Tag Archives: Small Business Marketing

Connect with Your Inner Marketer – Learn to Pitch to Media

Action Beats Intention

Ready for growth? Slow down for a moment and think about what your company does best:

  • What are customers asking for?
  • What do they appreciate most?
  • Who are they?
  • Where do they hang out?
  • What’s hot right now in your industry?
  • Can you pitch to media?

Once you have the answers determine which channels will be best to  broadcast your message and reach your target audience. Online, print, conferences, tv, radio, social media, blogs, e-newsletters? Do you have media contacts?  Is your service or product available in a small geographical area, do you sell throughout your state or internationally?

As much as we’d like to offer a step by step marketing formula for you to follow, all business marketing solutions are different. From retail stores, e-commerce shops, member based nonprofits, trade associations, healthcare, higher education, or service companies, each has a unique selling proposition. A thorough understanding of your business and your market is critical to discern the best  approach and components for a successful PR, advertising or marketing campaign to bring positive results. If you can take the time to connect with your inner marketer you will have the answers you need to put a plan in place customized for you.r business.

What is your company doing currently and what has worked in the past? Although internet marketing. social media, email marketing, and cable tv has changed the marketing  and PR landscape, traditional media such as tv and radio can still be effective for many industries. Combining traditional and non-traditional marketing channels with advertising and PR, can help you reach multiple markets all the while keeping your brand messaging consistent.

Regardless of your budget and your goals adopting integrative marketing practices is the best approach for small business marketing campaigns. By coordinating different promotional methods that reinforce each other, your marketing objectives can be achieved. For instance, create a targeted email to your contacts and design a website landing page with a strong call to action. Or volunteer to speak at a local event and reach out to media for local radio or tv interviews to increase exposure for the event and your brand.

How do you choose the media channels for your campaign?

One of the best ways to begin, besides working with a marketing firm, is to know where your customers get their information. Another way is to take stock of what your competition is doing. Where are they advertising? Do they have an outside sales force? Are they selling to customers in a unique way? For instance are they offering package purchases or free items, extending credit, etc.? Are they getting interviews in media? Are they filling the radio airways with radio spots? Even if they have a higher budget for marketing and advertising you can adopt some of the marketing methods they utilize to reach your customer just on a lower scale.

Are you a member of a trade association or do you subscribe to industry publications? These are also great resources for learning what similar companies are doing successfully. Keeping current with your industry news can also offer newsworthy tips to pitch to media for free PR.

Another helpful way to choose your approach is to answer the question:  Do you have more time or more money in this stage of your business? If you have more time than money PR may be your best option. If you have a good story to pitch to media and it gets picked up the return can be tremendous.

Not sure how to pitch media? Or are you nervous about being in front of the camera? Check out our favorite media coach, Michigan’s own media goddess Shawne Duperon at ShawneTV.com.  Shawne speaks to groups and offers media mastery bootcamps where you can learn what to do and what not to do when pitching to media. She has cds and programs with Michigan media contacts, on camera tips,  and even tips for make up application for tv spots. Follow Shawne on Twitter or sign up for her email announcements that contain seasonal pitch ideas for a variety of industries.

What is the message you want to pitch?

Determine your marketing goals and determine the next steps to  reach them:

  • If you want to increase sales, do you need to increase your customer pool?
  • Have you added new products or services that could benefit your current customers?
  • If you want to increase brand awareness, what topics are hot right now that relate to your industry? Can you pitch  to media?
  • Are there trade shows, expos or networking events your company can attend or sponsor?
  • What other marketing channels/methods can you integrate for a greater return?
  • Historically what sales and marketing efforts have worked best? (advertising, brochures, etc.)
  • What is your competition doing?

Marketing and media options:

Advertising:

TV, Radio, Magazines, Internet Advertising (Google Adwords, Yahoo, Facebook, Niche Websites/forums, etc.) Billboards, Newspaper and Directory advertising, etc.

Marketing:

Internet marketing, Social Media Marketing, Print Marketing, Direct Mail, Network Marketing, Marketing Research, Market Analysis, Specialty Promotions, etc.

Public Relations (PR):

Press Releases, Writing & Media Distribution, Interview Opportunities, Publicity Campaigns, Consulting and Strategic Planning, Product/Service Launches, Press Kit Creation, Event Publicity and Promotion, Event and Trade show Management, etc

Sometimes you have to dive deep for the answers to all of the questions above but they are always there. If you are having a hard time tapping your inner marketer, take a good customer to lunch and ask them the questions you need to know. Contact us it you need help creating your marketing plans or cleaning up your corporate brand visuals.

Stay connected and pitch to media!

 

Small Business Marketing – 5 Steps Towards Mastering Your Marketing Plans

Set your course!

For the next 12 month I will be posting small business marketing tips and a worksheet will be available to walk you through the exercise. These exercises are taken from our e-book Mastering the Art of Marketing.  Click Here to Receive your FREE 2015 Small Business Marketing Plan Worksheet and Sign up for Connectivity. I chose this formatting so small businesses or solo-preneurs with limited staff and time may be able to take on business branding and marketing in monthly bite size chunks. All of the worksheets relate to small business marketing, branding and advertising for small business growth

Five Steps Towards Mastering Your Small Business Marketing Plans and Editorial Calendar

Following is your first exercise to get you rolling – let’s build a marketing plan! These questions can be answered in short
time by those directly involved in growing your business.

1. What are your business goals for 2015?

Are you adding a new product line, want to increase sales, want to start selling online? Identifying top priorities can help you stay focused. CAUTION: Avoid making everything mission critical! Try to choose one main focus for the year and break it down into bite size chunks. Choosing to increase sales by 35%, plus launch a new product or service, plus expand from a regional company to serving the entire nation is probably too ambitious.

Give yourself time to build on one main focus for the year with obtainable goals.

Write down your top 3 goals on your worksheet.

2. Who is your audience?

Is your product or service available in one region or can you serve the world? Do men relate or only women? What is the age range?

Identify these 3 main demographics and consider more details as you hone in.

  1. Geography
  2. Gender
  3. Generation

3. What is the best method to reach your market?

Where can you find your audience? Snapchat, Linkedin, forums, local expos/events? Right now Tweens are on Instagram and posting Vines, the Senior demographic still love their newspapers, Facebook, and TV’s (with ads included not much tivo-ing happening with this group). Hobbyist frequent Pinterest, specific online forums and discussion groups. Find out where your audience is and get in front of them.

List your top 3 Methods or Media choices on your sheet.

4. Determine your budget – Time and money

How much money and time can be allocated monthly to marketing? How much do you think your competition is spending? Small businesses sometimes believe they have more time than money, but time costs money. If you are not skilled at marketing can you save your time, money, sanity, and reputation by turning it over to a professional? Spend some time on research getting cost estimates for some of the methods you are considering for your company marketing. What is the cost to bring your website current? How much is a radio spot? How much would a brochure or flyer cost? Is there ROI in internet marketing and internet advertising? Make the calls
and get the numbers. If you do have more time than money right now, what do you feel comfortable tackling on your own? Determine what marketing efforts can extend your dollar farthest to keep connected with your customers all year.

List you top 3 Small Business Marketing Elements on your sheet.

5. Commit to Paper – Create a Marketing / Editorial Calendar

Do you have trade shows or annual events you attend or host? Do these require printed invitations, e-vites, advertisements, banners? Focus a few months in advance to get your marketing pieces in order. Think about your monthly marketing. Will you be creating regular blog and social media posts? Save time by creating an editorial calendar with topics to cover each month, plan your discount offers, sales, consider holidays, industry awareness weeks/days,

(Green companies could highlight 2015 as the Year of Light, National Arbor Day, restaurants could announce National
Soup week, etc.)
List the Top 3 Calendar Items on Your Sheet

Good luck!  Remember taking time now to complete this exercise can set your course for the entire year! If you need help contact us. Have questions, post them below, you never know others may have the same question and you will be helping them. COme back next month for another small business marketing worksheet!

Stay connected!

Master the Art of Marketing for Small Business in 2015

Mastering the Art of Marketing for Small Businesses ebook coverBegin 2015 with a clear direction of marketing for small business. Mastering the Art of Marketing is a compilation of marketing and design strategies your small business can implement right away. Explore the workbook on your own or with your team.

Mastering the Art of Marketing is a resource for start-ups and small businesses ready to go to the next level. Each month learn new steps to connect with your target audience.

January: Set Your Course

5 step master plan for your 2015 Small Business marketing –Production, brand manufacturing, service firms, wholesale e-commerce businesses, brick and mortar retail, local bars and restaurants, increase growth opportunity when you have a plan.

February: Practice Kindness

People Helping People: Social Media Connections Transform Your Business – Coaches, authors, professional speakers, real estate agents and service firms begin building on your fan base.

Master the Art of Marketing e-workbook is a 12 step monthly marketing for small business strategy. Start the new year with all the information you need to get the 2015 small business marketing results you want.

Sample Workbook Topics:download button - marekting for small business

• internet marketing for small business
• marketing plans and editorial calendars
• brand marketing and development
• internet advertising

worksheet-page-marekting-for-small-business-mastering-teh-art-fof-marketing

Sample monthly marketing worksheet

The exercises in this e-book have been laid out in the form of a calendar year. We chose this formatting so small businesses or solo-preneurs with limited staff and time may be able to take on business branding and marketing in bite size chunks. We don’t want you to feel overwhelmed and abandon the effort part way through by attempting to complete it all in one day!

We also recognize entrepreneurs are a different breed of animal – which is why we love working with growing small businesses – our jobs are NEVER boring! Because of the unique personality traits and individual style of each business owner we also recognize some of you are not going to follow a designated path. We encourage you to skip around the book and choose the practices that are most important to your small business right now. All of the worksheets relate to marketing for small business, branding and advertising for business growth. There is no set order in which you must follow. Some of you may choose to begin at the end with the worksheet on branding. If you have not already defined your brand promise I would encourage you to do so.

Our hope is that this ebook will help you to begin the new year with goals and plans in place to build your business by delivering the very best product and service in the way your ideal customers want to receive it.

Whether you choose to take it all on at once and begin the new year with plans in place or whether you choose to tackle a worksheet each month throughout the year it is up to you. We have designed the content so you may use this ebook outlining marketing for small business for years to come. Social media platforms and resource links may change but the essence of mastering your marketing for small business will remain the same.

If you find some of the tasks to be burdensome or difficult to complete, please contact us. Connection Group provides all of the services contained in this packet. If you are part way through and just need a nudge of support or if you have decided your efforts are best directed to run your company. Outsourcing the tasks of marketing for small business and all the items involvedis a smarter use of your energy, connect with us today. Connection Group can help you with your corporate branding, graphic design, marketing, web design, and web maintenance.

Download today and attract what you desire for your business in 2015. Be inspired to create relevant marketing for small business that will captivate your ideal customers. All of the best to you as you move forward with the process of your small business marketing.

May 2015 bring peace and prosperity personally and professionally.

Stay connected!

Can A Small Business Blog Increase Website Visits?

computer screen with connection graphics website design with list of blogging basics: • Integrate your blog with your website. • Include tags in your posts. • Include comments on your blog.  • Promote your blog.  • Include share buttons in your blog. Absolutely! A corporate or small business blog is one of the best ways to share information about your products and services, current events and sales promotions or press your organization has received. A happy accident of sharing this information is that your company blog posts add relevant content to your website which offers a better chance of appearing in search engines such as Google and Yahoo. A third benefit is when you add scheduled corporate blog posts your small business website will get higher marks from the search engines because not only is the content relevant, it is current. Relevant plus fresh content equals SEO (search engine optimization) or higher search results.

Not every visitor who comes to your website from a search may result in a phone call or a sale but like all advertising, marketing and sales, it’s a numbers game. The more people who engage with your blog and your corporate website the more likely you will enjoy increased company sales from your blogging. By posting relevant blog content you become the trusted source for your visitors and existing customers for information on your product or industry.

Proactive planning can determine how often you should post a new blog entry

editorial-calendar-graphic-connectiongraphics.comThere really is no on-size-fits-all formula for small business blog posting, anymore than there is a one-size-fits-all marketing plan for small business. It really depends on the goals you have set for your digital marketing. It also depends on how much time you have to feed your blog or the budget to outsource it to an marketing company.

Now, there are success stories about small business blogs that have become income generators in and of themselves.  If your corporate blog attracts 1000’s of daily website visits you may want to plan daily blog posts. However most small business blogs primarily serve as information tools, and as a portal to add relevant website content to increase website visits through SEO. The way Connection Group approaches client blog scheduling is to determine the role of the blog in each small business marketing plan. We recommend creating an editorial calendar for your blog posts. Our e-marketing packages that include blog posting, e-mail newsletters, and social media we develop a monthly plan. For instance if your company hosts an event for small business owners every January all of the content scheduled for the month of January will include information about the event. All of this will be in your editorial calendar. Including your blog updates in a small business editorial calendar helps you know what you will be covering each month and will help keep you on a schedule. Whether you write blog posts daily, weekly, bi-weekly or monthly a plan is a must.

Embrace the power of content on your small business blog

Each blog post should offer insight into your corporate philosophy, industry standards, details on a product or service you offer, or changes that may effect the customer. Seek content that will increase the visitors understanding of the subject. Help your customers make educated choices and purchases. Just as the visitors to your small business blog are researching, be sure to research the content for your corporate blog posts. Research but no stealing! Sharing the most current information available is important just avoid plagiarizing others work.

When you are satisfied with the information you have written for your blog post, add an image. Statistics from 3M corporation and Zabisco state that 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are transmitted to the brain 60,000 times faster than text! Increase your website visits by using original graphic designs, photos or videos to connect and engage with your audience. Select only images that that are free from copyright. See the article in our e-newsletter about copyright issues and images.

Your blog is posted – Now, how do you increase your website visits?

integrate your blog with your website  blog and navigationIntegrate your blog with your website
The first step is to make sure your small business blog  part of your corporate website, not a separate page. There are many free blogging software options available and it is very easy to tie them into your existing small business website. Contact your web design and development company to create a seamless integration of your blog and corporate site. The biggest benefit is if you have a visitor to your blog, in the eyes of search engine tracking, you have just increased website visits. Other benefits are a custom designed blog will be consistent with your corporate brand and your complete website user interface is built into the blog so the visitor can easily click over to other website pages.

Include tags in your posts. Tags help people find your information more easily when they are searching the web. For instance for this blog entry on our website I would include small business blog, and small business website design and development as tags. Because we offer those services and those services are discussed in this blog adding them as tags show our website and our blog are relevant when people search for small business blog or small business website design and development. When visitors click on a tag in our posts they will see a list of previous posts that relate to those subjects.

Include comments on your blog. Comments show that you are open to feedback, good or bad. Allowing comments on your blog shows your visitors that you want to communicate with your customers. Comments may also help you determine what your visitors are looking for, give you ideas for future articles, and  comments may use keywords that will come up in searches too. Do make sure you moderate your comments though! Even with strong spam filters blogs are petri dishes for spam – check them regularly. We set up our comments to be pre-approved prior to posting just for this reason. As visitors begin to interact with comments you will build a community and advocates for your brand on and offline.

share buttons for blogInclude share buttons in your blog. Make it easy for viewers to share your website content. One share from a high ranking social media influencer can increase website visits astronomically. The ability to share across social media and email is how videos and blog entries go viral – this is an easy way small business blogs can get noticed.

Promote your blog. When you have posted a new blog entry promote your blog in all your marketing outposts. Social media is a great platform to share your blog posts, twitter, Facebook business pages, Linkedin profiles and industry specific groups and social media channels get the information to targeted groups. Include your blog link in your email signature and add a snippet of your current blog posts to your email newsletters.

Are you a small business who doesn’t have time to blog?

Connection Group understands that small businesses are limited with time and resources to implement all the marketing components that will help build their corporate brands and increase website traffic. We have developed a variety of e-marketing packages to suit the variety of requests our customers need. We’re here to help you build connections and reach your target audience – if you just need a monthly blog entry, a combination of e- mail marketing, social media and blog management we have monthly packages that will suit your small businesses goals and budget. We offer a free half hour consultation to discuss what digital marketing elements will fit you best.

Give us a call or shoot us an email today. We appreciate feedback on our blog content and encourage additional insights readers can share to help other visitors learn more. Please add your comments or questions below.

Stay connected!

The Goal for Your Small Business Marketing is to Connect

authentic marketing imagesThere are so many blog entries, emails and webinars titled “The top 10 Things To Do To Market Your Business “. We have posted or shared a few in social media ourselves. It’s a catchy title that does well with search engines and covers some general steps important to all small business marketing.

The articles declare ‘You must post the exact amount of recommended Facebook posts each day, you must use an animal in your logo, you must create YouTube videos till the break of dawn, you must kiss every baby…’ because that is what the most popular marketing guru of today said you should do.

There really is no one-size-fits-all marketing plan for any business. Will a turquoise tupperware cereal bowl look good in all of our kitchens? No, and tupperware knows this, so they offer web and print catalogs to see other colors and size options to suit the need of each customer. Each industry, including marketing, serves the client best when it is personally customized to fit the true need.

The best small business marketing methods are authentic, sustainable, and focused.

Understanding these three concepts will help you reach your small business marketing goals plus save you time and money. Instead of clothing yourself in someone else’s wardrobe, do your homework and determine what will suit you and your customer best for the long term.

Create an authentic small business marketing message by being yourself

  • Can you add humor to a technical demonstration to help people understand it better?
  • Do you work best with people one on one? Set up individual appointments instead of group meetings
  • Are you an energetic people person? Networking groups will be a great place to start making connections
  • Are you a natural teacher? Seminars or webinars can demonstrate your skill and desire to help others.

Establish sustainable small business marketing practices

  • Don’t make promises or claims you can’t keep. The most valuable customer is the repeat customer. Your company and your product or service needs to deliver on your promise.
  • Be realistic, how much time do you have to do marketing tasks each month? Can you handle 10 social media posts each day or attend all the meet and greets in town, every month?
  • Look closely at your budget. Do you have $200 dollars to allocate to your monthly marketing or $2000? A budget spread out each month throughout the year to build consistency in key media will show a greater return than spending a large chunk for a one time promotion.

Your communications are focused and connected

  • Start with a plan, don’t throw ideas at the wall to see what sticks, take time to develop a small business marketing plan that can be updated each year
  • All small business marketing materials are presented with constant brand messaging
  • Determine results, review reports, remember to ask new customers how they heard about your company.

Your small business marketing needs to stand out from the mlieu to compete with large big box stores, and large corporations. The best news is small businesses have the advantage to make personal connections with your customers and develop brands that are that are sustainable and profitable.

Stay connected!

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