What is it and who needs one?The term business marketing strategy might sound like it is esoteric or stratospheric, so lets take the mystery out of it so you can devise and implement your own business marketing strategy that fits in to your small business plan. Strategy comes from a Greek word stratagein meaning to be a general. Think of a strategy as an overall plan of action needed to win a war. The smaller, detailed actions are called tactics. You can have tactical plans which help you achieve your strategic marketing plan or overall business marketing strategy. Thats simple enough, isnt it? A business marketing strategy or strategic marketing plan is an overall plan of marketing actions you intend to take in order to accomplish a specific goal for your company. Start with a goal: $2 million in sales this year; expand into new premises by a certain date; double the size of the company in 2 years whatever the goal may be. Something realistic but challenging. That's the "war" you want to win. Guess who the general is. Then work out a simple, overall plan of the major marketing steps needed to accomplish that (for example): 1.Publish a newsletter for all existing customers and mail out quarterly. 2.Work out 4 special offers in the year and promote them to all our customers. 3.Set up on-line shopping and expand the web site. 4.Direct mail campaign promoting the web site to all customers. 5.Get mailing lists of (target markets) and do a series of 3 mailings of postcards to them and follow up on and close all leads. 6.Etc. You get the idea. Dont rush this. Do your homework. What worked in the past? Read up on successful marketing campaigns.Your business marketing strategy needs to be laid out in the right sequence and you should have some idea of budget when you write it. Run a series of 30 second TV ads during the Superbowl might sound like a good thing to do but can you afford it? On the other hand, when you build your business marketing strategy you mustnt try and cut corners. If you dont promote heavily, it doesnt matter how good your product or service is, no one will know about it and you will go broke. What really works when it comes to marketing?Many business owners don't have a good enough answer to this important question. I learned by a combination of study and trial and error. From my own hard won experience I have discovered that a real marketing campaign will take into consideration at least the seven points which are outlined below: 1. Target Your Market Your marketing will produce the best results for the lowest cost when you target prospects with the greatest need for what you offer. Identify the best people to send your postcards to. Design your postcards to appeal to their greatest need. If you are able to break down your target market into sub markets you can then write postcards that specifically speak to the needs of those people (an example is breaking down your own customer list into customers who buy most often, customers who spend the most money with you, customers who have been your customers the longest and then making them special offers based on the category they fit into). 2. Create A USP For Your Business USP stands for "Unique Selling Proposition". It is a statement of what is different about your company and its products. Your USP gives the reason people should do business with you. It amplifies the benefit of doing business with you and your company. My USP is POSTCARD MARKETING EXPERTS. Create your own USP and put it on all your promotional materials, invoices, shipping labels etc. Use your USP to communicate the benefit of doing business with you and why you are better than any of your competitors. 3. Always Make an Offer Make sure you ask your prospects and customers to do something when they receive your postcard. By offering them something you know they are likely to want and giving them a smooth path to respond on, you are making it easy and desirable for them to respond. 4. Create and Maintain a Database of The Customer Information You Collect From The Responses To Your Mailings Most people who receive a postcard from you won't contact you the first time they receive one. But once they contact you, you must create and maintain a database which allows you to repeatedly contact them with offers to respond to. Fifty percent or more of many businesses' sales come as a result of following up with people who were previously contacted, but didn't buy right away. No kidding, repeat contact does drive sales. One-time mailings can get response, but are bound to leave sales on the table. Those sales can be picked up with repeated mailings. 5. Take Away the Fear of Loss People don't want to be fooled, plain and simple. Unfortunately trust does not run high today between customers and businesses in general. People have been disappointed too many times by being sold one thing and getting another. A guarantee or warranty is a good way to reduce or eliminate the customers risk of getting something other than what they bargained for. Guarantees and warranties increase response and sales by reducing customer risk. 6. Expand Your Product Line Getting new customers is more expensive than selling to existing ones. By regularly developing new products and services to sell to your customers and offering these new products and services to them, you can expand your business efficiently and easily. 7. Test Your Postcard Promotions Track the effectiveness of your postcard mailings. How many people responded to your mailing? What dollar amount of sales resulted from those responses? Is the money you are spending to attract new business giving you a good return? What can you do to make your marketing more effective? Change your offer, headline, price, the timing of your offer. When you do track the results and improve your response. These are the points to follow when designing your own marketing strategy. When you are done, you will have laid out the steps needed to accomplish your goal using existing resources to achieve a great marketing ROI (return on investment). After that, you simply have to get those steps executed and that might require further planning but it is all in the context of your main business marketing strategy.
It has become increasingly difficult to get to the top of the major search engines in recent years as the likes of Google and Yahoo! have changed their criteria for how they rank websites. Many old techniques such as metatags and reciprocal links have lost their effectiveness. However, despite these changes, article submission remains one of the most effective ways to gain incoming links that will boost your website's popularity among the major search engines.While there are many other aspects to search engine optimization (SEO), article submission can be a cheap and effective way to help you get that coveted spot on the first page of the search engine results for keywords relating to your business.First let's look at how article marketing works in relation to improving SEO. Basically, every time a link to your website is published on another website your popularity with the search engines increases. These are known as backlinks. In every marketing article you submit to an article directory you can include a resource box with information about you or your product, and a backlink to your website.So, even just by submitting to article directories you are already increasing the number of backlinks to your website. However, the real value from submitting these articles is that they can be picked up and published anywhere on the web. Every time an article is published you get another backlink to your website. If your articles are published enough times you could see your search engine page ranking rocket. Bear in mind though, that the effectiveness of your campaign will depend on where the articles appear. A backlink from a website that itself has a high search engine page ranking will carry more weight than a backlink from a site with a poor ranking.Keywords vs qualityCarefully choosing keywords is an essential part of article marketing for a number of reasons. First, you want your articles to be easily found in article directories. If they remain buried under similar articles they will never be published on other websites and your efforts will have been wasted.Also, you want your articles to get good results on the search engines themselves. If your articles find their way onto the front pages of the search engines you will increase exposure to your website or product, and increase your reputation as an article writer.However, there is more to successful article marketing than keywords. There has been an ongoing difference of opinion among SEO experts as to whether the quality of articles can be sacrificed for the sake of high keyword density within the text. While it is important to put keywords in the text to help with SEO, quality content is king when it comes to article marketing.The main aim of article marketing is to get your articles published on as many websites as possible. Quality content is at a premium on the internet so if you can provide good articles that people want to read you will be successful. If you stuff your articles with keywords websites will not publish them and readers will rarely read beyond the first paragraph. So, keep keywords to about two per every 100 words of text and do not let them disrupt the flow and the meaning of the article.Know your neighborThe most successful article marketers are the ones who gain a reputation as experts in their chosen field, so try to find your niche and work to your strengths. If you write authoratively and enthusiastically about a subject that you know about you are much more likely to attract readers.If, for example, you have a website that sells Mac software you could write about new releases and trends in this field. However, you could also boost your profile by becoming involved in the general online Mac community by posting on forums or even creating your own blog. These can provide extra opportunities for creating backlinks and driving traffic to your website, and as you become better known in your field you will find your articles will be more used more often and more widely.New Web 2.0 social bookmarking websites are also giving article marketers new opportunities for improving SEO and increasing traffic to their website. If you come up with an article you think could be very popular on the web you could publish it on your website and submit it to websites like Digg and Reddit. If it gains popularity on these sites it could go viral and bring thousands of hits to your site.Article marketing offers excellent opportunities to promote your product while improving the SEO of your website. Even if you do not have the time or the will to write articles yourself, you should look into having a freelance writer doing the job for you.
Online marketing presents you with an opportunity to get more bang for your buck compared to traditional marketing. This is particularly true for word of mouth marketing. Word of Mouth Marketing on The Web Word of mouth marketing refers to a type of marketing that promotes something by enticing independent parties to promote the service, idea or product to friends. The idea is to create a buzz for the subject matter. In creating the buzz, the goal is to create enough "word of mouth" momentum to get the idea to spread quickly. People are the sole conduit for the momentum. If you get it right, an entire product can become an established success with little or no paid marketing. A classic example of word of mouth marketing, often called viral, is the situation involving Red Bull. Red Bull is an energy drink. When it was first introduced in Europe, rumors spread that the drink was an aphrodisiac. Nobody knows who started the rumors, but Red Bull became very popular. It then evolved into a mixer for alcoholic drinks in nightclubs and the rest is history. It is a hugely popular product and much of the popularity arose through this word of mouth process. Word of mouth marketing online works in much the same way. The primary difference is it tends to happen much quicker than in the real word. The Internet is full of forums where like minded people congregate. A new, cool product, idea or service can blow up a site over night. If you dont believe me, consider the wild success of the My Space platform, Napster, EBay and so on. Most of these sites grew into behemoths because of word of mouth endorsements, not paid advertising. Obviously, this type of marketing can lead to tremendous riches. Unfortunately, it isnt particularly easy to accomplish. Everyone is trying to do it, so you really need to be pushing something unique. If you can come up with something, it is time to hit forums and other sites to create a buzz. A traditional way to pursue viral marketing online is to offer a free e-book. The book will detail your thoughts on some subject matter, such as marketing. One makes the book available for downloading and also allows people to send it to others. If you are offering something of quality, the book should spread quickly to thousands and thousands of people. The ultimate goal is to promote it over and over until hundreds of thousands of people have read it. At that point, you write another e-book which you sell for $3 to $5. If people liked the first book, they will buy the second. If 100,000 read the first one and only 10 percent buy the second, you will have 10,000 sales. This strategy has been pursued over and over by many authors. The word of mouth approach is definitely a hit and miss strategy. The large online communities make it a viable strategy, but there are a lot of people trying to do it. If you fail 50 times, but succeed once, life will be very good.
A review of ways marketers can align with these consumer hot spots. Online social networks are hot. Those who participate in them belong to two, three, four, maybe even more than 10 or 20 different ones. They enjoy their features, upload photos, request business contacts and talk with friends. For now, consumers get to do this for free. For now.Although social networking in the offline world may be well-established -- monetized through conferences, venues, referral fees and headhunters -- the online world seems to just be examining the methods of monetization. The general principle still stands: if you have a large database of active users, you can make money -- right?Here is how it is being done today:Advertising -- A quick review of ad dollar expenditures in the U.S. reveals that only a small portion of the total is spent online -- but that is going to change fast. Online advertising is once again booming -- and just as public television and print media often can be sustained from pure advertising models, online is no different. The leading social networking sites (MySpace, Friendster and LinkedIN, along with many others) are primarily supported by advertising. Although their aggressive growth strategies mean that some may still be losing money, advertising represents a substantial amount of revenue. Revenue Share/Per Transaction Fees -- Someone clicks on her friends profile on Friendster and sees that he loves HBOs hit series "Deadwood." Clicking on the term Deadwood brings up all the other members who have the same interest -- and an easy-to-purchase link for the "Deadwood" Season One DVD through Amazon. Its essentially a focused advertising arrangement -- marketers now have precision targeting through social networking profiles, tapping into user interests -- and offering purchase options within very specific filters.Events -- Although revenue numbers generated from MySpace-style events are difficult to come by, these events are known to be well attended and a driving force behind MySpaces impressive growth. In general, while its unlikely that offline events account for more than 10 percent of any "social networks" revenue, events do make for great content and word-of-mouth advertising.Moving forward, compelling new ways to monetize social networks will continue to emerge. The downside, however, is that some of these methods may not be in the users best interest -- and they might end up taking the cool edge off these communities. The Buying Club/Affiliate Revenue Models -- With Buy.coms purchase of Metails, a major offline and online retailer has recognized the power of social networking and made a commitment to the space. Yub.com enables users to develop their own social network focused around products, product ratings and, more importantly, a point-based rewards system that lets members benefit from a friends purchases. While Yub.com feels like heavy retail -- with a full online mall that has grown rapidly in the last few months -- the site is building a large user base and enticing members to recommend products to friends.Although the buying club mentality might work only within certain types of social networks, the notion of a point system that rewards users for certain activities should be embraced more broadly. By developing a currency system, a social networking site can create very real incentives (promotions, giveaways, contests, fundraisers) for specific actions, from which everyone can benefit.Corporate Sponsorship -- Does being a fan of a brand mean that you want the owner of that brand to have all of your personal profile information? Practically speaking, the answer has to do with the type of brand and the reward the user receives for sharing that information. Corporations will take notice of these social networks and begin offering competitive services with products and (if they are smart) experience-based rewards. Just as Icelounge (described as a MySpace for skaters) was launched, larger brands will begin to do the same. Increased brand loyalty and sales opportunities will lead directly to monetization.Country Clubs/Membership Fees -- The SNS world can be a field of dreams -- albeit for a price. As social networking site ASmallWorld.com has recently demonstrated, if you build a great social network -- making it invite-only, with restrictions on activities -- well, everyone wants to join. Naseeb likewise has proven that a focused social network, aimed at a specific niche, can justify an admission charge. From where I sit, Id much rather be part of a social network with fewer members, no advertising, and no corporate sponsorship but that charges for entry. Overall, social networking sites are experiencing hockey stick growth and, in the process, influencing new types of two-way brand experiences and community building on the web. Although the approaches to monetization outlined here just scratch the surface, revenue models abound. Any repository of personal data and contact information on a large group of users (perhaps better to call them consumers) inevitably translates to profit opportunities. Lets just hope that all our email accounts and personal profiles dont end up in a spam database though a dot-com SNS auction.
Once you've made the decision to go on the trade show circuit, suddenly your heart starts pounding, you feel a little dizzy. Now you have to have a trade show booth! Questions start swirling through your head and you get a somewhat queasy feeling in your stomach.Relax. You already have the key to a compelling trade show booth: your company. Now all you have to do is come up with a design that fits it.Before you start panicking again, think about your letterhead and logo (you do have those, right? RIGHT?). Usually, companies will use the same colors and many of the same graphics they use in their marketing materials for the foundation of their trade show booth design. These are essential parts of a great trade show booth because you want the booth to stay within the overall branding of your company.Now think color. You want to reel them in, and one of the easiest ways to do this is to have an inviting-or bold-trade show booth out there on the floor. You want to keep the colors balanced for aesthetic appeal. If your logo is primarily red, then go all out and use a red and black color scheme. Red and black are power colors that make people sit up, or in this case, walk up, and take notice.Which is exactly what you want them to do. Bright, cheerful colors do well in "trade show "booth design" " s because they signify energy and class. What if your colors are less bold, more pastel, even white and black? These are great too! Especially when everyone else's trade show booths are shouting COLOR! COLOR! COLOR! One of the most successful trade show booths ever for a Fortune 500 company was white and pale gray, with hints of red and black set against some gorgeous visuals. Why? With small, some simple spotlights highlighting the visual panels of the booth and a little greenery carefully arranged in front of the trade show booth, along with a matching carpet of pale gray and a couple of folding directors' chairs, this trade show booth was a virtual oasis in a sea of color noise. And people literally flocked to it. Because it was different.And that's another way to have an extremely effective, powerful trade show booth design. Get sneaky! Find out what your competition's up to. Then do the opposite! This is a sure way to compel people to your booth. You'll stand out and people will just have to find out why, what you're up to. Of course, once you reel people over to your killer trade show booth, you want to be sure they're compelled to stick around! This is where your staff is vital. Cheerful, up-beat people, who enjoy dealing with the public and who KNOW YOUR PRODUCT OR SERVICE, are essential to a successful trade show booth. So make sure your staff is as appealing (and it won't hurt if they have a bit of the old carney in them!) as the trade show booth design that brought them there to begin with!