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Category Archives: Marketing Strategy

Promoting your small business online. Five top tips and tools

By | Business marketing, CRM and lead generation, Facebook Marketing, Marketing Strategy, Marketing Technology, Mobile Marketing, Online Marketing, SEO, Service Marketing, Small Business Marketing | No Comments

As a small business, no doubt by now you are venturing into the online world in trying to promote your small business. No doubt you have heard about Pay-Per-Click, social media and other tools but promoting your business can be expensive and ineffective if you are not given the right advice. You can also spend a lot of time experimenting with out getting great results, time we all don’t have.

Here are my Five Top Tips and Tools for Promoting Your Small Business Online. Remember it is not about traffic. The name of the game is getting leads and conversions or sales!

1. A website presence

You need to have a website that says what you do, who for and why they should use you. Your website is your shopfront and is 24×7 so you need to invest in one that is professional and represents your brand. A key tip is that it is easy to manage and a content management system that you can update. Content and relevant fresh content is a very important way to drive visits to your site so you need to be able to add new content regularly. It is also important that you add google analytics to your website so you can see information about how your website is working.Here is how to do that in a video. To build a website you can view my apps and see which platforms I like or our how to section on how to build a website. It is also a good idea to see how your site looks on a mobile device with go mobile app and build a mobile version using wire node. You can also use a tool called Lucky Orange to see how your website works from a customer perspective and we love that!

Remember if your website doesn’t have a call to action you are wasting your money. A call to action is the step you would like your prospect or customer to take. It needs to be appropriate. A free trial, download, meeting, sample etc. You need to nurture the relationship overtime.

2. Pay-Per-Click

If you build it they might not come is very true for a website. You need to spend as much time on building your website as you do promoting it. This may start with some initial SEO and directory listings to ensure you are found but I suggest a Pay per Click campaign to ensure you are on the right track and for some great feedback quickly.

Maybe you have heard about other small businesses getting great results with Pay-Per-Click, but it looks like a lot of time to manage and you don’t have a lot of money to spend. Maybe you just aren’t sure you know where to start, what to do or how to do it? Pay Per Click campaign can you get immediate results. You get immediate feedback, you can see which keywords are performing and then you can tweak it very easily to get it to actually to bring you the sales. The key tip is set a very restrictive budget. Don’t set the budget that Google tells you to set.  Set something that you are comfortable with.You’ve got to watch it very, very carefully at the start and also think about whether this is the right thing for your business too. Using google keyword tool you can start to work out what keywords bring you traffic. You can also use Wordstream which gives you more information and I think is better than Google’s keyword tool. Remember, while google domains advertising online it is not the only medium. Now you can advertise in LinkedIn and Facebook. Both are more affordable than Adwords and might be a more relevant medium depending on your audience. They key tip is to track what works. Display advertising can be good but you have to be really careful with that.  It’s less controllable than pay per click or SEO is and so you can run through a lot of money very quickly and so the thing with that is you have to decide which of other sites where my customers are really engaging and you really need to know the demographics of your audience to engage in display advertising. If you choose to use a consultant which is a good idea if you are educated in the process, and if they say that they can guarantee you a 1 page off google, run! It takes about 6 months to get any real effect on google using AdWords but I wouldn’t lock in for longer than that in a contract. Raven tools is a good aggregator tool for looking at many online metrics if you want to do it yourself.

3. SEO

So once you see the keywords that are performing in your AdWords campaign, it’s really easy to then start doing your SEO and setting up an account on SEO and then you can sort of see the things that you want to follow on social media as well. So if you know the keywords that are performing for you with Pay Per Click, you can use those keywords to actually follow those keywords on Twitter and see where the conversations are happening and then engage in those types of conversations. If you set up a Google Alert you can track what is being said about you (or your competitors) to see what words people are using to describe you. Remember you should have SEO on your website as a given but tweaking it is really important. The descriptions for each page appear to be more important than the key words but google is always playing with this.

4. Email Marketing

Email marketing is an important part of online marketing and often overlooked by small businesses. Customers need reminding you are out there. It is not spamming if it is valuable information and you always provide an opt out function. To have an email campaign you need a list. You can start with your existing customers but often small businesses haven’t been in the habit of collecting names, emails, mobiles etc. START!! You also can have a landing page on your website with a form and an attractive offer to start this lead generation process. Don’t try and run an email campaign using Outlook because you’ll get blacklisted all over the place on a bunch of the ISP’s.  So you want to use something that is guaranteed to kind of get through to your customer and by using a good email solution and that can really make a difference in the deliverability of your emails. I use Mailchimp because it integrates nicely with my form generator wufoo and it has great social sharing tools and analytics but there are many tools out there including some fully automated marketing software like Infusionsoft or Hubspot.

5. Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is the next level of online marketing for a small business. Many have started to play with Facebook or Twitter but without a real strategy.

Facebook is more geared towards the consumer environment in that retail businesses can use it to make offers and run contests. Having said that it is a great engagement tool for local businesses to share content and build an online community. Having a blog can position you as an authority in a B2B company and can gain you credibility amongst your peers. I find a blog, email and PR strategy very important for a service based business, while a Facebook, Twitter and social interaction strategy  more relevant in a retail business.

You need to monitor the conversation on every social platform. This can be daunting for the small business owner, so it is important to only engage in those tools you are going to manage and use. It is better to be committed to LinkedIn and leverage that as a forum rather than be on Twitter and Facebook and U-tube if you have a HR business for example. Choose where your audience is and go there.

I like social aggression tools like sprout social.

Finally as a small business you can’t do everything all at once so start with one of these tips and do it well. Learn about it. Add google analytics to your website and understand what is happening so you can make better business decisions.  The real measure of effective online marketing is leads, contacts in your database, new opportunities and returning customers that buy again. You can control how much it costs you to create leads and work out what is the right mix for your business if you are informed about the tools you need to be aware of.

If you need more information visit me at macinnismarketing.com.au

 

Mid Year SMB Report Card

By | CRM and lead generation, Marketing Strategy, Online Marketing | No Comments

The 30th of June marks the end of another financial year for businesses in Australia.  For small businesses it is a time to assess the previous 12 months and plan their next years business strategy. So how are small businesses tracking?

According to Paul Barclay from Radio National

“Talk to people in retail and they say they can’t remember a quieter pre-Christmas period, and you hear the same story about housing and construction, manufacturing and other businesses. Yet, the official figures show the Australian economy grew much faster than expected in the past three months, up a full one per cent, meaning the economy has grown two and a half per cent in the last year.”

However, the Reserve Bank has cut interest rates several times this year underpinning a low consumer confidence in spending. While Australia seems to be holding up, what is happening to economies overseas is affecting our buying habits. So what exactly is the small business owner facing and what should we be doing about it?

1. Buying online and offshoring. There is a define trend for purchasing online. Thankfully most of this online shopping still remains in Australia but this means those businesses without an online e-commerce presence are at a disadvantage. So what should the small business do? Have an online presence is essential and using local SEO techniques to ensure that the business is found locally. The government recognise this trend and have a new website Digital Business, assisting small businesses make the transition to online.

2. Manage your cashflow. People are delaying paying any debt. Incentifying clients to pay on-time or early with a discount, providing online payment options are ways to manage your cash flow. Working out creditor terms with key suppliers is also helpful in managing relationships and cash flow.

3.Push the saving message. If your product or service saves money or time this is a message that customers are ready to hear. High value services, bulk buying and save messages have high cut through at the moment. With the carbon tax about to effect prices of our electricity you see several suppliers looking to lock us into deals that have that saving message.

4. Prepare a forecast for the next 12 months. Even if this is in an excel spreadsheet it is important to have a system to forecast business so you can predict the resources you might need and if you need to beef up your marketing. Having a estimation of what you think your business will do in 2012/2013 will help you set goals for your business pro-actively and head off potential lulls in business by putting together a lead generation model.

5. Invest in Technology. One of the key advantages of technology is that it keeps coming down in price. Small businesses now can pay for use rather than purchase software and many platforms have a free model where you can try before you buy. Looking at replacing lagging technology can make huge productivity gains for your small business. Key business technology tools include:

  • Website: content management system that pay by the month
  • Database: to collect customer details and send email campaigns, e.g zoho or mailchimp
  • Accounting software that allow you to bill using online tools like paypal: freshbooks
  • Telecommunications tools like Skype for video conferencing
  • Online learning like Lynda.com to learn how to set up a Facebook page for business, use google analytics etc

6. Focus on your core value proposition to your ideal customers. It is so tempting to try and market to everyone. However it is a very diluted message you send when you try and be all things to all people. By developing a strategy that focuses on ideal customers with a solution that is made for them your will be able to attract them more easily. Narrow and deep is much more effective especially when resources are tight. Look at the most pressing problem your business solves for that ideal customer and build a marketing strategy around that core competency. Remember, try and only do a few things well.

 

Resources: Sensis June 2012 Small Business Index

Where is your list of customers and prospects?

By | Business marketing, CRM and lead generation, Marketing Strategy, Small Business Marketing | No Comments

Most of you understand the value of building a list of customer contact details. However fewer of you understand that suppliers, PR and prospects are equally important. To do this effectively you need to have a customer database to manage and segment these lists so you can use this information effectively.

Today if you are a small business there are a number of resources to manage your lists effectively at a low cost. Zoho is a great example. There  CRM is free for 1 user and will give you an immediate database resource that you can leverage for email campaigns, forecasting and so much more.

Loopfuse is another great resource as a marketing automation tool that is free for up to 500 contacts. Perfect to track and create marketing campaigns.

 

 

 

 

If you lack a consistent strategic marketing approach, watch out!

By | Business marketing, Marketing Strategy, Service Marketing, Small Business Marketing | No Comments

Are you one of those small businesses frequently run into the problem of not having enough leads and prospects to generate the revenue you need to survive?  Do you work on lead generation sporadically and don’t have a well-thought out plan to increase revenues? Well you are not alone but having this passive approach to your businesses future must be stressful.

When it comes to marketing, your business needs consistent marketing support to not only survive, but to thrive and grow.

A clearly defined marketing system will differentiate you from your competition and keep you top of mind with prospects and existing clients. If you lack a marketing strategy to attract and retain clients then you might as well be throwing your hard earned efforts to run a business down a drain.

 

Ready to be proactive?  Book in a consultation today.

A good marketing system will be working to generate leads, even when you’re not.

By | Business marketing, CRM and lead generation, Marketing Automated Technology, Marketing Strategy, Service Marketing, Small Business Marketing | No Comments

Unfortunately, most small  businesses  don’t time, dedication, and skills needed to build a marketing and sales system that consistently produces results.

Marketing is a task of communicating and motivating customers and prospects to engage with you..  People do business with people they know, like, and trust.  And a successful marketing system is designed to get people with a need for your product or service to know you, to get them to like you, and to develop a level of trust with you—turning more leads into more customers.

Ask us how you develop a marketing and sales engine today.

BOOK here.

Are you marketing to everyone with a pulse?

By | Business marketing, Marketing Strategy, Service Marketing, Small Business Marketing | No Comments

Even though I have been practicing as a marketer for over 20 years it has taken me a while to really value the benefit of not trying to be all things to many people. In marketing the key objective is to provide a product and or service to a particular person.The more specific you can be about this marriage then the more successful you will be in business. A simple premise, yes? However most of us who start small businesses are so scared by saying no to customers that we bend, flex,  and chase   potential customers that we are just not well placed to service and who probably cost us precious time and money. Why then do we not focus on a select few?

 Not sure who your ideal customer is? You’re not alone.

When I started my small marketing consulting business I did not have a really defined view of who my ideal customer was. Sure, I knew they needed marketing assistance, but that was about it. This approach saw me traveling all over Melbourne and meeting with all sorts of people. I remember one day going to Footscray to visit a tattooist who wanted help to market her business. I went in and did a consultation, spoke about their website, their signage, how to use local businesses and cross promotions other ideas. After the consultation I sent them my account. They decided not to pay it. This was a big lesson for me. She was totally the wrong customer. In fact it was the best lesson. Since that day I have been very careful about who I take on as a client and make sure we are a match.

I have even gone further. I have profiled my ideal customer. Where they are based (South Easter Suburbs). How much turnover they have, staff and more particularly if they are interested in marketing as a lead generation tool or a one off task. You see it is only by profiling my ideal customers that I can find them. It is only by writing a list of who aren’t ideal that I can narrow my focus.
Not only is this a more profitable way to work, it is more enjoyable. I only want to give my services to those who are particularly seeking them out and that is just not everyone.

How to profile your ideal customer?

So how do you narrow your focus to an ideal customer? It is really a simple exercise. Think about that customer that loves your service or product. The one that is happy to pay and raves about you.  For me this is Manager  in a professional service business that really wants to take a proactive approach to sales and marketing and wants a system in place long term They are generally not technically savvy but know they need to do some online marketing.

 

Questions should fall into some categories:

  • Who they are?  Demographics
  • How they think? Psycho graphics
  • What they do? Behavioral
  • Where they are? Environmental

Go Deep into a Segment

This year I started my business Beautybizmarketing.com.au. I knew I loved to work with businesses in the beauty industry. Salons, spas, hairdresser. This is a certain niche. The more I began to focus my efforts in this niche and finding out how to serve them best the more they sought me out. Now I have several clients from this segment and it is my most enjoyable work. There is also less competition in this segment because it is focused. This means I can maintain my pricing and value because I am an expert.

Is there a particular segment you like working with? Is it big enough to be the focus of your business? If so I encourage you to put your efforts there. It will make your marketing more affordable and effective and your business hard to replicate easily.

Look at my ideal customer template for tips on how to start marketing strategically and focus your efforts on your ideal customers not everyone with a pulse.

 

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