5 Top Marketing and Networking Tips For Small Businesses and Soloists on a Budget

Below are five simple principles I pass on to my clients when they are starting up a business or looking to grow their business. Simple ideas that work perfectly for small businesses and soloists on a budget. Marketing does not have to be rocket science and does not have to be expensive to work successfully for you!

1. Create alliances within your circle of influence

Amongst the peers you trust, foster relationships to refer and receive referrals. Work together on joint ventures to expand your opportunities. Create newsletters together to double, treble, quadruple your database of potential clients. Share advertising opportunities together, expo stands etc if you have like minded products suitable for clients in the same buying cycle

2. Network to grow your business

Don’t shy away from networking opportunities, make the effort to represent your business and watch the synchronous doors open. Be passionate about your business and sum it up very briefly with a hook of “what it is in for the listener”. Rather than say you are a web designer, say “I create generating income websites that work while you sleep”. Far more interesting to the listener and more likely to be a conversation starter.

3. A user friendly website is your best silent salesman

When did you last click through the links on your website? Is your site easy to navigate, is it up to date and is it search engine optimised. What year is noted at the very bottom of your template? Are your contact details visible on every page? Is there a call to action on every page? Is there a way to collect email addresses from site visitors respectfully? Can you read your web diagnostics, if not ask your administrator how so that you can take advantage of the marketing opportunities tracked behind your website.

4. Find ways to thank your clients

The great advantage of small businesses is the personal relationship you develop with your clients. Be unique and think of creative ways to thank your clients. Small and personal is generally really appreciated, don’t try to compete on dollar terms with big business. For example, invite a client to attend a seminar, breakfast, information session, networking event with you.

5. Adopt the give not get policy

What can you do for a prospective client or existing client without expecting anything in return? Can you network two clients who will benefit from this business connection? It costs you nothing to connect people and making introductions that will benefit both their businesses means both parties will be grateful you thought of them. This is a win-win for everyone.

Small Business Marketing Tips – How to Get Noticed Online

In these tough economic times, it is more important than ever to utilize these small business marketing tips to ensure that you get the most out of your marketing and advertising dollars. Being aware of critical data such as how much you spend to acquire each customer and where that customer comes from is no longer a luxury but rather a matter of survival. You must have systems in place that will record and track this type of information so that you can determine which of your advertising and marketing methods are producing the best results for your business. This type of information is not always obvious because of the number of factors involved, so you must rely on written data to better assist your analysis.

Tracking Your Advertising

One of the most important business marketing tips you can implement is to have your staff politely asked every single prospect how did they hear about your business. Every time someone calls into your office or enters your business, your staff should be asking “How did you hear about us?” I also suggest that you take it one step further, if appropriate, and try to get a little bit more information.

For example if they say I heard an ad on the radio you can ask “Do you remember what station it was?” or if they say “I saw an ad in the newspaper [or magazine]” you can ask “Do you remember which one it was?” Some people will not remember exactly where they saw it or don’t want to be bothered telling you, but even if you got that additional data only half the time, you would still be ahead of the game. This is particularly useful especially if you’re advertising in multiple places using the same type of media.

Tag Your Advertisements

Another business marketing tip to help you track your leads is to tag every ad with a unique discount code. For example, you could say something like “Mention coupon code ABC and receive 10% off.” An alternative to this would be to have some fictitious extension as part of your phone number to receive a special offer so the caller would ask for extension 123, and your staff would respond “I can help you” and would record that number (say, on a spreadsheet) which would be linked to a specific ad or TV spot. Of course all prospects would still receive the same offer regardless if they remembered the specific code or not but you would be surprised how many people would make it a point to remember exactly where they saw the advertisement and what the code was in order to receive the additional bonus or special offer.

Prospects Versus Customers

Additionally on your spreadsheet, you should also be tracking whether that prospect converted into a sale or not. This is vitally important because you may be getting lots of responses to one particular type of marketing or advertising, however you may find that the majority of your sales are actually coming from some other ad or medium. Tracking your responses is certainly an important part of your overall marketing program. Ultimately however, you are only interested in where your sales are coming from. Obviously you want to invest your advertising dollars where they will produce the greatest return.

By implementing these small business marketing tips and making them part of your normal operations, you can begin to see increased profits in your business and more effective advertising. You can also gain a strategic edge in your marketplace because most of your competitors will not be employing these methods.

Embarrassing Small Business Marketing Tip

If you own a small business and would like to effortlessly attract more new customers, then this short article contains a simple (and yet powerful) small business marketing tip for helping you do just that. To make my point however, I do embarrass myself a wee little bit.

See for yourself what this is all about.

Embarrassing Small Business Marketing Tip:

I’ve been hiding something from you.

And today, I decided to come clean and admit my dirty addiction:

I like watching reality TV.

And last night, as I was watching The X Factor, I realized something:

People that win reality shows are rarely the most talented. But instead they have the best stories that connect with the highest number of viewers.

Take for example this season of The X Factor.

My favorite singer is a guy named Chris Rene.

How come?

Well, it’s not for Rene’s music since I’m not a fan of rap. But rather it’s Chris Rene’s story. He was a drug addicted kid from a small California town. He had a death defying car accident that forced him to go to rehab. He cleaned up. And now he’s on the path to becoming a top selling recording artist.

I can’t put my finger on it but there is something about Rene’s story that resonates with me.

Maybe I like watching someone triumph over defeat.

Maybe I like a rags to riches story.

Maybe I like the little guy getting a shot at the big time.

Whatever the case, my point is this:

The power of a story sells better than anything else.

Which is why you must have a story that drives your business. What got you into what you do? What made you open a small business? What PROBLEMS have you had along the way?

Be real.

Tell your story all warts and all.

And my friend, you’ll connect with more people than you can shake a stick at.

Why would you want to connect with people by telling your story?

Because a fair number of people that connect with you will become customers at your business assuming they have a need for what you sell. Matter of fact, people will even drive farther… and pay higher prices… if they feel you are like them.

And to get them to resonate with you, share your story with them.

And don’t be afraid to list your faults either. I’m not suggesting you share all the skeletons in your closet. But share a few. And I’ll bet a dollar to a donut someone will come into your business and say, “I read your story and there was something about it that resonated with me.”

Vacation Tips for Busy Small Business Owners

If you’re a small business owner or “run the shop” at work, you understand the pros and cons of being your own boss. Sure, you can generally make your own schedule, but along with that freedom is the reality of being an entrepreneur: the responsibility, the accountability, and the long hours that can lead to burnout very quickly.

With all that falls squarely on your shoulders, you may feel uneasy about taking a vacation. Don’t stress. Here are tips and to-dos to help the worrisome entrepreneur take a much-needed and rejuvenating vacation.

More bosses are breaking away

According to a 2012 survey by Robert Half Management Resources – a Menlo Park, California-based senior level accounting, finance and business recruiting firm – 51 percent of chief financial officers (CFOs) said they didn’t or don’t plan to check in with the office at all while on vacation. That number is nearly double the percentage from a similar poll in 2010 (26 percent), and up significantly from a 2005 study (21 percent).

Why business owners stress

In 2007, an OPEN from American Express Small Business Monitor survey titled, “Employers Skimping on Vacations” asked business owners what concerns them most about being away from the office. The top concerns included:

  • The fear that an important client or customer will receive inadequate service
  • Missing an important new business opportunity
  • Staff will make a poor judgment call
  • Not knowing who will manage the business in their absence

While these concerns are valid, it’s important to your physical and mental health to take a break and re-energize yourself – you’ll return with renewed creativity, energy, and enthusiasm that should translate into more sales and greater enjoyment of your work.

So, start planning your vacation keeping these tips in mind:

  • Notify clients in advance and be sure that they have your contact information if they need to reach you. Be sure to ask if there’s anything you can handle before you leave.
  • Ask a trusted colleague to be in charge while you’re away.
  • Prepare your employees by discussing potential scenarios that may arise and how they should handle them. Clarify with your staff and colleagues what situations require your immediate attention, and what can be handled by the team at the office. If you expect to be notified of emergencies, provide a way for people to reach you quickly, such as your cell phone number.
  • If you’re not planning on working on your vacation, don’t send mixed signals by checking in and returning phone calls and emails. Unless it’s an emergency, relax!
  • When you return from vacation, take time to acknowledge the good work of the team, especially those who helped the office run smoothly in your absence. Make note of their efforts in their next performance review.
  • Take advantage of out-of-town business trips by adding a few days for some relaxing time.

References:

http://rhmr.mediaroom.com/checkoutvacation

http://www.inc.com/news/briefs/200705/0518vacations.html