In today's economy, it's no surprise the Association of National Advertisers surveyed marketers in early 2009, and found that 62% of marketer respondents had actually experienced budget cuts in the first half of the year. After a difficult first half, the pressure may be easing off somewhat for the rest of 2009. But businesses are still slow to throw more dollars back into their marketing budget.
So how does a business put together a marketing package on a thrift store budget and get killer results. Here are some inexpensive options to jump in and starting building your business.
First, go online. Online marketing has been the success story of the 21st century. It's a great source for all businesses, but especially small business as it's leveling the playing field. Everyone is letting their fingers do the walking on the Web. That's because websites are inexpensive to maintain and give you global exposure. Google has replaced the retail stores as the first port of call for people looking for products or services. That's why it's imperative for a business to beat the competition online with great marketing strategies.
Online marketing is relatively inexpensive for the reach it offers at a certain investment. Done effectively, companies have access to a larger audience for a small fraction of traditional advertising budgets. Keep in mind, E-Commerce has been steadily increasing as more and more consumers buy things online, but more importantly because a majority of the consumers now research online for offline purchases.
Here are some inexpensive online marketing tools you can do immediately to boost your marketing efforts.
Put your website to work.
1. Clean up your website. It's the heart of your marketing campaign and needs to be in good working order. Use friends and family to make you aware of any problems on your website. Clean up and spice up the content. Make the website easy to read and put a bit of flash on it to make it attractive to readers. This area however can be a slippery slope. There is a fine line when working on your website and combining SEO and flash. Don't have too much text, and don't overload it with too much flash. Many business owners tend to neglect this very important point when building or reworking their website. It's good to build more flash introductions and banners, but making your entire website flash will kill your SEO.
2. Get your website found on Google. Recognize most users find Web pages from search engines and the number of Web shoppers increases every single year. So, if you want a fighting chance at being seen on Google you also need to ensure that your content is properly optimized for online marketing. You need to work from a structured search phrase analysis campaign if you really want to get those search rankings up. By building your SEO you will pull in new leads, boost your sales and wonder how you grew your business pre-SEO!
Take Advantage of Social Media
Promote your website in Social Media (like Twitter, Facebook, etc.). Consider Social Media your website online community. It's a place to network, share knowledge and get recommendations. Social Media is the new way for word of mouth to travel. Start by looking at the big social media sites and search for smaller ones that are targeted to your client base. Once you find where your clients hang out, join them and help them!
Advertising online is far cheaper than any of the traditional methods and it has the added advantage that it can be displayed in multimedia. There are different online advertising opportunities such as banner advertisements and a Pay per click (PPC) service. You might also want to be a leader in the industry by utilizing the power of online video. Video will always be one of the best ways to advertise as it enables a company to use video and sound to illicit emotion and build a connection with a customer. Video breaks through the clutter of text and banner ads and communicates meaningful information. Creating compelling videos is financially accessible to everyone. Whether it's shooting your own video in your restaurant kitchen interviewing your chef, getting video testimonials or paying to have a professional ad, it's frankly more affordable all across the board.
Build an email list
Collect email addresses from every source possible. Put a email subscriber box on your website or put a pad on your store counter and tell customers to sign up for your specials mailing list. Email is cheap and proactive. An added bonus is that email is viral.
One of your customers might forward your message to other potential customers!
Start a blog
Putting a blog on your website is a great way to offer more information about your company. Consider it an online PR approach that offers tips, advice and specials about your services and products.
You can drive traffic to your site with well-written and interesting articles about your line of industry with your company's links embedded at the bottom of the content. Build an image as a professional in your line of work. Try to generate interesting content that will give knowledge to surfers about your product, service or industry.
Advertise your website address on voicemail and email signature
Leave your website address on your voicemail. When customers call, they want a question answered or have a request. Sending them to your website might take care of their need, instead of asking the customer to wait until you can return their call. Also, make sure to have a clickable link on your email signatures so they can check out your website.
You don't have to spend a ton of money to build your business online. We all understand how the economy is forcing businesses to trim back their marketing budget, but there are ways to continue to boost business until you bounce back. Often times when the economy slows, the first budget item that many businesses cut is marketing and that is the wrong thing to do. A business that receives less exposure to potential customers will only create less business.
Just be smart, thrifty and consistent when drawing up a budget for marketing. It's possible to be frugal and still hit your target markets effectively by simply going online!
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Kelly Singleton is Director of Strategic Internet Marketing for Adwido.com, a commercial internet and video marketing company dedicated to small-and medium-sized businesses. She was previously General Manager of Women's Communities and Content for GodTube.com. Kelly has also held several radio promotional positions and was a Representative for the Ambassador Speakers Bureau in Nashville.
If you would like to learn more, go to Adwido.com to learn more about how you can unleash the power of video marketing on the internet.
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