Tuesday, August 22, 2006
If you're a small business owner, you're probably wondering where you can get the biggest bang for the buck with your marketing dollars. As a veteran marketing professional and small business owner myself, I understand the importance of making the most from a limited marketing budget.
The good news for today's small business owner is that the Internet and local advertising can provide targeted reach at a reasonable cost. In particular, email, Internet marketing, and classified advertising, can generate huge returns for your business.
* Email Marketing. Each year, nearly 20 billion emails are sent to consumers and businesses. As many as 60 percent of these emails are considered SPAM and about 20% are automatically tagged as such - making their way into the SPAM mailbox of your everyday email client.
However, what most email marketers fail to tell you is that the most productive email solicitations don't come from businesses, they come from word-of-mouth or viral marketing. Viral marketing is the practice of telling others about a positive experience with a brand, product or service.
As a small business owner, you can take advantage of email marketing by simply encouraging those who receive your emails to forward them to a friend. Also, tag your web pages with a "tell a friend" button which allows for easy emailing of a web page, URL, PDF, or related document. These features cost little or nothing to implement and can generate impressive results.
* Internet Marketing. Often the topic of Internet marketing scares off small business owners. However, Internet marketing itself can be an effective tool if leveraged appropriately. There are a variety of Internet marketing mediums. These options include "pay-for" Internet marketing options such as Google AdSense, the Yahoo! Directory and so on as well as free or cost neutral options.
In Internet marketing, there are a couple of techniques that are highly effective and cost little or nothing to implement. The first and most popular is article marketing. Are you a subject matter expert? If you are, provide articles to other well known websites that can get your company name and URL out there. This can be done for free and provides the added benefit of having other sites link to your website, increasing your site's link popularity scores.
The second Internet marketing strategy that can drive you business is an affiliate program. At its most basic level, an affiliate program allows other website or companies to sell your products and receive a commission. Explore affiliate programs that can help distribute your products or services.
* Classified Advertising. Still one of the best and most affordable ways to sell your product, classified advertising can be effective if you run your ad for multiple weeks. For as little as $30 per week or less, you can get your company name, product, website, or other unique identifier in front of a local audience.
Weekly papers are especially good if you are targeting a small area. These local papers are also well read - often cover to cover. So, if you want to advertise, forget the large display ads, magazine ads, or anything that costs more than $100. Spend your money on classified ads and measure the response.
Marketing doesn't have to break the bank for the small business owner. In fact, it should be seen as an important way to drive revenue for your business. If you have little or no money to spend on marketing, be sure to take advantage of email marketing, Internet marketing, and classified ads to drive the success of your business. Also, make sure that everything you distribute (letters, invoices, business cards, and even your voicemail) mentions your company name and website.
* Michael Fleischner is a marketing expert and the president of MarketingScoop.com, the Internet’s biggest source of marketing information, free marketing resources, and marketing blog directory. Mr. Fleischner has more than 12 years of marketing experience and has appeared on The TODAY Show, Bloomberg Radio, and other major media. Visit Marketingscoop.com for further details.