Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Tracking Your Marketing Progress

I came across an article on Entrepreneurslife.com titled "Workouts, pain, growth and Entrepreneurship". It talks about the importance of tracking the results you are getting in your business.

One technique for doing this is to keep a journal of your business everyday. You could even make your journal a blog. In your journal you could put your day into categories such as "marketing activites" and "client interactions". You could also do it chronologically in a diary format. However you do it, be detailed. This way when you go back to the past entries at a later date you can reproduce something that you found particularly useful in your business.

This article urges us to ask these two simple questions:

  • How many clients do you have today?
  • How many do you want to have 30 days from now?
By tracking your successes and failures (hopefully not too many failures) you can discover what works and what doesn't to help make your business successful.

So start tracking your business today. It is a small commitment that will pay off huge dividends.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Vehicle Advertising

One method of marketing is using your vehicle as a bill board. Business owners have custom made graphics that cover there whole vehicle. The cost of this is out of reach for some business owners. Here is some lower cost alternatives.
  • Have a license plate frame made with your business name, phone number and website. You could have a bunch of these made and give them out to your clients to put on their car.
  • Have bumper sticker made. Again you could pass them out to clients.
  • Have back windshield decals made. These cost considerably less than full vehicle signs.
  • If you are artistic, you could paint the inside of your back windshield.
If you place anything on your windows make sure they do not obstruct your view.

The main thing is your vehicle should be in good condition. You don't want to advertise your business on an old wreck. Let me know if you think of any other ways to advertise with your vehicle.

Monday, April 03, 2006

How Can A Blog Boost Your Business?

A blog is a simple tool you can add to your web marketing efforts. Whether it is on it's own or in addition to your website.

Steve Rubel at Micro Persuasion makes reference to really interesting article from msn.com. This article touches on the benefits of Blogging and tips to have a successful Blog.

The article lists the three ingredients to a great blog are great content, regular updating and using your own distinct voice. I have a few additional tips to add to this list. Post comments to other bloggers on a regular basis. Another thing is to read and learn from other blogs that are successful.

So try adding a blog to your marketing mix. You will have fun and stay connected to your clients.

Marketing Ideas From Your Clients

A way to solicit ideas for marketing is through your customers. Here are some ideas:

  • Hold a promotional idea contest in which your clients submit a short essay that explains how they think you can best get the word out about your business or they could submit slogans. If you can add an unusual hook to it such as asking them to give you their best wild and wacky promotional ideas. You could also have a contest called "101 Uses For My Product". The crazier the better as this could stir up some publicity about your business. Offer a prize for the best idea(s).
  • Send your clients surveys asking them for ways you could improve your product or service. If you know what your clients wants and needs are, you can focus your marketing more on those needs.
  • Big companies hold focus groups. Why not small business? Get a group of your customers together and have them tell you what they like about your business and what you could do to improve it. When you invite them offer it as a customer appreciation day and provide refreshments. Be honest with them and tell them you will be looking for some good feedback on your business that day.
You can come up with more creative ideas of your own. The main thing those is make your intentions clear that you are looking for marketing ideas from them.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Marketing More!

One reason businesses fail is a lack of or not enough marketing.

Instead of continuously marketing from day one, they put up a sign and expect business to come pouring in. They may also market only when they get desperate and start running out of money. Of course by that time it is usually too late.

So what can you do about this for yourself. Here are some tips,

  • Set goals- What are the goals and objectives of your business? Try to set a dollar value or number of clients in a set period of time.
  • Once you have your goals in place, write a marketing plan. As part of your plan, write a budget for your marketing. There are are enough free or minimal cost marketing ideas you can use right now. So you should not need a very large budget. Some people do not even spend a cent on marketing. They do it all by utilizing free methods.
  • Follow through and be consistent. Persistence and patience are the two most important traits to demonstrate in marketing. Marketing is all about planting little seeds. Some seeds may grow rapidly. Some may grow slowly. Some may not grow at all. The key is to keep planting tose seeds or you definitely will not reap any rewards.
Those just three tips to improve your marketing. The keys are setting goals,having a marketing plan, consistency and persistence.

Partnering Creates Synergy

As a self employed person you may feel a little isolated at times. You may feel it is me against a mob of other faceless entrepreneurs. It doesn't have to be this way. You can effectively mobilize each others skills and enthusiasm through a marketing technique called partnering.

So what is partnering? Partnering is when two businesses help promote each other through joint marketing efforts. If done correctly a synergy can be created between the two where the sum is greater than the individual parts. Partnering also keeps each business owner accountable to each other for their actions. I also believe it can be a great way to enhance motivation for marketing and help another business owner get motivated.

Some ways to use partnering:
  • Each partner hands out a coupon- As an example a romantic restaurant may hand out a coupon for a discount on a spa getaway and in turn the spa would give away coupons for the restaurant.
  • Start a partnering network- Gather together a bunch of complementary businesses and brainstorm ways you can help promote each other. Downtown business associations do this fairly well.
  • Hold co-facilitated seminars or information sessions- As an example an investment consultant could hold seminars with a lawyer on Investments and Estate Planning. A massage therapist could partner with a chiropractor and do Back Care seminars.
  • Start a cause- Is there a issue in your community that can be advocated for such as homelessness or youth initiatives? Why not partner with one or preferably more business to start a group. The main thing is that it has to be a cause you believe in. The recognition you gain should come secondary to your genuine concern. If this is not the case your cause will most likely fail. People will also think of you as slick and dishonest if they perceive that you are exploiting a group for your own financial gain. A number of communities have also started groups to fight the entry of Walmart in to their community. Is their any other issues related to business that could be advocated for?
  • Mention each other in press releases- Again going back to the massage therapist and chiropractor example. A massage therapist could include a quote in there release from the chiropractor and vice-versa.
So there are some ideas to utilize this marketing techniques. Here is another article on this technique form the Duct-Tape Marketing Blog that I thought was informative. Give one or more of these a try and share your experiences with me.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Evaluate Yourself and Your Marketing

In Toastmasters giving fair and honest speech evaluations is key to helping people improve their speaking skills and feel good about themselves. As a business person it is smart for you to do the same. Evaluate your marketing efforts on a regular basis to improve your skills and effectiveness.

Here are some tips to evaluate yourself and your business.

  • Look at your objectives- In Toastmasters when we evaluate speeches one thing we look at is the objectives of that particular speech. Did the speaker meet their objectives? In marketing it is wise for you to do the same. Look at your objectives and from time to time. Ask yourself: Am I meeting my marketing objectives?
  • Be honest and fair with yourself- In Toastmasters the aim is to give evaluations that are honest and fair. The criticism should always be constructive and not destructive. So be easy on yourself. If there is something in your marketing that is not working, learn from it but don't dwell on it.
  • Emphasize the positives- In Toastmasters we try to give the speaker a lot of positive feedback to help build their self esteem. At the same time we don't give a whitewash evaluation. We give an evaluation that is honest but supportive. As a business person look at what you are doing really well and give yourself a pat on the back.
  • A Challenge- Some evaluators finish their evaluations with a challenge for the speaker to push their limits on a skill such as gestures for example. You should do the same. After you have evaluated your marketing look at one area for improvement and challenge yourself to take this task head-on. This may be writing more press releases or increasing your networking activities. Be specific and set a goal that you can realistically achieve.

By evaluating your marketing efforts on a regular basis you will definitely become a more savvy marketer.

Why Start a Blog?

Blogging has become a very popular phenomenon in the world of cyberspace. So why do people blog anyways.Some of the reasons are to share wild and wacky ideas about life, keep their diary online for everyone to see or write an ongoing novel.

Why do I blog? I do it to share information about marketing I have learned as a small business owner with you. I feel I have something to contribute to the knowledge bank of marketing. I also hope to inspire you to come up with some creative marketing ideas of your own.

You should consider writing a blog for your business. On your blog you could make announcements about your business,educate your clients, have contests and share your daily thoughts about whatever. It is all about building a friendly rapport with your client. Your clients will grow to know and like you which will cause them to do more business with you.

If you don't know where to start go to Blogger.com. There you can have a blog up and running for fre in less than ten minutes.

So think about. The only cost is your time to write a few paragraphs a day.

Friday, March 31, 2006

3 Simple Ways to Get Mentioned In The Media

Are you intimidated and overwhelmed by the thought of writing press releases and trying to get yourself booked for radio interviews. I know I was for a long time.There are a number of ways to get yourself mentioned in the media without too much effort. These small efforts will help to build your confidence for bigger efforts.

Here they are:
  1. Many radio stations have morning call in shows that address various local or national issues. Call in to these as often as possible. Avid listeners of these programs will start to recognize you by name. Additionally people at the radio station may get to know you and call you in for an interview if they find you to be interesting.
  2. Write editorials to your local papers. If you market to a national audience consider the New York Times which is read throughout the U.S. and in Canada. In Canada consider writing to papers such as the Globe and Mail or National Post.
  3. Submit recipes or other information. Many small local papers have regular columns that readers can submit recipes or other information. A small thing. However one of the points of publicity is to get your name mentioned in as many places as possible, no matter how large or small. Of course hopefully the press is favourable.
So consider these tips to get your name mentioned in the media. You never know who is going to be reading that recipe you sent in. Let's get cooking.

Become a Better Person to Promote Your Business

One way to get yourself known in the community is through community service. I have personally done volunteer work in the past and found it a very rewarding and enjoyable experience.

Volunteering in the community will put you in touch with the people that run the organization and the people that you will be serving. These people are potential clients or contacts that may get extra business for you. Also the service you are doing for your community will help to foster goodwill for your business.

Here are some points to keep in mind when considering volunteering:

  • Make sure you have a definite interest in the group you are volunteering with. Your genuine interest and caring should come before your interest in increasing your business in this case. Especially considering you may often be working with venerable populations such as children and seniors.
  • First look at what your interests are. There is a volunteer organization to match just about every interest. Your community should have a community volunteer recruitment centre that can help you find an organization you are interested in.
  • Be prepared to volunteer at least 2-4 hours of your time. Consider this an investment in your community and yourself as a human being.
As a massage therapist I have volunteered for many organizations. One notable one is the Arthritis Society. I was a volunteer on their board of directors. Unfortunately this service was discontinued in the community I was living in. However as a massage therapist had I been involved with the arthritis society for a longer period I have no doubt I would have had my name mentioned in the press from events they held for fund raising. How great is that! I am doing something for a worthwhile cause I believe in and getting free publicity for myself. Additionally some of the other people on the board were in fields complementary to mind. The networking opportunities were plentiful.

So consider adding volunteer work to your schedule. You will become a better person and market yourself at the same time.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

10 Ways Keep In In Touch With Your Clients

How often have you said"I need to make an appointment with my massage therapist." Then you forget. Keeping in touch with your clients is important as it keeps you in their memory. They are more likely to do business with you again if you keep in touch.

Here are 10 ways to keep in touch with your clients.

  1. If you are a service business, especially health-care service such as massage therapy or chiropractic follow-up in a couple days (by phone)from their first visit to see how they enjoyed your service. Ask them if they would like to rebook.
  2. Newsletters at least every three months.
  3. Birthday cards
  4. Christmas cards or a Christmas letter.
  5. Customer surveys.
  6. An annoucement.
  7. A contest ballot.
  8. A postcard with special offer or business annoucement.
  9. A news clipping or articles that may interest them.
  10. A tips sheet or fact list.
So there are some ideas to get you started. Now come up with your own ideas. This will be an effort you won't regret.