Marketing Your Business: Our Top Eight Tips

How to market your business? It needs your continual effort. You need keep learning and practicing to find out where your real customers are and how to target them effectively. How in other words, how can let other people find your business? It should be a long term plan and investment. You should consider it as your job, your business. You need take care of it. If you respect your business and work on it with your effort, you will be rewarded eventually.

So where to begin? Here are some tried and true tips that will help you market your website with confidence. You can begin marketing your website when:

- Your website content is complete. This includes your website text, products you want to sell, the correct title, descriptions, and hidden keywords.

- You are ready for your first customer. You need test it by yourself before send your website to public. Make sure all links are working, the order form is ready. Testing everything you can think of. – You have a clear knowledge of the product(s) or service(s) you want to sell online. You need understand your product very well. Please remember: content is the King. When most people think about marketing, they think of advertising.

Don’t fall into that trap. Marketing also encompasses your design, your page copy. According to MediaMetrix, 75% of all repeat visitors come back to a site due to the site’s content. It is vital that the content be good, compelling, new, and free. Offer some valuable freebies so your visitor will come back to visit your site.

Tip 1. Prepare to Collect Email Put an form on your website to let visitors to subscribe to your mailing list. You can initially offer them a free ebook or a valuable report. Then you follow up with them using the auto response system. You can start to sending out your own newsletter weekly or bi-weekly to your opt-in prospects. They have option to remove themselves from your list if they are not interested in it. Even you do not have a website, you can still collect opt-in people’s email address by advertising your eZine with your auto response email address.

Tip 2. Use Pay-Per-Click Services Set up an account with a pay-per-click (PPC) service, such as Overture. Pay-per-click means you pay for every visitor that comes to your site through the service provider. You post an advertising on the sites. If visitor clicks your advertising, you will be charged. At very beginning, it is recommended that starting from small, like pay $0.05 or $0.10 per click. You need time to test which key word is better and which advertising works out. The Overture network includes big names like Yahoo!, MSN, AltaVista, Lyocs, HotBot, Netscape, Dogpile, Metacrawler, and Go.com.

Tip 3. Submit Your Site to Your Search Engines Once your website is ready, submit your site to major search engines. Please make sure not to submit your site too often to those big search engine companies. They will ban your site out if you submit the site frequently. They will eventually include your site in their index. For small search engines, you can use some automatic software or service to submit your sites since there are thousands there.

Tip 4. Create Your Signature File A signature file is a short message that goes out at the bottom of each message. It contains your name, your contact, like your email address, your website if you have one. Then add a brief description for the product you want to promote. You can create a signature file at the end of your email. You can create a signature template file in the “mail preference” area, or some other area depending on what kind of email service you have. Make sure to keep it down to 4-5 lines with 65 characters wide. Save it to your local hard disk. You may use this short signature file for your future articles’ resource box.

Tip 5. Submit Articles to eZines

Starting to write articles, then submit it to eZines. You can reach thousands of peoples with your products and service for FREE.

How it works? If you are familiar with some area, like gardening, cooking, or how to use a specific software… just think of any topic people may have interest in, then write it. Make sure there is some good value in it so people will like to read it through. Once you finish it, just go ahead to contact some eZine editors with a short cover letter. Tell them you have an article which is valuable to their eZine readers and wish to post it.

At the end of each eZine, there is a resource box. You can put your signature file you create or some other kind of contact information. People will know you from there or may contact you if they are interested in your topic and want to learn from you more.

Tip 6. Increase Your Link Popularity Link popularity, or the number of quality websites that provide a link to your website, is a vital part of your online marketing campaign. If you have a business, check some website which offers the products which will benefit to your customers. Like if you own a website builder, you are looking for the business who can provide the graphics, free business cards, etc.. Once you find a site with good content, then you contact the website owner. Tell him you want to swap the links. It will take some time and effort to do, but the reward will be big.

Quality link popularity can not only get you listed in the major search engines without you ever having submitted your website, but it will help your website move up in the search engine result rankings as well. Tip 7. Start Your Own Newsletters If you want to build relationship with your client, or really want to make money online, a good newsletter will help you. You can send out your newsletter weekly, bi-weekly. Do not send out once a month since the time span is too long, people may forget you.

Writing a newsletter may be hard at the beginning. But once you start, you will realize you can do it, and do it successfully. Of course, you need learn a lot of materials, and write the valuable information to your people. Gradually you will build up the good relationship with you. Down the road, they will join into your business.

Tip 8. Build a Daily Marketing Routine Market your website daily, even if it’s just for 15 minutes. Get into a daily routine–even if it is only for 15 minutes. Doing so will increase your traffic, your customer loyalty, your sales, and your profits. It will pay big dividends months or years from now. Daily promotion activities include:

- Email. Responding to customer’s e-mail in a timely manner. If this is overlooked, you could lose hard-won customers. Many Internet businesses have earned and kept business based on their ability to respond quickly to customer email. Customers appreciate a timely response.

- Update Your Site. Keeping your site fresh with new content is vital, even if you are selling product. By expanding your content you are not only giving new content for your customers to read, but you are also expanding the number of pages listed in the search engines, which will increase your chances of appearing in the top of the search results. Search engine likes fresh contents. – Link Popularity. By contacting sites on a daily basis, your link popularity will increase, and if you do it right, your Link Reputation will increase as well.

- Write Articles. Writing an articles or prepare a newsletter. Contact eZine editors for submission. Keep learning new information and marketing strategies, apply the latest technology into the marketing campaign.

If you apply the above 8 methods, you will gradually build up customer base. In the long term, you will have a successful business.

Extreme Sampling – Process Testing in Promotional Marketing

“Dad. I think I just flushed my underwear down the toilet.”

I just sat there … looking at my nine-year old son, searching for words that seemed stuck in a mental quagmire of wonder and disbelief.

Finally, as nonchalantly as I could, I asked, “So … how did that happen?”

“Well, when I sat on my pen it broke and got ink on my underwear. So I thought if I put some soap in the toilet and flushed it … the turbo action would be just like the washing machine and get the ink out. I forgot the toilet like, eats everything you put in it.”

Wouldn’t it be great to be nine again? We could just test out … no wait, implement any idea that came to our mind knowing we were backed by the full faith and credit of mom and dad. But, in the world you and I live in, a creative or logistical faux pas costs real money and carries real consequences.

I used to believe Extreme Sampling involved two steps.
1) Product Testing.
2) Instruction Scrutiny.

I was wrong.

My son’s exercise in creative thinking caused me to re-think my position and now I believe there are three steps to Extreme Sampling. Step 3 is, “Process Testing”. Process Testing is where you focus on logistics, distribution and final outcomes. In short, you conduct a trial run to the best of your ability to prevent, “Flushing your underwear down the toilet.”

Case in point. I recently sent a client some waterless tattoo samples. The client tested them and found that they worked perfectly. They ordered 50k. Unfortunately, they did not test them through the bindery equipment on which the tattoos would be affixed to a card. Turns out the tattoos were too thin for the machinery to pick up and place properly. This could have been remedied by using a thicker stock … had we known. Instead, they’re affixing them by hand, which costs more. (Insert flush sound here).

Forcing yourself to test the process will help you think it through and avoid problems. For instance, that umbrella you want to give everyone at the conference. You’ve tested the product and scrutinized the instructions. Now let’s test the process. The conference is in a city to which most people will fly. Grab your suitcase. Will that 4 foot umbrella fit?

Daily, marketers fail to test the process and find out too late that the product, premium or incentive … won’t fit in the bag, the box, the envelope or the suitcase. Or they find out at the worst possible moment, that leaving the chocolate parting-gift in the van, in the sun, all day … was a no-no.

Here’s a few things to think about regarding step #3 of Extreme Sampling:

Carton Weight: Having UPS deliver five 40 pound cartons to your office is one thing. But can the person in your office who is in charge of getting those cartons to the event – lift 40 pound boxes? We often under-pack cartons for our clients based on how much weight THEY want to lift.

Effects of Heat/Cold: Can it melt or freeze? Do you need to keep something cool or warm at the event prior to distribution? And for how long? Our chocolate vendor ships with ice packs to prevent melting in transit. But if the chocolate is not stored correctly once you get it, well, you’re flushing your underwear down the toilet. Will those snow globes freeze and break? Will the deodorant in the personal care packs liquefy in the heat?

Time/Timing: Your logo glowing at a night event on a t-shirt, tattoo or hat will look really cool. But, if you’re placing your bets on a solar-powered, glow-in-the-dark item, make sure your event has daylight hours built in so the product has a time to charge up.

Fulfillment: If you are going to have a fulfillment center do anything with a product …make sure you give them samples to test before you place an order.

Rules & Regulations: If you’re distributing your item at a conference, will the item be accepted by the airlines in checked or carry on luggage? If you’re mailing your item, does it conform to postal or other delivery rules and regs? Some stadiums have rules banning noise makers. Some fairgrounds have rules banning balloons. Contrary to the creative thought process, when you stand to loose money or worse, your job – it’s better to ask for permission than to beg for forgiveness.

I’d share more but I just spotted Junior headed out back with a lawn chair, balloons and my helium tank. I’m sure the word ‘”tether” isn’t something he’s thought of … yet.

Is Your Phone Part of Your Marketing Plan?

Attracting new clients in this economy can be a challenge. You need to get creative and adapt the way you promote yourself. Here are a few simple strategies that you can implement and integrate in your marketing plan today. There is a tool that lots of small business neglect. It is just right there on your desk, but you may not think about it or and you may even be afraid of it.

What is this tool, I am talking about? Your phone. Yes, your phone is a powerful tool that you could use effectively to attract new clients.

In 1998 I started a telemarketing company in France and I was spending 6 to 7 hours on the phone, selling my clients products or setting up appointments for them. I know that calling prospects is not very fun, but I am not speaking of cold calling here. I don’t want you to buy lists of potentials clients and speak to total strangers. I am talking of integrating your phone as part of your follow-up system. You will contact only people that you already met at networking events or online via social media.

Let’s say that you attend networking events on a regular basis, you probably have tons of business cards on your selves or on a shoes box, and are just not doing anything with them. Go back to this pile of business cards, send an email to reintroduce yourself. Use your normal introduction about your services and ask those people what you can do for them or how you can help them.

If you get a response, instead of emailing the person back, pick up the phone and call them. You already spoke with the person or met them online. It impresses people that you take the time to actually connect one on one. Make sure you are not trying to sell them anything, that is the tricky part, give them free and valuable information that could help their business. Networking is not about you, it is about them. Networking is not about selling but building a relationship.

If people don’t reply to your first email, don’t be mad, it doesn’t means they are not interested right this minute or they haven’t read your email yet, or maybe it went to spam, or they maybe too busy at the moment. There is no reason to fret. There are a thousand reasons people don’t get back to you right away. Wait for few days or a couple of weeks and send another email or send them some information by mail.

You remember the old way to do business – using the post office, well it still works, but only if you actually use it! Combining email and mail doubles your chance to reach people and double your rate of answers. When you pick up the phone after a couple of exchanges, you will see that you will get a lot more chance to attract clients.

After all this online and print information they have received from you they already know about you and your business. They know you care about their problems and can provide them valuable information, so they will either take the time to speak with you on a spot or if you call at a bad time you will get a chance to schedule a phone appointment to speak with them at a later date.

What about calling your previous clients, they already know and like working with you? Do you have a new product or service that you would like to tell them about? Always remember to list the benefits and describe how your new product will help them. Too many small business owners are too busy selling and marketing that they neglect their current clients. It is much easier to have a client become a repeat client than to get a new client. So check your database, who could you call right now?

I don’t have my telemarketing company anymore but, I still use the same techniques. I contact each and every person who contacted me for a free consultation. I give my clients a call within 3 months of the consultation to make sure they are getting somewhere in their process. Then I give them a call at least every 3 months to get updates on their project. If they are still not ready for my help I may call them every 6 months.

In the meantime I keep sending my newsletter, stay on top of their mind and check up via email to keep them interested. When I call they are not surprised; they do not reject my call. They are actually glad to see that I still follow their cases and I am still there to help them; I am still building the relationship.

So pick up your phone NOW.

Call your previous clients; reconnect with the people you met since the beginning of the year. Find out how you can help them. Create a follow-up system to keep in touch with them on a regular basis. Don’t just call once and forget about it. Use software like Act or Outlook Express to set reminders of when to call. Schedule a few hours a week to call your contacts and clients. Try it for the next 30 days, track your results, and then check how many new clients come rolling in. You will be surprised by the results. Integrate the process into your daily marketing plan.

Your own phone can change your business, it is as simple as that.