Small Business Tip: Get Off the Bandwagon

If you run a small business, it is increasingly important to stay ‘ahead of the game’ instead of just being a player. It would not be a smart business decision to open up a small food market on the adjacent corner of a Loblaws, Walmart Supercentre, Whole Foods and Costco. It doesn’t make sense. You would quickly become part of the small business graveyard.

Your business needs to stand out from the crowd, and since the world is a growing every day, you’re going to need to get creative!

Don’t jump on a bandwagon as it’s barreling through, be a member of the construction team that BUILDS the bandwagon to reap the most benefit as it picks up speed.

Easier said than done – a very select few thought that a micro-blogging platform that only allowed users to speak 140 characters at a time would amass into the social media giant Twitter is today. Ashton Kutcher was a bandwagon builder, and was the first to reach 1 million followers. How many followers do you have?

Not to say that Twitter is dead or dying soon, but if you don’t have a large Twitter following by now… perhaps it’s time to look for a new way of building your online reach and conversation. A new idea is emerging every second of every day, do some research and become an early adopter!

Here are a few leads to get you started:

Group Buying – is on the cusp of becoming huge, and it has been for a few years. Do some research and get involved with sites that give away daily deals- it might actually help promote your business/products. Best case scenario? The site becomes huge in your area/industry and sales skyrocket as a result.

QR Codes– Smartphone barcodes that are starting to pop up everywhere (heck, I even sit on one in the subway every morning). Since 1 in every 2 people will have a Smartphone by Christmas (it’s true!) this might just be the next massive trend in technology and advertising. “Social scanning” includes tools like Stickybits and SCVNGR that incorporate the new location ‘checking in’ fad that might also be on the brink of social domination.

Q/A Platforms – Millions of people are starting to ask questions on sites like Quora and Linked In. Pick a platform that speaks directly to your audience, and start answering some questions. Get in on the conversations; build a reputation as an expert and you’ll start to stand out from the rest of the social media crowd.

Find an alternative to the ‘biggies’ – use Statusnet instead of Twitter, use Aardvark instead of Linked In Answers, use Brightkite instead of Foursquare. Try to hit the bigtime with an emerging trend rather than trying to scream over the noise of the crowd.

Be proactive and set yourself up for success!

Internet Marketing for Small Business – The Vital Truth

As a small business owner it’s our natural tendency to approach everything with a hint of skepticism. There are so many ‘next big things’ that it’s oftentimes difficult to distinguish between a passing trend and a legitimate evergreen marketing strategy for a small business.

Skepticism or no, I’m willing to bet that by now you’ve started seriously eyeing Internet marketing for small business as a viable addition to your advertising repertoire; you’re starting to realize that this is something worth jumping on.

Let’s face it – Your competitors are doing it, so you should do it too lest you unknowingly give up a foothold in your niche.

Wait Just a Minute – What is Internet Marketing, Exactly?

Before we go any further I think it’s worth taking some time to clarify exactly what we’re referring to when we say ‘Internet Marketing’. If you’ve done any research at all on the topic of small business online marketing, you’ve probably seen a wide array of terms thrown about. It can be very confusing to learn anything at all about Internet marketing with a seemingly endless amount of ideas out there… How are you supposed to know what’s what? Well, below I’d like to briefly go over a few of the most common terms and methods that you should concern yourself with:

#1. Small Business Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Small business search engine optimization refers to getting your business’ virtual property listed on the first page of search engine results (most commonly in Google) for a select group of keyword phrases. Whether it’s a Google Places page, a YouTube video, a Facebook page or even your own website, the goal is to position yourself so that local searchers see YOU before your competition.It sounds complicated, but that’s why we’re here. The results of a successful SEO campaign can be enormous.

#2. Small Business Email Marketing / List Building

Small business email marketing is without a doubt one of the most powerful forms of lead generation out there. Imagine having the power to reach your loyal customers any time day or night with your newest and greatest promotions? Imagine being able to send your customers coupons, newsletters and other interesting content so that you’re constantly in contact with them, remotely building your brand in their mind’s eye? I’m sure with a little imagination you can start to see the possibilities… Email marketing is one of the most viable long-term marketing strategies for small business owners to consider. Your customers aren’t going to stop using email anytime soon, and the ability to stay in frequent contact with a customer even if they’re not visiting your actual place of business is too good to pass up. If you take nothing else away from this article, at least learn more about small business email marketing.

#3. Social Media Marketing for Local Businesses

This is the newest and greatest trend in the world of Internet Marketing for small businesses. Facebook alone has over 800 Million users worldwide, and most users spend a minimum of 6 hours per month on this website. As Facebook grows it’s an increasing amount of time YOU could be using to further your business. Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites are going to be some of the greatest marketing mediums of 2012 because they give you the ability to keep up with interested customers on a daily basis through websites that they’re spending lots of time on anyways. Why not take advantage of this opportunity?

#4. Pay-Per-Click Advertising for Direct Marketing

The next time you’re searching for something in Google I want you to pay attention to the right side of the screen. You should notice a few small ads that are separate from the search results. These are actually paid advertisements from Google’s AdWords program, and they’re a crucial aspect of small business online marketing.

The pay per click advertising (PPC) works is a simple 3 step process:
• Write a small ad for your business
• Pick keywords or locales to target
• Pay per click for traffic directly to your business’ website

Pretty easy, right?

This is a great way to start off your Internet marketing campaign because with Pay Per Click you get exactly the results you pay for. Want to give 100 new customers the chance to fall in love with your business? Pay for 100 clicks to your website… Done. I’m sure you can see the value in this kind of cost-per-lead advertising. Through proper lead generation and analytics you can have yourself quite a profitable campaign that runs virtually on autopilot.

And hey, want to really explode your customer base? Why not use PPC advertising to drive targeted traffic to your email newsletter so you can stay in contact with your new potential customers?

Why Internet Marketing for Small Businesses is a Good Investment

What holds back most small business online marketing campaigns that the business owners fail at marketing automation.

We’ve all learned this lesson: When you try to do everything yourself you inevitably fall behind in the areas you’re best at, and don’t get far enough in the areas you’re good at. The result is that your business slows down, and you don’t see as much revenue as you should / could. If time is money, then you can’t afford to spend an increasing amount of time on something that someone else could be doing faster.

That’s why when approaching Internet marketing for small business I recommend enlisting the assistance of a trained professional.

Time and time again we’ve seen a much greater ROI when the business owner focuses on running an outstanding business, while the Internet marketers do what they do best – Capture the interest of potential customers. Whether you decide to pursue small business search engine optimization to bolster the rankings of your website or social media marketing to get the word out through Facebook / Twitter, you can rest assured that you’ll see better results from someone who’s done it before.

Internet marketing for small business doesn’t have to be time consuming, and it’s certainly doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, an Internet Marketing campaign can be relatively cheap when compared with other marketing strategies for small businesses! As a small business owner you’d be giving up a lot if you limited yourself to offline marketing only, so I urge you to consider the techniques and methods outlined in this article. I’m sure you can find an Internet Marketing company or service provider who would be more than willing to help you with these internet marketing services so you can start finding new potential customers on autopilot. What are you waiting for?

3 Benefits of Hiring a Small Business Social Media Manager – Bottom Line, More Leads!

As a small business owner, it is important to establish an online presence to connect with the online consumer. This is what social media marketing is all about. Social media is a revolution as far as business interactions are concerned. In today’s world, brands are built and torn apart on social platforms. Because of this, you would do well as a business owner to make sure you use the available platforms to grow your brand and your reputation. Unless you fall in the lesser percentage, it is very likely that you are one of those business owners who can’t keep up with technology and media advancements.

Yes, you may know how to transform an idea into a million bucks but you don’t know the first thing about LinkedIn or Twitter. How do you make use of social marketing when you are lacking in expertise in the said field? Simple, hire a social media manager.

A social media manager is a professional who is skilled in taking care of the communication and marketing aspects of your business. In basic terms, this is the person who gets in touch with the consumer on your behalf on the social platforms. There are various reasons why hiring a small business social media manager is a good idea.

In this article we will outline 3 reasons;

1. Social marketing platforms are constantly changing. What may have worked last year will not necessarily work this year, even last month. As a business owner, you may not have the time, energy or knowledge to keep up with changing trends. Because they do change often! It is the job of the SM manager to keep up with these trends for the sake of your business.

Remember, if you ignore current trends you run the risk of being irrelevant and losing your clients/customers to your competitors. If there’s one thing that’s certain about the online consumer, it’s their erratic and impatient nature. They are not willing to waste too much time on a brand that does not seem to care about its online image and presence.

2. As a business owner, you may already know how important it is to have an online presence. You have definitely heard this before. However, you may not know how to get the right audience for your brand.

For instance, if you sell products targeted at older people, you want to make sure that you reach out to them and not anyone else. It is one thing to have an audience and it is another to have the right audience. Your social media manager will help you identify avenues that will lead your brand to the right audience.

3. SM managers are also able to monitor the progress made through digital campaigns. If you embark on a marketing campaign, it is important to track any milestones reached by the campaign. Otherwise, you run the risk of investing too much in a campaign that yields nothing. The best person to keep tabs on the digital campaign is your SM manager. They will also recommend new ways to do things if the current methods are not achieving the intended goals.

Instead of worrying that you don’t know how to take advantage of social media, hire someone who does and watch your business grow.