Throughout this economic downturn, “helpful” articles and “experts” are suggesting that now is the time to increase marketing and advertising spending because your competitors are quite likely pulling back. Yet, how can you increase marketing with constricting budgets, decreased cash flow and diminishing revenues? Welcome to the Catch-22 of business marketing.
Fortunately, there are ways to increase your marketing efforts and improve client acquisition techniques without necessarily increasing spending. Consider the seven marketing tricks that follow–any of which you can adopt immediately to boost your business during slow times.
Start a Blog
Yes, blogging consumes a good deal of time and takes commitment. But, it is also one of the least expensive methods for establishing a professional “presence” on the Internet.
The good news is that once you have a blog that begins receiving a growing number of visitors, you have a “home base.” From there, you can leverage additional Internet marketing tactics, such as Twitter, Facebook and Linked-In. One of the most popular blogging platforms, WordPress, is completely free. You can create your blog instantly at http://www.wordpress.com.
Write in Other Blogs
Once you have a blog and a “voice” of your own, share your opinions in the “comments” section of relevant blogs. By reading other blogs pertinent to your industry or topic, you become more knowledgeable. In addition, sharing knowledge or insights with other blog visitors further establishes your expertise. It also doesn’t hurt that you can include a link back to your own blog within your signature.
Link to Industry Blogs
You can quickly enhance your business Web site with links to industry blogs. This step (this article, actually) assumes you already have a Web site. If you don’t, you must get one.
Once you have a Web site, the next step involves incorporating “Web 2.0” functionality so that your site does not seem “static.” One of the easiest ways to do this is to add an RSS feed of your own blog to your Web page. Add other RSS feeds or links to other industry blogs, too. Once potential customers start viewing your Web site as a hub from which they can get information, they are much more likely to revisit your site often. That kind of loyalty and trust is often punctuated with a purchase.
Write and Publish a Book
With self-publishing service providers, publishing a book is easier and faster than ever. And, as a businessperson in your industry, you possess the knowledge and experience to write and publish a non-fiction book relevant to your past, present and future customers. A book of this nature, in its simplest form, consists basically of a rewrite of your business model combined with a rewrite of your product/service manual. Not only is a book a revenue channel in its own right, but a published book further establishes your expertise with new customers and provides a low-cost entry to your business.
Potential customers who may shy away from your product or service’s price point will be apt to purchase a book from you in the $20 range. One of the book’s main purposes, then, is to communicate all the advantages/benefits of your product or service. Bonus: Once you have published a book, you open up a whole new marketing opportunity by reaching new customers through Amazon.com.
Offer Your Book Free
What’s better than being able to acquire profitable new clients through a $20 “loss leader” like a book? Give it away for free to potential clients as an e-book. All you ask in return is their email address. Customers get something of value in exchange for adding their contact information to your email database.
Now, with their permission, you can provide them with additional information and assistance via email, once a month, or at whatever interval you think best. If they find your correspondence valuable, you are that much closer to adding a new customer to your business. How much did you lose? The royalty from the paperback book sale? What are two to ten dollars in comparison to the $50 to $200 cost-per-acquisition you typically pay for new customers the traditional way?
Adopt Pay-Per-Click Advertising
Once you have a blog, a paperback and a free e-book available on your Web site, you are prepared to successfully engage in high ROI (return on investment), pay-per-click Internet advertising through Google and Yahoo. Services such as Google Analytics help you identify your cost-per-lead, and your own business model should help you identify an acceptable cost-per-lead. If the actual cost-per-lead is lower than your acceptable cost-per-lead, you have a successful marketing campaign. Otherwise, it requires a little refining.
The next step entails categorizing your pay-per-click campaign into separate and specific categories. Make sure people who click on specific keyword ads arrive at specific microsites or “landing pages” designed around those keywords. Further enhance your offerings by publishing multiple books (think around 100 pages) and offering multiple e-books, each one specific to individual visitors and a related landing page.
For instance, even though your business may cater to both mothers and fathers, women and men search for information on the Internet differently. When you advertise to them differently, and then treat them uniquely once they reach your site, they will feel a personal connection with your business. They respond positively because they sense that you see them as individuals rather than wallets. Given the investment in the blog, the book and the pay-per-click campaign, creating a “pink” version and a “blue” version of two different landing pages is a no-brainer.
You begin to establish your own expertise through treating each potential customer as a valued, unique individual and sharing liberally a wealth of information. Moreover, you gain their trust and loyalty. Remember: People buy from experts who they have reason to trust.
Now that you know how to increase your marketing techniques, even during a recession, imagine what you will be able to do once the economy turns around! These simple and cost-effective marketing steps will help you improve your customer acquisition rates in addition to improving product sales and services. While your competitors will be cutting back and losing out on new clients, you can grow!
Brent Sampson is president and CEO of Outskirts Press, Inc., offering custom book publishing services. He has authored Sell Your Book on Amazon and Self-Publishing Simplified. Visit his website at: www.OutskirtsPress.com.