Archives for January 2009

Does Email Marketing Really Work?

THE Marketing Tool

Small business owners who are looking for a budget-friendly way to market their business may find email marketing their perfect solution. Many of the most successful internet marketers rely on this form of marketing for the majority of their sales. But can this really work for your business?

As the name implies, email marketing is a form of marketing done via email. Recipients sign up to receive emails from the business owner, usually in the form of a newsletter. In turn, the business owner sends out these emails along with some type of promotion for their business.

In a perfect world, the reader reads these emails, learns about the promotion and becomes a customer. Sounds simple – and it is, but there are also variables along the path to making this a successful way to market a business.

As with any marketing tool, there are some cons to email marketing. Don’t let that stop you from trying this technique, as these can be worked through.

The first obstacle to overcome is managing the mailing list. It would be nearly impossible for a business owner to try and do this on their own. If your new subscribers had to send you their information in order to be added, and you had to hand type out each new recipient, you wouldn’t have time for anything else.

There will be people who will want to be unsubscribed from your newsletter. Again, if they had to send you an email and you had to personally remove them, you would be spending way too much time managing your list.

This can be avoided by using an autoresponder service that allows people to sign up and remove themselves. Autoresponders also help your emails get delivered and avoid getting caught in spam filters.

Some business owners may struggle with getting their readers to open their emails. This can be avoided by creating interesting subject lines that get your readers’ attention.

Other people are afraid that they will run out of ideas of what to write in their emails. To generate some ideas, try writing out all the questions your readers may have about the benefits your products or services may offer them.

Some additional options would be to hire a ghostwriter to come up with customized content or to buy pre-written private label rights content.

Email marketing offers many benefits, as it is easy to use, very affordable and allows you to build relationships with your customers.

Deliver Your Message to the Right Market

When people set about marketing their business, it can be a big gamble. If the person is putting up money, it can be scary to think you might not get a good result. And if a business owner is using free marketing methods, they are putting up a lot of their time.

Either way, once the time or money has been spent, they cannot retrieve it. To make the best use of time and money, it is important for the business owner to make sure they are delivering their message to the right target market.

A target market is the business owner’s ideal audience. These are the people who would be their best type of customer.

There really is no sense in putting time and money into marketing if the message is being delivered to the wrong audience. In fact, it is a big waste!

For instance, a business which sells high-end baby clothes is not likely to see a good result from advertising on a frugal mom website. Yes, moms are in need of baby clothes, but a site catering to moms who are trying to save money isn’t the place for the ad of a business which sells $40 onesies.

But if you turn that around, and the business owner writes an article which contains a link back to their own site, for an ezine targeted to new moms with lots of disposable income, the business owner could do quite well and see an increase in traffic and sales.

There are several ways to determine your target market. One of these is to take a few minutes of quiet time and visualize exactly who is in need, or want, of your product or service.

Try to picture them as clearly as possible. Are they male or female? How old are they? How will your product or service help them? What benefits does it offer them, and how is that going to make their life easier?

You can also do a search for competing and complementary products and take a look at their websites. When you look at it, who do you feel they are marketing to? Do you find a similar image to their target market and your own?

Once a business owner begins to target their marketing efforts and make sure their message is being sent to the right market, they will see a much better return on investment.

Create a Great List

If you spend much time around internet marketers, you’ll hear them talk about “the list”. That term refers to their mailing list, which is made up of people who have requested to receive information from them, usually in the form of email newsletters.

For many internet marketers, the bulk of their income comes from marketing to the people on their mailing list. A person’s list can truly be their key to success.

Unfortunately, some people mistakenly believe that the bigger list they have, the more successful they will be. There are a lot of ways to “get” subscribers, such as contests, list swaps, and even through list purchasing. It is possible to achieve a high number of subscribers through these methods… but that doesn’t always guarantee success.

Instead of focusing on the number of people on the list, focus on the quality of the list and how interested the people are to receive the information. A list of 1,000 very interested people will bring in much more money than a list of 10,000 uninterested people.

The following are some tips to help you build a great list:

Easy sign-up process

If signing up for your newsletter is a complicated process, many people will simply click away. It’s also important to make sure the sign-up box is easy to see. Some people place it at the bottom of their sites and if the visitor doesn’t scroll all the way down, they’ll miss it. Many studies suggest that placing your newsletter sign-up box on the top right portion of your website will yield the best results.

Promote your list to your target market

Knowing your target market is another big key in creating a great list. The more targeted the people on your list are, the more likely they are to purchase your products or services.

Your target market consists of the people who are most likely to be interested in what you have to offer. For example, if you sell natural baby care products, you probably wouldn’t want to promote your list by purchasing an ad on harleydavidson.com.

Offer a freebie

Many people offer their subscribers a freebie in exchange for joining their mailing list. This could be in the form of an ebook, a special report, an audio recording of a teleclass or some other information product. When doing this, it’s always best to stay close to a topic your target market would be interested in. Going back to the example of someone selling natural baby products, a great freebie would be a small guide filled with natural baby food recipes.

Building a great list, full of targeted readers, will take some time to develop. Don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t happen overnight. Over time, the list will grow and it can develop into one of your best business assets.

Newsletter No-No’s

Business owners who are looking to market their business often seek out outside advertising. They will gladly pay money for an ad that lasts a week or a month. This can get costly – especially if the ad doesn’t reach the intended target market.

One thing that business owners often fail to think of is marketing to their current customers and website visitors. This is a simple way to market your business, and it can be very easy to implement.

Marketing a business with email newsletters can be very beneficial, for many different reasons. The people who sign up for your newsletter want to hear from you. They are already familiar with you and your products and services. It will be a lot easier to sell a new product to them than to a stranger.

There are a few things that you may want to avoid with newsletter marketing, though. For as much business that they can bring in, they can also turn people away just as easily.

* Unprofessional design: If a newsletter looks sloppy or unprofessional, it may lend a bad image to your business. For best results, a business’ newsletter design should look similar to their website. This will create brand recognition and help your subscribers remember that they signed up for your newsletter.

* Misspelled words or bad grammar: When a potential customer reads a newsletter full of misspellings or bad grammar, they may assume that the business owner is equally sloppy with everything about their business. They may not want to buy the business’ products or services for fear that they will be poor quality.

* Outside advertising: Some business owners earn quite a bit of money through accepting outside advertising in their newsletters. And this business model may work well for your own business. However, before you decide to go down this path, it is best to think twice.

When a newsletter includes information about your business and links to your site, you are giving your readers a reason to visit your site. When you accept outside ads, you are giving your readers a reason to visit someone else’s site.

Would it be more beneficial to your business, and your bank account, to have people visiting your site or someone else’s?

* Content not focused on target market: The most important thing to leave out of a newsletter is content which is not focused on a business’ target market. A person subscribes to a newsletter because they want to receive information on a certain topic. If the newsletter doesn’t contain info on that topic, the subscribers will likely become frustrated and stop reading.

If done right, a newsletter can be a great business tool. It can serve as a wonderful way to communicate with your customers and bring in new sales. By using the above tips to know what to stay away from, your newsletter will be on the road to success.

Recommended Resource
: Aweber is Email marketing software, Email Newsletters, and Autoresponders.

Start A business For Beer Money!

Many of my peers in business are looking for ways to increase their opportunities and help others in the process. One of my fellow charter members of MOOB, (Mind Our Own Business), Marcia Hoeck has put together a telesummit featuring a dozen high profile speakers on being your own boss, throwing up that shingle and giving it a go. The fantastic thing is that they’re not charging a few thousand or even a few hundred dollars for this series of a dozen interviews. The fee is only 37 bucks USD ( a few cases of beer – at least here in Canada). They are also donating a portion to KIVA to help fund small business in developing countries.

Marcia herself has had year over year success for the last 25 years. She is engaging and a great friend. I’ve already signed up. I’ve been in business for at least as long as Marcia, and I learn new stuff all the time. The “Corporate Entrepreneurs Unplugged Teleseminar” – Check it out.

Once you’ve read the splash page, come back and tell me what you think? Marcia would love the feed-back.

How to reach out and stop the bleeding

Recently, I got a very glum email from a colleague I hold dear. She informed me of her company’s potential demise. She lost major work and has had to put her location up for sale. This email hit me like a ton of bricks. This person has enjoyed year over year successes and this is their 25th anniversary. How could it just slide so quickly?

But, you know as I sit here at my Mac, contemplating, I am struck by what I have always admired about her – her professionalism, her lack of fear. Her simple email told of her having to immediately layoff, of her speaking with the accountants about stopping the bleeding and the selling of her building. What you may not believe is that these actions really impressed me. I have known and have had personal experience with those among us who refuse to accept the reality of a situation and choose to believe that it will correct itself. That some how, everything will sort itself out on its own.

I believe that her brand is even stronger now, because she did the tough thing. She stood tall, and refusing to allow what would honestly devastate others, moved forward on her journey. She did not hesitate. This speaks volumes about her brand.

When I am faced with the good and bad news, I typically chose the bad first. If I have to make choices, I get the hard ones out the way first. I am not a procrastinator. What I do know is that refusing to make the hard decisions, will put an enormous stress on your health. Being the nice guy does nothing for your stress level. What my friend is going through has nothing to do with being a nice person or not. It has everything to do with making sure your situation is secure and there is as little blood-letting as possible. If she had let her ego prevent her from clearing the minefield before her, imagine the damage she would have incurred.

Are you also going through a nightmare scenario right now? If you are, I can assure you, that putting off that hard decision that is tearing you apart inside, does have a solution. Close your eyes and blurt it out – get it done and watch your blood pressure ease. Being on the other side of the hard decision is “such a relief” that before, when only negatives swam in your head, now has cleared, and believe it or not – then and only then, will you be able to see opportunity where none seemed possible.

All the participants here at Small Business Branding try very hard to be of value to the readers. We know so few of you because most do not comment but use the knowledge expressed to benefit their businesses in silence. All around us there is genuine suffering. If you find yourself in the same situation as my friend, treat the writers here as your personal mastermind group. There is decades of experience here that you can draw from – we’ve been there I can assure you.

Stop the hurt and move to the other side. Your best years lie ahead!

Share what you know

Share What you KnowOne of our strongest held beliefs at my agency is that it’s a wise marketing practice to give away what you sell.  We fight and struggle to get a prospect’s attention and when we do, the first thing we want to do is show them what we know and how we can help them.

So why not reverse the process.  Why not freely share your knowledge and then the prospects are drawn to you!  No cold calling, no chasing them down.  They have already seen what you’re capable of — so they seek you out.

Think of it as sampling — demonstrating your expertise and giving your potential customers a taste.  It’s a great way to establish your abilities.

There are lots of ways you can give away your expertise.

  1. Write a newsletter filled with tips.
  2. Host a monthly networking meeting and in the first five minutes, share a fact your guests need to know.
  3. Create a blog.
  4. Join a forum and answer newbie questions.
  5. Surf other blogs in your category of expertise and jump into the conversations, adding value.

The key to this technique is this isn’t the place for a hard core sales pitches.  This is soft sales, so tread lightly.  If you’re good — you don’t need to push.

Breaking News: Transcript of Tonight’s Interview With Warren Buffet

Tonight is the 30th Anniversay of the Nightly Business Report, I was given the transcript just now and I asked permission to put it into a pdf for my readers. Permission was granted so here you go!

To Read the PDF Transcript
>> Click Here

To watch tonight: >> Click Here

Enjoy!

RSS Troubles – Do You Have Them Too?

You know I’m rather quite annoyed with this RSS feed here. They say it’s good to display your RSS feed but what happens when your RSS feed falls off the map? Well that’s where mine has been for the last 5 days, I was so proud of my RSS feed getting to 3000 and now it’s nowhere near that.

I’m reminded by what Alice Seba mentioned on her blog. Something to the effect of, “Focus less on the Feed and more on your business.”

Sure an RSS feed is great to show social proof and that people are actually interested in YOU and your business. It’s also great for advertisers as well. But do you think it’s an EGO thing?

RSS FeedTo me I think it’s way more important to develop a relationship with people that come along to the site and create products that are valuable to the customer. If you haven’t noticed yet I’ve also been focusing on the site itself and added my picture to the sidebar today.

The funny thing is, my traffic is up due to following the advice inside the Blog Mastermind program, so I have more visitors coming along who I can possibly connect with. Plus, RSS is not mainstream at all it is mostly those who are a bit more “techy” than others.

What’s that RSS number really worth?

Does it increase my income? … Maybe a smidge.

Should you be impressed with how BIG my RSS number is? … I don’t think so, I think what will impress you is what this site has to offer you.

I’m now officially done spending time on this RSS number, I will not look to feedburner for help. I’ll just let it sort itself out like it normally does.

What do you think?

Office Supplies or Success – Your Choice!

As a business owner do you spend more on office supplies than you do on marketing your company? By marketing, I mean any activity whose goal is to grow new and existing business. This “investment” is an integral component in brand building. I can’t tell you how many small businesses I’ve spoken with over the years who put more value in the decor of their offices than the quality of their brand. They had no issue purchasing the latest office equipment, and lavished up their surroundings so that they are professional in their space.

When it came to their brand image though, it was get it done as cheaply and inexpensively as possible. Anybody with a computer took a crack at the logo and marketing materials. Bob, in IT did the website. The simple fact of the matter is, you don’t have to spend your kid’s college fund, you only have to allocate enough to get the proper guidance to bring your brand to the next level. The internet has brought to your desktop, resources that purchased wisely, puts professional advice into your hands. The simple fact that you are here at Small Business branding reading this post shows your passion for your business. You could be wasting your time doing something else besides trying to improve your business.

One of my clients, Guardog™ (a manufacturer of skate guards and covers) has recently produced their first 12 page catalog of products. This company is a classic case of a manufacturer whose patent ran out, and off-shore competition threatened to bury them. But, they chose to fight by super-juicing their brand and re-establishing their dominance in their category. Their brand now represents the best skate guards around the world. All the top figure skaters wear the Guardog™ brand. At retail you will see that it commands a higher price. That is what branding is all about. They could have taken the cheap approach and had the clerical department put their marketing materials together and build their brand, but they chose to take the advice of professionals and make them part of the team. Over the five years I’ve been associated with this brand, we’ve all benefited from steady growth. Distributors as far away as the Soviet Union eagerly await the latest Guardog™ product. The owner will also attest they did not break the bank achieving their goals, but spent wisely and strategically. Distributors on seeing the new catalog informed Guardog™ that it will definitely increase sales. That kind of confidence validates the effort expended.

Don’t view raising the bar as something that you can’t afford to do, but as something that you must do. Choose those who can guide you properly and work out terms that you can live with that allows you to be profitable. Your marketing and brand building should be invigorating and excite you. If you found it more more fun choosing credenzas than developing your positioning strategy, then you’re speaking with the wrong people. Presenting your expert profile should trump everything else. Invest in yourself properly and realize a significant return.

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