Posts by: Holly

Ask the average small-business owner how much time they spend on marketing and you’ll hear answers that run the gamut from not very much to not at all…

A 2009 Vistaprint survey of 300 SMBs found that the average business spends just 4.1 hours on marketing each week. Sole proprietorships log only 3 hours per 40-hour week.

You can understand their challenges. Most small-business owners must wear several hats throughout the course of the day and have been forced by an anemic economy to make do with less.

But the fact is, marketing isn’t an option. Because it’s absolutely critical if your goal is to increase sales and grow your business.

The key is build marketing into your daily routine. (John Jantsch gives a great example of how he juggles his daily tasks and keeps a healthy routine—that includes plenty of sleep—in this post.)

It’s too bad that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution here. Jantsch’s schedule may work for you, or it may not. Every business owner has to find his or her own strategy for balancing the demands of daily operations with the larger existential need to acquire new customers and generate new revenue.

How you balance these things isn’t important. It’s just important that you do!

(Shameless plug: We can help you.)

Are you using the same old marketing techniques over and over again and expecting different results?

Isn’t that Einstein’s definition of insanity? Perhaps it’s time to try something new. Here are some basic starting points and guidelines.

  1. Use the web to capture more referrals. Nowadays, when someone gets a referral, what’s the first thing they do? Chances are they look you up online. If they do not get useful information, what makes you think they won’t move on to your competitor who has a social media presence, a content-rich website, and web page packed with testimonials?
  2. Embrace social media. Because it’s here to stay. According to a 2010 survey from the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 61 percent of American adults use an social networking site like Facebook or LinkedIn. Why pass up this effective way of reaching your audience? Why cede this fertile ground to your competitors? If you like customer referrals, you’ll love Facebook and Twitter.
  3. Do not be scared of Google. Optimizing your website (to increase customer visits) isn’t rocket science. Sure, you can’t expect overnight results, but the optimization process itself isn’t complicated. Focus on providing useful content to your target marketing and Google will reward you with a higher ranking.
  4. Show your savvy. If you’re a business owner, you know things. You have special skills. You can help your prospects.  The web gives you great new tools to demonstrate your expertise and earn trust with your prospects. This can be done through social media, email campaigns and webinars, just to name a few.
  5. Build your suspect list by using that wonderful resource right at your fingertips—the Internet. (Get a few tips here.)

Don’t get us wrong, there will always be a place for old-school marketing tactics. But when it comes to ineffective marketing tactics, anything less than a zero-tolerance policy is sheer insanity.

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Rand Fishkin, founder and CEO of SEOmoz, offers 12 Rules for Choosing a Domain Name. Rule number one? Make it keyword-y.

When you first begin your domain name search, it helps to have 5 terms or phrases in mind that best describe the domain you’re seeking. Once you have this list, you can start to pair them or add prefixes & suffixes to create good domain ideas. For example, if you’re launching a mortgage related domain, you might start with words like “mortage, finance, home equity, interest rate, house payment” then play around until you can find a good match.

But Fishkin cautions against making it too generic. Your domain should reflect your unique brand, he says.

Using a unique moniker is a great way to build additional value with your domain name. A “brand” is more than just a combination of words, which is why names like mortgageforyourhome.com or shoesandboots.com aren’t as compelling as branded names like bankrate.com or lendingtree.com. SEOmoz itself is a good example – “SEO” does a good job of explaining the industry we’re in and creating expectations, while “moz” gives a web association, and an association with being free, open, and community-driven.

I highly recommend reading the entire article. It does a great job summing up the key considerations for picking a domain that will work best for your business.

This MarketingSherpa article (11 years old but still accurate!) adds a few more helpful suggestions.

 

See also: Top 10 Worst Domain Names (e.g. www.expertsexchange.com)

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As you know, creating a business listing in Google Places is part of a good overall search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. Local business listings often get top billing in the search results for key terms, which translates to more visitor traffic.

But you don’t have to stop there. Creating a coupon in Google Places is an easy (and free!) way to leverage your listing. You’ll stand out from other businesses and potentially draw more clicks — especially if it’s a good deal.

Did I mention that creating a coupon in Google Places is easy and free? Once you log into the Google places, just click on the ‘Offers’ tab and follow the simple instructions.

Give it a shot!

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