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14 Ways to Market a New Product or Service

Marketing a new small business product or service in a highly fragmented media world has become trickier than ever. Relying only on slow-moving, old-school methods such as direct mail and print ads is a thing of the past. Today, success belongs to those who compile the most effective media mixture.

The media mix you choose could be the difference between cheers and yawns, says Dan Adams, whose firm Advanced Industrial Marketing conducts training workshops worldwide.  The first step for any business owner is simply to understand the different online (digital) and offline (traditional) options.

Compared to traditional media, online marketing makes it easier for you to track results and generate low-cost leads, notes Adams. But most importantly, digital marketing makes you “findable” on the Internet.  In most transactions today – and especially business-to-business – the prospect finds the supplier, not the other way around.  And that’s usually through an online search.

14-Course Marketing Menu for Small Business

Here are today’s top 14 most effective marketing methods, including seven digital and seven traditional:

1. Online Ads

You can run pay per click (PPC) ads with search engines or contextual ads displayed next to related articles.

2. News Release

Done well, this is incredibly powerful for directing Google searchers to your website. Send out news releases full of content that will appeal to readers (and editors) of online magazines, journals, and blogs. Include both a link to your website and the keywords your prospects will likely use in their Google searches.

3. E-mail Marketing

This is especially useful when you have hundreds or thousands of prospects in your target market. There’s stiff competition for attention, so consider getting help from a specialist here. It’s definitely a science.

4. Online Presentation

Delivering slideshow and video content through your website is a great way to attract attention and persuade prospects that your solution is simply wonderful. Done well, this is also one of the most powerful ways for you to build credibility.

5. Social Media

This is still emerging as an effective medium, but it’s already proving helpful when local businesses take the time to build long-term, meaningful conversations with prospects.

6. Webinar

This is great way to connect with hard-to-reach prospects, especially professionals and business executives. As with e-mail marketing, there’s a science to this, so consider working with a firm that specializes in setting up and hosting webinars.

7. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

This is everything you do to rank high in Google searches, and it should also be the glue that holds your online product launch campaign together. It all starts with understanding the keywords your prospects will use… which should start during customer interviews in the front end of product development.

Seven Traditional Media Tools

1. Print Ads

This method is becoming less popular relative to online media but is still helpful for keeping your business or brand familiar and for popularizing product launch keywords for online searches.

2. Press Kit

This collection of pre-packaged materials—sent to members of the media—builds credibility with editors and journal writers. It helps them tell interesting stories about you and your product.

3. Print Article

Articles and trade or technical papers in journals now end up online as well, so fill your article full of well-planned keywords and web links to draw prospects to your website.

4. Direct Mail

This can still be an effective product launch tool, especially as your competitors switch their focus to digital inboxes. Studies show many Internet users have a printed publication in their hands while they are searching online.

5. Trade Speech

A well-delivered presentation conveys lots of complex information to a captive audience. Consider professional help to avoid “death by PowerPoint,” rehearse hard, and try using tag-team delivery.

6. Trade Show

These remain highly influential, but they are also time consuming and costly. Make sure your staff is trained and your lead follow-up is strong, or you’ll waste time and money faster here than anywhere else.

7. Sales Visit

If you sell B2B, this is still the most effective—and expensive—product launch approach. Use a disciplined lead nurturing program to make each sales call count. And spend the time and money on great sales tools and sales training to make your sales force look good.

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10 Tips for a Great Customer Call to Action

A call to action (CTA) is one of the most critical parts of any marketing message, whether it’s delivered by email, direct mail, on your website, Facebook page or any other way.  A call to action should spur the customer or prospect to take the next step (call, click, stop by, download, “like,” tell a friend, etc).

But many businesses create ineffective calls to action – or worse, none at all. “Call us” or “Click here” are CTA wimps.  They offer no information or customer motivation. Call who, why? What happens if I click?  What’s in it for me?

A strong CTA makes it clear what action the customer is expected to take, and why.  Your approach depends on the action you want to motivate. For example, if the goal is to spur a purchase, and you’ve already communicated benefits, a simple “Buy Now!” might be all you need.  Here are 10 tips for creating strong calls to action:

  1. Set the table first: A call to action works best when customers are properly prepped.  Start by identifying the problem (the pain), and explaining why your product or service solves it.  The benefits you offer can become part of your call to action.
  2. Make it stand out.  In a letter or text email, for example, the CTA can be in larger type, color or bold. On a website or blog it can be designed into a colorful button.  Performable, a web analytics company (now part of HubSpot), has an online tool called the Super Conversion Button Builder that lets you create your own customized call to action button for free.
  3. Offer incentives:  Consider a sweetener, such as a discount or free gift as a reward for heeding your call to action.  For example, instead of saying merely “Join our mailing list” your CTA could be “Join our mailing list and receive a 15% off coupon.” 
  4. Avoid scary terms. Instead of asking people to “Register” or “Subscribe,” (both can be scary), try friendlier terms such as “Receive updates” or “Stay connected.”  Make it about them, not you.
  5. Keep it clear and simple: Avoid surrounding your call to action with too many choices. Keep the mental effort required by customers to a minimum.  For example, presenting three action choices such as “View Demo,” “Get more Information” and “Buy Now” all in the same place will likely reduce response.
  6. Feast on QR codes:  Used properly, a QR code can be a great CTA supplement. But don’t leave a QR code “naked.” Include an adjacent message that explains it, such as “Scan this code for a 3-D product photo.”
  7. Place your CTA early and high:  Small businesses typically place their call to action at the bottom of a page.  The best place, however, is high on the page, and in a central place where the eye can easily see it, not off to the side.
  8. Use links liberally: Always link logos and product photos to your desired landing page or shopping cart.  And don’t forget to label your photos with descriptive “ALT” tags. This stands for “alternative text” which will appear in someone’s browser or email if the image is not available.
  9. Be strategic: When creating your CTAs, don’t think in terms of a single offer or campaign.  Try to create calls to action that can be part of your overall marketing plan.  That way, the same ones can be used in a variety of circumstances.
  10. Follow through:  Having a great CTA still isn’t enough.  You also have to consider what happens if the customer or prospect does what you’ve asked. It is vital to deliver the proper response quickly – an order confirmation, thank you note, email, or other action on your part that keeps the customer moving down the purchase, or repeat-purchase path. A great way to do that is by using a web-based service such as Nimble that lets you quickly and easily connect with customers and contacts on all of your social media platforms.

Copyright © 2000-2011 BizBest® Media Corp.  All Rights Reserved.