoing monthly fees and what do you get for that ongoing fee? Support? If you are on a tight budget you probably want to think twice about any ongoing fees and charges

There’s a start, I guess it’s all about due diligence in the end, just watch out for the technical details where the sales rep will want to confuse you with foot work, dazzle you with charm and deliver a knockout punch you may regret in the long run.

Here are some other web based marketing articles you might like to check out Content marketing Social media for business Using face book for business


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You want them to do what?

When it comes to marketing, there are a bunch of questions I believe are important to consider, and I want you to ask these questions about your marketing.

What do you want them to…

  • Think – The message the marketing in front of the person either makes you think or not. The depth and length of that thinking is probably quite important, I figure as long as it leads to the next step then it works…
  • Feel – Does this follow thinking? How do you feel now that I challenged you to contemplate that… 🙂 (deep huh) but the marketing message (image and or text) probably pushed a few internal buttons to get  you to feel a certain way once you thought about the message
  • Do – Action follows feeling as they say… therefore do you want them to sign up – phone – drop in – scan a qr code – read more – follow a link or…
  • Believe – The did what you asked (action) do they now believe even stronger that what they did was the right thing to do, I sure hope so.
  • Value – At some stage (probably after they have received whatever it was they get from taking the initial action) they will make an assessment about what they have received, if it fits to or exceeds their beliefs about it, and feel good about it then they will value it positively, if not bad news for you!

Get the message/s right so people value what you provide. That will then squeeze out the competition and give your business the edge, and what better place to start than with their  initial contact with your marketing message.

Naturally enough it’s one thing to have a starting point, another to be able to make it happen at other customer contact levels within your business.

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Retail therapy…

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles freedigital

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles freedigital

As we come into winter in Australia there are going to be plenty of businesses finding their retail stores are not full of people and hope they can make it through the leaner times with the profits they (hopefully) made during the peak summer months.

On many occasions I have spoken to retailers who say “Oh well what can you do, it gets quieter and you hope for the best, you get on the phone and have a chat to friends, get the juniors to clean up a bit and even open a bit later.”

I have seen many retailers in shopping strips sitting waiting and hoping… some survive some fade away.

How do you get around this issue and ensure your business can make it through tough times and perhaps thrive even though the temperature outside is telling you this really is “the winter of our discontent”.

Add to and ‘milk’ your database – If your business is interesting and has had customers come to your store for those one of a kind items you are known for, then you probably have a database of interested persons. If not then start building one! Make contact and start inviting them in for a fantastic shopping experience. Email and snail mail them AT LEAST 4 times a year (although you can readily do more with Email). Add a subscription service to your website, blog and online store then do everything you can to get people signed up and steadily build your numbers.

Shopping experience – You have a shop… what’s the ‘experience’ like… Do people love your service, your personality, the extras you add on, the items you sell? Or do they just come in because they have to and hate every minute of it. My view… Go for a stunning experience. Figure out how to do that with some brainstorming, internet research and KICK BUTT! – BRILLIANT service should be the first step, great displays, fast transactions, wonderful Staff, acknowledge all people who enter the store with a solid heart felt “Hello!”

Use your time – When it’s quiet in the store, develop your marketing plan and act on it. Devise a HEAP of ways to contact your database, build your database and keep them coming back for as little cost as you can. Email and facebook pages are one way, tweaking your informative and engaging website is another, adding to your web blog is yet another. Oh and here’s a critical one… do not vacuum the floor when people are in the store or anywhere near the store and see you  (or any staff) doing it, I hate it with a vengeance and will avoid the store at all costs (the noise is one thing, the tripping hazard of the cord is another and it’s just plain poor form!)

Get Excited! – If you are running a boring ‘old fart store’ with little life, a gruff disposition and a cold shoulder, prospects will find it hard to want to become customers, let alone repeat shoppers (clients). The more you can add excitement to cause people to want to shop in your store, more the more value you can get from them.

Cause people to take action – Ok so it’s quieter at certain times of the day. Can you run an event (an in-store demonstration or special display) or sponsor a catch up for a small group. Or perhaps you offer great package options you can make happen only at special times, to cause people to come in and stay there for a while. Or what about an in store treasure hunt… each day you could give people clues about where to find the treasure, perhaps online.

Give simple and effective reminders – Promo products can do this, drop a printed pen into their bag of purchases, give then an imprinted gift for purchases over $x. Chat to your friendly branding expert to get more ideas and ways to engage them more often. Add business cards in the bags each time (about 3 each time) people soon keep them for friends if the service is sensational and the experience and products are good.

Create an online shop – People like to buy, so sell to them in a way which fits for them, at home, anywhere in the world! Make it an easy to navigate online shop with Pay Pal as the payment device. And put on those things people can’t really get anywhere else. Avoid discounting the prices, buying is buying! then promote it on your FB page, twit about it, email people overseas and interstate (try to keep your locals shopping LIVE… They will find the online shop soon enough! are there other online or local shops you can connect with? Perhaps they can link to your shop too, you could have a whole community of connected businesses all working together feeding each other leads.

Get out there! – Sitting in your shop will cause  you to go nuts. Get you and your staff out in front and hand out goodies to prospective customers, give business cards,  chocolates “With the compliments of shop X”, a flier, an invitation to an event. (You can have them excited before they even enter the store!)

All of these tips are simply about loving people so they can love you back, and if you love your staff they will love you and the customers, Go on explore ways to give UNCONDITIONAL love to everyone you come into contact with. I think in an ideal world you could get so busy you would have to hire someone to keep this list of innovative connection options happening, as you could be too busy manning the till! Now that would be nice…


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Franchise Marketing 2

As a Franchisor, you have created a marketing plan of action and an aim. Let’s say you want to get your franchisees more corporate leads, by creating a targeted direct mail campaign to ensure clear penetration into a specific market. You call your friendly branding expert to get some ideas and explore some concepts.

You decide to send out a suitable small gift with a personalised note advising businesses of your new corporate level services.  The letter attached to it gives them a local contact and some information on the new services and why they should choose you, it includes a call to action “call now” for a free sample, analysis, quote etc.

You then advise the Franchisee they can call the prospect and you provide an easy script for them to follow. It’s simple and should provide some solid leads over time. It can also be followed up and the contact details added to the franchisees database to market to later on.

The challenges, as stated in the first article, clear communication to the franchisees needs to take place so they know what’s taking place and why. A great marketing plan can only be great if the people on the front line know what is happening and why.

You could create a short video which you email to them to outline the process, or a step by step text email.

You could follow these up with a phone call, or have a webinar to outline the process and let them know why you picked the gift you did and how you worked with your friendly branding expert in the process.

Getting the communication right at every stage of the process should cut down on the amount of hassles you experience internally as well as ensuring you are setting great plans in place to develop and implement the marketing campaign.

There are lots of ways to market a business and if your task is to organise it for someone else (in this case franchisees) then get the process right so you can expect the right message to be delivered to the right people, so solid results can be tracked. This will then give  you great evidence about what works and good directions to take in the future.

  • Get people on board – Communicate the aim clearly to them.
  • Make the process easy to implement – Show them how to implement it and measure the results.
  • Make the most of it – Show them ways to build the relationship beyond the initial campaign.

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Making the Marketing Difference

You are up to your elbows in marketing challenges, pressures from all sides are making your job NOT what you want, a lot of hassle. How do you find time to get out of the pressure cooker and search for solutions to give you breathing space?

Image courtesy of Image Majestic

Image courtesy of Image Majestic

Chances are if you have the time to read this, that’s probably about as good as things will get! So let’s jump in and see if we can provide some fast answers to your marketing department challenges.

Marketing relief options…

  • Get support – There are a whole host of “marketing supply” organisations all wanting to take your cash and supply you with goodies, but use the ones who can take the pressure off. The good ones do this by doing at least SOME of the thinking and organizing for you as well as supplying great products, the great ones will show you how to use the products as well… Try calling your friendly branding expert and see if they can do it for  you.
  • 1 hassle or five+? – If you look after marketing for a single organisation there is probably less hassle, however if you are looking after multiple organisations (in the case of a franchise group), then you might have a whole range of conflicting forces pushing and pulling. Find ways to keep these forces off your back, perhaps by educating the end users on how to fully use the marketing devices provided to full effect.
  • Think, not do… – It’s easy to say it but sometimes hard to do it! Perhaps it’s outsourcing the “practical side of things” and even some of the thinking, so you can plan better what’s coming up next. A friendly Branding Expert should be able to assist you with this and not just be a provider of products.
  • Plan – Yes the thinking part means you can be more strategic in your approach so planning has to be next. Figure out if you have to get more new customers, keep existing ones interested or support an organisation you are sponsoring. Then build your calendar of marketing options from there.
  • Keep your people informed – if you are a one person marketing dept or a 100 strong team, your wider network of staff in the organisation will probably need to know about how to handle the promotions and various processes you will put in place so use your intranet, email and or training sessions, to give them information and get feedback on what’s taking place, often great ideas can come from some very unlikely sources.

Now you are back on track, see what’s out there to make your job easier and less hassle.

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Marketing Interview

Alan Miller, a freelance Journalist from Sydney interviewed me recently about Marketing, Enjoy!

Steve Gray has been in business for 30 years one way or another and has published hundreds of articles on business topics, from Leadership – Innovation – Communication to Marketing and Management issues. His hard won marketing experience means he is able to assist organisations to effectively get their name and message to their customers.

A.M: Steve you have done lots of things in business, you are a Trainer,  a  writer on a  range of business issues, a business mentor and a speaker on Leadership, Innovation and Communication issues, how did you come to get so involved in business?

Steve: I’m an artist by qualification, and over the years I have been introduced to business, from printing T’shirts in the beginning to design and photography (all fairly art related) then over time I grew my knowledge base and things spiraled from there.

A.M. I was surprised to learn you know a lot about marketing, which is the focus of the interview today… Is there a reason for that?

Steve: Like all businesses there is a need to get your product or service noticed, I placed adverts for my own business like most people and failed at it. I soon learnt a great headline helps, then you go from there, I read more, asked more questions, used my design and art training to explore more options and innovate a little. The more I explored the more I learnt. I note now there are always things to learn and check out like social networking and the culture developing around that to make it work, it’s quite fascinating.

A.M: Steve, what are some of the basic mistakes people make with marketing their business?

Steve: Having an aim (more new customers, more repeat business, raising brand awareness) and of course a plan of action which leads into an investment of time and effort rather than a liability. With no aim the shotgun goes off and hits very little you want it to hit.

A.M: Do you find many organisations have no marketing budget planned?

Steve: Often! This can be due to having no plan, no idea about what they need to do and what it might cost, Yet it can be so simple to develop.

A.M: What are some of the great things which have wowed you in regards to marketing and great brand placement?

Steve: We are seeing more integrated approaches emerge, people want to stand out from their competition, so a directory advert for example is only one approach, a newspaper advert is another… It’s when people start to realise they need to be more targeted and put a range of things together. E.g. a direct mail piece to prospects, followed  up with a phone call and a chat to see if there is a fit to their needs from your business (esp in B2B sales) then there is social media and websites where people can let a lot of people know about their expertise and keep their info and details in front of more of the right people, that’s becoming more powerful.

A.M: Is bundling of a range of marketing devices a way to go?

Steve: Clearly the one shot advert approach is a loser these days. You should realise prospects need to see your details more than once to be remembered, so the exposure side of things is a big issue. Therefore an advert with a call to action, perhaps a branded product as a reward for taking action can sit on their desk for ages, and that’s good! So take it a step further and have the info you want to tell people about readily available to them, a business card is one way, but there are more options to keep your name in front of them. From articles and information on the web to branded products people use everyday.

A.M: Should people link their promotion to their website or social media? And how would they do that?

Steve: Of course they should, I see it like a ring of connections where people can get in at most points and be guided to learn more about the business as they go. Perhaps via an active Face book page, or a group in Linked in (for business) this can lead to articles on their website, which can then get them more info via an email campaign. It doesn’t need to be difficult either! The more people get to see your business name in front of them the better. Couple the strong image retention provided with great service and you will be on a winner.

A.M: Do many of your clients have a marketing plan and should they?

Steve: Few do, and yes they should, at least a one page plan and a calendar of when they want to do things, then stick to it. Tweak it when things don’t work and know what does work.

A.M: How will social Media impact on marketing, in comparison to say branded items?

Steve: A branded item with a message can let people know you have a social media presence, so use it to do that (that gives it an aim then…) from there it’s up to you how you use the social media to blow your own horn and let your target audience know more about things which can be of value to them.

A.M: Do businesses need to be creative geniuses to make their marketing work or look snappy?

Steve: It’s great if they are, but not essential, pay someone else to be the creative one. However make sure it leads to a good aim or end product, like getting you more business, retaining customers. It’s great to have a creative approach and be noticed, but if all you get is a 2 minute wow factor then where’s the value in that? If on the other hand the creative approach meant you were handing out branded devices with your business details on them then your name is in front of more people for longer, that’s got to be good! Chat to your friendly branding expert for ways to get the message right and connect it with other things you are doing in your business.

A.M: Not everyone needs a marketing company to do their marketing for them, most can’t afford that, how would you help these kinds of organisations?

Steve: I suggest they create a plan of action knowing what the outcome is they want, then build on that plan and take action to get the results. Consistency is important. There are other branding experts who are not part of a big marketing company who can be of assistance, have a chat to them for friendly advice.

A.M.: A plan is one thing, implementing it is another…

Steve: Sure it is, if you want to get new prospects to look at what you offer, then you need to consider a way to do that, for instance in a business to business environment things can be different so the approach can be perhaps more targeted, therefore how you implement the plan is vital. You might start with a list of ideal customers or industries then figure out ways to get your name in their hands, your ongoing aim would then be how you keep it there. Your plan therefore should focus on ways to get your name in front of them and then what you can do from there.

A.M: There are many ways a business can market themselves, what works?

Steve: There are lots of things which work… Junk mail can work well, adverts in newspapers can too, and the same with branded products. It comes down to your target and the best way to get to the target. e.g. if I want to target accountants and I send out brochures to every household in town I have wasted a lot on the ones who are not accountants. Think about how your target wants to be presented to, then do that.

A.M: You mention branded products, many people would look at branded products as great giveaways at a trade show or convention, how can they be used by the average business to market themselves?

Steve: It depends on the aim, if they want to reward existing customers and say thanks, they can hand out simple things to remind them about the company, pens, calendars, imprinted note pads, things which would be useful for the end user and keep the business details in front of them. They can be also used as a device to get the attention of a new prospect, most people love gifts and they need not cost a fortune.

A.M: How should organisations go about choosing from the vast array of options available to them for marketing?

Steve: Chat with your friendly branding expert and explore what the businesses aims are, then look openly at ways they might be able to provide direction for the organisations aims and objectives. It might mean they have to create some great graphics to launch a message, brand some products and develop a way to get them in from of the right people. The big thing is being able to make the right connections at the right time so your marketing becomes the all important investment it needs to be, and not just another business expense.

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Marketing that connects

Marketing can seem like a hit and miss affair and if not correctly planned and implemented it can miss more often than hit!

The aim is not just to get your name in front of people but to make it connect. When you get to connect with someone the longer you can do it the better, and the more effective the connection, even better still!

Here’s how it could work. If you put an advert in a newspaper and all it sasys is your business name and contact details, you might get a few calls, however if it has some degree of emotion connected to it, you have a better chance of connecting with the reader.

An example… a motor mechanic, if they play on the pain of a car breaking down and the hassle that can cause, chances are the people who know the pain would relate to the advert. Instantly you have a point of difference from the advert with just the details. And you are more likely to get people to take some notice.

It’s even better if the person wants the service you are delivering at the time when they need it most, so if you have played to the idea of connecting and your opposition hasn’t you will probably win more often.

So think deeper and figure out ways to connect so you can set yourself apart from a competitor.

Here’s another step… Let’s say you did a basic connect with the first step and you added a call to action in the advert “Mention this advert and receive a free gift when you come in” then you have a chance to connect again, let’s say the gift is a stress ball with your contact details on it and a tagline which says “We take the hassle out of your vehicle repairs.” Then there is a connection to the first message and you get to be the one to be remembered longer.

Freebies are just one way of connecting with your target customers over a longer period, but avoid just giving them out, make the people work for it, like bring in the advert and get a quote and we gift you.

Put your thinking cap on and see what you can come up with using the connecting rule as a starting point, if you need to, chat to a friendly branding expert to get more information, you will then have a head start.

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