Following is a guest post by Maria Rainier. Maria is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education where she writes about education, online universities, and what an online degree means in an increasingly technological world. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.
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As the only employee of an entrepreneur who has recently started renting space for her growing business, I know how important marketing can be. She’s still at the small business stage and wants to keep it that way, but her increased sales can be traced directly to recently implemented marketing strategies that every small business can use. I have been responsible for the majority of the marketing ploys we’ve been using and would like to share the top five with you. Even with a low (or nonexistent) marketing budget, you can still use these tips to generate more sales for your small business.
1. Get a Professional Logo & Letterhead
You might already have a logo in mind, but consulting with a graphic artist is the best way to ensure that you start things off well. You don’t want to use a half-baked logo that ends up being changed a year or two down the road. Commit time and energy to getting the perfect logo and letterhead designs because this decision will pay off for years to come. If you don’t have enough of a marketing budget to hire a graphic designer, try bartering. Talk to friends to see if they know any graphic artists who could use your services in return for theirs. You can even post an ad on Craigslist to see if you get any takers. No matter how you make it happen, having a professional logo and letterhead is an important priority.
2. Start and Regularly Update a Business Blog
A blog is one of the best marketing tools a small business can have, but like most online marketing strategies, it requires regular attention if it’s going to be truly successful. It’s pretty tough to update a blog too often, but many people make the mistake of updating too infrequently. Let your readers know about you, your staff, your business, and even your life philosophy. With small businesses, it’s all about being personable and putting a face (or several faces) on your products and services. Include regular photo updates, write a few survey posts to find out how customers are reacting to your products and services, and request topics from readers so you can write about what they want to know. You’ll be surprised at how well your membership starts to grow.
3. Use Social Media Consistently
Get a Facebook page, start using Twitter, and add yourself to LinkedIn. Spend a few minutes every day on each of these so you can connect with users, let them know that you’re available to answer questions, and update your status or send a quick Tweet to get some attention. Increasing your visibility on these sites can encourage existing customers to interact with you, purchase more products and services, and recommend you to others. It can also attract new customers who search for you on these sites or see your activity on friends’ pages.
4. Send a Monthly Newsletter with Discounts & Special Offers
You can use any email marketing site to do this, but in my experience with Constant Contact, I’ve been impressed with the quantity and quality of newsletters and other emails I can send to customers for a low membership rate. You can try it free of charge for 60 days to see if you think you would use it on a regular basis. If not, there’s no commitment. The most inexpensive plan, which is the one I use, costs $15 per month and lets you send emails to a maximum of 500 contacts. Simply put together a monthly newsletter, preferably with at least one photo and a special offer or coupon code along with an interesting bit of news about your business, then send it to your contacts. To build your contact list, collect email addresses and permission to send a newsletter when customers place orders with you.
5. Synthesize and Brand
Now, connect the dots. Use that logo and letterhead to brand the banner of your blog and website along with the top section of your newsletter. Use the free ColorCop tool to pull the exact colors from your logo so you can use them in HTML for your blog, website, and newsletters. These details really do matter and will increase the likelihood of recognition for your business based on a certain color palette and logo. You should also link to your social media pages from your blog, website, and newsletter so current customers can easily find and “follow” or “like” your business. Finally, create an email signature with links to your social media sites, your website, and your blog. It’s also a good idea to insert a link that takes customers to a sign-up page for your newsletter. These strategies will generate new revenue as well as increased profit from existing customers, so get started today and do something great for your small business.
| Filed under: entrepreneurship
, guest post
| Tags: guest post
, maria rainier
, marketing your small business
| 3 Comments »
This post is a stop along Tanya Peterson’s Blog Tour 2010. Tanya is the blogger behind Blogelina, where she writes about blogging your way to success. Be sure to check out all the other stops along the tour and enter to win $100 to use in improving your own blog!
10 Questions to Answer as You Work to Build Your Blog Brand
As you seek to make your blog known, there are several important questions to consider and answer:
What is the end purpose you want to accomplish?
First and foremost, when considering how to build your blog name and brand, you need to answer the why question. Why are you blogging? Having a clear idea – for yourself – of what you are seeking to achieve through all your hard work will focus your branding efforts and make your work more effective. Define your vision and all the other questions below will fall in line to make your branding efforts a success.
What are your goals to get to that purpose?
Now that you know more specifically what your vision is for you blog, decide on two or three goals for your blog. Make them as specific as possible. Where do you see your blog being in 5 years? Dream big. Is there a blog that you admire and want to emulate? Decide what goals would help you do just that.
What steps will you take to reach those goals?
Now that you have a couple of overarching goals, what steps are you going to take to reach those goals? Determine what you want to accomplish on your blog this year, this month, this week, and so on. Write down your goals. Revisit them often and revise them as needed.
Who is your target audience?
Now it’s time to do a little research and determine who exactly it is that you want to reach with your blog. Who are you seeking to benefit? Try to be as specific as possible. Instead of just wanting to reach moms, decide to reach stay-at-home moms who blog. The more focused and specific that your niche is, the more success you will have in marketing to your reader.
Who are your competitors?
Do a little more research to answer this question. Look at the other blogs reaching your target market. What are they doing that works? What doesn’t seem to be working? If the occasion arises, ask the bloggers in your niche about their success. How did they get to be where they are?
What do you have to offer above and beyond your competition?
Again, take a look at the other blogs in your niche. What are some things that you can offer to your readers that isn’t already being offered? What about your blog will make readers visit it instead of the hundreds of others out there? Be sure to determine the answer to this question – and then use it in your advertising. Let people know why your blog is different… and why they’ll love it!
When people think of you, what do you want them to think of?
When someone remembers your blog, what do you want to come to mind? Do you want them to think of how informative it was, how fun it was to read, how beautiful your design is, etc.? Pick one or two specific things to focus on and put your efforts into standing out in those ways.
How will you market your brand?
Will you use a recognizable image? Do you want people to know your face? What will be your elevator pitch?
Where will you market your brand?
You can have the best blog that features the most helpful content out there – but if you can’t get it in front of the people who want to read it, it’s going nowhere. Think about your target audience. Where are they hanging out? Where can you get in touch with them? Do some research and brainstorming to find out – and then get there and start talking about your blog.
Have you considered doing a Blog Tour?
Guest posting is a great way to get the word out about your blog – and to build your brand! If you’re interested in going on your own guest posting tour around the blogosphere, you can find more information at my Blog Tour homepage.
Taking the time to answer each of these questions clearly in your own mind will focus your efforts in marketing your blog. More focus will then result in more success.
| Filed under: blogging
| Tags: blogelina
, building your blog brand
, guest post
| 3 Comments »