0844 324 8440
Comments : 0
Step 5 – Choosing your Marketing Tactics
Today, the internet represents a fantastic opportunity for small businesses to compete with larger organisations, so we will start this section on Marketing Tactics by looking at the different ways your small business can utilise the internet as a marketing tool.
Promote yourself through your own website.
Most small businesses will be looking to have their own website which they can use to promote their products and services to prospective customers searching the internet. A website can be your complete online sales tool, an opportunity to sell your products and services, but also to prove your businesses expertise and experience in a particular market.
What should my small business website include?
Your website should contain specific information about your business; what you do, how long you have been trading, how you are different to the competition. Furthermore, you should ensure information about your location, company number and certainly contact details are easily accessible to prove to visitors that you are a real business that actually exists.
Product or Service Information
In addition to the general information about your company you will need to have a page about each product or service you offer. Most businesses make the mistake of simply listing the features of their products or services but this is simply not sufficient. Instead, tell your prospective customers why your product or service is different (your USP), how it will solve their problem and how the benefits of the product / service will make their life easier. Customers don’t want to know that your product uses the very latest technology; most don’t care they just want to know how it will benefit them.
Also, don’t forget to include a call to action; this simply means giving the customer a simple next step if they are interested. Provide a contact telephone number or have an online form where they can either order your product or service or request more information. Make sure you tell them exactly what to do, don’t assume they know. For example…’For a personalised quote please call us on 0800 *** *** or complete our online enquiry form below’.
Testimonials / References
Include testimonials and references from existing customers on your website and you will instantly build credibility and provide proof of the quality of your products or services.
Articles / Blog
By writing and publishing articles on your product or service, or by keeping a regular blog, you can prove to potential customers that your company really is an expert in the field and a leader in the marketplace.
Here you can include specific details of the projects your business has undertaken and the results it obtained for your customers. This is another great way to prove your expertise and experience.
If you decide to have your own website, be sure to register a professional domain name rather than opting for a free domain name (i.e. joebloggs.geocities.com); real businesses don’t use free domain names so you shouldn’t either. Domain names are relatively cheap (a .co.uk domain is around £8 for two years) and can be registered at any domain registrar, a few examples can be seen below:
If you are looking for a professional website that’s affordable for contractors / freelancers, Brand Box Marketing provides a professional website design service that costs just £59 a month, without any upfront cost. This provides you with your own bespoke website, website hosting and a content management system that allows you to change the content on your website whenever you want and without any technical knowledge.
Promoting you and your website through the Search Engines
Most methods of marketing via the internet are centred around search engines and the use of ‘keywords’, these are the words people enter into search boxes (like Google) when they are looking for something.
Do your Keyword Research
Your prospective customers will use specific keywords when searching for goods and services online. For this reason it is vitally important to do your research and identify what these keywords are so that you can start to target them with your advert / website etc.
To help you decide which keywords you should be targeting, put yourself in the place of the customer and consider what words they might use to describe the product or service you offer. The more specific you can be the better…think about some of the following:
The different names they may use for a product or service
Brand names and model names they may search for
The location – the customer may want to find a local supplier in which case they might include a town or city in the search term (i.e. red widgets London)
Typical misspelling of your product or service – this is often a missed opportunity for businesses to capture customers who have misspelled or simply mistyped a word.
Once you’ve done your research and you know what these keywords are, you can then ensure your advertisement or website gets in front of your target audience. Let’s now take a few minutes to look at two methods of marketing yourself via the search engines.
Google AdWords Advertising (Pay-per-click Advertising)
Arguably the quickest and easiest method of advertising online is to use Google’s Advertising platform, Google AdWords. Google AdWords allows you to place an advert on the Google search results page when someone searches for specific keywords that you have chosen. For example, if you want to advertise your services to customers looking to hire a bouncy castle for a children’s party, then Google would display your advert when someone searches for ‘bouncy castle hire’ or ‘hire a bouncy castle’.
The great thing about Google Advertising is that you only pay when someone clicks on your advert (hence the term Pay-Per-Click advertising) and goes to your website. The trick to using Google Advertising successfully is to ensure that (1) you target the correct keywords and (2) your landing page (the page on your website that the user goes to after clicking your advert) generates interest and encourages the visitor to take some action (i.e. pick up the phone to call you or fill out an enquiry form).
Your landing page must convey concisely how your product or service is different (your unique selling point) and explain why your business is the obvious choice. In short, after reading your landing page the visitor should be confident enough that your company is the right choice to pick up the phone and call you.
To find out more about Google AdWords advertising visit http://www.google.co.uk/adwords. There are similar search engine advertising opportunities offered by Bing and Yahoo, which whilst relatively small in reach compared to Google AdWords, are still worth exploring. Details for these can be found at:
Yahoo – https://advertising.yahoo.com/
You will need to set aside a monthly budget to cover your Google Advertising. Please be aware that competitive search terms can be more expensive to advertise on, so ensure that you check the estimated bid prices before starting your advertising campaign. You can, however, set a monthly budget to ensure you don’t overspend.
Search Engine Optimisation
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the process of improving the visibility of your website or a web page in the search engines via the “natural” search results. In Google (and most other search engines), the natural search results are those that can be found on the left hand side of the page and are those NOT marked as ‘Sponsored Links’.
Search Engine optimisation is a very complex subject and far more time consuming than Google AdWords Advertising. However, get it right and you really can reap the benefits of a continual flow of potential customers visiting your website, all free of charge!
So, what do you need to do in order to get your website to rank well in the search engines for your chosen keywords? In truth, unless you already have a level of understanding of SEO or have a significant amount of time to invest in learning about SEO, then you will probably need to employ the services of a search engine optimisation consultant or company. Ask around your network of contacts and someone may know or may have used an SEO company before that they can recommend.
Marketing via Email
This is possibly one of the most underused marketing tools in the contractors’ arsenal, but ironically can be one of the most effective in securing new customers.
Email marketing provides a means to constantly market to your prospects and existing customers. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a fancy graphical email, it could simply be a plain text e mail that goes out to all your contacts on a regular basis informing them of your latest offers and new products or services.
Through continual email communication you can build strong relationships and trust with your prospects and customers, and by staying at the forefront of their minds you’ll be the first person they call when they are ready to buy.
60 Day Free Email Marketing Trial.
To simplify your email marketing you can use an online provider such as Constant Contact to manage everything for you. Constant Contact is currently offering a free 60 day trial of their email marketing service – visit www.constantcontact.com for more details.
Social networking has become an essential part of online marketing and can be particularly useful for small businesses looking to build trust and strong relationships with their target market. Let’s take a look at some examples of Social Networking.
Blogging is a tool that shows your customers and prospects that you understand your industry, and that you are a thought leader providing insights and information. Your blog can also provide a meaningful platform for you and your customers to engage in meaningful dialog that builds trust and will ultimately lead to you being rewarded with their custom. Furthermore, publishing a regular blog will help improve your search engine rankings.
Micro-Blogging (i.e Twitter)
The best and most widely used example of micro-blogging is Twitter. This involves the use of short bursts of 140 character insights that can be an incredibly effective way to engage your customers and prospects. Bite size informative and interesting content will grab their attention every time. Be warned though, you should NOT use social networks like twitter to actively sell, instead use it to build relationships and trust with your prospects and ultimately you will find this leads to new customers. For more information please visit www.twitter.com.
Social Networks like Linked In and Facebook are now used extensively by consumers to engage with their friends and families. In marketing, these places are referred to as “watering holes”; a place where like minded people gather to discuss something in common, in this case your products or services. As we know ‘word of mouth’ or ‘recommendations’ from others is the most powerful form of advertising for any business, therefore as a small business you should embrace these social networks and use them to build a good reputation for your business in the social marketplace.
For more information and to create your free account please visit the following websites:
Your Email Signature – Marketing on autopilot!
This is a simple marketing tactic but one that most people fail to take advantage of. We send lots of emails on a daily basis so why not fully utilise your opportunity to promote your small business via your email signature? Setup a signature template and then you’re important information will be appended to every email you send automatically.
Does your current email signature include?
Your website address
Your Facebook page address
Your Twitter address
Your Linked In Profile address
If not, then it should. Create your email signature today and make it easy for your potential customers to engage with you.