Let’s face it, marketing a small business can be tough.
Especially if you’re trying to do it online.
If you are sick of struggling to make internet marketing work for you then read on to discover 2 simple marketing changes that you can do that will actually work.
But first let’s take a quick look back at how traditional marketing has changed since the “Inter-web” came along and missed things up…
“Remember When the Yellow Pages Ruled Business Marketing?”
As little as a 10 – 15 years ago, most local companies could still successfully reach out to our customers by:
- Placing an ad in the Yellow Pages of our local phone book,
- Having weekly ads in the hometown newspaper or shopper,
- Getting a nice write-up in a regional or trade magazine,
- Putting commercials on local radio or television station,
- Or (if you had a wad of cash) traveling to regional trade shows and conferences for demos and networking,
Well, it’s no longer business marketing as usual…
As you know, the Internet has had a profound effect on the way that people communicate and interact with each other.
This is has been especially true when it comes to how your customers and clients deal with your small business.
How marketing a small business has changed…
The web has permanently altered the way that consumers look for local products and services.
With the widespread use of smartphones and tablets, now 85% of all Americans begin their local shopping experiences online.
The big-time industry watchers call these folks “cross-channel shoppers”. You and me just call them “customers”.
“The term cross-channel describes the experience of a customer who has used a combination of several different channels for the same purchase.
For example, a customer prints a product configuration on a company’s website and then goes in-store to make the purchase.
A customer may also choose the product he or she wants to purchase from a company’s catalogue, and then buy the product directly on the company’s website.”
This means your customers have come to expect to find your company online.
People want to use the internet to find what they want. And they want to have multiple ways to buy stuff.
Of course, most people understand that there is HUGE difference between your small shop’s website, versus an online shopping mega-site from a big brand chain…
…HOWEVER, if they don’t find your website listed in their search engine results (Google), then they probably won’t give your local business a second thought or a second chance.
Nowadays people find it much more convenient to “lurk and learn” about your company online before they call or go by your place of business.
‘Buy Local’ Now Starts Online
In fact, it’s more important now than ever that you use a website for marketing your small business.
Let’s use a real world example: say that a woman named Jill is very interested in knitting, crocheting and in other fiber or yarn arts.
Jill wants to buy some organic and naturally dyed yarn to make a sweater for a new baby in her family (she just got a picture from her favorite niece in Facebook today.)
So instead of using the Yellow Pages or driving aimlessly around town, Jill starts her search for yarn using a search engine.
She types in “yarn shops” plus the name of her local town or city or she just starts Googling “yarn shops near me”.
This means, if you are a yarn shop owner, you NEED to be sure of three things:
- Your website appears in Jill’s search results for local “yarn shops”,
- That she can quickly find the information she wants (that you sell organic, naturally dyed yarns),
- And that she can find your store hours, contact info and directions on how to get there.
This is important, because studies have shown that 34% to 50% of shoppers who visit a business website will make a purchase from that company – within 1 to 5 days!
So, it’s not an exaggeration to say that as a small business owner, if you don’t understand how to use your website properly to promote yourself, you are in real danger of leaving new business (and a lot of money) on the table.
2 Marketing Changes Your Small Business Needs to Make Now
Change #1 – Build a blog that attracts attention
Okay I know blogging has gotten a bad rep lately. But as a small business person, you have to understand that ‘blogging for business’ is a very different thing than what most so-called professional bloggers do.
Business blogging or blogging for business is all about marketing. And marketing is about expanding your business (getting more leads, more customers)
It is not about bragging on your business or becoming “slightly famous” online, as one wannabe social media “celebrity” once told me, she was.
She might have been, but as near as I could tell, it wasn’t helping her move her artwork any faster or better.
Blogging to drive customers to your website is basically a 2-step process: create valuable, in-demand content then take the time to promote that content to attract attention.
Doing nothing to freak out about. It is really simple stuff. Seriously.
I’ll show you… Just take a moment remember.
Remember the last time, you sat down at your computer or pulled up your tablet or smartphone to search for something online.
You probably either used Google, Bing or some other search engine to initially find the information you wanted to know about a problem or question you might have had.
Maybe you even used a “hidden” search engine like the search box on Amazon or eBay or on a trade publication’s forum…
…Whatever you did to find what you wanted. Now think back what did you want to know?
- What is the problem with my ___________? What caused it?
- How can I fix it? What is the solution? How does it works?
- How much does it cost to fix?
- Why is the cost so cheap? Why is the cost so HIGH?
- Can the person at the website/blog/forum/discussion group really help me?
- Why should I listen to him/her?
- Why buy this? Why not that?
- Why should I buy it now and not later?
- What can I expect? And when should I expect?
- Is this the truth or is this whole thing a lie to get my money?
As you can see much of what you were probably searching for online was answers to your questions and advice (what do I need to do next?).
To create what I call in-demand content – content that answers consumer questions and solves problems is easy. Just put yourself in the shoes of your web visitors and just give them the answers you would like to know.
And you can also give them any shortcuts to fixing those minor hiccups that you know drive your other customers nuts.
Just be the helpful friendly expert whose not afraid to answer questions and who is willing do them a favor!
That is why I believe that creating problem solving content is a great way to showcase your expertise with potential customers – after all how many of your competitors actually answer people’s questions online?
This value-added content also seamlessly engages people’s attention, and keeps them interested and clicking around on your website long enough for them to get to know, like and trust enough to buy your stuff.
Change #2 – Promote your in-demand content
Now the second part of our 2-step process is promoting the content you just created. No matter how good or valuable your content is to get attention from search engines like Google and from potential customers, it has to be visible online.
To be visible online, you have to get external links (of some kind) pointing back your web content or less Google or your customers will never “see” it.
This is where the SEO services can charge you an arm or an leg – link building. In fact, my first web marketing job was with a local affiliate marketing company near my home town.
And that is was one of my main jobs: coordinate with the “article posters” (link builders) on how to make sure that they were building links back to the right websites and the right affiliate URLs.
The way the business owner wanted it done, it was spammy as hell.
His methods frequently got our “money” websites (both his and his clients) banned or delisted from Google’s search indexes all the damn time. I knew even then link building that way just plain dumb.
Now link building doesn’t have to be spammy or risky. All you have to do is three things to let Google know that your new content is available.
- Create a checklist or cheat sheet based on your content. Frankly, I don’t understand why this works, but most people, myself included LOVE these things. But the same people who won’t read your blog post for free will gleefully trade you their email in order to get a ‘shortened’ version as checklist or cheat sheet.
- Send an email blast or announcement out to your subscribers. Even with a itty-bitty, teeny-tiny list, if your content is any good, several people will share a link to it through their email or social media network. Especially if you offer the companion checklist or cheat sheet! Why push when your fans can do it for you?
- Post a link to it on your social media accounts. You don’t have to do this manually anymore. Many email services now will simultaneously post your email blast to your Facebook and Twitter accounts auto-magically.
- Reach out to an influencer. An influencer is someone who is well-known (usually online) who has access to a much bigger email list or blog audience than you do. Lots of people have done well using this technique. I’m been told you simply contact the person online (email, private message) and tell them that you have an article they might be interested in.
NOTE: As a nerdy introvert, I have not had good with this one because I loathe introducing myself to strangers.
- Write an online press release. Now this is isn’t free. The service I use cost $39 a release. But this is good way to get the word out and let Google see that you have gotten some quick links back to your site. The catch with this is technique while Google has discredited online press releases as reputable link sources, it knows spammy marketers post electronic releases all the time. I recommend that you post only when you have news that people can use…new checklists or cheat sheets.
- Use multimedia to syndicate your content even further. If you are more geeky, you can always repurpose your articles, checklists or cheat sheets and turn them into scripts for MP3 or podcast audio files or as talking points on slides for videos or shareable slideshows. Or add images and post online as memes.
Whew, this was a long post, but I wanted to let you know everything you needed in order to make these 2 simples changes and increase your website traffic quickly.