Saturday, September 29, 2012

3 Marketing Strategies to Stretch Your Dollar

As you start planning your business marketing strategy, there are many considerations to make. How much money do you have to spend on marketing? What's your budget? What are you doing now? What's working? What's not? What can you do that's new?

Here are three suggestions which may help you get the most bang for your marketing buck.

1) Build a website. Almost 50 percent of small businesses in the U.S. do not have websites. Yet, more than 90 percent of consumers search online for businesses, including local businesses, before making a purchase. If nothing else, your website should provide the consumer with basic information about your business such as products, services, hours and location. The more information you have about your business on the website, the more the customer can find out about your business and the more interested that customer will be. Setting up a website does not have to be expensive but you will reap its rewards for many years to come.

2) Establish a Google+ Local Business page. While Google+ is fairly new, it's a powerful online marketing tool. Users can utilize it to make posts, to share photos, videos and articles and to communicate with followers. It also has several advantages over Facebook, including the fact that it lets you separate your followers into "circles." These circles let you target messages for specific groups. If you have a business with different products and services that appeal to different audiences, then you can divide your audience and target your messages rather than sending the same messages to everyone. Another advantage Google+ has over Facebook is that Google+ is not a closed community. You can share posts publicly on Google+ and those will be indexed by the search engines so more potential customers can find your business.

3) Conduct a press release campaign. A campaign is not just sending out one press release which announces a special offer. A press release campaign includes sending out 1 or more press releases over a period of several weeks. Each press release focuses on a different aspect of your business. This could include special offers, new products or services, or what awards or certifications your business or employees have earned. Press releases can also focus on current events and how your business addresses those. For instance, a lawn care business could issue a press release on how to deal with drought conditions.

Press releases distributed online can help drive traffic to your business website. Also, those distributed to local media gets you noticed as an expert in your field and industry. This can lead to media interviews related to your industry and your business. Media interviews are free publicity.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

From Floundering to Fabulous: 3 Tips to Great Marketing That Attracts More Clients

I was out on Saturday evening for sushi after the spa with a girlfriend (it's a popular Saturday evening ritual), and the savvy waiter (savvy because she knows my girlfriend and I are marketing experts) requests us to take a look at her massage therapy "promotional flyer" and provide our feedback. Well... ask and you shall receive.

'It was to our advantage we had already ordered our meals because the waitress was NOT going to like listening to my feedback,' I think to myself.

One of the biggest and most costly errors I see clients making is spending thousands of dollars on crappy marketing material like flyers, yellow page ads, fancy-schmancy websites that do everything but cook your pancakes for you. While all of the above look really good, they don't actually engage your audience to take action and pick up the phone and call you to do business.

ENGAGING with you, creating a relationship with you - and ultimately doing business with you - that is what great marketing is all about.

The truth is, most people will grab your expensive flyer and toss it in the garbage along with all of that nice colorful language that took you not hours, not days, not weeks but MONTHS of preparation. Which is yet just another reason to procrastinate NOT getting out there... "I'm waiting for my flyer to be ready." Procrastination is a whole other mindset topic in itself, so let's stick to the topic - how to create great marketing.

My friend and I shared with the waitress as politely as we could our feedback on her flyer and could see the excitement drain from her face. OK, I wasn't as polite as I could have been but that's just me - you may not like what I have to say but I am always brutally honest. I can't help myself when it comes to marketing and sales. I spent 4 years on the road, day in and day out, on the mop stage doing live product demonstrations from store to store, selling THOUSANDS of mops to all kinds of people in all kinds of situations. It's turned me into a walking talking marketing machine. Some people call it a gift.

1. The bottom line is this... don't waste your time or your money on expensive flyers UNLESS... you know EXACTLY who your target market is and you spell it out on your marketing material literally on the title of your flyer - you know those online opt in pages when you go to sign up for a free teleclass? Take a look at the top of the pages and you will see something like "Attention: coaches, healers, speakers, authors, etc." these pages work so well to grab your attention and sign up because they are qualifying the audience. You want your material to do that too, you want to make it easy for your audience to say "YUP that's me!" and then sign up.

2. Which brings me to another problem I see with a lot of holistic practitioners and solopreneurs marketing material -your marketing is too vague.

I know in the beginning I was guilty of this one too - I think we all are starting out. You need clients - you don't really know who your clients are yet but you know you need them, so you say yes to everyone and your marketing is some kind of open blanket statement like "Life Coach." OK, that isn't even really a statement, but that's how most people start out. You want your message to stand out and grab your audience's attention, and you do that by positioning it in one of these 2 ways:

A. A solution to a problem
For example: Escape the 9-5 work and start your own business
Lose the Last 20 lbs Without Starving Yourself or Yoyo Dieting
Instant Stress Relief Without Harmful Drugs, Side Effects or Medication

B. A benefit
For example: Attract 5 New Clients by Next Week
Look and Feel Fit, Fabulous and Sexy Over 50
5 Simple Keys to Attract Your Soulmate

People are always looking to avoid pain and gain pleasure. It's instinctual - don't fight it, just work with it. There is a reason as one of my marketing mentors Adam Urbanski says: "People buy more pain killers like Tylenol than they do vitamins." And he's right. When people have an urgent problem, they are looking for someone who can offer them a solution. Position your language and marketing to do that and presto - you've created great marketing that attracts clients.

3. Get out there and start making offers to the right audience who can say YES to your offers and then correct your message as you go. Nothing beats getting into action. Most entrepreneurs have this fear of having to be perfect of having to get it right before they get out of the gate but if you study the most successful entrepreneurs, they are those who get out there and test, test and test. Look at the Wright brothers, they failed 100 times before they got the plane off the ground. You have to be willing to test out your message and your offers and self correct as you go. That's been my secret to success.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

5 Tips For An Effective Email Marketing Campaign

Today where almost everyone is online, more and more business owners are switching from traditional mediums of business advertising to online means. From managing a website, to SEO and social networking, email marketing is one of the best ways to introduce your products and services to the online world.

A well planned email marketing campaign can largely affect your business' visibility and global recognition. And by following the right email marketing procedures, you can start seeing the results once your target costumers receive your emails. Email marketing also allows you to adapt to a constantly changing business world which makes the competition for a wider client base more cut-throat than ever before.

If you want to get the most out of your online presence, you should invest more time and energy on making sure that you get your email marketing strategy right.

1. Make sure to put obvious links on your email. Remember that the main purpose of email marketing is to drive traffic into your website. In order to achieve this, you need to include a lot of working links in your email and make sure that they actually look like links. You can also use a strong call to action to help attract your users to click on the links.

2. Tell your subscribers of what to expect. It is important to let your readers know what you plan on giving them and how often. You need to provide enough information on your subscription form so they can properly decide whether they want to be on your mailing list or not.

3. Don't forget to send a welcome email. It's advisable to remind your readers why they are receiving an email from your company and take this opportunity to thank them for their loyalty. You also need to reassure them that they can expect a lot of great things from their subscription. You can start by giving away a special offer or an exclusive content for new subscribers.

4. Make sure to include an easy to unsubscribe option in your email. Assuring your readers that they can unsubscribe from your emails or newsletters anytime they want is a good thing. You need to incorporate easy-to-find links that will allow them to unsubscribe with minimal effort.

Otherwise, when people get frustrated while figuring out how to remove their email addresses from your list it is likely that your email will be flagged as spam. This will affect your reputation and your future emails will end up in the junk folder instead of in the inbox of your potential clients.

5. Keep Your Text Short and Scannable. You can't expect users to read the entire text in your email. They're simply going to scan it for various points that might interest them. So keep it to the point, concise and highlight important messages.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

How To Talk to Women (And Why Your Marketing Has To)

Recently, I spoke to a group of business owners about how men and women make buying decisions very differently. I told this kind-of-funny story about the couple shopping for a BMW 540i:

After months of research, this particular couple finally found their dream car. Striding into the dealership they knew within a few short hours they'd be leaving with 3,000 pounds of fine German steel.

The husband jumped behind the wheel, the salesman rode shotgun. They talked torque and performance engineering. So far, so good. The test drive was going fantastically. But then the wife, sitting in the back, noticed something that really bothered her. It seemed so trivial, but the more she thought about it the more it bugged her. So, wincing inwardly at the scorning that was likely going to come from the front seat, she asked the sales person, "So, what's up with the cup holders?"

The salesperson shot her a pitiful stare. "They're right there."

"Yes," she replied, "but they're so tiny. And those claws look flimsy. There's no way they'd actually hold a coffee mug."

Deathly silence from the front seat. Her husband did his best to keep a straight face.

"Well, that's because Europeans don't eat or drink in their cars," the salesman retorted curtly.

"Yes, but I do," the wife insisted. "And so do my kids."

Another irritated look from the salesman, "Well, you could just hold your drinks between your legs."

Game over.

The salesman went home that day with only moths in his wallet. And the husband and wife team went home without their new car, although theirs was only a temporary set back.

After doing some research online, they found the pathetic cup holders were a common complaint of many BMW owners. The answer was to buy an attachment to fix the problem. Happy to have a solution to their problem, the husband and wife team went back to a different dealership and this time, came home with their new Beamer.

You're not alone if you're reading this thinking that it sounds pretty stupid that a $50,000 deal could be blown because of some flimsy cup holders. But the car salesman made the very common (and very costly) mistake of assuming that the woman didn't have any say in the buying decision. According to the most recent statistics, not only do most women influence 80% of all car purchases, they also buy the majority of cars (including trucks).

Welcome to the New Economy my friend. There are two sexes in the human race and only one of them does most of the shopping.

Women account for 85% of all consumer purchases

91% of new homes
66% computers
92% vacations
80% healthcare decisions
89% bank accounts
93% food
90% insurance, investments and retirement accounts

(Percentages of women that participate in decisions affecting their household's retirement and investment accounts.)

Women also are the biggest online consumers. 22% of women shop online at least once a day.

Source: Mindshare/Ogilvy & Mather

But, here's the rub.

Most marketing is aimed squarely at the male consumer, even though it's women who make most of the buying decisions. Even for products considered traditionally for men like deodorant, men's clothing, and yes, even your 6.6L V8 turbo-diesel Duramax truck.

As a marketer, here's what's most important for you to realize: women make buying decisions very differently from men. Women prefer practical benefits to features. They don't care how many settings a freezer has - they want to know if it's big enough to store frozen pizza. Men on the other hand, tend to love features.

Women are story driven. They want to feel a connection, empathy, with the company they are buying from. Telling the story of a business or a product becomes a very powerful sales tool. Men on the other hand, are more influenced by facts and figures. Give me the info and I'll make the decision. Women want to know who you are first and foremost before deciding whether they'll buy from you. Stories are also very powerful when selling to men, but typically to demonstrate outcome.

For women, it's much more about the relationship. Does what you're offering work for the kids? The rest of the family?

These are just a couple of critical differences you need to take into account when you're creating your marketing. More and more big companies are realizing who holds the purse strings and are scrambling to change their marketing, and their businesses, to accommodate it. Lexus offers free massages while your car is being serviced, and a local rescue repair team in case of breakdown. Ryland Homes completely changed their floor model so the back yard could be viewed from the kitchen and all living spaces.

Final Takeaway

Marketing to women is not about excluding men. It's about gaining a deeper understanding of your target market and, specifically, how to make your marketing message strike a chord and spur action from a prospect, whether they're XX or XY chromosome.

Avoid any marketing campaigns that rely on clich├ęs or stereotypes. A direct mail piece in a pink envelope won't win you new female customers. Ad campaigns that speak exclusively to men will alienate women, and vice versa. Aim instead for gender-neutral design and packaging like Apple's. Steer clear of insults, don't oversimplify consumer preferences, and avoid generalizations about your customers.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

What To Look For When Selecting Business Printing Services

Nowadays most companies are very likely to have their own in-house office printers; rather than a luxury, this is now a requirement for a well-equipped office. Nevertheless while owning your own printer may solve your daily printing needs or perhaps a larger one-off undertaking, the overall volume of printing jobs that have to be carried out in normal offices can often be too much for the hardware. Since most businesses need to produce their your business cards, letterheads, advertisement brochures and leaflets, things can go from bad to worse. That's why most businesses need to look for another solution and consider Business Printing Services.

Hiring Commercial Printing Services is the ideal solution for the daily printing jobs for a load of reasons, but mainly because volume printing is usually the most cost-effective way to print larger runs. Many offices will have their own trusted external printing company who will provide routine or customized print facilities.

It is best to select local Business Printing Services for the individual job in hand because they are going to need the ability to deliver their services without delay whenever you need.

Here are some of the advantages of using external Business Printing Services:

Perhaps you cannot afford to purchase multiple printers or have dedicated staff for the printing jobs. Making use of these services will save a lot to you of time and cash.

You are able to give your print supplier some ideas and they can help you come up with designs for business cards, leaflets an such like. As an alternative, it is usually possible to give them ready made designs and also have them printed.

Lasting relationships are built by long terms users making use of their business printers and that ensures good quality merchandise as well as significant discounts.

Services such as lamination, application of varnishes, embossing, numbering your cards as well as sending them by mail will be often provided. You can usually work out a package deal for the different services and it will certainly save you a lot of hassle.

However, before selecting your printer you have to make sure that they have the ability to offer the standard of work that you need and deliver your jobs on time.

With this in mind, some questions you need to ask your printer before hiring him:

Ask the, what sort of printing they offer; whether it really is offset or just laser printing. These both work very well for routine office printing jobs but digital printing might be required for precise printing like, for example, on business cards.

Find out what sizes of jobs they can handle. While some are content to do short runs of 50 prints others focus on a minimal order of thousands. Select one based on your needs.

Check into their turnaround time at the beginning. Have a balanced perspective with respect to the quality and delivery time before deciding.

Try to perform research on their past clients with respect to satisfaction and ask your printer for references about their previous jobs.

Always ask about returns policy for, if you are not content with the final product, you may have to raise a complaint or return the work. Also, check their quality control procedures in case there are errors in your job.