Posts Tagged ‘Running A Small Business’
By Edmond Hong
When running a small business you want to do things right the first time out, otherwise there may be no second chance. If you want to get your small business known, you need to ensure that the word gets out there. In years past, big marketing was reserved for well-established, long lived companies.
But with the age of technology thriving, all that has changed, and even the smallest business can have the loudest voice. Not only that, but staying on top of the ball. With technology being so rapidly introduced, it has never been more important to stay ahead of the competition and familiarize yourself with the latest up-and-coming trends. How do you go about this though? Get the creative juices flowing and keep your head held high. Get ready to bring your business to an entirely new level.
Make Your Presence Known
Treat Your Website as a Storefront
When trying to sell a product, do you want your customers to come into your store with everything on the floor, haphazardly strewn about? I think not. Upkeeping a professional website is crucial. This is what sets the tone for your potential customers. It reflects you and how serious your business is. If you keep your website maintained, with fresh updates regularly, you’ll most definitely keep your visitors coming back for more, not to mention bringing their friends along as well.
Mailing lists are another great idea when it comes to your websites. It allows you to keep your current and future customers in the loop about whatever might be going on with your store.
The last key ingredient in making your website a success is making it search engine optimized (SEO). What good is putting hours upon hours into a website if no-one knows about it?
Taking Advantage of the World of Social Media
Show Your Customers That You Are an Expert
If you plan on having a successful business, you better know what it is exactly that you’re selling. If not, you might be in for a bit of trouble. Blogging is a great way to assert your knowledge, and let your potential customers know that you actually know what you’re talking about.
Blogging allows you to connect one-on-one with your customers. It allows you to hear them out, what they like, what they don’t like, what they want from a store, etc, which in turn will build their trust, especially if they know you’re listening. Another benefit is the fact that blogging will grant you visibility, and the more you show you know what you’re talking about, the more that will lend to your credibility as a business.
Facebook as an Ally
800 million people use Facebook. 100 million of them use the site on a daily basis. Knowing your social media immediately gives you an advantage in today’s market. Facebook is one of the largest audiences out there, it’s granted that at least a few of them will want what you’ve got to offer. You may have to do a bit of searching on your part, but once you tap into the audience you’re looking for, you might see things starting to swing in your favor.
If you already have a Facebook business page, then good for you. You’re already a step ahead of the game. If you don’t, then there’s no need to fret. Once you have your page, it’s time to set it up. Visual representation is a key aspect for your small business. It’s basically your first impression. So fill in all of your business’ information so that visitors can get to know a bit about you and the business.
After that, maybe post a bit on your wall about all of the sales and offers currently available from your website. Adding in your profile picture is actually pretty important as well, as people will be able to recognize your logo one your name starts getting out there. Don’t be afraid to add photos and video clips of your merchandise either, if someone doesn’t feel like checking out your site then and there, seeing a picture of your merchandise might make them think twice.
As stated earlier, what good is putting effort into a website if no-one sees it? After you have your page set up, it’s time to unveil it to the world. Facebook does provide Social Plugin Widgets to add to your site, which are essentially profile badges for your actual website to lead traffic to your Facebook page. If you have some room in your budget, it might be wise to purchase an ad and/or buy fans for your Facebook. This can get quite pricy, but doing both will lead traffic to your site and instantly populate your page, respectively.
It is important to keep your page up to date, and decorate it a bit. But your main focus should be your contact with your visitors. Treat them as you would your own friends. Upload pictures from your latest vacation, share a bit of your personal life with them. They’ll be far more receptive if they know they’re doing business with an actual human being. The most important part about Facebook is to not let it overwhelm you, which it can do in an instant. Keep the ball rolling and keep yourself ahead of the learning curve. Here are 20 tips that could guide you on how to use facebook for business correctly and efficiently.
Keeping Customers Updated in 140 Characters or less
Twitter, although one of the smaller social media sites, can actually be one of the most powerful. Your posts cannot reach more than 140 characters, and your main goal here isn’t to gain as many followers as possible, but rather to use the site as an extension of your main website. Keep all of your followers up to date the moment things happen, such as sales, upcoming items, and discounts.
Every morning, update your twitter a bit with links from different websites related to your products. This will allow your followers to gain more knowledge on whatever your business pertains to. Get your employees involved as well. When people see your business working like a bunch of friends as opposed to just all business, it creates a fun feeling for everyone. Also, don’t forget to include your twitter handle whenever you post your website address.
Use LinkedIn to become more SEO
LinkedIn is a great way to become more search engine optimized. LinkedIn is currently the world’s largest business network, and holds a lot of clout in search engines. If you have a LinkedIn account, and someone does a search for you, your LinkedIn profile will undoubtedly show up. LinkedIn, because of it’s reputation, will also give your business quite a bit of credibility in your customer’s eyes. Don’t forget to add links to all of your important websites as well on your page!
Tapping into the Mobile Market
Although cell phones have been popular for years, the age of the Smartphone is on the rise. Smartphones are basically powerful cell phones that have full internet capabilities, as well as the use of applications, or apps, for personal, business, or recreational use. Some of these apps can be very useful to your business, apps such as Yahoo Local, Citysearch, Google Places, and Yelp!.
Aside from cell phones, other mobile devices are on the rise as well, and all of them have the same abilities, such as iPods and tablet computers. Tapping in the mobile market is a great move, and will keep you one step ahead of the competition, as this is one area where not too many small businesses tread.
Visual Media for Information Marketing
Testimonials and Ads
Testimonials are the ultimate confirmation that you are a valid business, and that others should come to you and buy your products. You will gain much more credibility through testimonials than with sales slogans and such. After all, how do they know they can trust you?
Instead of using sales speeches, get one on one with your customers and give them recommendations, should they ask. This gives them complete control, and doesn’t make them feel pressured into buying anything. You’d be amazed at what difference testimonials make. Don’t count out audio marketing just yet though. It may no longer be as prominent, but it’s still around.
E-books offer a lot to your customer. It expands their knowledge, and proves to them that you are a knowledgeable, credible source of information. Digital readers have become very popular, and are available on most mobile devices as well. Try your hand at writing and E-book and offer it on your site for download. It won’t cost you much time or money to make one, and in turn, shouldn’t cost your customers much either. Just make sure to keep the subject matter relevant to your business.
There is no right way to market your small business, because some things might work for some people, while not for others. It’s really a matter of reaching your target market, and doing so in a fresh, new way that might be a bit out of your comfort zone. Remember, without risks there can be no rewards.
Staying ahead of the curve can be difficult for small business. Take advantage of a few creative and aggressive marketing strategies to take your business to the next level. Keeping yourself in the running is especially hard when things are changing faster now more than ever. But taking advantage of these newer strategies that are present in today’s market can pretty much guarantee success.
Search engine optimization and keeping your website professional and complete will keep you in the foreground of potential customer’s minds.
With so many social media sites out, it would be wise to take advantage of them, as it cost nothing to sign up, and very little to go far.
Tapping into the mobile market is a great idea, especially now, since this market is expanding so rapidly.
Using testimonials and e-books helps to enforce your credibility and give you a solid name and brand recognition
About Edmond Hong:
Edmond Hong currently lives in St. Kilda, the beautiful seaside suburbs of Melbourne, Australia. Edmond holds a degree in both Civil Engineering and Business Marketing from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. He is an expert on small business marketing, and has been featured many times in both The Age Australia Business Section and The New York Times, and spends much of his leisure time writing marketing books and coaching entrepreneurs. He also owns a company that promotes facebook fans to companies of all sizes.