Outsourcing Your Advertising And Marketing Tasks – The 3 Things Small Businesses Should Outsource

If you own or manage a small to medium size business you know that marketing, advertising, updating your website and having a customer retention plan are tasks you should pay attention to. But they usually end up on the back burner. Why? You’re running your business so you have better things to do. And you don’t have anyone to delegate your marketing tasks to.

This can be detrimental to your business. After all, you don’t operate in a vacuum. If you have competitors who are grabbing the attention of more prospects than you are (or maybe stealing your customers) you may be in for a big uphill battle.

Yet you don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a consistent market presence. You simply have to have a smart plan in place and you have to implement it consistently. This is where outsourcing comes in.

If you’re a small business there are three principal marketing categories you need to pay special attention to: your website and its “search engine optimization”; generating sales leads; and retaining your existing customers. Although these three must-do tasks are not overly complicated they do require expertise and time, especially in the setup stage. So, consider outsourcing.

Your most important task relates to your website, and getting it optimized. In today’s marketplace a website is typically your primary marketing tool. However, most companies don’t know how to leverage their website or take advantage of the power it has. A sound search engine optimization (SEO) program is a must.

SEO is not a trendy marketing term or a gimmick. It’s a series of practical, measurable steps to ensure that your website comes up on page one in the search results. SEO involves keyword and competitive analysis, the right content, keyword density, site structure, proper code, article submissions and link building, updating your content regularly, and many other steps. A contractor or agency that specializes in SEO should be consulted. But shop carefully, as some companies say they know SEO but really they don’t. Ask for case studies. Other companies want you to sign a pricey year-long contract.

Generating an ongoing stream of sales leads is your next must-do marketing effort. An optimized website combined with the right offers and calls to action will help deliver sales leads, but other tactics should be employed also. These include email marketing, pay-per-click online ads, targeted direct mail, press releases, and articles or white papers that help prospects and customers solve problems. These tactics can be relatively low-cost, especially if you hire an agency that’s matched to your size.

A customer retention plan is your third must-do tactic. Many firms don’t realize that their best prospects are their current customers. It costs a lot to acquire customers, so why not invest a bit in keeping them? Keep in touch with them with a monthly e-newsletter that offers helpful information and news about your company and its people. (Avoid a pushy sales approach.) Regular “touches” by sales or customer service people are also effective. Open houses, invitations to special events and small thank-you gifts may be part of the mix. Chances are you don’t have the time to craft a customer retention program or to implement it, so consider outsourcing it.

To be sure, companies which develop a formal marketing plan will utilize several other tactics aside from the three covered above. You can learn more about integrated marketing here. But these three are of prime importance, with the most critical tactic being the optimization of your website.

Outsourcing these tactics can pay off for you in the short run as well as in the long run. The key is to choose a consultant or agency you feel comfortable with, one matched to your size.

Your next step is to take some time away from the office to consider the value of marketing your business better, what you can afford to spend, what your competition is doing and what your business goals are. If you’re a small to medium size business you’ll probably come to the conclusion that you don’t have the time or expertise or people to handle your marketing tasks. That’s the time to outsource.

Small Business Internet Marketing and SEO For Beginners

The internet has been around for about twenty years, but it’s only been about fifteen since everyone’s been using it. People are still figuring out the ramifications of this world-changing invention. Businesses especially are learning how to benefit from it and get ahead of competition.

An important factor of Online marketing is social media. Everyone’s talking about Facebook and Twitter because that’s how most people find out about what they’re interested in. The result is that if you sell products or offer services, you can update your social media to tell everyone. In turn, that generates traffic to your website, and more overall sales. The tricky part is finding enough time to do this. It may not be an all-day everyday thing, but consistency plays a role in your internet marketing strategy.

Another aspect is your content. It’s important to have your website reflect what it is you do. You want informative, exciting content on your home page that immediately tells shoppers (and search engines) what it is you’re selling. This helps shoppers stay on your page, and it helps search engines rank you more accurately for specific keywords relevant to your industry. A blog with pertinent information and plenty of links to your website is another good way to boost your content. But again, it’s important that it be updated consistently and with quality information – Google has recently restructured its algorithm to determine which websites are the most reliable.

If you are a local business interested in business marketing it’s also important to be featured in local and national directories. The Yellow Pages are online now and when people try to find a business they need, that’s where they’ll turn first. It’s important to have as wide-reaching a presence as possible.

All of these online marketing solutions are relatively new; such strategies didn’t exist ten or even five years ago, and yet today help determine which businesses come up first for the keyword you search, whether luxury watches or legal services. It can be difficult to understand and implement these strategies yourself, so perhaps consider online marketing companies who can help improve the direction and expanse of your business. Remember that any marketing strategy will take time, and patience is important. But with hard work your business marketing can make a big difference in your sales by the end of the year. Start today and watch the changes happen!

Get Clients – Top 10 Marketing Tips for Design Businesses and Freelancers

Want to get clients but now sure how? Want to avoid the No. 1 marketing mistake? Hate cold-calling? Want to reach clients in a language they understand? Put these top 10 tips into practice to find your ideal clients and still be yourself.

1. Avoid the No. 1 marketing mistake many organisations and people make

Jumping straight to the “What marketing tasks shall we do?” stage! You need to know about your business & your clients first. This ensures your marketing sets you apart, gets seen by the right potential clients, and says the right things to them.

2. Know yourself

List the strengths, skills, experience & qualities that you have, which set you apart from other design companies or freelancers. Note the types of work you do/want to do.

3. Know your ideal client

If you have ideal clients, think of them – if you don’t, make use of your imagination and also do some research.) List what they do and what they’re like. Write own their top three concerns or business challenges. Describe what sort of language (visual & verbal) they use. Note where they are (online & offline).

4. Know what you want the marketing to achieve

What do you want to happen, and by when? What’s the budget?

5. If you’re going to do your own marketing, use methods that suit your strengths

For instance, if you enjoy writing, online articles and eZines might appeal, if you enjoy presenting, giving talks to local business organisations could be good. List what you enjoy doing & decide how can it be channelled into raising awareness of your business.

6. Use marketing methods that suit your ideal client

You could have the best social media strategy ever, but if your clients aren’t into social media, it won’t work. Refer to your answers in numbers 3 & 5 – what’s the intersection between the two? That could be your marketing sweet-spot. Now you’re ready to ask what marketing tasks to do! Whatever methods you choose, ensure that you’re addressing your ideal clients’ concerns and showing how you provide solutions to them.

7. Make use of “secret” marketing tools

Your pricing / how you speak, or the wording you use / how you present yourself / how you relate to your clients & suppliers. If a designer’s pricing is bargain basement, their wording is up-market, their self-presentation is utterly casual and their business relationships are overly-formal – it will confuse people! Ensure you’ve got consistency across all these methods of communication.

8. Be ready to act on your marketing success

For example, if your marketing goal is to bring-in five new clients, ensure you’ve got the capacity to do their work, as well as attending to current clients and the rest of your business. If your goal is to have 200 potential customers call you over the next month, ensure your studio is set-up to handle the calls and that all relevant people have been briefed.

9. Reflect on each bit of marketing once it’s finished

Did it achieve what you wanted? What did you learn and how could things be done even better next time?

10. Marketing never stops

Always ensure there’s time set-aside to plan and carry-out the next bit of marketing. Don’t do what I did in my first six months in business – I worked so much on client projects, that I didn’t have time to find any more and one day, they all finished, leaving me with no work and no income, woops!