Tag Archives: marketing

Why Article Marketing is Great for Generating Leads

article-marketingLong before the internet rose to its position of importance in marketing, the use of article marketing was considered a useful promotion tool in print media.  Today, the availability of online venues such as websites, ezines and newsletters via email have created an even greater need for well-written articles on a variety of topics.  As a result, article marketing has become a more powerful tool than ever before.

Article marketing is the practice of providing well-written content for distribution to websites and epublishers in exchange for a blurb about the author’s business and contact information.  These “bios” usually include a link to the business owner’s website.

When a business owner offers content for publication, it is equivalent to getting free ad space on countless websites worldwide.  The opportunity for exposure to the right market is significant, while the cost is virtually nil, making it a highly efficient means of business communication.

Unlike using email campaigns for lead generation, which net about a one percent response rate, article marketing targets a willing audience.  Readers either voluntarily visited the website on which the article is published, or have opted in to receive the newsletter or ezine.  This audience is inherently more open to the information contained in the article, and therefore more likely to follow the link to the author’s website to learn more.

Publishers who pick up the articles already have an audience of potential buyers in place.  Readers are interested in the content of the articles, suggesting they may be in the market to purchase products or services related to that content.  By comparison, the cost to purchase a list of such well-qualified leads would be formidable.  Providing an article costs no more than the investment of the time required to write it.

Business owners can further increase the conversion rate by including a link to a particular piece of information in the author’s bio.  Rather than linking to the home page, authors can include a link to an article on their own site that elaborates on the article topic.  Readers will be more likely to seek out additional specific information.

Conversion rates can be improved further by publishing an email address that readers can use to subscribe to the author’s newsletter or website.  Making the desired action as easy as possible increases the reader’s likelihood of doing so.  An auto-response can then be sent to new signa links to specific features of the author’s website.

Providing content to publishers in related fields can be a highly cost-effective means of increasing website traffic, generating qualified leads, and improving both brand awareness and ultimately, sales.

julianne-wish-avatar15Julianne Alvarez-Wish is a military wife, mother, homeschooling mom, business owner, professional writer, blogger, nature photographer and legislative advocate. She is the Colorado State Leader for the National Association for Moms in Business and the owner of The Wish Place. She is the Colorado Springs Stay-at-Home Mom Examiner for Examiner.com. She also blogs at A Wishful Thought. Her passion, purpose and goal is to help parents work from home so they can be home with their children.

Marketing Dos and Don’ts

dos and dontsWhat is worse than not marketing your website?  It is getting bad backlash from doing the wrong thing.  At least if you aren’t marketing you still have the opportunity to do so.  When you are getting a bad rap, people may avoid you like the plague.  Here are some marketing do’s and don’ts to keep in mind as you go forward from this point.

DOs

1.  Keep the name of your website short and to the point.  When it comes to reading something on the Internet, shorter is better.  People lose interest quickly and a long name will not be catchy enough to stay on their minds for very long.  This is a business that you want to keep going for a long time.  Choose your words carefully.

2.  Use your signature line in forums and on emails.  The signature line is not just for your name anymore.  Include the name of your business, a brief description of what it is about, and the website link to find your main business page.  Be sure to check with the forum administrators to find out what you can and can’t do as far as trying to get free advertising.

3.  Do advertise offline to the local community.  The local community is another sphere of influence that will help the word spread about your business.  If money is an issue, advertise in church directories, newsletters, advertising books for special events, and the word of mouth method.  Talking to people in the beauty shop, barber shop, church, and the Rotary Club meeting can earn you hundreds more visitors to the site.

4.  Learn all that you can about search engine optimization.  The idea is to be ranked somewhere on the first page of search results for as many search engines as you can.  Most people only look on the first page because they assume correctly that they are the best places to find the information needed.

DON’Ts

1.  If you ignore the rules of posting information about your business on forums, they will boot you out.  This type of blatant solicitation is prohibited on most forums.  They let you use your signature line but adhere to the rules of what you can say.

2.  Adding a lot of extra frills to your website page will not make it more attractive to the search engines.  People who visit may like the bells and whistles but they won’t find you to admire them if you are consistently placed low in the page rankings.

3. Take a long time to respond to customer service issues.  When customers send you email about a broken product or have a question, answer promptly.  If you do not they will tell everyone that they know about your rotten service.  That type of word of mouth marketing you can do without.

Marketing strategies will either help or hurt you.  It takes time to see what works best so try as many as you can.  Remember that the object is to attract customers, not anger them.

julianne-wish-avatar15Julianne Alvarez-Wish is a military wife, mother, homeschooling mom, business owner, professional writer, blogger and legislative advocate. She is the Colorado State Leader for the National Association for Moms in Business and the owner of The Wish Place. She is the Colorado Springs Stay-at-Home Mom Examiner for Examiner.com. She also blogs at A Wishful Thought. Her passion, purpose and goal is to help parents work from home so they can be home with their children.

Paid Advertising Versus Free Advertising

advertisingAdvertising can be a very big topic among small business owners.  It is not uncommon for small business owners to feel a little lost when it comes to advertising.  There are so many choices out there that it can be a little confusing when trying to figure out the best advertising options.

Some business owners may feel that paid advertising will be their best option and seek out those choices.  Others may be on a small budget that does not allow for much paid advertising.  Because of this, they turn to free advertising.

Each group may be wondering if they are making the right choice and if they should keep doing what they are doing.  In this article we will talk about the differences between the two types of advertising and give you the pros and cons of each.

Paid advertising includes things such as ads in magazines, newspapers, on websites, blogs, ezines, pay-per-clicks and so forth.  The benefit is, of course, the exposure that paid advertising can bring.  Unfortunately, the cost of these ads can get expensive, especially if the ad will be seen by a large audience.

Free advertising includes things such as social networking, commenting on blogs, article distribution, sending out press releases, posting on forums, and so forth.  The main benefit of free advertising is that a business can receive a lot of exposure without paying out of pocket.

On the other hand, it can take up a lot of time to actively participate in free advertising and it is hard to say if it will bring in the exposure the business is hoping for.  Sometimes a business can get lucky and their free ad will generate lots of traffic, but that isn’t something a business should depend on.

While some business owners may think they need to decide between the two, a third option is take part in a little of both types.  A business owner can set a dollar budget for paid advertising and a time budget for free advertising.

By doing a little of both, the business owner has the potential for increased exposure while staying on a fixed budget.

The website’s statistics program will help the business owner stay on top of where their traffic is coming from and help them decide where to continue investing their time and money.

Another option is to use an ad tracking system, which will automatically track the each of your ad’s clicks and conversion rates.

Advertising is an essential part of owning a business.  Without it, a business is going to have a very hard time finding new customers.  By getting creative and participating in both free and paid advertising, a business owner can develop an advertising plan that truly works for them.

julianne-wish-avatar15Julianne Alvarez-Wish is a military wife, mother, homeschooling mom, business owner, professional writer, blogger and legislative advocate. She is the Colorado State Leader for the National Association for Moms in Business and the owner of The Wish Place. She is the Colorado Springs Stay-at-Home Mom Examiner for Examiner.com. She also blogs at A Wishful Thought. Her passion, purpose and goal is to help parents work from home so they can be home with their children.

Is There Such a Thing as Frugal Marketing?

frugalMarketing is an important part of any business.  It’s how we get the word out about our products and services to prospective customers and clients.  If we want our businesses to be successful, marketing is not something we can skimp on.

Large companies spend millions of dollars on marketing each year to maintain their brands’ market share.  But for most small businesses, there aren’t millions of dollars in the entire budget, let alone available for marketing.  Large-scale advertising campaigns are not an option.

Some small businesses commit a large portion of their budgets to marketing.  They produce elaborate ads and reserve premium ad space, have all sorts of fancy promotional items made, and sponsor lavish events.  This helps them gain visibility, and possibly market share, but at what cost?  In some cases, profits suffer unnecessarily due to overspending on marketing.

What these businesses do not realize is that marketing doesn’t have to be that expensive.  There are methods of marketing that are not that costly, and some are even free.  These methods may not be as flashy as the ones that cost lots of money, but they can be very effective.  And in many cases, they have a much better return on investment.

It’s also important to note that you do not necessarily have to hire a marketing firm to do your marketing for you.  While there’s no doubt that marketing professionals have an advantage because they know the business so well, it’s not impossible for a small business owner to handle most of his own marketing.  It might take a little time to learn the ropes and make connections, but it can save you a substantial amount of money.

Some of the Best Marketing Is Free

There are plenty of marketing techniques that you can employ at a low cost.  But did you know that it’s possible to get great results without paying a dime?  Generating positive publicity can help a small business become well known and give potential clients and customers a good first impression.

Publicity is easier to get than you might think.  Writing press releases and distributing them can get your business featured in newspapers, and possibly even on the TV news.  You might be surprised at the things that the media will find newsworthy about your business.  Some of the best topics for press releases include special events, correlations with national news stories, and joint ventures.

Marketing might seem impossible when you’re on a tight budget, but there are plenty of ways you can reach your target market without breaking the bank.  Some methods have no cost except your time.  Frugal marketing is alive and well, and it can provide great results for the small business owner.

julianne-wish-avatar15Julianne Alvarez-Wish is a military wife, mother, homeschooling mom, business owner, professional writer, blogger and legislative advocate. She is the Colorado State Leader for the National Association for Moms in Business and the owner of The Wish Place. She is the Colorado Springs Stay-at-Home Mom Examiner for Examiner.com. She also blogs at A Wishful Thought. Her passion, purpose and goal is to help parents work from home so they can be home with their children.

The Role Branding Plays in Marketing Your Business

brandingYour brand plays a key role in your marketing efforts.  If you find yourself asking, “What is a brand?”, you probably don’t have one.  Your brand is a message that you are sending to the world.  This message tells the world what your business is, how your products and services are different from the competition, and what your product or service can do for them, the consumer.

So, why is a brand important?  Well, if you have a brand, when you come up with a new product, your former customers will immediately know the new product is coming from you.  You won’t have to do as much “up front selling.”  Your customers will automatically be drawn to the product.

If this sounds far fetched, think about your own spending habits.  If given a choice between a product from a company you have already bought from in the past and a similar product from a company you have never heard of, which product are you more likely to buy?

The first step is to create the brand and then worry about marketing your brand.  If you choose a bad brand, all the marketing and advertising won’t help you.  All you will be doing is furthering the image of the bad brand.  However, if you choose a good brand, then your advertising and marketing efforts will go even farther in promoting your business and brand.

Establishing your brand will also help you decide where and how to market your business.  If you have a scrapbooking business, you can brand yourself as the “quick and easy scrapbooker” or as a “classic and polished scrapbooker” or even as an “artistic scrapbooker”.

If you choose the first option, you will want to market your business to people who want simple solutions, such as busy moms.  If you chose the second brand, you will want to focus your marketing efforts on clients who crave a cherished memento, such as a new bride.  And if you chose the third brand, you will want to target your marketing efforts to those who enjoy trying out the latest and most expressive scrapbook techniques.

Determining your brand can also help you establish yourself as an expert in your field. This will help you market your business.  Once you have established yourself as an expert, you will notice that people may start coming to you for advice or asking you to write articles or take part in their seminars and other events.  This will give you a whole new audience to share your business with and can create new marketing opportunities.

Without a brand, your business will look “new’’ and unprofessional.  You may seem unsure of yourself and what your mission is.  However, once you have created your brand, you are able to tell the world, “This is who I am, and this is what my business is all about”.

julianne-wish-avatar15Julianne Alvarez-Wish is a military wife, mother, homeschooling mom, business owner, professional writer, blogger and legislative advocate. She is the Colorado State Leader for the National Association for Moms in Business and the owner of The Wish Place. She is the Colorado Springs Stay-at-Home Mom Examiner for Examiner.com. She also blogs at A Wishful Thought. Her passion, purpose and goal is to help parents work from home so they can be home with their children.

Business Plans Effect on Marketing

business plan marketing imageA business plan serves as the guidebook to your business.  Your business plan should communicate what your business is, how you plan on growing it, and what steps you are going to take to achieve your success.

Your business plan also has a huge effect on your marketing efforts.  Your business plan can help you decide what type of marketing will add value to your business and which types of marketing will simply be time wasters.

By writing out your business ideas and goals, you can determine your target market.  Your target market is the group of people that you want to promote your products or services to.  Determining your target market is the first step in planning your marketing efforts.

Having a business plan, and knowing who your target market is, will lead you to create your marketing plan.  A marketing plan is similar to a business plan in the sense that it acts as a guide and helps you stay focused.

A marketing plan is a written plan of action that communicates how you are going to market your business.  There are many ways to market your business, such as flyers, paid ads (newspapers, magazines, online), business cards, speaking in front of groups, becoming a guest on a radio show or television program, pay per click campaigns, direct mail, and more.

Your business and marketing plans serve as tools in deciding which marketing ideas will work best with your business and your particular brand.  It can be easy to try too many different marketing approaches.  Whenever you feel confused about your marketing efforts, take some time to re-read your business plan.  This can help you decide if the new marketing idea will actually reach your target market and if it is worth trying.

Developing relationships with other business owners that offer complementary products is a great way to market your business.  When you know which direction you plan to grow your business, you can start scouting out possible future business partners.

For instance, if you have created your own line of organizational handbags and would like to start offering diaper bags, you can start researching the top baby focused websites and see if they would be interested in helping you promote your diaper bags.

Your marketing plan should also include information on how you plan on keeping your customers after the initial purchase.  Some ideas include customer-only sales, backend sales opportunities, customer-only freebies, etc.

Julianne Wish avatar1Julianne Alvarez-Wish is a military wife, mother, business owner, professional writer, blogger and legislative advocate. She is the Colorado State Leader for the National Association for Moms in Business and the owner of The Wish Place. She is the Colorado Springs Stay-at-Home Mom Examiner for Examiner.com. She also blogs at A Wishful Thought. Her passion, purpose and goal is to help parents work from home so they can be home with their children.

Need Marketing Inspiration?

inspirationYou may not realize it, but turning on the television, radio, and Internet can teach you new marketing techniques and strategies.  Each day, companies are bombarding us with their marketing messages.  By the age of 65, the average American will have viewed over 2 million television commercials.  And that doesn’t begin to take into consideration the ads we see in newspapers, magazines, online, on billboards, or hear on the radio.

Some companies choose to use catchy jingles and slogans so that we constantly find ourselves humming along. Others tug at our heartstrings in order to establish an emotional connection, and some (purposely) annoy us.  Here are a few quick lessons we can learn from these companies:

Try to keep it simple.  Nike says, “Just Do It”; McDonald’s “loves to see you smile,” and Calgon can “take you away”.  Creating a simple, catchy, and easy to remember slogan can set your product apart from the competition.

Capture your target market’s emotions and they’ll become loyal customers.  Back before people had unlimited long distance, phone companies created commercials featuring a depressed older lady who brightened up and became happy when her son called her from across the country.  Back then, long distance phone charges were expensive and people were careful not to rack up a big bill.

The phone companies knew that people considered long distance a luxury item.  In order to get people to use it, they pulled at their heartstrings and featured the lonely old woman.  People were moved by this ad and immediately thought of their own mothers and how they could instantly brighten their lonely, old mother’s day by calling her.

Savvy marketers know that causing a bit of an annoyance isn’t always a bad thing.  Take, for instance, the product Head On! and their annoying commercials which featured people with headaches, saying, “Head On” over and over again.  The people who saw the commercials may have been a bit annoyed, but they remembered the product and some of them became customers.

Marketers are also discovering that moms are the ones that make the purchasing decisions for their families.  Major companies are learning that if they want to sell more cars, more Florida vacations, or more potato chips, they need to make their product more appealing to moms.

These are just a few of the strategies that you can see on a daily basis.  The next time you need some marketing inspiration, try turning on the television or picking up your favorite magazine.  You may even want to keep an idea file, full of ads you have seen and particularly liked.  The next time you are trying to come up with a marketing campaign, look through your idea folder and adapt one of your clippings to your own product or service and see what happens.

julianne-wish-avatar15Julianne Alvarez-Wish is a military wife, mother, business owner, professional writer, blogger and legislative advocate. She is the Colorado State Leader for the National Association for Moms in Business and the owner of The Wish Place. She is the Colorado Springs Stay-at-Home Mom Examiner for Examiner.com. She also blogs at A Wishful Thought. Her passion, purpose and goal is to help parents work from home so they can be home with their children.