Apr 132012

Photo of business strategy bookWhat is content marketing? I hear you ask.

Content marketing is all about information sharing, as opposed to product pushing.  It’s about the creation of content and sharing of it with your potential customers in order to engage with them and build a relationship.

In this multi-dimensional, communications-enabled age people are blind to advertising; they want information.  Not only that but they usually want it free (or very cheap) and they want it on their terms.  Bombarding them with adverts doesn’t achieve any of that so we need to find new ways to get our name out there.

As a small business the best way is through the use of the web and this can be done in many forms.  Underlying each strategy, however, needs to be the key remit that you’re doing it primarily to help others, with little or no indication of selling on your behalf.  Let’s look at a typical small business example.

Imagine that I run a Web site design company.  I will, naturally, have my own Web site which is aimed at selling my services with a few ‘calls to action’ but I should also include content marketing stuff on there too.  For example, I may have a glossary of web design terms so that people can start to understand the difference between html, css, Java and Flash.  I may also have a free downloadable pdf with the key questions people should ask a web developer before using their services.  I could go as far as putting together some videos showing how to make a site more Google friendly, or sowing how to make the most of Adsense.

There are a number of great things about all these ideas.  First, they’re free/cheap to do, second, once done they are there forever and third (and most importantly) they help to show me as an expert in my field.  This is the key thing that helps towards building the relationship of trust that will over time result in business coming in.

The next element of my strategy will be to get myself involved in forums.  Here, I will go online to give my expertise freely to others who need it.  I will go to a variety of sites spread across a wide range of subject areas (even Mumsnet has pages on business so don’t just look in the obvious places) and start building my reputation.  Initially I probably won’t even mention that I run a web design business but, as my reputation grows, I will slowly start to drop hints until I finally ‘come out’.  Even then I will still avoid explicitly touting or business.

Content marketing is a slow burner but it is one that will bring huge rewards to you and your business because it is built on relationships which tend to be strong and, therefore, enduring.

Image: Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Mar 222012

Using press releases to advertise your business can be a great way of informing people about your business and the great thing is that it’s free!

But you need to know how to do it properly otherwise journalists will just throw it in the trash along with all the other amateur efforts.  This article is written using feedback from journalists and explains exactly what they like to see. Continue reading »

Mar 222012

One area of advertising that many business forget about is press releases and it’s a shame because done properly they can be a really effective way of getting your name out there absolutely free of charge.

However, to be effective in making press releases work you need to do it properly (just like all other advertising…), there are no short cuts.  This article will explain how to get the most out of any press releases you write. Continue reading »

Dec 152011

How to make your adverts really work for you

Regardless of where your ad is – newspaper, magazine, website – they say you have about 3-5 seconds to make an impact on the reader before they move on to something else.  There are lots of ways to attract a reader’s attention (through the use of color, photos etc) but the thing that will grab their attention and keep it is your advert headline.  Here are a few ideas you should keep in mind when you’re advertising your business with an advert. Continue reading »

Dec 142011

You need to get people in the door to be able to sell to them!

Before you can make any sales you need to attract leads to your business. Leads are not customers, they are only potential buyers, or prospects, because they haven’t bought from you yet. What we’re going to look at here are a few examples of how you can attract prospects through your door. Some of the ideas will be better for people selling products, others for those selling services. Regardless, they are all tried and tested methods that will improve your business. Continue reading »

Dec 142011

A referral strategy can be a great way to advertise your business – because there is a personal connection

When you’re building a business, a referral strategy is a great way of building up customers and spreading the word about your company. If you’re just starting a small business it can also be a great way of getting your name out there in a cheap and effective fashion. A referral strategy is usually used in conjunction with other marketing ideas but can be used successfully on its own. Continue reading »

Dec 142011

Done properly, networking can be a great way to advertise you and your business

Networking is a great way to get you and your business known in the local area. It’s also a relatively cheap way to advertise too which is good because the cost to start a small business can be high and you will need to be fairly tight with the money until the customers start rolling in.

However, don’t think that networking is just turning up, eating the snacks, having a few glasses of wine and then leaving. Here are a few things to keep in mind when networking. Continue reading »

Dec 142011

Learn how to advertise your business successfully

A lot of people spend a lot of time and money advertising their business. But only a few know how well their advertising is working for them because most of them don’t take the vital action of testing and measuring. Testing and measuring performance is vital across many areas of business but with advertising it’s really important because this is all about you spending money to get customers through the door. Get it wrong and you’ve made a loss before you even start selling. Continue reading »

Dec 142011

Knowing how to advertise your business properly can make a real difference to your sales

One of the keys to success when advertising your small business is the power of your offer. When someone turns the page of the paper or magazine, or sees your flyer you have about 5-10 seconds to make an impression. If you don’t grab their attention in that time then your advert may as well not exist. So, how do you grab their attention and make them stop and read it properly? Continue reading »

Dec 142011

Advertising your business does not need to be a chore.

As you build up your business the chances are that you will be advertising your business in a number of different places, using different marketing and different media. How do you keep on top of everything? The answer is simple by using a default diary and setting up a system. Continue reading »

Dec 142011

Flyers are old school advertising but they still work

Whether you’re buying a franchise or starting a business from scratch you need to advertise but advertising can cost money and very often you don’t know which adverts are working and which aren’t. There is, however, a good cheap way to advertise your business and that’s through flyers; here’s why you should be using them. Continue reading »

Dec 132011

When it comes to advertising it’s amazing how much you can do with little or no money

Sometimes in a business you need to ramp up your advertising but lack the funds to do something ‘proper’, like take out ads in a newspaper or buy a slot in the listings directories. But don’t worry, there are other – cheaper – ways of advertising businesses that can be just as effective; all it takes is a little bit of imagination and a little more personal time and effort. Continue reading »

Dec 132011

How to make your business advertising work

There’s a famous saying in advertising of a business owner saying “50% of my advertising works – I just don’t know which 50% it is”. If you want to avoid this sort of problem for your small business then read on. Continue reading »