3 Recession-Proof Marketing Techniques For Small Business Owners

We are now officially in a recession and what does this mean for small businesses? If you are going to cut your marketing budget just because you are experiencing lower sales, you are getting it all wrong. Marketing is the element that can directly attributed to sales. Cutting your marketing budget will not help increasing the bottom line of your business at all because marketing is all about retaining current customers and acquiring new ones.

Without customers, your business will hardly survive. In this small business marketing article, I am going to share with you three recession-proof marketing techniques that will bring considerable results without having to break your bank account.

Marketing Technique #1 Social Media Marketing

The development of Internet, particularly in the field of social media has opened a wide range of opportunities for online interaction. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and YouTube act as a medium for web user interaction via different methods. People love to go to these sites and spend hours trying to meet like-minded people as well as learning more about a subject that they are interested in.

These sites also house millions (billions in total) of members. You are placing your business, products and services in front of these eyeballs if you start to upload content in the form of articles, videos, podcasts or documents onto these platforms.

Apart from providing the free content that will help to position you as an expert in your industry, you can also connect with your target market by solving problems that they have or by adding value to the relationships through giveaways of special discount codes to followers of yours on these social media platforms.

Marketing Technique #2 Customer Leads Collection

Do you have contact information of your previous and existing customers? These are leads that can play a crucial role in retaining customers to secure future sales. There is another type of leads that can be categorized as prospects, which are people that are likely to turn into customers after you follow up with them, either through phone calls or emails.

Collection of leads can be done easily with the Internet. There are a lot of autoresponders and email marketing services that seek to provide you with solutions on lead collection. Often times, people collect leads by offering their site visitors with free information. As mentioned above, you can also retain the email and contact information of your customers after they contribute to the sales of your business.

Marketing Technique #3 Organic Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization, like social media marketing, requires little or no money to get the intended results. One can employ a search engine optimization agency to perform link building and website optimization tasks for them. If you are on a tight budget, you can always learn about important optimization factors from search engine marketing blogs and resources all over the Internet.

Search engine optimization often includes keyword research to find out keywords that a potential customer is likely to search for using search engines. You will then try to optimize pages on your site by implementing various optimization elements for keywords that you plan to target. Link building comes in later as links pointing towards your site act as votes on the quality of your content and search engines rank sites for keywords based on the number of ‘votes’ you get.

Grow Your Small Business With Lead Generation Advertising

I used to advertise my brand everywhere, get my logo out there and people will see it and then come and buy my products. I nearly went bust; I was acting like Virgin or B.T. Brand advertising is for the big boys, not for small business. You should include your logo or brand in your advertising but the main focus for small business advertising has got to be lead generation.

What do I mean by lead generation? Lead generation is simply to get people who are interested in your service to contact you.

What is the best way to get interested customers to contact you? Offer them something free.

Here is how to really make the most of all of your advertising:

  • Come up with some freebies you can give away to your potential customers like a free report, survey, sample products, CD, DVD. The key here is to come up with something of perceived value relating to your products or services. E.g. If you are a builder and your target audience are home owners you could write a free report 10 ways to increase the value of your home or Top 10 D.I.Y. tips for DAD the information to go in these reports is already out there on the internet, you just need to go online and get it.
  • You then need to offer this free product in all of your advertising as follows: call today for your free report – 10 ways to increase the value of your home or email today for your free report – Top 10 D.I.Y tips for DAD. What we are doing here is getting interested leads to give you their contact details in return for a free product. You can contact them shortly after to ask them if they received your information and to ask them if they would like to buy from you.

I recently increased my response to an e-mail out by 3000% just by offering something free. It really does work.

Small Business Relationship Management With the Razor Sharp Edge

Strategy or technology-based solutions, small business relationship management needs all the help it can get to gain the cutting edge over competition. Businesses have to strengthen the key areas of customer marketing and sales, and they have to dare to be different in a sea of competition.

In the Name of Customer Service

What makes a business stand out? Innovative and quality products, competitive prices, and good customer service; add on time delivery of orders plus timely responses to queries and you will have it all rolled into an efficient small business customer relationship management package.

Small business customer relationship management is not purely customer information hunting. It needs all functions working in tandem to streamline marketing operations and cut cost without hurting customer service. Efficiently managed, this optimizes employee output and boost customer confidence.

CRM is therefore not about mining information data and keeping it stagnant. It’s about getting data to energize the company’s customer touch points. This way, every fact is recorded. Factors like incoming and outgoing calls, the type and cost of purchase, and billing statements are all recorded with accuracy and consistency.

The bigger challenge businesses face is building customer loyalty and getting more business from them. If you’re in business, you are aware that knowing your customers and how they relate to your business can give you an edge because you can plan your marketing strategies around this.

Small business customer relationship management can benefit greatly with this type of approach using different tools like sales administration, contact organizing, lead management, and customer preference management. All these tools work in the name of customer service to improve marketing campaigns and boost sales.

The Razor Sharp Edge

In the hustle and bustle of business competition and looking for ways to edge the others out, you might forget the appointments that have to be made or the quotes that have to be followed-up. If you can’t follow the leads because your CRM system does not have the feature, upgrade! Try having an auto roll call of leads that need to be doggedly trailed from quote to sale.

If there are lost sales, find out what’s wrong. Your small business customer relationship management strategies should include a review of the sales lost to other companies. Find out why the sale fizzled and strategize new marketing tricks that will lead your customers back to your door.

A CRM system can warn sales agents to bat for more sales. They know you can check them out anytime. You can also eliminate the problem of duplicate information that may bloat figures or sharing inaccurate information with customers.

Before you throw a marketing pitch, look at the CRM database and find out what’s with the customer and how to plan your sales pitch. It would be embarrassing to approach a customer who is nursing a grudge and the company did not make any move to solve problem. You might as well be sucked in a quicksand.

In small business customer relationship management, accuracy of information and consistency of good customer service are never compromised. These give the business the razor sharp edge – no excuses. One mistake can mark you and rebuilding your customer service reputation is not easy. But if you have consistently provided your customers with reliable service, the word will get around – word-of-mouth advertising that’s absolutely free.

Search Engine Optimization Cost – Tips to Make SEO Costs Easily Affordable for Your Small Business

Search Engine Optimization Costs can be greatly influenced by answering some basic questions about your business and SEO plans, objectives, and other consideration. Here are some questions or issues every small business should resolve before engaging an SEO consultant, or trying to implement SEO themselves:

1.What is the number one priority, objective, or goal that you want to achieve through your online marketing efforts?

  • Are trying to establish your business as an “authority site”?
  • Are you trying to build a community using social media?
  • Are you trying to generate more leads to fill your sales funnel?
  • Are you are trying to attract more customers to a retail or physical location?
  • What is your desired outcome for visitors to your website?
  • What is your “business model” for your online marketing?

The responses to these questions will affect the online marketing strategy, approach, or techniques that are most suitable.

2. The BIG SECRET of Internet Millionaires and virtually ALL Successful Online Businesses…

Actually, this “secret” is painfully obvious – it is one of the fundamentals of achieving success online. But, just as major league athletes focus on the fundamentals of their competitive sports, it is worth highlighting here: TRAFFIC MATTERS MOST – IT IS A FUNDAMENTAL REQUIREMENT.

To be more specific – targeted traffic is what matters most. Attracting targeted traffic essentially means that the visitors to your site are already pre-qualified to the extent that you are presenting them with information that is aligned with what they are searching for. This assumes, of course, that the methods used to attract them are consistent with search engine optimization and search engine marketing best practices.

Practicing “Attraction Marketing” or “Magnetic Marketing” or Customer Centric Marketing leads to “friction free marketing” and long-term relationship-building.

3. How do prospects and customers find you now – and how could you attract more?

  • Which keywords do prospects use when they are searching online for what you offer?
  • Where is your business currently ranked for those terms in the search engines?
  • How competitive are the keywords that you are currently using to promote your business?
  • How viable is it that you will be able to rank for those keywords in the near future?

4. What does “Google Page 1 Rankings” actually mean – and why does it matter?

A Google Page 1 Ranking means either that a particular web-page appears on the first page of the natural “organic” Search Engine Results Position (often referred to by the acronym: “SERP”) in response to a search for a particular keyword or keyword search term, OR that an advertiser has outbid all other advertisers to appear in the Sponsored Results.

Google Page 1 Rankings matter greatly because:

  • 81% of people search online before making a purchase.
  • 72% of people use Google when performing online search.
  • 98% of people choose a business on “Page 1” when making a “buying decision”.

Conclusion: If your business isn’t ranked on the first page of Google’s “natural” or “organic” search results, you will be missing out on close to 75% of potential prospects, leads, and sales.

Important Note: Recent metrics evidence that people performing online searches increasingly look beyond the Sponsored Results and directly to the “organic results” for the information they seek.

5. Generating Traffic through Paid Advertising (AdWords, Facebook Ads, CPA, CPC, etc):

Paid Traffic remains the fastest way to generate traffic for new websites, to test keywords, and to “pump” life into websites that are stuck on page 2, 3, 4, 5….157…or otherwise not prominently displayed in the search results….BUT…the value of the bought traffic may be worthless…especially if it doesn’t convert to sales.

When business owners or webmasters get frustrated with their online efforts, there is frequently a temptation to try to make up for lost time by purchasing traffic from advertising brokers (i.e. the “content network”). As tempting as it is to generate “traffic” fast using this method, it should be understood that there are very real risks associated with it.

Anyone with a valid credit card charging capacity can generate traffic fast. Beware, however, that the traffic generated from many of these sources is a total waste of money. Ask almost anyone who has tried it.

Obviously, Google and Yahoo have made literally billions of dollars by selling this kind of traffic (i.e. paid clicks). In the early days of AdWords and AdSense lot of savvy internet marketers created online advertising empires by functioning as advertising “arbitrage” agents. For the past several years, however, many of those very same marketers complain of losing vast sums on advertising campaigns.

Caution: If you choose to use paid advertising to buy traffic, proceed carefully – and limit your spending until you verify that the cost/benefit ratio of your advertising program is within your accepted tolerances, and expectations.

6. Keyword Research – and How to “re-position” your company online (if necessary).

One of the smartest things you can do, and definitely one of the first things you really should do, is to perform some basic keyword research. Only by conducting detailed keyword research can you know how to proceed with your online marketing efforts. Only after performing keyword research can you determine whether you will be wasting time and money (and lost-opportunity costs) by trying to promote your business based on words or terms or “keywords” that are either too competitive, not sufficiently searched, or otherwise non-performing.

You can begin to get a sense about all of this for free by using the Google AdWords Keyword Tool.

Start by entering a broad term that relates to your business or niche. Then scan the results for the keywords you are currently using.

Then review the competition, both in terms of AdWords and also in the search engine itself. If the first page of natural SERP results is dominated by major corporations, major “authority sites”, or other stiff competition, then that keyword may be difficult to rank for. This is especially true if the SERP results are for main indexed pages.

On the other hand, if the first page of Google returns a lot of “inner pages” (i.e. pages that are on the third hierarchy of the site structure, or lower), and if they are not from “authority sites”, but rather from blogs or smaller sites, then ranking for those particular keywords may be achievable, and perhaps even relatively easy).

7. Knowing Who Your Visitors Are – Capturing Visitor Contact Details for Lead Generation

The single most important missing element from most business websites may be a “lead capture form”. It’s hard to believe that with literally billions of websites published, so many websites lack such a valuable but inexpensive and easy-to-implement tool.

Lead capture forms have been available for at least 10 years. And we have all grown accustomed to using them – as consumers, or as “subscribers”. You may be reading this information as a result of having entered your email address into a basic lead capture form (sometimes referred to as a “squeeze form” or “squeeze page”, depending on how it is implemented).

Lead capture forms are typically integrated with Auto responders such as Aweber, Get Response, iContact, Infusionsoft, 1ShoppingCart, or others.

If you are trying to develop any kind of business intelligence about your website visitors, and trying to establish a follow-up rapport with them, it is essential to incorporate lead capture forms into your website.

At the most basic level, setting up a lead capture form can be accomplished in minutes.

8. Understanding Web 2.0 and How Social Media Can be Leveraged to Facilitate SEO and to Grow Your Business:

Web 2.0 and Social Media are extremely complex and dynamic developments. The easiest way to understand the potential of Web 2.0 and Social Media, in terms of how they can help you grow your business is this: Make It Easy For People to Learn About You and What You Offer – and expand your circle of influence or like-minded “friends”.

Unlike “web 1.0” sites, Blogs are “Web 2.0 ready” – what this means is that they are preconfigured (in most cases) to allow for RSS feeds, Social Network Sharing, Commenting, etc.

It’s no secret that the way Google (and other leading search engines) rank their search results is largely based on what other people think. It follows that the more people who link to your site, the more Google will consider your site to be an “authority site”, or at least a meaningful site, within a particular niche, or for certain keyword terms.

The easiest, cheapest, and one of the most effective things that you can do to improve your search engine optimization is to incorporate a blog into your website (or make it your website), and to create meaningful and relevant content on a regular basis (e.g. 4 times a week or more).

Make it easy for other people and blogs and organizations to get your content and to derive value from you. RSS feeds and Social Bookmarking tools are ideal for this task.