Small Business Internet Marketing and Local Business Online Advertising

Small Business Internet Marketing Local Business Advertising Online How to start small business internet marketing and local business advertising online is a question that many small and medium sized businesses are pondering as more and more consumers disregard Yellow Pages books and other forms of traditional print media and move online to find what they are looking for.

The Internet is dramatically changing the way we do business and all the major companies are dominating online advertising leaving small and medium sized businesses in dire need of an Internet advertising solution for connecting and interacting with local consumers who are moving online in record numbers.

Many businesses who have created an online presence for themselves are quickly realizing that a pretty looking website does not equate to being found among the millions of websites online. Add to that the cost of dealing with designers and developers, and many businesses have no hope of competing in today’s Internet savvy communities.

One effective way is to utilize some of the many article and press release directories available online to announce your arrival into the online community. Providing concise informative information is the key here. It is not about flogging off your business products but about providing solutions to consumer problems.

Think about what solution your product or service can provide and write an article about that, not about your product, but what solution it can provide. Save the product details for the author’s resources box.

Another way small and medium businesses are trying to compete is through pay-per-click (PPC) programs like Google Adwords. Unfortunately most of the high target keywords and search terms have been become highly competitive and are generally cornered by major companies with large advertising budgets. And, to add fuel to the fire, there are now real concerns about click fraud.

Is Click Fraud and PPC Advertising a Problem?

According to Click Forensics, the overall industry average click fraud rate was 17.1% in the 4th quarter of 2008, up from 16.0% in the 3rd quarter of 2008. The problem, which is not new, is companies get paid based on how many times users click on online ads. Fraudsters develop computer programs that simulate user clicks to drive up traffic, and artificially inflating revenue. -Source: Peak Solutions/SEO Since 1999

What this means is if you and I are real estate agents and I find out you are advertising on a pay-per-click search engine, I will get up at 6am and start clicking on your ad until I use up your daily budget to stop the ad from appearing on the search engine for the rest of the day to improve the promotion of my ad on the same search engine.

What About Organic Search Optimization?

The most effective form of search engine marketing is organic search engine optimization or SEO as it is more commonly known. Internet keyword search studies confirm that keyword searchers prefer the organic search listings 6 to 1 to the pay-per-click sponsored ads found at the top of the pages above or to the side the organic searches. But SEO is a whole other story.

What About Geo-Targeted Advertising?

However, new small business Internet marketing technologies and strategies are opening the way for small and medium sized businesses to succeed in their business advertising online and compete in this lucrative online marketplace. One of these strategies’ is geo-targeted advertising which is driving online shoppers back into local stores and into using local business services.

It works by identifying the online shopper, gamer or surfer’s IP address and pushing out advertisements for local businesses onto those websites. These ads can be seen popping up everywhere from major search engine pages and gaming sites to the ever popular social networking sites like YouTube, Facebook, MySpace and other high traffic sites like eBay.

So it’s not surprising that local has become one of the hottest words in advertising. Attracted by the enormous growth opportunities, everyone, including the world’s largest technology, search and media companies, is gravitating toward local business advertising.

Smart business operators are laser-targeting their advertising campaigns by selecting zip/postcodes suited to their business needs. This means their ads only show up on websites when and where potential customers from their designated areas are online.

When the consumer clicks on an ad they are directed to, in many cases, a mini-website complete with text links, images, videos, discount coupons, and even interactive driving instructions. Never before have small and medium sized business owners had such real time control of their online branding features combined with a powerful local advertising presence.

To top this off, many sites are providing these small business internet marketing ads with no hosting, design or set-up fees and, no contracts terms. Is this the online solution small and medium sized businesses have been looking for to accelerate their business advertising online?

Couple this with effective business opportunity lead generator and prospecting systems and video response marketing solutions and you have the complete small business internet marketing package.

How To Succeed At Online Marketing For Small Business With Any Realistic Budget

Are you a small business owner? Do you want to see a lot more customers coming to you in 2011? Certainly, every business owner I’ve met answers these in the affirmative! What’s your plan to grow your business with great new customers?

Clearly, every new customer is a function of new leads in your sales funnel — we know this as conversion. And, every new sales lead is a subset of the number of eager buyers shopping for what you offer who are exposed to your business — we know this as marketing. Admit it, the numbers of people exposed to your business depends on marketing strategy, tactics, advertising, etc. Times change and so has effectiveness of traditional marketing tactics and offline advertising. Whereas, telemarketing, yellow pages, newspaper ads and other previously effective tactics are seriously lame today, online marketing for small business produces more targeted sales leads everyday.

Don’t Ignore Online Marketing For Small Business

Most small business owners ignore online marketing, because they don’t understand how the Internet has dramatically changed consumers. Furthermore, many unwary businesses have been duped into costly schemes to fool Google and other search engines. Have you been duped into believing that #1 on Google first page or a million website visitors in a month are ends in themselves? How do they add to your bottom line? Here’s a clue: work both of them into a business plan, pass it on to your banker and ask for a business loan. Point is, show your banker a plan to get more targeted sales leads calling you on the phone and then they’ll talk money. Google itself and random website visitors do absolutely nothing to grow your business.

Fortunately for you, this Internet thingy has totally changed the way we consume! No longer flipping through yellow pages or browsing the Sunday Trib classifieds, eager buyers shopping for what you offer are on the Internet right this second searching for you. Every time they search they receive a search results page. If you’re not on that page, they will buy from somebody else. Online marketing for small business has one goal: everywhere they search they find you there.

Affordable Online Marketing For Small Business

Fact is, effectively marketing your business is now possible with any realistic budget:

  • Email marketing has long been the favorite of Internet marketers, perhaps because it’s the online equivalent to direct marketing. Done right, instead of intruding in the Inbox, you ask and they grant you permission to nurture them and keep them informed with current and relevant information. Keeping permission marketing foremost in your mind, think of events, specials and successes that you’d appreciate knowing about your favorite vendors. Your customers and prospects will appreciate the same about you.
  • Online articles are another great way to increase awareness of you, your business and, especially, those special things you do that benefit your customers. Do you remember fondly thumbing through a magazine, reading interesting articles and clipping some articles so you can refer back to them later? The Internet is several magnitudes greater than any paper magazine. This very minute somebody is reading an article about your product and service and today she’ll bookmark it and maybe tell her friends about it. Have you ever tried to find a article in a magazine you threw out a long time ago? That won’t happen online, because it’s always available to be found, 24/7, 365 days a year.
  • Social media is all about family, friends and vacation pictures — right? No. It, too, can be tremendously effective in putting your business in front of eager buyers. Facebook membership alone is the third largest country in the world: China, India, Facebook, USA… In 2010 it’s been reported that the largest growing Facebook demographic is middle aged women. Again, keep in mind how online marketing for small business is primarily about developing relationships with your marketplace. What better way to start a conversation with a new prospect than at a huge party? Facebook, for example, is a neverending party of friends, family and coworkers, and they’re all talking about what’s on their minds. Strike a positive chord with just one, and they’ll tell somebody about you, and on and on.

Follow Online Marketing For Small Business To Success

Online marketing is about branding. The more people recognize your personal name, your business name and your place in the community, the more likely that one of them converts into a customer. Notice how we haven’t mentioned traditional advertising agencies and TV commercial production crews — the prohibitive prices of traditional marketing simply are not necessary online. It’s more about leaving thousands and thousands of bread crumbs from your business throughout the Internet. Whenever some eager buyer happens on one crumb while shopping for what you offer, Hansel and Gretel will follow the trail to your door. Like all marketing, the only goal of online marketing for small business is to create customers.

Owner Of UK Small Business Shares The Secrets Of His Recent Success

Most people don’t like to admit this, but the last few years in business had been an uphill struggle for me, that was until I discovered some very simple secrets to successful marketing, which has helped me to increase my Turnover and Profits by 35% in the last 12 months.

I would like to share these simple secrets with other UK small business owners for free.

Having spent thousands of pounds over the last year obtaining the latest marketing information and 100’s of hours searching internet pages from around the world here are a couple of my TOP TIPS to Increase Your Turnover and Grow Your Profits.

LEAD GENERATION ADVERTISING

One of the best forms of advertising we have found is lead generation advertising.

What is lead generation advertising? – Instead of the traditional way of advertising, where you are trying to sell a specific product or service and the focus of the advert is just to get a sale, lead generation advertising is different. Rather than to sell your product or service, the purpose of lead generation advertising is to do just that – generate leads.

A lead is a sales term for someone who is a prospective buyer ie. someone who is interested in your product or service. It is a lot easier to generate leads than to get an immediate sale, which is increasingly difficult these days because everyone is under a constant barrage of advertising.

The best way of lead generation advertising is to offer anyone who maybe interested in your product or service something of interest to them for free in return for their contact details.

An example of a typical lead generation advert, that you may have seen, is from Centre Parcs who promote their resorts with TV advertising. The purpose of their adverts is to get you to request a free DVD. The reason for this is simply to get the contact details of anyone who is interested in a holiday ie. you have to give them your postal address for them to send it to you. They are not saying “book this holiday now”, they are saying “we’ve got something for you for free”. They are doing this because they know that after measuring and testing, proportionally they will get significantly more people to request the DVD and subsequently become customers than they would get people to book a holiday straight away.

Lead generation advertising is great because it gets people to express their interest at no risk to them. It is very unlikely your competitors are offering anything free to potential customers. If you do this it will give you a great advantage over your competition.

All you need to do is come up with something relevant to your business that your potential customers would find interesting. This could be a free report eg. if you are an electrician you could write a report – ’10 top tips to ensure your home is safe’ or if you are an estate agent ’10 top tips to make your home more saleable’ etc.

Other free items could be:-

  • a sample of your product
  • a free DVD or CD
  • a free survey or advice.

There are many things of interest you could give away for free and there are no rules to this, it just needs to be of interest to your potential customers.

Areas where lead generation advertising could be used are:-

  • Yellow Pages / Directories
  • Newspapers and Magazines
  • Websites
  • Email
  • Telephone
  • Radio or TV
  • Signage
  • Direct Mail

Give lead generation a try, I guarantee it will seriously increase the amount of potential new customers that contact your business.

WORD OF MOUTH RECOMMENDATIONS

One of the easiest ways of getting new customers into your business is through your existing happy customers by way of word of mouth recommendations/referrals. This is also one of the cheapest ways of marketing your business as it costs practically nothing.

Referrals tend to attract better customers who will stay with you for longer.

If you can build a referral system into your business this will help you to maximise the amount of referrals you receive.

Firstly you need to make your customers aware that word of mouth referral is how you grow your business. You can do this just by mentioning it in your frequent communications to your customers by email, mail out or simply in a telephone conversation, and you will find that your referrals will increase. Just by dropping in to your communications that you are busy with work from recommendations would educate your customers to the fact that it is important to recommend you to anyone they think could use your services.

The second, more direct and most effective way to seriously increase the amount of referrals you receive is simply to ask for them.

Speak to your customers – ask them “Are you happy with our work?”, say to them “I need your help, would you be willing to recommend us to anyone who could benefit from our services?” “Would you be willing to give them a leaflet or business card” or “Could you give me their contact details and I will contact them direct”. This could be done by phone, email or by direct mail – if you don’t ask you don’t get!

Be pro-active – If you are already receiving referrals without asking for them imagine how many you would receive if you asked all your existing customers!

So, before you spend thousands of pounds on wasted advertising – give something for free and go get some referrals!

I am convinced that if you implement these easy marketing tips you will see a considerable increase in new customers into your business and most important of all, an increase in your profits.

Don’t Operate Your Small Business Like It Is Small!

With 46% of small businesses failing within the first 5 years, they simply cannot afford to operate “small” any longer. Big businesses, aka Fortune 500 companies, understand the value of setting up a business with predictable, manageable systems and having the necessary framework in place to ensure profitable and productive results.

The 7 Big Business Tools:

There are 7 tools that all big businesses use within their organizations to ensure higher profits, higher quality, and increased customer satisfaction. Applying these tools to your small business will increase your chances of staying in business longer and give you more control of its operations, profitability, and get you out of a “small” business mentality.

1. Organizational Charts

Organizational charts outline the functions that are required for a business to run on a day-to-day basis, as well as the person responsible for that function. This tool determines the “Who” of the business. Organizational charts also drive accountability for each area of the business and outline clear responsibilities.

Big businesses have figured out that while it is important to have people lead each of the functions, it is even more important to make sure the skill level and competencies of that person match the role. As a majority of small businesses typically have a small staff, roles are often filled by whoever is available. This mistake could lead to inefficiency and prevent the business from operating at its peak level. Completing an organizational chart will help identify the gaps that exist in the skill set of current employees and should be developed even when there is only one person in the business. This activity will allow for future growth as the business is expanded to include more and more employees.

Remember: The more times one name appears in an organizational chart, the less productive and effective it will be!

2. Operations Manuals/ Procedures

Operations manuals and procedures document the tasks that are to be done within the business. Use this tool to capture the “What” of your business. This will serve as a step-by-step guide on how to complete each task and give clear expectations of how your business is to run. This documentation can also serve as a training aid for new employees, allowing them to ramp up faster, and reduce the amount of time you have to spend training. This tool will reduce the variability in output and quality that can occur when employees are allowed to do it their own way, in effect making it their business.

If there are no employees within your business, use procedures to help you become more efficient by performing tasks the same way, every time. You will also reduce wasted time remembering how you completed a task previously.

Be sure to review your operations manuals and procedures periodically for relevancy and areas of improvement. Have you found another way of doing things more efficiently? Does the task take a significant amount of time? Look for steps that may be duplicated, can be removed, or take a lot of time to complete. Conducting this review will lead to continuous improvement within your business.

3. Business Systems

Given the complexity in most big businesses, they always have systems in place to make sure their operations are set up to flow smoothly and reduce the chaos that can occur when there are so many functions and employees. Small businesses can take advantage of the benefits of having a systemized business as well. Systems are no more than how the tasks and functions interrelate to deliver a completed product or service. Having a system in place allows you to produce the same quality results every time, which in turn leads to increased customer satisfaction. You can describe this as the “How” of your business.

For businesses with only one person (the owner), set up business systems that automate some of the key tasks. This will give you more freedom to work your on business and strategize, rather than in your business doing a lot of the mundane tasks. You will find that you will have more time to grow your business when most tasks are systemized. Business systems produce a highly organized business and can also be used as an effective management tool for owners since feedback can be gained about your business performance when things don’t work as expected.

4. Process and System Audits

Auditing your processes and systems asks the question “Are we doing what we say we are going to do?”. When you have taken the time to document the key tasks in your business, it makes sense to periodically review whether or not the procedures are being followed. If they are not, then find out why. Auditing allows you to qualitatively measure how well your business is performing.

Take it one step further, and check for the effectiveness of the system, not only the compliance to it. An easy way to do this is to look at your customer satisfaction measures, the number of errors or defects you are getting, and how easy it is to follow your process. Often times, while all of the procedures are being followed, they may not be producing the results that are intended, so auditing can help you uncover these issues.

Use auditing within your organization to drive accountability, and make following the process a habit. Not only will you improve the efficiency of your business system, but you will continue to make your business better, meet your customer expectations, and consistently meet business goals.

5. Key Metrics and Reporting

Metrics are the key data that you need to make business decisions. As the old adage implies, “you cannot manage what does not get measured”. Your key metrics are a snapshot of how well you business is performing. Use these measures to quantitatively assess your output.

An easy way to determine what your key metrics should be is to ask: What do my customers want? What is important to them? The answers to these questions will be become the standards by which you measure your business. Other metrics can include weekly sales goals, revenue goals, or the number of calls made to prospective clients.

After key metrics are determined, institute a regular reporting of the results and look for trends upward or downward that need correction. Use dashboards that can be set up easily in an Excel spreadsheet program for quick access to the data and results. Also, be sure to tie the metrics to the functions in your business to increase accountability for the results.

In addition, consider using your metrics and reports as a communication tool to clients and prospective clients. Show how you differ from your competition, and what you can do for them relating to customer service levels, response time, or any other measure most important to that audience.

6. Six Sigma Process Improvement

A highly utilized efficiency tool used in Fortune 500 companies, Six Sigma is a data-driven methodology for reducing the number of defects within a business system. It will demonstrate quantitatively how well a process is performing and focus on variation (what the customer sees and feels) reduction.

Big businesses use Six Sigma to reduce lead time, excess labor costs, and processing times, saving them millions of dollars annually. Small businesses can also realize the benefits of applying this process improvement tool in the same way. Use of the tool increases customer and client loyalty as they know what they are going to get every time.

Find out more about Six Sigma and its benefits here at the iSixSigma website: http://www.isixsigma.com/.

7. Problem Solving Tools

There are different ways to address the issues that inevitably occur in businesses. Have a toolbox of problem-solving methodologies to solve the different problems that occur. This will allow for rational and data-driven decision-making, and help you get to the root cause of the issue. It is widely understood that if you solve the problem well, and eliminate the root cause of a problem, the problem will not re-occur.

Some commonly used problem-solving tools include:

  • Brainstorming
  • Root Cause Analysis
  • 5 Whys
  • Cause and Effect Analysis
  • Flow Charting
  • SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) Analysis

All businesses have problems, and that is actually a good thing! Look at problems as opportunities to improve, and as simply the difference between the current state and your business goals. Become familiar with the various tools available, and train your team to apply the tools as well. This will increase your confidence in the decisions being made in the business, and ultimately free a business owner from having to be involved in every business decision being made.

These 7 tools all work together to ensure a highly organized, productive business. Use these “Big Business” tools to increase productivity, profitability, and your chances for small business success. No longer think that your small business is not quite ready for this framework, and begin to operate your “small” business like it is “big”.