Chapter 13: Marketing Your Business
In this Chapter we want to explore a number of affordable solutions for launching the marketing of your company’s product or service. These are marketing channels that you can start with and grow over time.
Of course you can buy TV ads and Google adwords for thousands of dollars and more per month but think of this as the startup basics. Let’s get going.
How to generate leads
Leads are the fuel for the sales pipeline. By generating sales leads, you build a list of prospects and then execute a communications outreach program to them until they become customers.
For that, you need contact information as the starting point. This usually means an email address.
In the Marketing Plan, we explained how to use demographics to identify prospects. So, how do you reach them and persuade them to share contact information?
Here are some inexpensive techniques:
- Offer an eBook or whitepaper that’s relevant to the audience – prospects submit their email address in order to download the item.
- Buy or rent a list of email addresses for your market sector.
- Test an inexpensive ad on Facebook that directs users to your website or landing page.
- Ask for business cards at a conference or event.
- Run a competition offering entry in return for registration.
- Network with prospects at local business meetings such as your local Chamber of Commerce.
- Ask friends, family and mentors to suggest names.
- Offer customers incentives for referrals.
Use the leads
It’s one thing to build a list of contacts. The hard part is converting them to customers.
- Make a partner or sales rep responsible for managing leads. If you can’t afford to pay someone else then you can dedicate yourself the equivalent of one-half day or a full day, or even more each week just focused on sales.
- Set targets for contacting and following up with your leads. In some cases this will be by phone though other outreach may be via email.
- Put a lead nurturing program in place. (See chapter 3)
- Monitor progress and be persistent with your efforts. Develop a plan for the next year in which you perform certain activities to create and follow-up with leads on a regular weekly and monthly basis.
Tip from an Expert
“The best tip I have for a business starting in SEO is to harvest links before investing lots of time and resources into creating content for an un-tested market. Link harvesting is when you leverage your current assets to your current relationships in order to better understand your niche market. I see too many businesses that hire someone to create content that they then try to promote to a niche that they do not understand. Creating the right content for the right audience leads to much more authority being built for your site to help you outrank your competition.”
–Benjamin Beck, Founder of BenjaminBeck.com
Search engine optimization (SEO) and keyword research
If your business depends on search traffic to your website, you must understand keywords and SEO. Even if SEO will not be your primary source of business, it’s essential to rank highly for at least your business name.
|Keywords and SEO build traffic to your site|
|A keyword is a term that potential customers use to describe the product or service they are searching for on the Internet.
Using popular keywords in your page titles, descriptions and content makes it easier for prospects to find your site.
|SEO is the process of making your website accessible and friendly to the search engines that rank websites for Internet users.
To increase traffic significantly, you need to be in the top 3-5 rankings for popular keywords.
Although SEO and keyword research can be technical, you can tackle some parts of the work yourself. A website like moz.com offers helpful tools and beginners’ guides to get you started. Some background knowledge and hands-on experience will make you feel more confident when you need to talk to consultants about more advanced SEO work.
In chapter 2, we described two free simple techniques for keyword research:
- Google’s keyword tool can tell you about demand for your product. Choose a number of keywords that describe your product and the Google tool will show the number of searches for each term over the previous month.
- Facebook’s ad tool offers a similar service. You can get data on the size of your potential audience, their age group, spending power and location.
Provided by DepositPhotos.com
The goal is to rank high on searches
Concentrate on keywords in the niche you are targeting. If you sell running shoes, for example, make a list of the possible topics and terms customers might search on.
Here are some examples:
- Running shoes for kids
- Trail running shoes
- Road running shoes.
- How to choose running shoes
- Retro running shoes
- Running shoe suppliers in Texas
- Mobile running shoe stores
- Running shoes for over-pronators
Use keywords to create content that will drive traffic to your site. Include the terms in your website page titles and write content that provides helpful information or advice on the most (and not so) popular topics. The key is to make exceptional content that will attract links from other websites as well as shares on social networks.
Search Engine Optimization
To do SEO, you need to understand what search engines are looking for and the factors they use to rank sites:
- Title tags account for a significant amount of your Google rank.
- Instead of calling your website home page “Home”, give it a meaningful title tag like “Best Trail Running Shoes in Seattle | Recreator Shoes: 828-123-1234”
- Other websites linking to you tells search engines that your site is popular and worth considering for higher rankings.
- Encourage bloggers and other site owners to refer to your site in a natural non-spammy way such as in an article about your product or service.
- Frequent mentions on social media also indicate popularity.
- Mobile-friendly sites now rank higher than sites that aren’t.
Tip from an Expert
Start building an audience online in your area of expertise “before” you need them. This could be a blog or a website. This means growing your social media followers on Twitter and other social networks and your email list.
–Jeff Bullas, Global Content Marketing Influencer
Online or offline marketing
For a new business, we recommend online marketing as an affordable, effective medium that gets results and can help you quickly grow your business.
You may need offline marketing, like advertisements or direct mail, to generate leads or reach prospects or customers not on the Internet. But, online has many advantages, for example:
- It usually costs significantly less.
- You can measure the response and results of online campaigns more easily through website and advertising analytics.
- You can easily test and compare the results of different offers or messages.
Remember, if you do use both techniques, include the same messages, images and design style in both for consistency and brand recognition.
Mobile marketing is a comparative newcomer to the online world, but it’s growing super fast and you should take it into account.
Did you know?
- Most websites now get 30 – 40 % of their traffic from smartphones.
- Another 15% comes from tablets.
- Google makes mobile-friendly sites a priority in their rankings.
That’s a big chunk of potential business. Make sure you’re ready for it:
- Ask a website designer to ensure your site renders correctly on a mobile screen or choose a template that’s already mobile-friendly.
- Keep the functions simple and easy to use for people on the move and make it easy for people to call you with one tap.
- Create ads that take into account the mobile users’ environment.
- Use location techniques to target prospects in your neighborhood.
- Create short videos that display clearly on mobile.
- Provide a short call to action where respondents only have to enter their email address.
- Use mobile’s global reach to enter growth markets where smartphone adoption is high and cost of acquisition may be lower than locally.
Did you know?
Over 144 billion emails are sent and received every single day. That’s over 50 trillion emails per year!
Email marketing is one of the earliest forms of online marketing. It’s affordable, effective and measurable, but you must do it right or it’ll be a waste of precious time.
You know how full your own inbox is most days. How are you going to stand out in the crowd?
The only way is to offer prospects something that is relevant and helpful – something they will look out for and value.
Build your list
- On your website, offer to send a newsletter or product updates.
- Entice people to subscribe by offering discount coupons or a free gift, such as a useful eBook, buyer’s or how-to guide.
You can build relationships by sending a series of emails at defined intervals to people who have subscribed:
- Use a technique called autoresponders to automate the process.
- Autoresponders send the right mailings to the right people at the right intervals. They can be easily setup with an email provider such as MailChimp or AWeber.
- By monitoring responses, you can personalize mailings so individuals receive the content they are interested in.
- Partnering with another business in your niche market gives you access to other products to offer your customers and potentially to get mentioned to their list as well.
Provided by DepositPhotos.com
Use social media to connect to your customers
Social media marketing
Social media marketing is a great way to engage with your customers, find out more about their preferences, and improve your search engine ranking.
The main social networks to explore are Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Instagram and Pinterest:
- By subscribing or following other companies in these channels, you can keep up to date with issues and events in your sector.
- Setting up your own page and posting quality content on the different networks will position your company as a player in the market.
- Choose a channel that is important to your target audience and relevant to your business. LinkedIn, for example, is aimed at professionals, while Pinterest appeals mostly to women who are doing more than 80% of the pinning and often browsing through products they may want to buy.
- Google includes social media activity in its ranking factors.
- A strong presence and a large number of engaged followers can help push your website higher in the rankings.
Wouldn’t it be great to know what people are saying about your product? Social media gives you the opportunity to track comments about your products and those of your competitors. SproutSocial.com is a great, affordable tool to help enable you to monitor your brand but also help automate posting across all the social networks.
Did you know?
78% of consumers say that the posts made by companies on social media influence their purchases.
Social media enables you to directly engage with the market by responding to comments, questions and concerns. It’s a way to gather 3rd party endorsements without even asking for them and make all of this public so other potential customers are more likely to buy from you.
Social media also has the power to reach wider audiences when content goes viral. That happens when everyone who views content shares it with at least one friend or colleague. If you want to understand the science behind viral marketing we highly recommend you read a book called, “Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger”.