We’ve published numerous posts about referral marketing, which is an invaluable and cost effective way of marketing your business. In particular, we talked about LinkedIn. This is something that I, Steve Slisar, CEO of EzyLearn, am a big believer in — and so is small business marketing guru, Michael Griffiths.
When you start a new business, it’s incredibly important that you consider how you’re going to market your business to gain new customers. We cover the more traditional marketing strategies in our Small Business Management course, such as print advertising and even Google Adwords, but you shouldn’t only focus on these methods of marketing, as there are other, more powerful ways to market your business to customers.
I’ve written about referral marketing on this blog before, where I said that having a blog was a very effective way of getting people to talk about your business. If you frequently publish blog posts that your readers find valuable, they’re more likely to refer you on to their contacts. This is a form of referral marketing.
Have LinkedIn?, Need a Website?
Some people use their blog as a way to drive traffic to their website, but if you have a LinkedIn profile, I would say you don’t even need a website, since LinkedIn already gathers your professional information and then recommends you to other LinkedIn users with similar interests and professional experience.
I used to have my own personal website at the domain www.slisar.com.au, where I used to write and publish blog posts. I wrote a couple of blogs on it and tried to make myself seem amazing. After all, I had this domain and I thought, what on earth will I do with it if I don’t fill it up with stuff about me?
Sometime later I discovered the benefits of a LinkedIn profile, and I did away with my personal website. Now if you type in my domain name it directs to my LinkedIn profile (feel free to try it and connect with me, if you’d like) where you can see my online resume.
For many independent contractors – home-based bookkeepers, virtual assistants, etc – this is all you need to get started working in the digital age. You can still keep a blog, just as I do with the EzyLearn blog, which is connected to my LinkedIn profile so that when I write something, my LinkedIn connections can read it, like it, and start a conversation about it.
However, I probably don’t use LinkedIn as much as I should, but someone who does is Michael Griffiths, a small business marketing guru. He has helped companies with their online marketing for several years, and with a background in sports coaching, it’s little wonder he started teaching people about online marketing.
He now mostly focuses on referral marketing, and LinkedIn is a powerful tool he uses a lot. In fact, he’s created a training workshop that’s being held this coming Tuesday, August 19 in Milsons Point (in Sydney). That only leaves you with a few days to register, but if you’re serious about finding new ways to market and grow your business, it’s worth it.
Otherwise, if you don’t think you can make it on Tuesday, he’s holding another workshop in November. To register or find out more about Michael Griffiths’ referral marketing workshop click here.
Free Video: Michael Griffiths explaining the benefits of having a live and active website
Here’s a video of Michael talking about the value of having a blog and an active website that is regularly updated with new content. When you hear Michael in action during a presentation you realised how freely he shares his knowledge and experiences, enjoy.
With the advent of the Internet and social media, there’s been a lot of discussion about declining advertising revenues in newspapers, which has led many business owners and marketers to erroneously think that advertising in the newspaper is no longer efficient.
But really, advertising in the paper is just as efficient as it ever was – it all depends on the business and whether a newspaper is the right medium for it.
So what businesses should advertise in the paper?
Where Oh Where to Advertise?
The answer to that question really depends on the business and the newspaper. For a local business, like a restaurant or a retailer or a plumber looking for local customers, a newspaper that’s highly read and engaged with by the local community is definitely the way to go, as opposed to a larger metropolitan newspaper.
But it’s important that you consider why you’re advertising in the first place. If you’re looking to build brand awareness, a regular advertisement in a relevant section – such as dining, or professional services, for example – over a significant period of time will pay off.
If you’re looking for new customers and fast, then a smaller number of ads, towards the front of the paper clearly advertising that you’re opening soon or running a special deal will deliver the immediacy you’re looking for.
How Far Will People Go?
It’s important to remember that the majority of people don’t travel further than between 3 and 3.5 kilometres to do their groceries, and a maximum of about 12 kilometres for larger purchases like a car or white goods.
This is what makes local newspapers highly efficient for local businesses, whereas national businesses find both local and national newspapers efficient in delivering their customers.
But what if you’re not looking for local customers from any specific region because you’re an online business whose customers can reside anywhere in the world?
In this instance, a local newspaper, while it would deliver a number of highly engaged customers, would only deliver a small section of your target market, making it highly costly.
While metropolitan or national newspapers would work better here, they still wouldn’t deliver those overseas customers. This is where online and social media advertising may work better for you, assuming that it’s highly targeted the your ideal customer.
The key to successful marketing is always understanding exactly who your customer is. This comes from efficient market research prior to starting your business. It’s for this reason that we recently introduced a new short course called the originate and develop new concepts course, which takes you through the all-important first step of business: researching the market.
If you’re not on board yet, here are four reasons why you should be!
Search engine optimization: like it or not, SEO is still plays a huge part in how your customers arrive at your website. Using analytics you can see exactly what keywords and key phrases your customers are searching. Know this, and you’re able to create content that makes it almost impossible not to sign up for that newsletter, download an ebook, etc.
Socially active: everyone knows that social media can drive traffic and result in leads, but what platform is best? Analytics answers this question without even breaking a sweat. For some businesses Facebook is the must-have platform, but for other businesses LinkedIn is more useful, so why waste your time on the wrong one if you don’t have to?
A/B split testing: by combining the new-fangled world of web metrics with old school metrics like A/B testing, the internet doesn’t combust, but does, in fact, make fine-tuning your call-to-action strategies a cinch — particularly which ones to use and which ones to ditch. We recommend using another piece of software called Optimizely, but more on that later.
Personalise email marketing: ever wondered how to increase the open-rate of your newsletters and emails? Wonder no more! Say a user arrives at an ebook download and then subscribes to your newsletter — does that mean they’re interested in a certain product or service? Probably, so why bother them with irrelevant information? This is a particularly useful given the sheer number of emails most people receive today.
By now you should be asking yourself how and where you can find this analytics train so that you can board it. In our Digital Business Course we recommend using Google Analytics because it’s free and easy-to-use, which are maybe two of the most important things small business owners care about, right?
For small businesses wondering how you can best transition online, either in part or entirely (like EzyLearn did not so long ago), our Digital Business Course has been especially created to demystify this process.
[quote]One of the biggest mistakes a small-business owner can make is to think that advertising budgets and marketing strategies are the playthings of big business.[/quote]
By borrowing some of the strategies some of the biggest businesses do well, there are many marketing opportunities small business owners can utilise to generate some organic business leads—and many of them are low-cost!
Web Presence – Face it, whenever you speak to a potential new client, the first thing they do is Google you. If you don’t turn up in Google, or worse, what does is out-of-date or uninformative, you’ve already lost some of your credibility and you haven’t even done business with them yet!
Your website should clearly outline what services you offer, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with it! Design a website that shows off your personality and sets you apart from your competitors. Our WordPress course can give you the skills you need.
Email Marketing – Is a great low-cost marketing option providing you do it right! Many companies—big and small—make the mistake of bombarding their mailing lists with too many advertising emails, most of which are irrelevant and often result in the click of an “unsubscribe” button.
The trick, here, is to divide your mailing list into categories based on your client’s interest and business needs, and then tailor EDMs or newsletters to each category. The messages with the best cut-through are quirky and informative and act simply as a touch point with your customer that isn’t blatantly spruiking your business or rehashing your sales pitch.
Social Media – If you’re going to use social media for your business, great! But if you think that by just starting a facebook page and then arbitrarily updating it with photos or your latest special offers when you feel like it will work, well you’re wrong!
If you’re going to use social media for your business, make sure you deliver value to your social media friends and followers. Special offers are great, but after a while people tire of them. Keep your content fresh and interesting, and above all, regular!
Online Advertising – The thing about the internet, particularly search engines like Google, is that they’re terrific if you know what you’re looking for. If you don’t, however, it’s like running into a crowded Allianz Stadium on grand final night and calling out, “where can I find my car keys?”
This is where online advertising comes in. Search engine advertising (also called Search Engine Marketing or SEM), like Google Adwords, is a cheap way to get started so that anytime someone searches on google using your keywords, your ad will appear with a link straight to your website.
Don’t forget—Apple Inc, once a little start-up in Steve Jobs’ garage—never launches a new product quietly, so why should you launch your business quietly?
If you create a good marketing plan and stick to it, you’re guaranteed to see results. If you’re unsure what goes into creating a marketing plan, we cover marketing strategies in our Small Business Management course.