Small Business Digital Marketing: Using the Internet to Grow Your Business

If you are a small business and you are not yet marketing yourself online then you are really missing out. On the other hand, maybe you’ve tried it but you just haven’t been able to generate the results you’d like? Either way, it’s time to change things and get serious about this opportunity…

The sad truth is that most small businesses aren’t marketing themselves effectively using the internet. This is usually because they lack the expertise to implement their marketing campaigns in the right way, or they believe that it is expensive and thus not something they can afford.

What can you achieve with small business digital marketing?

The reality is that digital marketing is a constantly changing landscape. If you really want to succeed with it and generate great results for your business then you definitely need to know what you are doing. If it is done in the right way however then this type of marketing can enable you to grow your business and reach new customers in a way that has never been possible before.

The digital world creates a wonderful opportunity for small businesses to grow their income, find new clients and better engage existing ones. From advertising through social media to reach new audiences, generating leads through carefully crafted website landing pages, or engaging existing customers through content-filled email newsletters, this tool can generate real tangible results for your company.

Getting started with small business digital marketing

The first thing to get clear on is that you need a definite plan. Diving straight into the field without thinking about what you want to achieve, and how you are going to achieve it, is simply setting yourself up for failure. Failing to plan is probably the number one reason why most small businesses fail with this inception.

It is very important to have a clear and detailed strategy. You should set out specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound marketing objectives and targets, and you should ensure that you think carefully about the digital marketing channels you are going to use to get your message out there.

It is also important to remember that digital marketing isn’t an instant solution. Achieving effective results requires consistent action, on-going testing and regular reviewing of progress.

Getting help with small business digital marketing

As we have already touched upon, digital marketing is a complex field that’s constantly changing. It is therefore crucial to have a good understanding of the subject and know exactly how to plan and implement digital campaigns for maximum results.

Many small business lack in-house expertise and thus choose to seek the help of a digital marketing agency. This is often a smart decision because it brings much-needed expertise to the table. A digital marketing implemented by professionals is much more likely to generate great results than a campaign implemented by someone who is relying in trial and error. In addition, getting external help with small business digital marketing frees the company to concentrate on running their business, without worrying about their digital campaigns.

Five Steps to a Rock Solid Business Foundation for Solo Entrepreneurs

“An accurate plan poorly implemented is more successful and effective than a vague or generic plan implemented with brilliant precision.” – Author unknown.

Just about everyone in the business world agrees that planning is important and has some value. Before you can decide on an approach to planning, however, it’s important to think about who is asking you for your plan and what purpose it will serve.

For example:

If a loan officer at the bank asks to see your plan, he is primarily interested in reviewing your financial projections to make sure you can repay your debt.

If a venture capitalist asks to see your plan, she is primarily interested in discerning the return on her investment in your business idea.

If an employee asks you about your plan, he is seeking clear direction so he can successfully contribute on the job and earn his salary.

As a solo entrepreneur, you are looking to focus your efforts on ensuring the success of your business and optimizing the use of your time. We want to focus on doing the 20% that makes 80% of the difference.

A common mistake people make in business is that they take action without getting clear and accurate direction on a few key things before they start. To solve this problem, I suggest that people start with a written Situation Analysis.

The Situation Analysis is simple to do if you break it down into sequential steps. Writing clarifies the logic. If you try to do it all in your head, think about it all at once, or attack the steps in the wrong sequence, the clarity and accuracy you seek with the exercise is much more difficult to achieve.

5 Steps to a Clear and Accurate Business Foundation

Clarity is determining who your customers really are and if they really need your services.

Accuracy is not misleading yourself with opinions and interpretations, but rather dealing with the facts related to the opportunity.

There are multiple aspects of your situation to consider, but the five primary considerations are your customer, your offer, your business development strategy, pricing and industry trends.

1. Your Customer

Have you clearly identified your customer?

What are the customer’s needs, wants, and desires?

Are you clear about the problems you can help them solve?

How many people have these problems (i.e., what’s the size of the market)?

What things does the customer want to accomplish?

Who is the decision maker within the customer’s organization?

Who are the key decision influencers?

What is the decision-making process the customer will use to say “yes” or “no” to your offer?

Use data and facts throughout your analysis whenever possible, not speculation or hope-fors. The information you need can often be obtained with conversations with potential customers and market surveys. You will want to ask: “How often do you have this problem? How important is it to you to solve this problem? How would you personally benefit if the problem were solved?” Some of the core benefits to the customer may include achieving their goals, increasing revenue, increasing productivity, saving time, and increasing security.

2. Your Offer

After you have clarity about the customer, the next step is to be clear about the programs, services, and products you will offer. If you are clear about the customer’s problems, it will be easier to get clear about what you will need to offer to satisfy those problems. Put your offers in ranked order of opportunity and focus your efforts in the highest leverage areas.

3. Your Business Development Strategy

My experience is that solo entrepreneurs tend to waste a lot of time working on their marketing materials prematurely. An effective business development strategy is best developed after you’re clear about your customers and the problems you will solve. What are the materials and tactics needed to effectively communicate your offering to potential customers? Possibilities include an executive summary, sales sheet, business cards, face-to-face networking, public speaking, and perhaps an active blog and social media presence.

4. Pricing

What value are you bringing to solving the problem for your customer? What does the competition charge for a similar offering? An effective pricing strategy will take both of these factors into consideration.

5. Industry trends

My observation is that the trends in the industry, if not monitored correctly, can act like a brick through the front window. What are the trends in your industry and that of your customer? Are you able to step into a trend that is going to create an opportunity or are you stepping into a trend of a diminishing market? Examples of industry trends include innovation, government intervention, and the economic climate.

Learn more about performing your own Situation Analysis on my sister website, Stepping Through the Gate by downloading my 4 step planning process.

Now it’s your turn.

Are you being crystal clear about a specific customer you are targeting and the set of problems you are trying to solve or are you trying to be all things to all people?

Are you clear about the problems you solve or the conditions you eliminate with your services, programs, and products?

When you can answer “yes” to these 2 questions, your life will be easier and your efforts to develop your new business will be more productive.

Building Your Business Foundations – The Key Components Explained

So where do I start?

If you are new to internet marketing the whole process can seem a little overwhelming; however following a few simple rules will ensure that you get your business off to a flying start and enable you to feel more confident with your new business venture.

The basis of starting on your foundations is essentially to clarify what you need to achieve with your business; how are you going to set these foundations up? And an element you need to consider is how long will the process take?

There are many areas within your foundations that you need to look at; start by making a list of what you need as far as your business is concerned and work from there. Communication is essential for your business and it takes many forms. E Mail is an obvious one to look at first; you need to make sure that your e mail provider allows you to receive e mails into your in box. The last thing you need is for all your essential mail to be dropped into your spam box; you could miss out on information that is important to the running of your business. A lot of the top providers will offer free accounts and it is down to personal preference as to which one you choose.

You need to look at the financial aspect of your business; how are payments going to be made and how are these going to be set up within your business structure.

A working business bank account should be looked into as quickly as possible; this usually takes time to set up and as your payment processor will need the information in order to make payments into your account this is your first point of call. again it is personal preference as to which bank you use. Look for the best deals around that will save you money and give you the best benefits available.

Payment processors are an essential part of you business structure; this is what you will use so that your customers can make payments for the products and services that you offer. This will be linked up with your bank account; again make this a priority in setting up as these elements can take time to process.

Auto responders form the basis of your communication with your customer base; it allows you the freedom to communicate with a large audience and keep them up to date with all aspects of your business. This will be an essential part of your foundations; something that you need to spend time looking into to get the best for your business.

Domains; sounds obvious given that you are working on the internet, however this does take time to get right. Choosing the right domain name is important so that it will meet the criteria for your business and that the idea of your business name is available to you. Finding the right domain is part of the finer detail that you need to achieve; essentially a window into your business. Focus upon the elements that you wish to promote and work from there, opt for a good service provider that will meet all the needs you require. This can be in to form of a provider who will host your domain as well as providing other services such as auto responder integration, web design as well as training and support.

Although there are many areas to take into consideration when setting up your business you should treat all that you set out to achieve as a great learning curve; trust your abilities and do your research. There are many people out there who will give you all the advice that you need. Sometimes you just need to ask.

Laying Your Business Foundation: Where to Find Customers? – Part 5

This is a short and precise series filled with suggestions about Where to Find Customers? Again, if you have not read the previous articles I encourage you to build on the previous lessons of this series before reading the current issue.

You’ve asked yourself hundreds of times, where are the customers? Entrepreneurs and business owners alike has posed this one particular question more times than any other question. My response to that is, they are everywhere and the primary reason you haven’t noticed is because you are not actively looking for them. Case and point, how many people did you pass today? Start with this number then add the previous weeks so on and so forth for the past month. If you’re honest I would guess hundreds maybe thousands of people who probably need your service or product but you did not bother to share what you have to offer.

Locating customers is much easier than you think. Let me expound further. Most entrepreneurs and business owners or a staff member will frequently visit the post office, office supply stores, courthouses and other businesses where people are gathered. On average you will personally come in contact with a minimum of 15 people per day times 365 days per year equals 5,475 potential customers. Now multiple 5,475 x 2% = 110 customers. Notice I said customers because 2% is your conversion rate. Not only will you meet customers personally but via the internet, telephone and referrals are potential customers too. Factor these prospects with the others and watch how easily your pipeline fills up.

For illustration purposes, multiply 110 (which is the number of customers) X $25 (your average sale price) = $2,750 (the amount added to your bottom line). See all the money what you’ve been passing.

Let’s Begin…

Have in mind who is your ideal customer. In essence, know your targeted audience. Your ideal customer may or may not be the person you encounter on a daily basis but they may know someone who is your ideal customer; therefore, always treat everyone with genuine courtesy and respect. People will remember how you made them feel longer than what you said to them.

Make it your mission to expect five new customers per day than increase this amount to whatever number of customers you want in your pipeline. Remember, without customers your business will definitely derail and you will be responsible for getting everything back on course. Avoid this at all cost, the reason being it is time-consuming to convince your regular customers to come back without jeopardizing your relationship with them. Winning back regular customers will cost you more because they will expect something greater than what you originally offered.

So the next time you are at the grocery store, shopping mall, movie theater, doctors office, parking lot, restaurant, sporting event, music festival or any place where people gather, have a business card or pamphlet about your business to leave with your next customer.

Word of Caution. Never leave any of your business materials with other businesses without their permission. By doing so you are showing them respect which they will remember your professionalism and probably send you several referrals.

This is enough information to point you in the right direct to finding customers.

Until Next Time! Stay tuned to “Laying Your Business Foundation.”

The topic of discussion for the next article of “Laying Your Business Foundation – Part 6: Marketing Your Services or Products.