How to Promote Your New BusinessLinda Jenkins, April 10 2014
Looking for creative ways to find more customers? Knowing how to promote your business is critical to its success. After all, a business does not succeed by creating great products—it succeeds by selling great products. Here are some common marketing strategies that have proven successful for many business owners:
Try these other effective marketing strategies:
Start Your Own Affiliate Program
Imagine having an army of helpers all advertising your business for you, and they only expect a monetary reward when they refer a sale. That is the beauty of running your own affiliate program. In our opinion, this is the most cost effective way to market any business with an online presence. Merchants using this strategy report a return on investment of $10 for every $1 invested, or better! Having your own affiliate program also solves the online marketing problem of needing backlinks, since your affiliates will naturally link to your site to promote it. Once you have a product or service with proven sales, it pays to use this method. Learn more about how LeadDyno works (the affiliate tracking software we use) for an easy solution with all the built-in tools you will ever need.
Create and Optimize Your Business Website
Many people find the prospect of creating a website intimidating, but with today’s tools, almost anyone can create a respectable website in minutes. We highly recommend using Shopify, the web platform this site is built on. Shopify can help you create your own business website with built-in ecommerce platforms so you can sell products online. Read more about why we think you should be Using Shopify for Your Online Store.
Already have a website, but not getting enough natural traffic? Whether you launched your site yesterday, or have an ecommerce site that has been online for years, it may not be optimized for maximum traffic. Make sure you use these optimization tools so potential customers have the best chance at finding your site:
- One of the most important criteria for getting natural traffic is a fast-loading site. Test how fast key pages are loading with Google PageSpeed Insights and get tips for improving load time.
- Maintiaining a search engine-friendly and error-free site is important to your ability to rank high for keywords and phrases. Use Screaming Frog software to search for broken links, errors, duplicate pages, missing tags and many other problems that could be holding you back.
- Are you using http or https? Search engines are giving preference to encrypted sites since they are generally safer for website visitors. Once you switch to https, be sure to test your site using JitBit to avoid undetected security errors.
- Is your site following Google’s guidelines? If not, you could get a penalty or risk having your site removed from the search engine. Use Varvy to test for compliance with Google.
- What keywords does your site rank for? Are you gaining or losing ground? What keywords are your competitors using? Use SEMrush to test for SEO competitive data.
One of the most cost effective ways to drive converting traffic to your website or other offer is through video marketing. Whether you post to YouTube or produce your own independent videos, search engines love this content, and so do visitors. In fact, major retailers state that 90% of visitors find viewing video helpful to their buying decisions.
More than 30 percent of people use social media at work, and many more use social media during leisure time. Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and other social networking sites are an excellent means of promoting your business, but to be successful, you should develop a social media strategy.
Posting on social networks is a science as well as an art. Studies show that each network is most popular during a particular time frame. It’s best to post on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest from one in the afternoon until three or four PST, while Google+ is most popular both in the morning beginning at nine am and in the early evening beginning at six pm.
Facebook has made many helpful metrics public. Facebook claims that posts containing pictures, videos or photo albums receive between 100 percent and 180 percent more engagement than posts that contain nothing more than words. If you’re going to create posts that contain pure text, they’ll be most effective if they’re between 100 and 250 characters—text posts that fit these parameters receive 60 percent more likes, shares, and comments. View these Facebook advertising success stories for inspiration on using this type of marketing.
Of course, there are many social networks that are less well known than Facebook and Twitter. Take advantage of these—it’s often easier to garner attention on newer and less-established sites. For example, Vine is a popular service that many companies have yet to utilize in their marketing efforts. It offers users the chance to make, post and view six-second videos using a cellular phone. Instagram, another popular network, offers more than 100 million users the chance to make and view videos of up to 15 seconds. Instagram also allows users to post and view square-shaped photos.
Because there are so many different social networks, some small business owners use social media management tools. These tools allow you to manage Facebook, Google+, Twitter and other sites from within a single place—allowing you to log in only once before posting to each network. Buffer, for example, allows you to schedule posts to appear on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and App.net accounts from its website at Buffer.com.
Coupon marketing can offer an excellent value for the money. For example, Valpak claims that 90 percent of those who receive its mailings look at its coupons, and that its users have higher than average incomes. Valpak also offers cellphone apps that allow potential customers to access ads from a cellphone or tablet. Some of its customers have even signed up to receive SMS text messages, offering businesses another avenue for advertisers.
A number of firms specialize in providing business owners with lists of potential customers. Experian, which is perhaps better known for providing credit scores, also offers small businesses lists of potential business leads. Leads provided by Experian are custom-tailored for your business and are based on the profile of your current customers.
USAData and D&B (sometimes known as Dunn & Bradstreet) also provide sales leads for small businesses. They maintain lists of potential customers together with detailed information about each potential customer. For example, you can sort through potential leads by gender, ethnicity, and whether the lead owns or rents his home. If you’re interested in selling to other businesses, you can select businesses that have a certain number of employees or a particular sales volume.
Small businesses have used mail to promote their products for decades, and with reason: direct mail works. It’s easy to ignore an online ad, but when a letter comes in the mail, many people feel compelled to open it. Some businesses create direct mailing campaigns using websites that provide beginning-to-end direct mailing services. These services are remarkably fast and efficient: some can create and mail up to 1 million pieces in as little as five to eight days! Some direct mail companies provide everything from an address list to printing, addressing and mailing services.
You can use numerous techniques to increase your success rate. For example, hand-addressed letters are opened more often than those with printed addresses. For this reason, there are even companies that will address thousands of envelopes by hand! To learn more about effective direct mail ads, check out Thankbot.
In the internet era, it’s easy to make the mistake of overlooking telephone directories like the Yellow Pages. However, many people still rely on the humble telephone book. Note that this method can be pricy in a big city—it can cost tens of thousands of dollars to take out an ad in the Yellow pages in a large city, though it can cost only a few hundred dollars in a smaller area. You can also list your business in the online version at yp.com.
Marketing Your Small Business Locally...
In an age where local newspaper advertising is becoming less and less effective, it can seem impossible to market your small business without spending a fortune for one new customer. Local business marketing has not disappeared; it has simply changed. Small business owners who can keep up with the changes will be successful. Not only has it become more cost effective to reach your customers locally, it is also much easier than you make think. To get you started on the path to small business marketing success, here are three ways to market your business locally:
Create a Google My Business Listing
When in need, your customers are searching Google for the answers. Make sure your business shows up as one of the first local businesses that can satisfy their needs. Create a listing for your small business by visiting My Business. You’ll be asked to input information about your small business like address, phone number and website. Once you have your listing up and running, your customers will be able to quickly and easily find you online.
Build Partnerships with Complementary Businesses
Referrals are what drive small business. By building a partnership with other complementary businesses in your area, you’ll be able to double or triple your marketing efforts without any extra work. Start by contacting three to five other local businesses and offer to cross-promote their business if they do the same for you. This could be as simple as setting a stack of business cards at your checkout counter. If you really want this to be a successful relationship, create a special promotion for business and share it on the business card. Even though this will be additional work upfront, you’ll be able to recognize when a referral customer comes into your store.
Join a Local Business Networking Group
Networking is fundamental to your success as a local business owner. There is nothing more important than connecting with other small business owners in your area. Not only will you be able to share ideas, but you’ll also be able to form relationships and alliances. Who knows when you might need to know a printing company in your area or a florist down the street! Many towns have a local Chamber of Commerce, which could be a great place to start your networking. Call your local organization and ask to sit in on a meeting before you decide to become a member. Take note of the other businesses that are members and the meeting agenda. Note that local country clubs and athletic clubs are also a great social source for meeting and networking with local business owners.
Be sure to also read our post on Mobile Marketing for more tips.
After you’ve checked these marketing ideas off your list, don’t stop. Move onto conquering other ways to market your small business.