Thursday, 23 December 2010

Top Tips to Try Before Hiring a Marketing Agency

If you have a small business that is just getting started, there are a few things you can do before you retain the services of a marketing agency to help you in the marketing arena. With a few right moves, you can get started on a positive note with a basic game plan set in place before turning to a professional firm for additional guidance.

Define your Customer and Communicate Effectively
Don't fall into the new business trap of not knowing who your customers are. It is important to identify your target market through effective due diligence such as market research and the ability to fulfil a particular need that may not be totally taken care of by your competitors. It is important that you find a way to stand out from your competitors such as superior customer service.

Brainstorm on paper to ensure you are projecting the right message to your potential customers. A marketing agency will often have new businesses do a SWOT analysis, evaluating their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threat factors that might impede business operations.

Spell Out Benefits and Features of your Products and Services
It is important that you present the most pleasing features of your products and services. However, it is equally important to support those features by advertising the benefits the customers will reap if they use your products over a competitor's. Why would your products and services be better?

Follow-through is an additional feature of promoting your business. Once you have attracted a potential customer to use your product or service, speak with them about their needs and how you can meet those needs. Even if you cannot close the sale immediately, it is important to follow-through by calling or emailing them. This action shows that you care about them as a customer and illustrates that by going with your company, customer service will be excellent. Follow-ups are the key to sales conversions down the line as well as positive word of mouth to new, potential clients.

Maintain Marketing Momentum
It is important to structure your marketing budget in such a way as to keep your company brand name in the public eye year round. Many new businesses have a huge marketing push only to run out of advertising dollars before year end and then experience stagnant sales. For this reason, internet marketing can be helpful through the use of blogging, banner ads, website-only specials and email marketing to existing customers about special sales.

While you can definitely succeed without the help of a marketing agency, it is important to allocate a portion of your budget to hiring one, even if it is to just check where you are in relation to promotions, advertising and industry placement. Having a marketing professional assess your business and present suggestions for improvement is important to your overall, long-term success.

Expand Your Internet Marketing Horizons and Try Blog Advertising

With the advent of the cyberspace age in the 1980's, internet marketing was born. As more and more people signed on online, the more business advertising grew. Whilst television, radio and print ads are still quite effective ways of reaching the average consumer, technology is the wave of the future. The introduction of the web log or blog has really revolutionised the way products and services are promoted online.

Defining Blog Advertising
Because a blog is an all-purpose vehicle serving as a voice, a platform and a way to send a memo out to the world, it makes sense as a business owner to take advantage of blog advertising. You should tie your blog to your company website, offering breaking news of new products and services as well as insight into the company itself. Or, you might consider being a guest blogger on other websites that complement your business. For instance, if you own a string of beauty salons, you might blog for a fashion hair magazine or one of the top beauty supply places in your area.

To tie into your blog, advertising makes sense. These can be banners or small ads placed on the sides or at the top or bottom of the page. Direct links to your products and services you mention in your blog can be placed within the body of your writing. Tying into what you say in your blog with your company's products and services is an important step in internet marketing.

Benefits of Blog Advertising
Besides the entire world as your audience when you create a blog, advertising through it can hold a number of advantages. For instance, you can boost web traffic to your company website and gain a new customer base. You will also be able to better translate those visits to your blog into real sales, thereby reducing your clicking costs to a minimum.

Finding a target audience for your company products and services becomes easier with blog advertising. This type of marketing is specific and more precise than traditional ways of advertising such as radio, newspapers, television and magazines. When someone finds your blog, chances are they are already interested in what you have to say and therefore would be more likely to follow the links or click the ads to purchase what your company has to offer.

The final reason why blog advertising makes sense, no matter what the size of your business, is because it offers a continuous source of advertising. As long as you continue with your blogging and updating the ads and links associated with it, you will always draw in new web visitors and have the opportunity to translate those visitors into future sales. In the world of internet marketing, this constant source of potential customers is a key factor to overall success in this technological era.

Marketing Advice on How to Maintain Pricing Strategies in an Economic Downturn

These days, thanks to the economic recession, it can be tough to continually think of marketing tactics to maintain your market share and avoid losing sales. There is the temptation to slash prices or even contemplate the action in order to compete with others in the same niche as you. While cutting prices may seem to be a simple thing to do, particularly in the short term, it does not always make sense to do so because it could become a habit. What if the recession stretches further than you thought? You cannot keep cutting prices because you could soon be selling at a loss rather than a profit.

Offering the Best Value for the Price
Having a strong, recognisable brand is important if you want to maintain your pricing strategy as high as possible without losing customers to the competition. How you define the value of what you offer is important when communicating with your customers. The stronger the communication you have with them, the more control you can exercise over your pricing strategy. Of course, you should have a few marketing tactics available to you so that any issues a customer might have will not be about price.

One smart move to try is bundling some of your products together which will accomplish several things. First, bundling effectively creates the illusion that you have broadened your product base. And second, bundling offers you a way to establish a broad spectrum of low to medium to high value offerings, so you can create a pricing strategy accordingly, without a straight price cut, thus maintain your profitability.

Long Range Planning
Lowering your pricing in order to make more sales and stay competitive in the market may work in the immediate short term, but it will not do much for the long term. However, you can alleviate cutting tactics and the effect on your profits by controlling operating costs in your company and look for ways to eliminate any redundancies and inefficiencies.

Streamlining your operations to reduce costs and increase efficiency makes good business sense anyway. Unfortunately, when business is good, you don't always look for ways to streamline. Rather, it takes a recession and reduction in sales to prompt action.

To maintain your competitive edge, even in a recession, look for ways to offer something innovative or unique to your customers. Can you easily change the packaging for some of your products to create a new look to attract attention? Can you offer any sales incentives or coupons for future purchases? Perhaps partnering with a complementary business (one that does not necessarily directly compete with you) can drum up new business.

Marketing new products during the recession can be a good move but don't expect an overnight boost in business. The same principle applies when cutting prices. If you do this too often, just to stay in business, then that is what customers will expect once the economy improves. Instead, try the product bundling or offer sales incentives so that you can present the illusion of offering a deal without negatively impacting your business financial bottom line.

Using a Business Consultant When Promoting Your Services Business

A business consultant does more than just advise you on how to best run your business. They can also work with you on promoting your business and making sure that it remains profitable. Some business consultants can help you launch full-scope marketing programmes as well. If you own a direct services business, a consultant can help you figure out how to market it to the public, improve the service by tweaking certain areas, and help you research your competitors to make sure that your service business has a unique angle to offer customers.

Tweaking the Business
Before you launch your first (or next) campaign to market your business to masses, you may need to tweak a few areas. Your business consultant will research your current methods or ideas and observe the company at work. He or she will let you know which areas of your current business practices should be improved before you start an aggressive marketing campaign.

Researching Competitors
When researching your competition, you're looking to see what services they offer that are similar to yours and which are different. If you run a call center service business that takes calls for business professionals such as doctors or lawyers, you need to find out what other similar businesses offer their clients. Then you need to see if your business offerings are the same, and if you have any angle that makes your business unique. A small business consultant is a great advisor because they're not going to tell you that any aspect of your business is unique if it isn't.

If you find that your business is just like all the others, your consultant can work with you on creating a unique angle. Maybe very few of the local services offer online options; that's one area you can explore to see if you want to expand your business to the web, for instance. A consultant can help you define your unique selling proposition so that you appeal to potential customers and existing customers of the competition, too.

Promoting the Business
The next step is to start promoting your direct services business, focusing on the unique angle of your company. You can start by creating print ads for the newspaper or local publications, and then move onto an online advertising campaign.

How to Avoid Spamming People When Internet Marketing

Internet marketing is the act of marketing your business using different techniques online. There is a variety of ways to market your business to potential customers through email, message forums, and instant messaging; however, you need to avoid sending unsolicited marketing messages to avoid losing customers and being reported for spamming. Spamming is the act of sending multiple marketing messages to people who didn't request them, don't want them, and won't be impressed just because you send them over and over. You need to target your Internet marketing campaign and learn how to get people to subscribe to the information provided about your business.

Email Marketing Spam
It's perfectly acceptable to send email messages to potential clients, but you need to make sure they want them. If you start sending unsolicited emails it's considered spam. If you purchase an email list and start sending out automated emails to everyone on that list, it's considered spam. In order to send out Internet marketing email messages, create a website or newsletter and let people subscribe to your emails. This way, you're only sending out information to people who are interested, and they can recommend your business to other people. If you want to protect yourself from being reported for spam, make sure your marketing emails have a disclaimer on the bottom that allows people to unsubscribe and apologizes for sending unsolicited emails. This way, if a person accidentally signed up for your messages, they can easily unsubscribe.

Message Board Spam
If you're not familiar with Internet marketing methods, you may think that signing up for numerous message boards and posting about your business is a great way to advertise. In fact, many business owners did use this method a few years ago, aggravating forum users and getting themselves banned from the site. Most business-oriented sites have a forum dedicated to advertising a business. You should stick with this forum and follow the rules and guidelines that govern how often you can post, which types of links you can provide, and what sort of information is allowed in an ad.

Instant Messaging Spam
When some shady business owners started getting reported and banned for forum and email spam they moved onto instant messaging systems. Users would get an instant message with a link from someone they didn't know, with the link redirecting a website. If you want to use this sort of marketing, make sure that the instant message names you have are people who have agreed to receive information from you. To avoid spam and insure that your Internet marketing campaign is a success, set up a form on your website that allows users to select which types of correspondence they're willing to accept.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Tips on Being a Great Internet Marketing Consultant

Standing apart from the pack is good when it comes to being an internet marketing consultant. If you're hiring a consultant to help you with your internet marketing, you'll want someone who stands head and shoulders above the competition. If you're a marketer yourself, you know this will bode well for you in terms of finding clients, getting great results, and gaining word of mouth referrals. Here are some ways you can be a great internet marketing advisor and if you're searching for an advisor, here are some signs you can watch for to help you be a discerning buyer:

Business Expertise
Knowing about the internet is good. It's essential. But knowing about business as well is an integral part of being able to consult to others on the growth and operations of their business. Combining extensive marketing, business, and internet knowledge can help a consultant provide excellent advice to clients based on real world experience. Most effective consultants have a rich history in their field and people want to know about that history. Many skills are transferable across industries. A former business owner who's aware of various attributes of a successful business could do better than a consultant fresh out of university, for instance. Practical experience is quite often desirable as a trait for a business consultant.

People Skills
Great sales people can make great consultants. They can also make lousy consultants it their personality tends to be pushy. A consultant works with a client rather than try to simply "pitch" them. Networking can be an important part of an advisor's job and someone with great skills could have a wide network that provides value to clients. Think consult rather than sell and that's the first step in developing a productive relationship.

Ongoing Skills Development
There are a lot of different areas that relate to successful internet marketing. A consultant needs to know more than just how to get a website published, for instance. He or she should be well versed in the latest news and trends related to the world of online marketing and should be staying up to date on current marketing techniques and trends. Ongoing personal development is a good sign of a professional that takes their role as a consultant seriously.

Whether you're a consultant or are looking for someone to help your business, do look at the level of expertise, the people skills, the industry knowledge, and the approach to determine whether someone can stand head and shoulders above the competition. If you're trying to develop your consultancy business, continually work at deepening your knowledge and finding ways to create productive relationships with your clients. And if you're looking at hiring someone to serve as an internet marketing consultant for your company, shopping around can reveal many things that help you make a smart decision.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Need Help from a Marketing Agency? Look for a Customer Focused Company

When hiring a consumer focused marketing agency you need to ensure that the agency meets your business needs. Not every agency operates on a consumer focused philosophy, so it's important that if a consumer focused philosophy governs your main marketing objectives that the agency you choose understands how to implement consumer focused strategies. Customer focused marketing can be a struggle. It's not easy to plan and implement strategies that appeal to your customer base without extensive research on company and client demographics.

Interviewing Agencies
Before you choose a marketing agency, you should set up an interview and talk to the lead marketing manager to ensure that their agency meets your needs. If you feel that personalities don't mesh or that your vision differs from what they want to do, keep looking until you find a place that makes you feel confident about letting them handle your marketing.

Questions to Ask
Let's say you've narrowed the hiring pool down to two agencies. Now is the time to ask pertinent questions to make sure you choose the right agency. Find out how the agency plans on conducting research to learn about your client demographic. Will they send out questionnaires, take a survey of current clients, look at your competitors' client base, and perform general research on consumer behaviour? Are there any business models they use to help them determine the best marketing methods for your company? How often will you need to meet with them in order to discuss the effectiveness of current marketing campaigns? Once you have asked all of your questions, it's time to hire the right one.

Working with an Agency
Hiring the right agency is just the first step. You need to make sure that they continue to fulfill any promises that they made in the interview. You also want to make sure that they communicate with you about the effectiveness of your campaigns and let you know if they plan on making any major changes. Working with a marketing agency can really help promote your business as long as you work well with the firm that you choose.