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The marketing landscape continues to change at the fastest pace but the principles and challenges of clear communication and engagement remain.

The new media had changed the marketing forever, broadening the marketing potential and customer pools. The technology data provides invaluable insights into customer habit and behaviour. The ultimate change in the customer perception: the delivery of on-demand information (online). Within this new shift, marketing must make the the most of the ever decreasing window of opportunity to deliver the right message.

While technology streamlined many marketing aspects, companies still can achieve true results only via thorough analysis of its customers, competitors and products. From Direct Mailers and Print Ads, though Brand Building and Brand Testing, to Website Development, SEO, online Marketing and Email Marketing can only work successfully when they work together towards the same predetermined campaign objective.

Despite of all the changes and advancements, the marketing challenge remains the same: connecting and engaging the customer with the brand.

30 Seconds To Impress Your Customers: The E-Newsletter

 

A small Software Development company based in London was noticing unusual fluctuations in the amount of visitor traffic on their website on the 15th of every month. They were concerned at why the traffic increased by 6 times on that particular day every month. After some introspection, they realized that it was due to the magic of their newsletter. Every time they would send out a newsletter there was sure to be traffic from the newsletter onto their service pages. Let us see the elements that make up a successful newsletter campaign.

Regularity

The most important element to a newsletter service is the regularity of hitting the customer’s inbox. Whether it’s on a monthly or weekly basis, once you set the ball rolling, you must ensure that it continues that way. The customers start to expect your newsletter and sub-consciously start to look out for it in their Inbox. They feel relieved when they see your newsletter, whether or not they actually read or understand its content. Its like a reminder to your customers, that you still exist and are still doing some quality research and also care about sharing your updates with them. Just the fact that you are disciplined enough to frame a newsletter and send it out adds a personal touch and allows your customers to connect better with you.

Content

Content is the second most important aspect. You will always have some readers who are actually interested in what you put in your newsletters and actually seek out some knowledge from them. They maybe from any part of society and this may include technically sound persons or just the common layman. Quality content is what will hold the attention of the target customers and also have respect for your brand and knowledge. Content of the newsletter is also a major factor which will impress upon a prospective customer to make the ultimate decision to buy your product or service. Large paragraphs will not help. People want quick information in a capsule form. They dont want you to rant about nonsense which makes hardly any sense to them or has little benefit to their daily life. You just get about 30 seconds to put your point across. If you are not specific, you have lost their attention.

A newsletter which eases their nagging pain about some daily activity or related information is always a big hit. Eg: A newsletter on the “History of Coffee” may not be as popular as the topic of “How Coffee Improves Your Memory”, because everyone wants to know how to enhance their memory. As it is rightly said: “Knowledge is Power” and everyone wants to be one up on their neighbor. Color schemes of the newsletter should represent your branding and should be sober and subtle. Keeping it consistent throughout is also a good idea.

Aggressive marketing

A newsletter which focuses less on utility and more on the product or service, is as good as a banner advertisement which claims you have won a Jackpot of Billions of Dollars. It is ignored and condemned. If you try to be too pushy and overtly upsell your products, you may start repelling customers. Trying to teach ABCD is not going to go down very well with the customers either. It hurts their ego that you are trying to teach them something they already know. They will ignore it and delete your newsletter. The skill of drafting a newsletter lies in gauging the target audience’s average intellect and keeping the article in tune with it. You want to be more of a big brother rather than a strict father in the newsletter.

Spammy Content

Bombarding the readers with links and banner ads will definitely ensure that they don’t open the newsletters. The readers are not interested in you blowing your own trumpet and forcing them to visit your site. A newsletter must remain as professional as your service. Infact, many Spam Filters will block out mails which have a high number of hyperlinks or suspicious words in them. You should test your newsletters for spammy content and delivery failure before you send out your campaign. Many online tools are available for this.

Whether your newsletter is impressive or not, depends on how much effort you put into it. It is a marketing tool to gain repeat orders and have “Brand Recall” in the customers mind. Not all companies are able to sustain a Newsletter Campaign. It doesn’t cost much money or require a dedicated employee. It just needs dedication of time.

 

5 Steps To Make Your Email Autoresponder Work Harder

 

Effective email marketing is essential when you are building an online business. Every online business needs an email list. This is the list of potential and actual customers that you have on your email database list and who you can send messages to at any time. Your email list is just another tool in the online marketers’ toolbox and like all tools, nothing happens unless you use it. 

For effective email marketing, you need an email autoresponder. It is your electronic personal assistant who works for you 24/7. It’s important to use it to its full potential if you are serious about building an online business. Here are 5 steps to make your email autoresponder work harder.

1. Create a compelling opt-in form.

Using your email autoresponder software you can create an opt-in form to collect email addresses. This opt-in form should sit on the home page of your website. Only ask for an email address on your opt-in form. The more details you ask for, the lower your conversion rate will be. At this stage you do not need any more information other than their email address.

2. Offer something of value.

To enable your email autoresponder to capture the details of your prospects on your opt-in form, you need to offer something of value in return for their email address. For example, this could be a free report, video or newsletter related to your business. Set up your autoresponder to immediately email what you promised in exchange for the email address as soon as somebody opts into your list. People expect things quickly in this electronic age and if they have to wait for days to receive anything from you, when it does arrive they will have probably forgotten why they asked for it.

3. Follow up with more value.

Research shows that it takes at least 7 emails before most subscribers will act, so effective email marketing means building a relationship with new subscribers as soon as possible. To stay in regular contact with your list, pre-load your email autoresponder with a series of helpful emails that are automatically sent out over a set period of time. Create a desire for your subscribers to know more. You achieve this by making sure your emails provide value and pull at the reader’s curiosity.

4. Don’t always try and sell, sell, sell.

Create a balance of selling to them versus being helpful. Send out a series of lessons. Ask them to participate in a poll so that it becomes interactive. Be a little controversial, but not offensive. You’ll want to set up a series of emails that your subscribers will want to read and will look forward to receiving. Moderation is key with effective email marketing and you don’t want to overdo it by bombarding a new subscriber with sales messages every day.

5. Send real time broadcasts.

When you’re building an online business, your email autoresponder works day and night. Your follow-up email marketing campaign is simply a series of emails that have already been pre-written and loaded into your autoresponder and are sent out automatically whenever somebody opts into your list. However, don’t just rely on automation. You have to build a relationship with your subscribers and by sending emails that are in ‘real-time’, about things that are happening now will enhance your success. 

You can do this with a broadcast email that you send out to everyone on your list at the same time. Everyone will receive the same message whether they’ve been signed up to your list for days or years. This type of email message is particularly effective if you have some new product or service you want to let your customers know about, or if you’re having a sale.

 

9 Ways To Get Backlinks To Your Website

 

A backlink is a link on one website that leads to another site. This type of link also might be called an inlink or incoming link.Backlinks on other sites can increase a website’s traffic.They also are tools used in search engine optimization (SEO),because the number and quality of backlinks that point to a website’s often plays a role in the site’s rank among search results.

Let’s take a look at 9 ways you can get backlinks and increase the amount of traffic coming to your site every day.

1. You are reading this article right now and at the bottom of it should be a resource box. The resource box will contain a link pointing back to the writer’s website. One way to increase backlinks is to write and submit massive amounts of articles to article directories online.

2. Write blog articles and submit them to social directories. This is known as bookmarking a blog post and is a valuable way to get a backlink pointing back to your blog. Social directories love these and so do search engines.

3. Post comments in other people’s blogs. Post only in blogs that allow you to include a link back to your blog or website.

4. Hang out and participate in online discussion forums. Include a signature file that contains a hyperlinked keyword phrase back to your website. These posts in discussion forums can stay online giving you backlinks for years to come.

5. Trade links with other websites which is known as reciprocal linking. You can speed the process up by joining a reciprocal linking company and finding hundreds of link partners to trade with.

6. Purchase ads in ezines that are archived on the Internet. These archived issues can serve as backlinks when your ad is published in it. You can purchase multiple ads with an ezine advertising companies such as HBAds and save money by being in multiple ezines with one purchase.

7. Send out a press release every time your Internet business has something new to offer. These press releases will contain a link back to your website that can bring traffic both immediately and in the future.

8. Purchase text links ads on other people’s blogs. If you get on a blog sidebar your link can end up on thousands of pages giving you massive exposure with one link.

9. If you are invited to write testimonials for a product launch do it. These testimonials can give you valuable backlinks and traffic as people read the sales page over and over.

This is 9 ways to get backlinks to your website or blog. There certainly are many more ways to do it and the more backlinks you have the better.

 

How to Properly Include Keywords in Your Web Content

When it comes to web content creation, the cheapest option is writing it yourself.However, the type of writing you do for website is different than the formal writing required for academia. It’s a little bit more restrictive than creative writing but only in the sense that you have to write with keyword optimization in mind.

If you’re a new in internet marketing, you might be wondering, “What is the keyword optimization?”. It sounds more complex than it is. Basically, keyword optimization is making sure your content contains enough instances of your keywords, which are words or phrases commonly used in search engines to find what you offer. For example, if you’re selling real estate in Florida, your keywords may be “florida real estate,” “jacksonville florida real estate,” “orlando homes for sale,” “palm beach houses for sale,” etc.

You can find keywords by using keyword research tools and analyzers. This is software that tells you each of the combinations used with a particular keyword, along with how many times the original keyword and its combinations have been used. You can either use paid keyword analyzers, or you can use the popular Google keyword research tool, which is offered for free in the Google AdWords toolset.

How do you use a keyword analyzer tool?

You enter in the desired keyword and are given a list of results. Paid keyword analyzers return more specific results, while free ones return more basic information. If you find that your keyword receives a lot of visitors–from 20,000 to 30,000 visitors a month for exact matching terms as a minimum–these are the keywords you may want to consider as part of your keyword optimization strategy.

As you review the keywords, think about how you can break them out into logical, related groups. If your site is fairly new, start with the less competitive terms and build out using longer phrases to get some traffic and conversions.

When you’ve selected your keywords, you’re ready to write your content. Here’s where the keyword optimization takes shape. What you need to do is repeat your keyword several times throughout your content. Generally, you want your keyword to appear 2 to 5 percent of the time. For example, if you’re writing an article of 500 words, you’ll want your keyword to appear at least 10 times but no more than 30.

You might be wondering, “What if the nature of my website can’t use keywords that often?” This could be the case for websites with a community theme or those promoting more creative content. You’ll have to include separate sections that contain optimized content that still relates to your site. For example, if you’re running a site related to “fan fiction,” you could create articles that talk about how to create fan fiction (with “fan fiction” being the optimized keyword). Try to get content ideas first by asking your community and reviewing logs and analytics, and build keyword lists into your posts from there. You could also include articles that while not relating to fan fiction could still be of interest to your audience. Example keywords could be writing novels, writing movie scripts and self-publishing.

By including optimized content on a website that would otherwise not contain such content, you get the advantage of self-expression while making sure your site gets seen by search engine bots.

As you write your content, make sure it sounds natural and is enjoyable for visitors. Although the goal is to include your desired keyword 2 to 5 percent of the time, if you use it in a context that’s inappropriate, you turn away visitors. In situations where using your desired keyword would make the read a chore for visitors, you need to substitute another keyword that makes more sense.

Copywriting Tips:

  • Purpose. Quality keyword writing is a multipurpose exercise. You’re serving the search engines and the readers, but write for the readers first.
  • Search engines. The obvious choice is to rank at the top of the relevant organic listings and avoid being banned.
  • Your reader. What is the purpose of your writing for the reader? Do you want your reader to act, such as clicking on a link, visiting your site, submitting an email address, downloading a document or purchasing a product?
  • Re-examine your subject. Are your subject and purpose well aligned? You might need to adjust or narrow your subject.
  • Total quantity. What is the total number of words or pages you expect in your final project?
  • Total keywords and phrases. What are the keywords and phrases you’ll incorporate in your project?
  • Density. Be careful of the keyword lists you take on. Generally speaking, if you have a long keyword list and require many keywords in your text, most search engines will rank the web page low and you may be unable to achieve the results you want. Don’t place too much focus on it, but think/write naturally and continue testing.
  • Format. In what format will you create the project, and what formats will you use for the final version?
  • Competitive views. What layouts, structure and keywords do your competitors use?

4 Easy Ways to Evolve Your Marketing Strategy

Running a good blog or content marketing strategy probably isn’t as hard as it seems. Figuring out what your readers actually want from you can be done through surveys, monitoring website analytics and several other easily available tools.

Here’s a list of some of the most useful content marketing statistics and tips on how to implement them into your strategy.

1. Write longer posts 

We’ve all heard the arguments about the perfect blog post length. Should they be as short as 300 words or taper out around 800 words? Neither. Blog posts should be way longer.

The ideal length of a blog post is more than 2,000 words. SerpIQ discovered that the average length of blog posts that appear in the top 10 search results is more than 2,000 words. In fact, the ones in the top two results have an average length of more than 2,450 words. In the above graph, you will notice a shrink in blog post length as they begin to sink down the search results.

This phenomenon of blog posts ranking well because of length was explained in a study where SEO Moz analyzed the length of blog posts against the number of backlinks they receive in hope of finding an answer. Longer posts attract more backlinks. More backlinks are an important component of SEO and serve as catalysts, thrusting longer posts into the top search results.

Longer posts can also be instrumental from a social-media point of view.

There were analyzed 327 blog posts on QuickSprout and divided them into two parts. One part had posts that were fewer than 1,500 words and the other with posts that were more than 1,500 words. He then analyzed how many Facebook likes and tweets they received.

Posts longer than 1,500 words on average receive 68.1 percent more tweets and 22.6 percent more Facebook likes than posts that are shorter than 1,500 words.

According to these studies, writing longer posts will help you gain traffic through both search engines and social media. This doesn’t give you liberty to beef up content just for the sake of it. People won’t share your article because it’s long, they do it because it’s worthy of their time and attention.

2. Use more visuals 

In the 2014 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, Social Media Examiner discovered that 60 percent of marketers use content in the form of original visual assets (infographics, memes, etc.) in their marketing. The report also indicates that the content form most marketers (68 percent) want to learn about was creating original visual assets and that 70 percent of marketers plan on increasing their use of visual images.

The rise of social media sites such as Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr also contribute to the importance of including visuals in your content marketing mix.

Americans spend an average of one hour and 17 minutes each month on Pinterest and one hour and 38 minutes on Tumblr. The time spent on these two visual sites individually is more than the time spent on Google+, MySpace, Linkedin and Twitter combined. Right now, Instagram is the fastest growing social network.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as 65 percent of people are visual learners, as reported by the Social Science Research Network.According to Zabisco, 90 percent of the information that reaches the brain is visual. This makes it essential to include visuals in your content-marketing mix.

It was also found that content with only images attracted more backlinks that those with only videos and lists or those with a combination of videos, lists and images.

3. Create infographics 

Hubspot found search volume for infographics on Google has increased by 800 percent, and that today’s infographic production is rising by 1 percent daily. Infographics can be a great way to quench your visual learners’ needs.

Ensure that you create quality infographics with graphs, illustrations and numbers and very little text that appeal to your visual learners. The best option would be to hire firms or designers to create them. But if you are on a tight budget you could learn how to easily create them with PowerPoint.

Other visual content you could look into using are slides, comics and memes. Slides can be easily created by using SlideShare, which gets 60 million visitors per month. Comics can also be a great source for traffic as humor is highly shareable, according to Jonah Berger. Memes too are a form of humor, but beware of breaking copyright laws when you share them.

4. Record podcasts 

What benefit can podcasts offer visitors that text, visuals and videos don’t? They don’t require full attention. When you are reading a blog post, infographic or watching a video, your eyes have to stay on the screen. But you can listen to a podcast while going about your normal daily routine.

This could point to the increasing demand for podcasts. According to the 2014 Social Media Marketing Industry Report by Social Media Examiner, only 6 percent of marketers are currently involved in podcasts, while 21 percent plan on getting involved this year.

Despite the potential for big audience gains, running a podcast requires a huge effort. It takes research, equipment, building your network, guest outreach, preparing questions and submitting it to various directories such as iTunes.

Audiences and markets will continue to evolve, and so will their content needs. It’s not enough to simply create great content anymore, it needs to reflect the current trends and preferences to make an impact and build your brand.

5 Tips to Creating a Successful Content-Marketing Campaign

The phrase “content marketing” is all over the web these days. Content has become a conglomeration of many things: webinars, blog posts, videos, social network shares and more. It sounds like a great idea. If done right, a well-executed digital campaign will yield considerable benefits for both established businesses and entrepreneurs. Such a strategy has the power to position a business as a topical authority and establish the owners and executives as experts.

The devil, as they say, is in the details. Implementing such a campaign isn’t as easy as it seems and takes a bit more effort than pressing a button. Depending on your business goals, time needs to be spent aligning your company’s brand’s online persona with your customers’ needs. Once posted, content that’s shared requires interaction on your part. Interact directly with your community by saying something meaningful to stimulate continued conversation.

Content marketing can be a boon for your brand. Be sure to follow these tested truths when planning your campaign:

1. Know your audience and keep the content relevant. Each social network has a unique identity and audience, so take time to research the demographics of the social marketing platforms you use to share. All sites are not the same. Some skew highly to men (Google+) and others are more popular with women (Pinterest). Check the current information on the sites to determine where to share your content to the to best effect.

Whether you market to businesses or consumers, you no doubt have a grasp of their interests. Blogs are still a great way to build an engaged community around your brand and interests. An example of a blog that successfully uses content marketing is SavvySeller.co. This is a community site offering helpful advice for online sellers while displaying ads for its parent company, World Lister.

Check what your customers are sharing on social media. By making your blog posts relevant to readers, they may pass along your content as well and become your advocate, awarding you with free, yet most valuable, marketing.

2. Beware of constant self-reference. Repetitive self-reference will not stimulate engagement. The days of broadcast advertising are long past, and without giving your message a twist, broadcasting will do nothing but discourage readers. Rather, use stories to illustrate the benefits your business has to offer.

Direct your message to the reader and be sure to personalize it by using the word “you.” In this way your posts directly address (and pique the interest) of your community. Keep the promotional content to no more than a 1-to-7 ratio. As social scientist Dan Zarrella says, “Stop talking about yourself.” Instead, “start talking as yourself.”

3. Share what works. When creating content for your business, consider your own time schedule and talents. Sitting down to write a white paper may be painful for many people, and small businesses may not have the time or resources to produce one. If you are more comfortable communicating your messages in another format, for example, why not try sharing the following:

Short-form articles (like this one)

Infographics or small sharable graphics are easily produced on a platform such as Canva

Photographs of products in action that you can share on Instagram

Short product demonstrations or instructional videos (try to keep them under two minutes)

Other related business content

Also consider sharing content about things you are passionate about. By posting ideas and subjects that are personally relevant to you (the business owner), you project your humanity to your online influence.

4. Consider curating. A growing trend is content aggregation, which is deriving content directly from others’ RSS feeds and automatically turning them into shares. Aggregating is not curating. In contrast, curating content requires a human being to find, read and qualify digital content that is relevant to your audience. Curating may sound like a lot of work, but it may take as little as 30 minutes a day. If you (or another member of your staff) regularly read digital content that relates to your business, finding articles to share is a simple proposition.

Even the owners of niche businesses can find articles that might resonate with their audience. If you curate and share content from others, your audience will look to you as a reliable source for information on a specific topic. A secondary benefit of sharing third-party content is that you build relationships by broadening the conversation with others within your industry.

5. Measure once and then again. Track the comments and responses to your pieces. When you share links on social media platforms, use the many free metrics tools to decipher which of your posts were on track. By on track, I mean were they read? Shared? Acted upon? If a platform or content type isn’t working for you, be sure to put effort into the ones that are.

Know that your content marketing will build with time and continuity, and social content may not translate into sales immediately. Set up a plan in advance and have reasonable expectations. You are brand building for the long haul.

6 PR Tips Every Startup Should Employ

Today there are more than 30 startups in the United States, Europe and China that are valued at $1 billion or more and that number is expected to increase. With 100 million startups opening up each year and 472 million entrepreneurs worldwide, competition to become the next big thing is brutal.

What does this mean for startups looking to establish their brand, get press coverage and gain recognition? The truth is, in the beginning it is tough. You will find it challenging to cut through all the competitive noise to establish your brand and get the media to pay attention to your company. However, there are strategies you can employ to establish yourself as a startup that cannot be ignored.

Here are six PR tips every startup should use to help gain a competitive advantage.

1. Be ready. First and foremost, you need to be prepared. If your product is not the best version of itself, you won’t get any good product reviews, no reporter will cover you and you will most likely experience backlash and negative press. And believe us, there is such thing as bad press. So, make sure you are completely ready before employing any PR strategies.

2. Establish your identity. Before you can tell the world who you are, make sure you know how to answer that question. To establish your identity, ask yourself: What are our values? What exactly is our company culture? What makes us different from our competitors? Are we doing something that no one else is doing? What makes us uniquely us? It’s important to define those answers and incorporate your identity, values and culture in every aspect of your startup. If you aren’t sure, ask those around you for help. Make a spreadsheet of the answers and rate which responses are the same. If there are too many different answers there is an issue. Fix it before telling your story.

3. Share your story. Learning to communicate a great story is an integral part of PR. After you’ve established your identity, you need to work on creating a narrative, or your startups story. If you want to stand out in the eyes of the press, investors and your target demographic, you must have a great story to share about who you are and how you got started. It will not only help you connect to your audience, but it will also make it hard for them to forget you. Incorporate this narrative in social media, in your messaging, during interviews and any other opportunity to talk about your startup. And a big key factor, use your company name in each narrative. Many people talk in superlatives instead of facts. Every sentence shared should be a soundbyte for media.

4. Make sure there is CEO visibility. Your CEO or founder is your mouthpiece that plays an instrumental role in shaping your company’s image, brand and culture. Therefore he or she needs to be accessible and visible to the public. This means they must have a presence on social media, a positive relationship with the press and the ability to share your story flawlessly. Not only will their visibility create credibility and leadership in your industry, but it will also get them in front of the right people to help expand the business.

5.Don’t ignore social media. Establishing your brand and staying above the fray is all encompassing, time consuming and a lot of hard work. However, don’t forget the importance of creating a social-media strategy that represents your brand, your values and culture. In fact, you need to create an engaging social-media plan from the beginning to grow your presence. A good execution strategy for social media will allow you to establish your identity and credibility in your industry, share your story and position your CEO as a thought leader and pioneer. You need to dedicate time to directly engage with your followers, answer questions, share information and include them in the conversation.

6. Hire if you need help. Launching a startup is difficult and implementing strong PR strategies when you are just getting your foot off the ground can be challenging. The good news is you don’t have to do it alone, you can hire a professional. That said, you need to make sure they are a great match for your business and are excited about your plans. A good PR firm will help you establish a strong identity, effectively communicate your story to the right people, create thought leadership opportunities for your CEO and establish an engaging social-media program. They will build your brand, help you stand out, increase your visibility and get you in front of decision makers.

How to Take Control of Your Business’ Online Reputation

Potential customers are increasingly turning to dozens of review websites to view others’ opinions before trying a new product or service. According to two recent Nielsen studies, 85 percent of consumers polled go online for information and reviews about local businesses, and 70 percent of consumers said they trusted online reviews.

But how a business owner can take control of his online reputation today?

1. Ask customers for an honest review.
If a business has been around for several years, it’s doing something right, as evidenced by repeat customers. Collect real tips from real customers.  Don’t pay for reviews (that’s unethical), but make it as easy as possible for customers to review your business. Have a laptop available near the register and ask customers if they’d mind writing a quick review about their experience.

2. Don’t obsess over social media – unless, of course, you want to.
Most businesses don’t need to spend a lot of time on Facebook and Twitter. If you run a cupcake shop, Facebook makes sense because you can list flavors of the day and the product is something people want to talk about. If you own a tree cutting business, Facebook doesn’t do as much for you.

Related: When Bad Online Reviews Cost Business

At minimum business owners set up Twitter and Facebook pages with their business’ logo and contact information, and treat them as digital business cards. If you do want to engage in social media, don’t worry about constantly promoting your business on your Facebook page or Twitter feed. Include information about the industry or articles of interest to customers; you want to keep the conversation going, [but you] don’t have to promote, promote, promote.

3. Think before you respond to hostile criticism.
Be very careful before you respond to a hostile critic. You may not want to respond at all. If you respond, respond only if they’re getting a specific set of facts wrong. It can be hard to resist responding to negative feedback, so before deciding what to do, take a breather. The best course of action is to ask customers for honest feedback and get them to review your business over a period of time.

4. Set up Google Alerts.
Small businesses can benefit from setting up Google Alerts. Google Alerts are free e-mail updates sent to your inbox any time your search terms are mentioned on Google. Set alerts for your name, your business’ name, and any way people know your business. For example, if your name contains common search terms like “Bob’s Best Towing,” add the location to narrow your results so only the most relevant ones appear.

How to Develop and Run a Marketing Campaign

A marketing campaign isn’t something that comes to you while you’re taking a shower. Successful campaigns tend to be carefully researched, well-thought-out and focused on details and execution, rather than resting on a single, grand idea.

Planning a marketing campaign starts with understanding your position in the marketplace and ends with details such as the wording of an advertisement. You may also want to include decisions about uniforms, stationery, office decor and the like in your marketing plan.

Keep in mind that your plan is not supposed to be a prison. You have to leave room to make changes as you go along because no plan can perfectly capture reality. But you should also be able to commit fully to implementing your plan-or some future version of it-if you want to take a strong step toward growth.

Revising Your Marketing Plan

A growing business needs a new marketing plan just as it needs a new business plan. The steps in revising your marketing plan are similar to those required to create a marketing plan from scratch.

First, you need to redefine your product or service. Describe your product or service and its features and benefits in detail. Focus on how it differs from the competition. Concentrate on key features of your offering, including pricing, service, distribution and placement. In other words, know what you are going to be selling more of and why more people are going to buy it.

Second, look at the various market segments into which you hope to introduce-or expand demand for-your product. Decide what type of buyer is most likely to purchase it. Now describe your target customer in detail in terms of demographics: age, sex, family composition, earnings, geographical location, lifestyle, purchasing patterns, buying objections, and the like. Know exactly who will be driving your growth.

Third, create a strategy for communicating the message that will produce growth. Find out what your target customers read and listen to, and spell out your promotional objectives. Do you want people to recognize your name or know where you’re located? Decide how often you’ll need to-and can afford to-expose customers to your message to create the growth you desire.

Choosing the Proper Media

You’re not going to reach new markets and new customers by advertising in the same old places with the same old message. That doesn’t mean you have to buy a full-page ad in The Wall Street Journalor a 60-second commercial during the Super Bowl. Like most small companies, you will be more likely to grow by finding a niche, not by trying to sell to the mass market. Your customers’ location, age, income, interests and other information will tell you what media will reach them. Target your advertising as narrowly as possible to the media that will reach your best customers. Then gradually broaden your reach to attract new customers.

For instance, if you were selling computer networking equipment to small companies, you might advertise in Entrepreneur magazine as well as some business-oriented computer magazines. If you wanted to broaden your market to home networkers, you could add media aimed at homeowners. Like any aspect of running a business, marketing involves a measure of trial and error. As your business grows, however, you’ll quickly learn which advertising media are most cost-effective and draw the most customers.

Print Advertising

The print ad is the basic unit of advertising, the fountainhead from which all other forms of advertising spring. There are two principal publication categories to consider for print advertising.

The first, newspapers, have a positive and a negative side. On the plus side, you can get your ad in very quickly. On the downside, newspapers usually have a shelf life of just 24 hours. Therefore, if you run your ad on Monday, you can’t depend on anyone to discover that ad on Tuesday. As the saying goes, “Nobody wants to read yesterday’s news.” If your budget allows for multiple insertions-that is, running your ad more than once-do so. Regular exposure of the ad builds recognition and credibility. If some of your prospects see but don’t respond to your first insertion, they may well respond to your second or third. If you have confidence in your ad’s message, don’t panic if the initial response is less than you wanted. More insertions may bring a better response.

The second type of print publication is magazines, for which there are specialty categories of every kind. Advertising in this type of publication allows you to target special-interest groups. Another advantage of magazines, especially monthlies, is that they have a much longer shelf life than newspapers; they’re often browsed through for months after publication. So your ad might have an audience for up to six months after its initial insertion. Moreover, readers spend more time per sitting with a magazine than a newspaper, so there’s more chance they’ll run across your ad.

Radio and TV Advertising

Many entrepreneurs believe that radio and TV advertising are beyond their means. But while national TV advertising is usually out of the entrepreneur’s price range, advertising on local stations and on cable television can be surprisingly affordable. Armed with the right information, the small-business owner may find that TV and radio advertising deliver more customers than any other type of ad campaign. The key is to have a clear understanding of the market so the money spent on broadcast advertising isn’t wasted. Make sure you know what your advertising is supposed to achieve, set a reasonable budget, get all the feedback you can from other entrepreneurs, station advertising salespeople and others, and your broadcast ad campaign can prove a powerful growth producer.

The cost of producing your commercial is a major issue with broadcast advertising. TV stations usually charge you to produce your commercial (prices range from about $200 to $1,500), while radio stations will put your ad together for free.

4 Easy Steps to Developing a Marketing Plan

Running a successful business is not like a field of dreams; you can build it but they might not come. Marketing is all about letting people know about the product or service you offer, and persuading them to buy or use it. And for effective marketing you have to let people know about your product or service repeatedly.

To do this, you’re going to have to come up with both a marketing strategy and a marketing plan.

Marketing Strategy Versus Marketing Plan

The marketing strategy is shaped by your overall business goals. It includes a definition of your business, a description of your products or services, a profile of your target users or clients, and defines your company’s role in relationship to the competition. The marketing strategy is essentially a document that you use to judge the appropriateness and effectiveness of your specific marketing plans.

To put it another way, your marketing strategy is a summary of your company’s products and position in relation to the competition; your sales and marketing plans are the specific actions you’re going to undertake to achieve the goals of your marketing strategy.

The marketing plan, then, can be thought of as the practical application of your marketing strategy. It should include details about your business’ unique selling proposition, pricing strategy, the sales and distribution plan and your plans for advertising and promotions.

So in effect, you can’t have a marketing plan without a marketing strategy.  The marketing strategy provides the goals for your marketing plans. It tells you where you want to go from here. The marketing plan is the specific road map that’s going to get you there.

Developing a Marketing Plan

If you were going to drive from Vancouver to Halifax, would you really just glance at a globe and then head out? Expecting to implement a marketing strategy without developing a marketing plan is just like this analogy. The more detailed information that’s been collected beforehand, and the more planning that’s been done ahead of time, the faster and more pleasant the trip – and the more effective your marketing plan will be.

Follow these steps:

1) The first step is to create specific marketing objectives and write them down. What do you want your promotion efforts to do for you?

If you’re selling herbs, for instance, perhaps you want to increase your monthly sales by 25 percent. If you’re a realtor, a good marketing objective might be to get 10 new listings each month.  Whatever marketing objective you set, be sure it’s realistic; you need to be able to achieve the marketing objective if it’s going to motivate you or serve as a good benchmark to evaluate your success.

2) Now the hard partUnder each marketing objective, write as many specific things as you can that you are going to do to achieve the objective. If I want to increase my monthly sales by 25 percent, one thing I might do is place some ads. But when I’m working on my marketing objective list, I need to take the time to think it through so I’ll be able to follow through effectively.

Just “placing some ads” isn’t specific enough to serve as a marketing objective. I have to consider what type of ads and where I might place them to increase my monthly sales. For instance, I might write, “place an ad describing specials in the local newspaper” as a marketing objective, or “put ad on local TV station”.

Then I have specific actions to follow that will help me achieve my marketing objective rather than just a vague idea.

3) Go over the list of specific activities you’ve brainstormed and check them against your marketing plan. Choose the ones that fit best with your marketing objectives and do the best job of targeting your potential clients or customers.

4) Then, using your calendar, decide which promotional activities you’re going to do when. You can break your marketing plan down by month or by quarter, but be sure you include not only a description of the activity or event, but also a reference to which marketing objective the promotion activity or event is related to, and a cost estimate.

Regularly Update Your Plan

Once you set up your marketing plan, remember that it needs to be an organic, living document, not something you put into a nice folder and file somewhere and never look at again. Take fifteen minutes every day to review your goals and specific activities; what did you do that particular day to help you achieve the marketing objectives you’ve set?

What do you need to do tomorrow? Too often we make plans or list objectives and then get so enmeshed in all the things we have to do to run our businesses that we shunt them aside. Taking fifteen minutes a day to review your marketing objectives, marketing plan, and marketing activities goes a long way towards helping you stay focused and on track and market your products or services effectively.