A forum where you, the small business owner, asks me, the marketing professional, your most pressing questions about how to get your company exposure (not the kind that will get you arrested), lead generation, traffic to your website, all you’d ever want to know about online marketing, Search Engine Optimization, best use of your marketing dollars, and whatever else might cross your minds in the business growth arena. No dating questions here or how to handle your out-of-control toddler, just the business facts, ma’am.
Earlier this week Monica wrote in and asked:
Hi Suzen, I've been using the Yellow Pages for years and want to expand my advertising. Where's the best place to start? Thanks, Monica
That used to be a simple answer. Yellow Pages, newspaper ad, billboard, snail mail newsletters, to name a few. Big budgets made use of radio and TV. Not so much anymore. This is good news. Granted, not as simple as the old days, but good news nevertheless, as with the advent of the internet, old methods of advertising have gotten squelched because of all the new, much less expensive, more measurable and wide range of options available at your fingertips.
You just have to know where to go. And there are a myriad of choices.
Not all choices work for every business however, so there is no “cookie cutter” approach, but again, this is the good news. Advertising, marketing, is so easily customizable, it really is just a matter of learning the new tools available to us, choosing what feels right, and applying. Sometimes these methods need some getting used to, and other times they need an expert to guide you, but once in the game, every savvy business owner now has options available that never were there before, and those options continue to expand.
What are a few of the biggies? Remember not all of these may be appropriate for you or your target market, but this was a general question.
- Your website: there is no better marketing for your services or products than your website. This is not the place where you want to cut corners. ROI will be very measurable from here, and if executed well, will return your investment within 3 to 6 months.
- Social Media: the Big 3, to start: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. All free
- SEO: Search Engine Optimization. If you have a business that garners leads and relies heavily from the internet and folks searching for you, it’s taken the place of your ad budget in importance, for most businesses. Not necessary for a number of local industries.
- E mail Marketing: very minimum cost for your email opt-in box, and free distribution for most under a certain number of subscribers.
- Blog: other than the set up cost, free. And hugely effective if done right.
- Videos: this is huge and getting huger. Whether they are used to educate, plug a product or service, or to demonstrate a product — check out BlendTec’s viral videos willitblend. Youtube, which is now owned by Google, is the second largest search engine in the world, and if optimized correctly (simple), will advertise your services better than any paid ad can. Sorry, Mad Men. Free again.
- Paid online marketing: such as Google Ad Words (pay-per-click)
- Then of course, the old staples, networking groups, speaking engagements and relationship building within your sphere of influence. These methods will never die, and could easily be at the top of this list.
Remember that any method of advertising or marketing you choose will take time to take hold. Few and far between are immediate results for any ad or marketing campaign. All take what I like to call “seeding,” then “watering” and “fertilizing” and then eventually, if you are consistent, the seeds take hold and, voila, lovey tomato plant, or in your case, sales.
Tweeking a campaign is a natural piece of any marketing plan, and with the easy and free analytic tools now available, you will soon see what is working, where your leads are coming from, and what is not working. So tweek away…
Get Found, Get Heard, Get Crackin’
Have a question about bringing your small business into the 21st century? Send Suzen your questions at Suzen@omaginarium.com or leave them in the comments section below. Be sure to include your name, the name of your business and contact information with your question.
About this column: Suzen Pettit, a longtime Brookfield resident and marketer extraordinaire, is principal at Omaginarium and Omagine Health, a marketing firm specializing in growing small businesses and medical practices by creating search engine optimized websites, internet marketing, affordable SEO, blogging, vlogging and email marketing. Suzen coaches as well. She’ll teach you the ropes to grow your business online. Contact Suzen at 203-733-8578 or email her at Suzen@omaginarium.com.