Transform Your Small Business Marketing

I regularly interview small and solo business owners who call my coaching company looking for help. After getting a sense of what their business is all about, what their biggest goals are, and what lifestyle they are trying to create, I ask them what their biggest challenges are.

Nine times out of ten, it’s getting more clients and the problem is marketing. Most work very hard at trying to get one client at a time. They try many different small business marketing methods that they’ve heard about or which they’ve seen their competitors use. In other words, a little of this and a little of that. The results are inevitably mediocre. It’s easy to get discouraged when you know you have a great skill or talent to offer the world and yet no one is listening to what you have to say.

The mistake made by the majority of early stage small or solo businesses, and even some who have been around for years, is to do what I call “shot in the dark marketing”. This is like playing darts with a blindfold on and being convinced that you’ll hit the bull’s eye. You may occasionally do so, but you’ll do it rarely. The same is true if you are an entrepreneur who has not mastered marketing.

I bet you’re great at what you do. But, are you also great at building and running a business? These are two separate and distinct skill sets and both are crucial to your success. When it comes to small business marketing, the real truth is that people who are marketing masters can make money even with mediocre products, yet many people with excellent products and services fail because they haven’t mastered marketing. If no one knows you exist how can you expect to get lots of clients and make a great income?

Here are some tips on what you need to think about in order to begin to master marketing:

Do Research

It’s a mistake to decide what you want to sell, create a product and then try to find some people who need it and are willing to pay you for it. Instead use the Internet to find out what people are searching for within your area of expertise and to research what and how your top competitors are selling. Also figure out where your prospects congregate online or offline so you know where you can reach them with your marketing.

Create a Marketing Design

This is a detailed plan that locks in what marketing activities you’ll pursue and how you’ll measure and track the results to know if those activities are working. Make a list of all the different ways you could generate leads both online and offline. Then pick only those that will focus on your target market. For example, join social media groups that attract your target market, mail marketing materials, postcards and brochures only to your target market. The same applies to print ads and sales calls. Don’t waste time on broad groups of people, but on the type of person who you know would buy your type of product or service.

Then pick three activities from the list and get started. You most definitely need at least one of them to include online marketing, either. That’s why I teach my online lead generation system. You can use a variety of methods such as article marketing, video marketing, blogging and social media to organically generate traffic. You can also use search engine optimization and pay per click advertising to generate search leads.

Follow Your Plan

Stick to your plan and see what works. Give it a bit of time, then focus tightly on what works and get rid of the rest. Don’t waste time, for example, going to networking meetings just because you like the people when you’re not connecting with potential clients or referral sources. Your time is limited so use it wisely.

Outsource

Why do $15 an hour tasks when you can outsource them and spend your time being the strategist and servicing clients? As soon as you outsource rote marketing tasks, you’ll find they get done more quickly and consistently and you’ll start generating a steady, reliable stream of qualified leads.

Follow Up

Once someone is on your mailing list or has called your company, have a follow up system ready to go into action so you don’t miss out on closing sales with people who are ready and willing to work with you!

Transform your small business marketing from lackluster to powerful!

Using Joint Ventures In Your Small Business

Small Business owners are constantly trying to come up with new ways to generate qualified leads and get more clients. Quite often we come up with some pretty amazing ideas and concepts, however quite often we overlook the real simple and inexpensive strategies. One of the most basic ways to get qualified leads and referrals is through joint venture partnerships. So what is a JV?

Well a JV or Joint Venture is where you partner up with another person to pass business to one another. There are some great natural fits for JV’s such as personal trainers with chiropractors or massage therapists or accountants with financial planners, however really any joint venture will work if you have the same sorts of people at both your businesses.

Joint ventures have loads of benefits, but probably the most important one of all is that they are a very qualified lead. They already trust one business and it is that business that is recommending them to you. Automatically you are being edified and promoted as a trustworthy person and business to use.

There are a couple of ways you can use joint venture partners. You could have a simple, I’ll pass you referrals and you pass them back to me or you can pay them a $$ amount or % of the fee for passing you the referral. The 2nd option is a sure way to get referrals passed as the passer is making some money also on the deal. This concept is great as the $$ or % that you are giving them is what you would have spent on advertising and marketing anyway. The difference is that this lead always comes with a better chance of using your products or services has they trust the person who has passed them onto you.

Joint Venture partners do not need to be businesses with close fits to your business. Getting joint venture partners with large databases that could provide a quick hit of orders or clients instantly is the perfect catch. Make a list of all the different business or people you could partner up with. If you had 10 – 20 people who were passing referrals onto you, then you would certainly always have enough prospects to talk to.

Joint ventures are great and really should be explored more by small business owners; however the right mindset is also extremely important to have. This is not all about you and your business. There is a great philosophy used in one networking circle of ‘Givers Gain’ and this really holds true in forming JV’s. You must be willing to help other businesses out, to form relationships with them and promote them more than what you expect to be promoted.

I know every day I will pass on close to 15 referrals to other businesses I know, whether I have a partnership with them or not, because that is my mindset in helping other people out. This mindset allows us to form brilliant relationships with other business owners and also our prospects and clients as we can help them out more and in different ways. There are joint venture partners everywhere all you need to do is ask.

Start with the big fish the ones you really want, the ones that could turn your business into an instant success. What’s the worst that could happen, they say no? That’s not too bad, move onto the next.

All the best in getting your 10-20 JV partners this week.

Facebook Marketing Tips For Local Small Business Owners

For years small business owners have dreamed of number one spots on Google first page of search results for their keywords and for good reason – Google Owned all the traffic.

The illusive fist page rankings is where the money is, the whole idea of getting your website listed in the top search results for your keyword you will get floods of free web traffic/visitors to your website which you can then convert in to sales or place those leads though your sales funnel.

While every small business should be implementing strategies to get their website in the top search results for their keywords, Small business owners also need to be shifting their focus to incorporate the social element of the internet.

Google no longer owns all the traffic on the internet. Facebook that social site that your kids are one all day long has really become a real threat to Google and how people are interacting with the internet.

No before you say that Facebook is only for teenagers and you can’t see your products or services on Facebook, then think again.

Here are 2 very important trends or statistics that every small business owner should care about if they want to do business in the future. (Yes, I believe these is that important)

1. – Facebook now sends more web traffic/visitors to external websites that Google.
2. – Facebook is the largest display ad network on the internet currently.

If you run a retail shop, location is a big element to your success, you wouldn’t open a retail shop in a dead end street where no one goes, this is why shopping malls are so popular, they bring all the shoppers/buyers into one place and you open your shop there where you know where everyone goes to buy stuff.

Facebook is the same, it is the world’s largest free audience and you can tap into this free audience at any time you want.

Also the general nature of Facebook is that content is shared and them spreads virally, this means you can get your message out to a lot of people very quickly and Facebook does 90% of the work for you.

Facebook has already risen to 500 Million active users, of which half of these users login every single day – and they are only 4 years old! If Facebook was a country they would be the 3 largest in the world behind only India and China.

Why is Selling So Difficult For Small Business Owners? Use These 3 Sales Management Strategies

Why is selling so difficult for small business owners? The ability to sell is necessary for every business yet it is often a neglected activity. To simplify the selling process, you need to build a sales approach into your marketing mix program. (Your marketing mix includes product, price, promotion and place – the sales activities belong in the promotion category.)

First, it is important to understand the marketing mix promotion category. Marketing promotion includes personal selling (face to face), direct mail marketing (one-to-one and via email or mail), and use of telemarketing campaigns (one-to-one and via telephone). Additionally, marketing promotion includes the advertising (for example, radio, newspapers, internet, magazines, storefront, and more), promotions (for example, trade shows, coupons, contests, point of purchase displays and more), and public relations (for example, press releases, community involvement, and more) activities.

Second, it is important to build a sales plan targeted to each product or service category, and also focused on each type of customer. If you are entering new markets, use sales contact management and sales leads software to focus your efforts. This software will also provide good sales service maintenance and follow-up support. Business process management tools help you to focus your sales activities and provide you with valuable time saving tactics. You can track and manage your activity and results for leads, prospects, and customers. You can also integrate your sales leads software with your sales management software to develop reports on customer purchases, service or product launches, price change impacts, service or product change impacts, and more.

Third, develop strong negotiating and closing skills. Always look for a win/win solution both for you and your customer. Make sure you focus on the unique value and benefits of your products and/or services and how that value will benefit your customer (solving their needs or problems). To negotiate a sale and to close a sale effectively requires a specific skill set. You need to be a very good listener and really hear what your customer is saying. You also need to be sincere – how many times have you heard pre-rehearsed closes that just turn you off? You can practice your close but when you are in front of a potential customer make sure that you can close based on what your customer just told you, what you heard, and what you believe you can deliver – in effect, how will you fulfill your customer’s needs more effectively than other suppliers?

To be successful in business, you need to either be successful at selling or be able to hire a great sales person because no matter what you have to sell (product, service, idea or something else), you will have to sell it to someone. Learning how to sell effectively is possible but you need to enjoy it. If you dread the idea of selling, don’t do it (your customers can perceive your discomfort and you will find it even harder to make the sale). Hire someone who loves to sell to do it for you (you can hire an employee, or sales agent, or contract worker, or broker but it is likely that employees will be most committed to you and your business). Customers and potential customers will resist buying from someone who isn’t comfortable with the sales process, and while you might get some orders, hiring someone who is good at selling will free you up to do what you’re good at… a much more effective use of your time and resources.

Overcome the challenge of developing small business sales skills:

  • learn to focus on developing a marketing mix promotion that includes building service or product differentiation and positioning features and benefits that help you to increase sales successfully;
  • learn to build an effective sales plan and use software and business process tools to help you manage the plan;
  • make sure you develop strong negotiating and closing skills and
  • learn how to manage your own efforts, or the efforts of others.

Learning how to sell effectively is of critical importance to your small business sales growth; and just as important is recognizing when to hire someone to do the selling for you.