Archive for May, 2014

Brand: To Build or Not to Build?

How to deal with small marketing budgets

 

Infinite Profit

Even if you run a one-person shop, you have to build your brand.

If you run any kind of small business, from an Etsy shop to an established bricks-and-mortar store, then you know what a challenge it can be to market your business on a budget. This is especially the case if you run the business on your own or with just a few others.

Either way, you’re not alone. There are 23 million small businesses in the United States, all of which are trying hard to stand out from the crowd, make a name for themselves and generate awareness of their brand. While this can be an expensive project, there are a number of ways to market your business without spending a lot of money in the process. Here are four of them:

1. Make it personal.

The one thing you have to offer as a small business owner is the personal touch. That is something larger firms aren’t able to match. Take advantage of that and seek to leave a lasting impression with prospective clients.

One approach that has been successful in getting new clients is showing up at a potential client’s business with donuts. It doesn’t have to be donuts, per se, but the point is that people love food – especially when it’s free! When you show up, ask to speak with someone in the area you’re targeting. When that person comes out, introduce yourself and ask for an appointment to discuss how you can help them. It won’t guarantee a meeting, but you’ll stick in their minds and potentially get a new client out of it without spending a lot. Just make sure to leave behind some business cards or fliers with the donuts.

2. Look for cheap networking events.

There can be a temptation when you run a small business to join every professional organization related to your industry. That makes sense, on one level, but it can be costly. You should not have to pay for tips or leads, so don’t feel like you need to shell out hundreds of dollars in membership fees to do so.

The cheaper alternative is to look for events your local chamber of commerce or professional organizations are offering. You can often participate for under $20 and can get a feel for what events work best for attracting new clients.

3. Build a website.

If you run a small business, having a website is a must. There is a myth that it costs a lot of money to have a professional-looking website and that if you’re not technically-savvy, then you can’t design a site.

Don’t believe this myth. If you can’t afford (or don’t want to pay) the $3,000 or more that it often costs to have a professional design a custom website for you, download and install WordPress and then purchase a fully-customizable theme for under $100. WordPress makes it easy, even those who consider themselves web novices. Having a website for your business is important because it’s the cheapest way to market your business.

At a cost of $10 or less per month to host your site, you can showcase your work for anyone searching for the type of business you. This will, of course, take time, but is a great way to market your small business without spending a fortune to do so.

4. Take non-traditional routes.

Most of the traditional marketing methods, such as radio, TV or outdoor billboard ads, are going to be cost-prohibitive for small business owners. That is okay, because you want something more targeted anyway.

There are various channels you can use to market your small business in a non-traditional sense, without spending a lot in the process. Some examples include volunteering to speak at local professional events, sponsoring a certain portion of a local professional gathering, using social media and distributing marketing materials at these events.

The key to the non-traditional approach is to be creative and look for ways that will maximize your marketing punch that aren’t expensive. While it may be seem difficult at first, it’s certainly possible to be successful.

John Schmoll

Money USNews

Online Ads – FRAUD!

36% of online ad views are fake

Infinite Profit

Thirty-six per cent of all web traffic comes from computers controlled by viruses, according to leading online ad fraud detectors Telemetry.

This follows the relevation that a section of a recent Mercedes-Benz online ad campaign was viewed more often my automated computer programmes than humans.

The Financial Times reported that digital ad units were inadvertently placed on fraudulent websites by ad tech company, Rocket Fuel. As a result, Telemetry discovered of the 365,000 ad impressions received over three weeks 57 per cent were viewed by computer ‘bots.’

Anthony Rushton, co-founder and chief executive officer of Telemetry, explained: “The fraudsters erect sites with phony traffic and collect payments from advertisers through the middlemen who aggregate space across many sites and resell the space for most web publishers.

“The widespread fraud isn’t discouraging most marketers from increasing the portion of their ad budgets spent online. But it is prompting some to become more aggressive in monitoring how their money is spent. The Internet has become so central to consumers, that advertisers can’t afford to stay away.”

b2bmarketing.net

Customer Loyalty: Earn or Buy?

Are You Earning Customer Loyalty, Or Are You Buying It?

We can all agree that having loyal customers is fundamental to the long-term success of a business. However, there have been numerous studies that have been done that show that loyalty amongst customers is decreasing.
One such study by research company fast.MAP in late 2013 reported that:
• 20% of consumers will switch loyalties if offered a better loyalty programme by a competitor brand;
• 33% use loyalty programmes to try out and buy from brands they wouldn’t normally use; and
• 96% of consumers would be tempted to switch loyalties to a competitor by a good price promotion;

Given these statistics, it’s clear that having a ‘loyalty programme’ is no guarantee that your customers will remain loyal.
In these cases, loyalty programmes are nothing more than bribes.
Sure, people like things for free. Or, more for less. Who doesn’t?
The challenge is that many loyalty programmes are not delivering customer loyalty.

 

Infinite Profit

 

So, if everyone is trying to out discount and out ‘loyalty’ programme everyone else, what happens when you can’t discount or out do your competitors anymore? What are you left with?
Nothing? Or, at best, a commodity based business? Who wants that?

Therefore, if we really want to foster loyalty from our customers, don’t we need to re-examine what loyalty and being loyal really means?
Loyalty, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is the ‘quality of being loyal’ and loyal is ‘giving or showing firm and constant support or allegiance to a person or institution’.
From these definitions, would you say that a loyalty programme is a good way to foster true loyalty?
No?
So, what to do?
Well, rather than giving up on customer loyalty, perhaps it’s time to re-examine what loyalty really means and what it takes to foster real loyalty.
Experience and history shows that loyalty can be bought. However, it also shows that loyalty that is earned is much more robust, powerful and sustainable.
Therefore, if we want our customers to be loyal to us then do we not have to first take a look at ourselves? After all, don’t we align ourselves with people and things that are like us or embody what we want to be like?

Loyalty that is earned has a number of elements to it, including:

1. Having a shared cause or interests that are aligned;
2. Doing what you say you are going to do when you say you are going to do it;
3. Showing up regularly;
4. Being able to forgive when someone makes a mistake;
5. But, also being willing to punish someone when an error is made;
6. Admitting when you are wrong and then apologising; and
7. Always acting in the best interests of the people whose loyalty you are trying to earn.

There may be more elements but how many do you have in your business?
We cannot force a customer to be loyal to us. But, if we would like to earn rather than buy their loyalty, we, first, we have to become the person or the business that people would want to be loyal to.

Adrian Swinscoe

Forbes

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