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small business marketing methods

50 Ways to Get the Word Out About Your Small Business

You’re here, you’re ready for customers! Now where are they? Getting customers through the front door (or to your website) can be one of the biggest challenges of owning a business. Luckily, there are plenty of resources out there that can help you get the word out about your small business. This page can help give you some ideas on marketing methods like social media, printed materials, networking, and more.

  1. Print up some business cards. Fancy or not, you need these for networking, pin up boards, your desk, and during impromptu conversations that might involve your business. These tips on handing out business cards can help get the word out.
  2. Create your own Facebook page. Post often, invite friends, create giveaways, and cross promote on your website and through email for maximum results. Also, comment on other posts AS YOUR PAGE.
  3. Pin your content and images on Pinterest. This can create a good traffic flow, especially if you have elements of your business that are highly visual. Here’s an in-depth Pinterest for business guide that’s worth reading.
  4. Create a YouTube video. YouTube can drive traffic to your website, and also increase your brand recognition. A link can be added to video descriptions, as well as on video cards and annotations, as well as your YouTube channel. Keep in mind, YouTube rewards videos that keep visitors on their site as opposed to sending them away, so decide how this fits into your strategy. YouTube videos are ranking very well in search engines (which makes sense since they are owned by Google).
  5. Post an advertisement on Craigslist about your business. Just like you would on Facebook or through email, include important information, compelling visuals and images on your Craigslist ad.
  6. List your product on Amazon. Not only could you see a boost in sales, but if your item is branded and unique, it could boost your web presence. This how-to will walk you through creating your own product listing.
  7. Join your local chamber of commerce business group, or create your own group. If the fees are too steep or you want to network with more specific individuals, consider starting your own group meet up at a local restaurant or cafe and invite everyone on Facebook (be sure to post in a town FB group to maximize exposure).
  8. Send an email announcement to friends and family. Not only are emails likely to be forwarded to interested individuals, but not everyone uses social media, and others are more likely to interact privately through email.
  9. A personal Facebook page update, kind of like your email newsletter, is a personal way to let friends and family know about your new business venture, promotion, or whatever it is that you are trying to achieve with your small business. This is different from posting on your business page, because your post will be seen by different people, and you may receive different engagement that you normally wouldn’t.
  10. Promote your business on Instagram. Like Pinterest, Instagram is highly visual, so if your business involves very visual elements, this is perfect for you.
  11. Use LinkedIn for networking within your niche. Sharing tips, strategies, and methods can help build camaraderie, while networking locally can help others remember your brand/name and potentially refer business to your down the road. Think of this as a long-haul strategy. Hubspot has lots of tips on creating a good LinkedIn profile that will work for you.
  12. Attend networking events and breakfasts, for both local businesses and in your profession. Face-to-face meetings can leave a bigger impression than online relationships, so be sure to use both methods.
  13. Offer free classes to teach people about your area of expertise. Establishing yourself as an expert can help build credibility and relationships, not to mention you’ll be doing a big favor to the community that others may feel compelled to reciprocate on, whether that’s through referrals, business or more connections.
  14. Offer a free ebook online for signing up for your newsletter. This way you can stay engaged with a targeted audience that’s already interested in your content and products. Learn how to create a free ebook to give away here.
  15. Give away your products in a contest. Yes, this whole free thing can seem a bit much, but they really do work. Giving away a product in a contest can increase your readership, social likes, overall exposure and shares. In the end, it’s worth your time and energy, and it’s low cost.
  16. Set up a forum. A forum on your website or on a social network can provide a great number of benefits. One, you establish yourself as a community person. Two, you can meet lots of new people in your niche. Three, There will always be an ad of sorts for your business, whether it be in your signature line on forum on your website, or simply in the name of the social group you create (for example, “Pittsburgh Cafe Local Connection”).
  17. Comment and become active on a local Facebook page. If a page is already established in your town, which most have, become active on that page. Don’t spam, just comment and interact. Only drop your own promotion once every week or so, and be genuinely helpful within the group to build trust.
  18. Create and send coupons via direct mail. Yes, people really do still read and use those! In certain industries, you’ll find an even greater return on your coupon ad investment. Usually, service and home based industries do well.
  19. If you don’t have a blog, you should start blogging. You don’t have to do it yourself, either. You can hire someone to do it, or invest time of your own in good posts. With blogging, quality is key, not quantity. Short posts are okay for announcements and quick ideas/thoughts, but for the most part, well-researched, in-depth posts will perform better than short ones, and will be shared more socially.
  20. Blog commenting should be part of your marketing strategy as well, especially if you have a blog. Commenting on blogs in your niche can drive traffic to your blog, and build connections with other bloggers if your comments are noticeable and helpful.
  21. Feature other businesses, locally or in your area of expertise, on your blog in a post. This could be by simply linking to them within a sentence when it makes sense, or mentioning them by name. Be sure to let that business know that you’ve featured them, and who knows, they might link back to you or remember the favor down the road.
  22. List your brick and mortar on Google Business. Listing is simple. With quick verification, you can have your business listed on Google Maps/Google Business and prominently in search results with Google’s official listing.
  23. Use free ad credits on Facebook, Google, and Bing. All of these at the time of writing this have free credits you can use towards creating your own ad campaign. Even a small campaign can deliver results. If the effort is worth it, it may be worth it to pay once your credits are used up.
  24. Try guest blogging to bring in new readers, subscribers, and potential new clients. Why stop at just your blog? Widen your reach by offering to guest post on blogs within your profession.
  25. Create an infographic. These are highly shareable, Pinterest worthy informational graphics that convey important information in an easy to read, visual format. If you can’t create one yourself, a designer on Fiverr may be able to help for cheap.
  26. Direct mailings to targeted potential clients can pay off. If you’re going local, you can even target specifically residences or businesses that might be in need of your service. For example, a house that needs a fresh coat of paint would be ideal for a painter to send a postcard. A newly seeded development of homes may be in need of landscaping maintenance. You get the idea!
  27. Redesign your website to keep your online presence modern, relevant, and competitive. A stale, outdated website is likely to underperform next to a competitor’s sleeker, more user friendly website.
  28. Reevaluate your “wow factor.” What is it that sets you far apart from the competition? If you are just like the rest, what is that you can offer that your customers want, be you are not currently offering?
  29. Get customers to review your website. There are many review sites, but Google Reviews, Yelp, and TripAdvisor tend to be some of the biggest ones. Don’t forget other platforms also have the latest word about your business, including Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus.
  30. Get listed on Yelp. Eventually, your business will likely find its way on to Yelp anyway, so why not set up an account first, and then manage all of the commentary on your business? You can reply directly to customers, so quick replies show that you are responsive and concerned with the happiness of your customers.
  31. Offer up a discount on Groupon. Groupon can be an effective way to bring in new customers that would not have found  your business otherwise.
  32. Answer questions about your field on question and answer sites like Quora and Yahoo Answers. If a page on your website happens happens to be a source “answer,” you can include that URL at the end of your answer.
  33. Give away samples of your product. Gift bags, door prizes, booths at a local fair, or samples to friends can be ways to increase your exposure at a small cost. Just be sure that a way to reorder or visit your store is including somewhere on the packaging and/or included printed materials.
  34. Get on Twitter to provide customer support. Like Yelp and Facebook, people will often publicly air their grievances about a business on Twitter. With Twitter, it’s as easy as “@” mentioning a @business_name to get their attention. Quick responses are key, and remember, everything here is public. Present a customer-friendly image and choose your words carefully!
  35. Set up an email subscriber list with a free email newsletter and a free digital gift as an incentive for signing up. Make their signup worth it for them to sign up, and they will be more likely to open your emails and take what you have to say seriously.That will come in handy when you want them to act on your sales pitches.
  36. Evaulate the SEO of your website and improve all posts/pages, or have someone do it for you. Setting up a website is one thing. Optimizing it for Google is a whole other project, and it’s worth it. Doing so can increase your rankings in search engines, and increase your traffic numbers by including all types of content within your niche/profession.
  37. Get on Snapchat to connect with an entirely different demographic. If your business is centered around a younger crowd, Snapchat can work wonders. Use Snapchat to make your business visible to a whole new crowd.
  38. Invest in good signage for your business in the right spot. A sign for your business should be visible, but consider if you can add signs to other areas around your business that can let people know you are nearby. Here are some ideas on color combinations, signs, and visibility to get you started.
  39. Set up a Google Alert to see who is talking about your business. Also use Mention for further results on social media (which can give you results on competitors as well).
  40. Host free webinars to get more email subscribers and site visitors. The more you have to offer for free, the more interested parties that will be visiting your site that can then be targeted for purchases.
  41. Break your audience down into smaller segments and target them one at a time, niche by niche, or micro niche by micro niche. While larger niches may be too competitive for small businesses starting out, conquering smaller niches one by one and building up to larger niches can be a more realistic strategy.
  42. Utilize video marketing, which is completely free. You can embed it in your email newsletter, post it on YouTube, create blog posts centered around video content, and post it to your Facebook page.
  43. Offer a referral when someone refers customers to you. Remind customers of this in person and through email correspondence. Learn how to get more referrals for your business here.
  44. Win some awards, and then brag about them. Put your new award emblems, logos or photos in blog posts as credibility boosters. These are often used as additions to a site footer, and can ease the mind of a buyer looking for signs of trust. Here’s a few ideas.
  45. Focus on excellent printed materials. Take the time to assemble a brochure that’s worth sharing, and can offer information on every aspect of your business.
  46. Charity donations of your items can spread recognition of your business. People are also more likely to support a business that supports a charity over a competitor that they know nothing about.
  47. Car magnets or sticker for your business can be cheap guerrilla marketing techniques that will pique interest. A single, simple domain name, Twitter handle, or Facebook page and quick message is more effective than loads of information.
  48. Sponsoring a local sports team or advertising on placemats at restaurants can be brand recognition boosters. If you’re locally based, then the exposure here can be great, and at a low price.
  49. Find out what your competition isn’t doing in terms of marketing. Scope out what their preferred marketing techniques are, and see what they’re missing (see our list above). Focus on these holes starting with the ones that you think your core clientele would be most likely to frequent.
  50. Don’t delay in response to potential clients. You work hard to find new clients, so why let them slip away? If you have a response from a client, waiting can cause you the sale. While you wait, they are researching competitors, may have second thoughts, they might get talked out of it, or they might just lose interest and be on to the next thing. Strike while the iron is hot and get back to them right away!
  51. BONUS: If you don’t have a website, you really need one to maintain a complete web presence and to further your brand. We can build a website for your business quickly at a reasonable cost to you. Contact us to get building!

 

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How to Use a Facebook Page to Promote Your Ebay Items

Using Facebook to Increase Ebay Sales and Promote Your Items

Your friends are on Facebook, your family is on Facebook, and some of your potential customers are also on Facebook. Don’t think that to integrate your Ebay business with Facebook means that you are intertwining your business and personal life, because Facebook has thought of that. You can create special “fan pages” devoted to your business that are completely separate from your own personal profile, where you can broadcast updates, news, items, links, photos, sales, or whatever you think is worth announcing to your fans.

All it takes to claim a fan page is a Facebook account. Invite your friends to become fans, drive traffic to your fan page from any blogs or websites you might have, and see interest grow as you establish yourself in real time as an expert in whatever it is that you might do.

Facebook Marketplace

The Facebook Marketplace application can allow you to post items for sale in your area, Craigslist style. The marketplace is free, and has features like photos and a description area to describe the item accurately. If you have your own Ebay store or items, you can use the Facebook Marketplace to feature some of your big ticket items, or use it as a way of marketing your store. Put your store URL on the image, or leave the URL in the description body. While it may not be worth it to list every single item you have on the Facebook Marketplace, it could be a good place to drive traffic through sharing your best items.

A Few Things About Facebook

  • Fan pages (now just called “Facebook pages”) are free. They don’t cost a dime, but they do take time to operate. The time invested is minimal, and the results are optimal.
  • Try posting not only your items, sales, and things about your store, but useful information in your genre that your current fans and potential fans will enjoy.
  • Avoid getting sucked into time consuming online games. Yes, Mafia Wars is fun, but it doesn’t pay the bills.
  • For best results, you’ll want to update your fan page at least once a week, maybe even daily if you have time.

 Few Things About Facebook

  • Fan pages are free. They don’t cost a dime, but they do take time to operate. The time invested is minimal, and the results are optimal.
  • Try posting not only your items, sales, and things about your store, but useful information in your genre that your current fans and potential fans will enjoy.
  • Avoid getting sucked into time consuming online games. Yes, Mafia Wars is fun, but it doesn’t pay the bills.
  • For best results, you’ll want to update your fan page at least once a week, maybe even daily if you have time.

How Facebook Can Increase Your Ebay Sales

Facebook can drive paying customers to your website in a number of ways:

  • Through a Facebook fan page of your store, you can link to individual items, custom pages, store categories, your About ME pages, guides, and other related links.
  • Link your blog to your Facebook fan page and automatically feed blog posts to your fan page through Networked Blogs.
  • Use the Facebook Marketplace to drive local traffic.
  • Offer Facebook only discounts or offers to encourage more fans, shares, and click throughs.

What to Post on Your Facebok Page

  • Post about any sales that you are running in your store. However, keep in mind sales work best when the discount is steep, you offer free shipping, the time is limited, and the frequency of your sales is not very often.
  • Post about any pages that you’ve created to market your store. This could be your Squidoo lenses, Hubpages, your blog posts, custom store pages, or Ebay Reviews and Guides.
  • Share other recommended resources for your niche. While you may be sending traffic away today, your previous customer or potential customer will return again if they are a fan (and appreciate the resource today).
  • Share interesting new items or product lines that you’ve introduced into the store.
What You Shouldn’t Post on Your Facebook Page
Buyers don’t necessarily want to hear about the tuna sandwich you had for lunch, the great time you had at the mall with your nieces, or a political rant about the President. They’re here because they are interested in your business, your expertise, and you. You can keep them interested by sharing worthwhile information about niche, linking to content you’ve created about your niche, and offering an incentive to like your page and join. It could be a coupon, it could be a personal thank you, it could be a comment back to them. Whatever the case may be, people like attention and rewards, so be sure to let them know you appreciate them by posting only relevant content.
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Ten Websites That Can Drive Traffic to Your Ebay Store

No matter how big a website gets, there’s always room for improvement, and there will always be other places that you can use to drive traffic to your website. Ebay is one of the most visited websites in existence, yet, you can still get lost in the shuffle on this massive marketplace. Once your sales have started to hit a plateau, you may want to consider finding new buyers outside of Ebay.

Here’s a list of ten places that will drive traffic to your Ebay store through content marketing, social networking, and interaction:

1.Facebook. The most social spot on the web is also one of the best spots to get additional traffic flowing to your business. Take advantage of your current connections and friends list to occasionally put your Ebay business out there.

2. Twitter. Like Facebook, this social website has major clout with buyers. Use your current friend list to leverage your Ebay store, or set up an entirely new profile for your store and start networking with people interested in your niche. A word to the wise: only tweet your own link when it’s appropriate, or you’ll be known as the neighborhood spammer (and your followers will leave you!).

3. Pinterest. The great thing about Pinterest is that you can advertise not just your products, but you can break it down into very specific categories. Pinterest is image based, and will provide you with a whole new community to get to see your stuff. If you have unique images to share, this is a great place to upload images and send traffic back to your site. Just be sure to include the URL of your Ebay store, so people can find you.

4. StumbleUpon. This website may not have all that many buyers, but the increase in visitors from StumbleUpon can be encouraging, to say the least. Try stumbling your pages related to your Ebay items as well. You’ll have a better chance of your page getting StumbleUpon traffic if there is something there that’s worth reading, not just products.

5. Instagram. This is a very easy place to share photos, and is owned by Facebook. In fact, it can be seamlessly integrated with Facebook so that your Instagram photos are uploaded to Facebook as well. If you have unique finds, sharing them on Instagram will do you just as good as Facebook (and you’ll be doing one and the same if you sync the two). To increase your reach, use hashtags, descriptions, and most importantly, post things users will find interesting.

6. Facebook Pages. This is a completely different animal than Facebook itself. Pages allow you to create a home for your business that you can post any content that you wish. Create something interesting and worth sharing, and people will do just that — share it with other people. Growing your fan base can result in more traffic to your business, so be sure to appeal to the niche audience that best fits in with your customer base. Post links to your store or an item you want to showcase, as well as plenty of other useful, entertaining or thought provoking content, which can include links to other people’s content, not just your own.

7. YouTube. This one could require a little more work, but could be worth it. First, you’ll need a reason to create a video in the first place. An amateurish video spot won’t exactly bring in customers, so you’ll also need to be savvy with a photo editing program. A link in the description will help drive the traffic. Now, it’s your turn to create a compelling video people will want to watch.

8. Blogger. Also known as Blogspot, Blogger is a free blogging platform to showcase your writing. This is a great opportunity to provide searchers with some additional information about your products, all the while linking back to your Ebay store and Ebay pages. A tip for using Blogger: Post often, and keep posting. Blogger seems to reward blogs for posting content regularly with a decent amount of traffic.

9. WordPress. This is the publishing platform that most online writers choose, whether it’s a free WordPress.com blog, or a self hosted one of your own choosing. This site, even when used for free as at WordPress.com, has a lot of respect with search engines and readers. If you’d really like to promote your best items and the entire niche you sell, this is a great place to share what you know. Remember, you don’t have to choose just one of these sites — you can use all of them to promote your store. The only downside is WordPress.com does not support ads, so you will not earn on anything you create here. Self hosting your own WordPress domain has no limits, and you can place ads and any other content on your site.

10. Your Own Website. What better way to really define your presence on the web than to create something from scratch? Choose your own domain, plan out the content that you’d like to place on the site, and start linking to your auctions and products using Ebay Partner Network. This can also drive some affiliate sales as a nice bonus.

Intro image by James Cridland.

Besides the websites listed, there are hundreds of different free blogging platforms out there to promote your store, as well as other social media platforms. Which one has worked well for you?

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