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Part 4 – Small Business Marketing Ideas You Can Steal Now. A 5 Part Series

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Part 4 – Small Business Marketing Ideas You Can Steal Now. A 5 Part Series

Keep ‘em coming; I am always delighted to get feedback from my clients and prospects on what they find useful and what works for them.

Along with this five part series blog, I also created an easy to read 50 Small Business Marketing Ideas desk card. Many of you told me you found the information very useful and have even implemented a tip or two. Thank you for the positive feedback.

So, in the spirit of usefulness and relevance let me offer you some more marketing insights.

16. Join credible networking
I’m sure we’ve heard the old saying “It isn’t what you know, it’s who you know’. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to know what you’re doing and talking about that’s not the entire equation. In today’s business world, the opportunity to do business with someone is directly connected with who you know. Think about it for a minute.
To fast track the quality and quantity of business you do, it might be worth the time and money to become part of a credible networking group. Offline groups like Business Networking International (BNI), the largest networking group in the world, your local chamber of commerce or an industry professional group might just be the place to start. Ensure the fit is right and you feel comfortable within the group. A word of caution – go with a ‘Givers Gain’ mindset and not a ‘Take More Than I Give’, for in doing so you’ll win and build lasting relationships.

Bob Burg in his book Endless Referrals, suggests that forty (40) per cent of new business comes from referrals or word of mouth. It’s who you know and who they know. He refers to it as the sphere of influence.

In the online world, social networks like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, Diggs and so on are great places to start. LinkedIn is the leading and most credible social network for professionals; it has over thirty five (35) million business professionals in two hundred (200) countries across one hundred and seventy five (175) industries. Best of all it’s free and easy to set up.

17. Network your business by volunteering
Doing good is good for your small business and that’s why performing community service can be a great way to enhance your business profile. In so doing you can establish important professional relationships, build brand identity, gain new customers while at the same time strengthening your community.

Don’t ever believe you’re too small to make a worthwhile contribution or support a cause that’s near and dear to you and/or your business mission. When considering volunteer opportunities be sure to ask yourself the following questions:

1. Is this cause closely aligned with or related to my company, industry, product segment or business goals?
2. Will the volunteer effort deliver high impact results?
3. Is the volunteer schedule flexible and convenient to facilitate my participation?

Being recognized by your peers, community leaders and the media as a good corporate citizen is good for you and your business. There are many local non-profit and charitable organizations that recognize outstanding community volunteers and small businesses. In Canada, one such leading organization is Imagine Canada (www.imaginecanada.ca).

18. Create an email signature for every email you send out
How many email messages do you send daily, monthly or yearly? Do a check. You’d be surprised how many messages you send out and perhaps how many missed opportunities to inform your ‘community’ about any special news or happenings.
Without question, your email signature line is a low cost, highly visible, high-return and powerful marketing tool. It is your online business card or classified ad. It might also be considered the most missed marketing tool.

As a rule of thumb, your signature line should be four to six lines and never more than eight. Here are some ways you can creatively use your signature line:

• A quote that represents your business or your values
• An invitation to a special event, conference, or to subscribe to your organization’s email newsletter.
• An announcement of a new program, award, service, company specials, blog or website
• A call to support a cause or contribute to a campaign or fundraiser
Keep your signature line updated and never miss another opportunity to use it as your classified ad.

19. Use your voicemail to promote an event, special offer etc.
Your telephone voice mail is another great, low cost, high impact marketing tool; often overlook; often underused. If you want to pull more customers in or announce something special, your business and cell phone voice mail are two good places to start.
Use your voice mail to describe what you do and how you can help your customers and prospect. Instead of saying ‘ Hello, you’ve reached Ann’s voice mail, sorry I missed you, please leave a message’ etc etc. Consider tweaking it to say something like this:
“Hello, you’ve reached Ann with AKB² Small Business Marketing. We help small businesses attract new customers and increase sales revenues. For more information on how we can help you , visit us at www.akbsmallbusinessmarketing.com.” etc. etc.
Ensure there is some call to action, whether is to visit your website, sign-up for your newsletter, announce an upcoming event or any other call to action.

Be creative, there are many ways you can use your voice mail as a marketing tool. Be sure to keep it reasonably short so customers and prospects do not become impatient or frustrated.

20. Ask your customers, colleagues, friends and family for referrals. Put a system in place
Referrals are one of the best ways to grow your small business. Earlier, we established that forty (40) per cent of new business comes from referrals. The key to building a steady stream of referral business is to build it into your sales system. Here are a couple of ways to get started.

Ask regularly and make this a habit. Do it ALL the time and not just sometimes. If you do this infrequently your results will be less than stellar. Ask frequently and you’re more likely to get many valuable leads. Dedicate a day or even a couple hours a week for the purpose of seeking referrals only.

After the close of every sale or delivery of great service ask for referrals then. It’s a good time, having just established yourself as a good service provider, your customer will be more likely willing and ready to pass on a good referral.

Think creatively and look beyond your usual customers. Consider complementary businesses which might have some of your ideal customers. Form a power team and watch your referral list grow.

Until Part 5…keep going; keep growing your small business.

By: Dorothy Vernon-Brown

Posted in Small Business MarketingComments (0)

Part 1 – Small Business Marketing Ideas You can Steal Now. A 5 Part Series.

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Part 1 – Small Business Marketing Ideas You can Steal Now. A 5 Part Series.

It’s a common dilemma for small businesses – more customers required but little to no marketing dollars available. It’s a classic chicken and egg case – spend marketing dollars and they will come or have customers then spend marketing dollars. It’s a challenge I see over and over again in my small business marketing practice.


The great news is – it doesn’t need to be so. Small businesses can still market on a lean budget. If you’re open to new ways, sometimes out of your comfort zone ways…have a dash of creativity and even a small dose of discipline you can begin to attract more customers on the cheap.


This five part series will outline some real cost effective and simple marketing ideas you can steal now.


Marketing has a beginning but never an end, so determine your short, medium and long term strategies as you implement these ideas.


One last thing, as a small business owner you cannot not market.


1) Start a Blog

With the era of social networking in full throttle mode, getting found online is imperative. Period. If you fail to embrace Web 2.0, prepare for a slow death.

Many of your customers and prospects are doing most of their search online before making a purchasing decision. Blogger.com or WordPress.com are free tools and a good place to start.


2) Create an email newsletter

Creating an email newsletter is another cheap way of connecting with your customer base and prospects on a regular basis, whether weekly, bi-weekly or monthly. Include information they want to hear and will read, forget the sales pitch. Start with the What’s In It For Them mindset – great content, the latest and greatest in your industry, a special discount, a not to miss event; something your customers and prospects will value.

There are many email management systems out there – eMarketer by SoftEdge, Constant Contact, Emma, Mail Chimp to name a few.


3) Set up a Linked In or Facebook Account

More freebies- Linked In and Facebook are becoming useful marketing tools for small businesses; they are easy to set up and get you connected with other businesses quickly. Use them to invite people into your community. While some small business owners might not see the value in Facebook, its gaining traction as a compelling business tool especially when you use the Fan page right. Linked In is a hands down winner as a business tool. Many success stories abound as to its usefulness. Proceed quickly.


4) Start Tweeting

A tweet is a short message or entry post on the micro blogging site Twitter, another social network medium. You can begin your free account at Twitter.com. According to them, it helps you share and discover what’s happening right now, anywhere in the world. Why in the world would a small business care? Twitter evangelist, David Spark, feels that Twitter gives you an opportunity to connect in a way that isn’t possible with any other communication tool. David’s Sixteen Great Twitter Moment article explains its usefulness perfectly. (Respond to me for article)


5. Create a Signature Event

Quality face time gives you an unparallel opportunity to have a conversation with your customers and prospects. So whether it’s a networking event, a workshop, a seminar, a fireside chat, a conference – consider something you can create to add value to your customers and prospects.

Until part two, just do it. Do something.


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By: Dorothy Vernon-Brown



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Say What! Brand New Second Hand Marketing, Anyone?

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Say What! Brand New Second Hand Marketing, Anyone?

Say What! Brand New Second Hand Marketing, Anyone?


All this buzz about the latest and greatest web 2.0 marketing strategies is making my head spin.  I suspect I’m not alone. Maybe it’s the very same for many other small business owners grappling with growing their customer base and adding to the bottom line.

 Email campaign this. Blog that. Twitter now. Facebook later. Un-conference tomorrow. Community today.


It’s a similar question I find I’m asking myself as a small business marketer – where did the tried and true marketing strategies go; ones that got you connected, really connected with your customers and brought you before your ideal prospects.  Were they banished forever in the kingdom of ‘ole skool’.


Are these new practices just the flip side of the coin- connection, community, care and consistency?


Truth be told, marketing to customers is the same as it was yesterday, today and forever. The packaging might be different, the distribution fast as lighting speed and the players less tolerant but as I see it -what is old is new again.  There is nothing new under the sun the good book says.


When you peel away the layers, the packaging, the lingo, the medium -  it boils down to the tried and true concept  of  building strong relationships, establishing trust, solving problems and understanding what customers want.


Isn’t this what we’ve been doing our entire life?  Amy, your best friend forever (BFF) did not earn that spot because she followed you on Twitter or begged for the spot on some blog; neither did Ashley, God mother to your first born won this sacred place because she connected with you on Facebook.  


I also suspect your significant other didn’t sweep you off your feet with a string of mass email campaigns or banner ads.


These relationships were built over time, laughter by laugher, tear by tear, fight by fight as you listened, understood, cared and shared.


Suddenly, the enlightenment comes – the top experts, the gurus, the stars, the mega marketing ministers are now echoing with one voice – build relationships, build community, listen to your customers, treat them like family, and solve their problems. 


Do all this and more and you’re bound to create raving fans, evangelists, referral partners, customers, followers, call it what you may.


I believe we’ve come full circle – these seeming new marketing ideas are not so new after all.  It’s what many small business owners and other companies have been practicing for eons and eons.


I admit, the packaging is high tech to boot, compelling even. It’s connects like never before, it’s instant, real time and online but at the heart of the crux of the matter isn’t new. To me, it’s what I call brand new second hand.


Am I alone or am I alone? What are your thoughts?


By: Dorothy Vernon-Brown

Posted in Small Business MarketingComments (0)

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