Direct MarketingInternet Marketing

Marketing Secrets for Small Business Owners

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 voice mail) mentions your company name and website.

Internet MarketingSEO

Promoting Your Product With Search Engine Optimization

I’ve heard it time and again, “Paying for online marketing is killing my business.” Many of the small businesses I consult with, and even some of the larger ones continually complain about the cost of online marketing and advertising, especially when it comes to pay per click advertising.

Why is online advertising so painful?

Many small business owners do not have the resources needed to effectively manage online marketing or the experience to implement productive pay-per-click advertising campaigns. All too often the common result is an abundance of clicks and few if any sales. This happens because pay-per-click advertising can be very expensive and it’s only half of the equation.

Once you get the appropriate traffic to your website, you need to focus on converting that traffic into paying customers. Improving on-site conversions can be a full-time job, and in most major companies it is. Many website owners have little knowledge or interest in creating and testing dynamic content, continually reinventing the purchase decision process, or evaluating their website’s deficiencies. All they’ve succeeded in doing is spending a lot of money to drive people to an ineffective website. The result is a large expense and nothing to show for it.

Changing the equation.

Improving conversions on your website is important, make no mistake about it. However, if you can reduce the cost associated with driving traffic to your site, the equation can shift in your favor. Enter organic search. My feeling is that instead of spending money on pay-per-click advertising; invest that money in improving your organic search results.

On-page optimization factors.

When we talk about on-page optimization factors, we’re referring to the proper use of HTML to signal the search engines what your site is about and what keywords best define your offer. On-page optimization, when done correctly, provides a strong platform for enhancing your natural search results.

The most important on-page factors include meta tags, keyword placement, keyword density, and link text. By using the proper meta tags in the proper format, placing keywords in your content using the right styles, and optimal page placement, results in improved organic search results. When working on your website, make sure that all code is WC3 compliant and you’re using style sheets for formatting purposes. Placing java script or unnecessary code on your site can make it difficult for search engines to best understand your content.

Off-page optimization factors.

Factors like link popularity and page rank all have a significant impact on your natural search results. Coupled with the competitiveness of other websites seeking optimal placement for your keyword or keyword phrase can also add a layer of complexity.

A great place to start your off-page optimization effort is through link building. Find other websites who are willing to exchange links with you, place a one-way link on their site to yours, or perhaps provide a link to unique content or tools you offer. By getting other websites to point to your website, you are well on your way towards enhancing organic search results.

Generating traffic to your site can be accomplished via online advertising, pay-per-click marketing, and organic search results. All too often, individuals believe that pay-per-click advertising is a quick way to Internet riches but quickly find out that the grass is always greener on the other side.

If you use SEM to promote your products, consider it to be only part of your overall marketing strategy. Invest your time in improving organic search results and the Internet marketing equation shifts in your favor. This method costs less and can drive significant traffic to your website resulting in a positive return on your time and marketing dollars.

Internet MarketingSEO

Using Differentiators in Search Engine Keyphrases

As any good search engine optimization company knows, in search, more so than any other medium, you have a very short window of opportunity in which to engage your prospect.

The only way to get a solid competitive advantage in this arena is to utilize various techniques in order to make sure that you are giving a prospect exactly what it is that he or she is looking for. Otherwise, your prospect will simply click the back button and visit one of your competitors – a process that only takes seconds.

One way to gain a competitive advantage, of course, is to work on the website itself. Any search engine optimization company worth its salt will also be involved in conversion testing on your website – in other words, making certain that the visitors who arrive on your site are likely to take a point of action that eventually leads to a sale. Split tests, modifications in content, different color schemes, and numerous other variable elements can all have a measurable impact.

There is also another way that a quality search engine optimization company will seek to maximize the value of the prospects that find your website through search engines. In this case, however, it is using your company differentiators in the key phrases that they target to make sure that the traffic that comes to your site is of a very high quality.

Gaining a Competitive Advantage with Differentiators

As more and more companies turn to organic search to gain a competitive advantage while promoting their products and services, it can be increasingly difficult to achieve high rankings for the generic terms that everyone in your industry is pursuing.

While any ranking is ultimately attainable, eventually a search engine optimization company has to decide whether the effort involved is worth it, especially when it recognizes that you can get overall better results from the campaign by making sure that a very high percentage of people that are typing keyphrases into search engines are looking for exactly what you offer.

This is why your search engine optimization company should be able to leverage differentiators in your keyphrases to give you the best competitive advantage available.

What Keyphrases Will Work Best for Your Business? Suppose that you are in an industry where companies can have a wide array of prices, approaches, customer service levels, and so on. Instead of targeting, from the outset, the general key-phrase that defines the industry (for example “email marketing”), a good search engine optimization company will take the time to help you gain a competitive advantage by realizing what is different about your company in order to a.) attract very highly targeted prospects who know what they are seeking and b.) reduce the competitiveness of the key-phrases they are choosing.

Let’s take a look at a high-end provider of email marketing that has advanced web-based functionality and focuses on the B2B market. This fictional business is seeking a competitive advantage by working with a search engine optimization company. We can safely assume that the percentage of people that type “email marketing” into a search engine who are looking for this exact type of company is anywhere from between 0 and 100%.

By looking into the popularity of other variations, however, we can see that it is nowhere near 100%. Phrases like “cheap email marketing” or “free email marketing” are very popular, demonstrating that many people seeking “email marketing” are not looking for exactly the service that the provider is offering.

Imagine that instead of targeting “email marketing”, a daunting task (that, even if achieved, assures that a high percentage of visitors that come to the site are not looking for the provider’s particular type of solution), the search engine optimization company takes advantage of the provider’s differentiators.

In this case, the search engine optimization company would instead target phrases such as “business to business email marketing” and “web-based email marketing”. Suddenly the two objectives have been achieved – the provider knows that a much higher percentage of visitors that are typing these terms are actually looking for the right kind of company and the competitiveness of the phrases has also been reduced, leading to faster and higher rankings.

Using Modifiers to Give You the Edge

There are hundreds of modifiers that can give a competitive advantage by reflecting a company’s differentiators, including words such as “free”, “affordable”, “high-end”, “full service”, “proven”, “turnkey”, etc. The point is that by making use of your unique differentiators in the search terms you target, your search engine optimization company is already setting the table for your prospect before he or she even clicks over to your website.

When the message that is seen on your site then supports the key phrase that was typed, you now have an engaged visitor. This can mean more leads, less site abandonment, and better overall website performance.

Remember, your company is better than the others out there. Ask yourself why, and then tell your search engine optimization company to take advantage of these differences in your keyphrases to give you a competitive advantage in your industry. The subtle addition of a few seemingly minor modifiers can have a huge impact on your bottom line.

About the Author
Scott Buresh is the CEO of Medium Blue (www.mediumblue.com), which was named the number one organic search engine optimization company in the world by PromotionWorld in 2006 and 2007.

Internet Marketing

Sales Management Mastery

Most business leaders don’t know how to structure their sales organizations or even themselves for maximum productivity. They don’t know how to change, adapt and re-organize for new stages of growth. Whether you are a one-person army or a large-scale sales force, you can learn and leverage my golden secrets to super sales mastery.

I first learned the secrets to building precision sales organizations while working for billionaire businessman, Charlie Munger. I doubled the sales of the first company given to me in just 15 months. The second company I doubled in just 12 months. Several of the companies I took over, I doubled two and three years in a row. Here’s how.

How to Increase Productivity & Double Your Sales

In most sales organizations, the sales are ad-hoc. Everyone’s running around doing what they think is best. Management sets very little standards of performance. If you want to achieve maximum productivity and double your sales in less than 12 to 15 months, you must think like a scientist. You must plan of every aspect of your sales process down to the smallest detail.

Here Are My Top Ideas to Help You Create Your Step-By-Step Battle Plan for Sales Success:

1. Prospecting Stage Do you have minimum standards for the types of accounts your salespeople should go after? Does every rep have some “dream clients” they chase constantly and relentlessly?

What is the minimal size accounts should your reps be going after? Did you establish the minimum number of accounts your team will go after (per rep)? How much time each day is going to be dedicated to this effort?

Did you set a minimum amount of rejections your team will face per client? Make sure you include in your battle plan what your sales reps should do after each rejection and how this process is going to be monitored? If you don’t set standards here, 52% of all salespeople will give up after a single rejection. Yet studies show it takes 8.4 rejections today to get the client to at least meet you.

What will be your sales reps first approach? The second? The Third? What do you say if you get the prospect on the phone right away? What are your procedures for getting around gatekeepers and assistants?

2. The sales call. What are your sales reps going to present? What are the top five strategic objectives you want to achieve from every interaction with every buyer?

What and how many questions are they going to ask? How will your reps own personal credibility? The sales call is a terrific strategy 99.9% of companies never address on purpose.

Have you seriously sat down and talked about the sales call and planned out each aspect? Did you practice it, role-play it and polish it to a fine luster? Are you leaving nothing to chance? For every company I work with, I make them plan every inch of the sales call. I tell my clients to think of sales like a war.

Marketing with direct mail, advertising, trade shows and Internet Marketing are like your long range bombing. They open the market and make it more receptive. Your salespeople are your foot soldiers. When they get into hand-do-hand combat, how well do you want them trained? How many scenarios do you want to address in advance? By perfecting every aspect of the sales phone call, my clients slaughtered companies four tines their size!

3. The actual pitch for the product or service. What’s your pre-emptive strategy to block competitors? What’s going to motivate your prospects to buy right now? Pretend you had to present to all your prospects all at once, what kind of experience would that be? Are you ready right now? If not, your sales process is sloppy. Sorry, but it’s true.

I plan out the sales opportunities to the letter. I know exactly what I’d say if you put all my prospects in a room all at once. Figure it out, then role-play it.

4. The offer. Creating a compelling offer is an art form. Can you offer something for free that gets you deep into your clients’ world? Can you offer a free audit related to your type of product or service?

Can you sweeten the inducement to buy with a bonus or free gift? I have a client who recently added an MP3 Player to the offer and it increased his sales by 22% overnight. As a bonus, I give away spectacular additional training programs as an inducement to buy my primary offers. Role-play your offer again and again until the reps do it with ease and complete comfort.

5. The follow up. Now it’s time to continue the bonding process. In this stage you must recognize and plan your objectives after a sales interaction? Do you want to get referrals?

Do you want to keep the client coming back again and again? How are you going to build a bond? Did you get emails addresses? Can you open a relationship that is so worth having they can’t say no? What’s follow up step one, step two, step three and so on?

Train Your Sales Reps to Act More Like Top Producers That said, the procedures, role-playing, constant training and working on your sales process and not just in it, can help even regular salespeople perform like top producers. If you’re not leading, you can’t close.

There’s a war in today’s business world. It’s called sales. Ad, if you want to win the war and get more market share you must get yourself some true warriors. You need top producers. Top producers respond perfectly to rejection by becoming more effective. They become more aggressive when someone is brushing them off. They’re more persuasive if someone isn’t buying.

Top Performers know that the sales process is a science. They understand that they must operate like scientists, constantly moving toward the sale. So start drilling down like a scientist each and every aspect of your sales process.

CopywritingInternet Marketing

Sales Letter Copy Secrets

Psychological ‘triggers’ can massively increase your sales letter success.

Do you remember the stupid beer commercial a few years back with the tagline “Why Ask Why?” Well, completely unknown to the ad agency, they had almost stumbled onto a breakthrough marketing concept. Telling people the reason why you are doing something is one of the most powerful influencers of human behavior.

Robert Cialdini, Ph.D. in his book “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” talks about an experiment by Harvard social psychologist, Ellen Langer, that concluded people like to have a reason for what they do.

Her experiment consisted of people waiting in line to use a library copy machine and then having experimenters ask to get ahead in line. The first excuse used was “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I’m in a rush?”

This request coupled with a reason was successful 94% of the time. However when the experimenter made a request only: “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine?” this request was only granted 60% of the time. A significant drop!

Okay now for the shocker. It may seem like the difference between those two requests was the additional information of “because I’m in a rush.” That’s not the case. Because in a third experimenter, the experimenter asks “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make some copies?”

There’s no reason mentioned or new information presented, just the words “because.” This time a full 93% of the people said yes simply due to the word ‘BECAUSE’! And it didn’t even matter that there was no reason given. Just the word because triggered a magic response.

More psychological ‘triggers’ that can massively increase your sales letter success, whether you’re writing online sales copy or direct mail copy.

Max Sackheim, famous for the long-running ad “Do You Make These Mistakes In English” and originator of the book-of-the-month concept, says “Whenever you make a claim or special offer in your advertising, come up with an honest reason why, and then state it sincerely.You’ll sell many more products this way.”

Here are two examples:
. Instead of yelling ‘ SALE’ like so many other stores would, John E. Powers, one of the top copywriters wrote this ad giving prospects a legitimate reason why they should spend their money at a Pittsburgh department store in severe financial trouble:

“We are bankrupt. We owe $125,000 more than we can pay, and this announcement will bring our creditors down on our necks. But if you come and *buy* tomorrow, we shall have the money to meet them. If not, we shall go to the wall.”

This ad was responsible for saving the store. Another ad written for a different merchant by Powers proclaimed, “We have a lot of rotten raincoats we want to get rid of.” This sold out the merchant’s entire inventory of raincoats by the next morning. And this powerful sales letter and ad copy strategy works just as well today.

Using this secret weapon, I helped a medical equipment company produce a massive 1,073% return on investment simply using “reason-why” copy. The premise was how we can sell a product for the incredibly low price of only $477. Regularly this product sells for about $695 – $895.

Then the ad explained that the price was so low because the manufacturer wanted to gain market share and get more nurses and doctors accustomed to using their product. It was a huge winner and a big moneymaker for the client.

Here’s how can you apply emotional, psychological triggers to your sales letter copy: Let’s say you have a slow time of year and you want to increase your business during this period. Write a simple sales letter to your customers making a special offer, only good during your slow period.

Maybe you’ll throw in extra free bonuses, extra services, or special discounts simply because it is your “slow time” and you need to pay your staff anyway. Let people in “behind the scenes” at your company…

  • Are you overstocked on merchandise because for some reason customers only want the deluxe widget – but you ordered tons of the basic one?
  • Did you have a flood and you need to liquidate your inventory?
  • Do you need to raise cash so you can pay for your nose job?

Whatever the reason is, tell your prospects the truth. For some reason everyone wants to be mysterious about their business. If you’re lowering the price nobody thinks you’re doing it just because you’re “such a nice guy”. So let people know the reason why.

I know this probably goes against every grain of business sense, but I promise if you give people a good, believable reason why they’ll respond with an open minds and more importantly, an open wallet.

(c) Surefire Marketing, Inc. Reproduced with permission.

About the Author
Leading Online Copywriting Expert, Yanik Silver has helped tens of thousands of companies just like yours create a surge of hot, new, qualified leads, sales appointments and customers with killer sales letter copy that actually sells. Now you can go to http://www.instantsalesletters.com & get 49 of Yanik’s hardest-hitting, profit-generating sales letter templates guaranteed to help you quickly and easily create a sales letter guaranteed to sell your product or services.