Strategies to Help Your Small Business Succeed in Challenging Times

We have all discovered, again, the only constant is cultural change. Just look around and you will see state and presidential politics on messy display, financial institutions in chaos and Wall Street fluctuating.

This is not the first, nor will it be the last time that we see these ups and downs.

However, you may need different tactics and strategies to help your small business prosper as some small business owners have never been through a downturn.

The most important decision is to determine if you want to stay in business. I know there are lots of talking heads on TV and radio saying it’s time to put your dream on hold that your dream is no longer available, that you may want to consider finding a breadline.

How dare these multimillionaires, sometimes billionaires, tell you how to live your life. They have no experience, for the most part, of how an ordinary person wants to have their American dream.

Strategic Thinking to Help You Prosper:

First, commit to stay in business.

Once the decision is made to either start or stay in business, you will find yourself attracting all sorts of assistance.

Second, determine the niche for your business.

Remember, the smaller the niche, the higher the reward. To say you work with everyone is a misnomer. You may choose to work with left-handed people who live on the East Coast born after 1975. That is specific. You get the idea.

Third, have better and more positive thoughts.

Ignore the pundits who tell you to close your doors, sell your house, eat dog food and hunker down in your bed. That’s if you did not take their advice and sell your bed! Thoughts lead to action; action leads to results and results lead to success. Bad thoughts breed bad results, good thoughts breed good results. It’s that simple.

Fourth, focus on what you want.

Go for the big fish, not the guppies. If you want to make money, find the people with the money. It continues to surprise me that small business owners keep going back to an empty well. If you have tried with prospects and they have not hired you because they either can’t make up their minds, have no money or are unclear, believe them. Move forward.

Fifth, make sure you are going in the right direction.

Do you have a plan for your business? Do you have a business vision? If not, you will never knew if you are on the right path. Decide what you want out of your business. If you want money from your business, how much? If you want your business to allow you freedom, where and when? Be clear about what you want.

Sixth, Market, Market, Market.

Some small businesses and professionals easily fall off the marketing train when times are tough. This is the time for real marketing. What happens is when people are busy making money, they don’t market because they have all the business they want. Then, when there is a slide, they say they can’t afford to market. Well, you can’t afford not to market. You can market your business in numerous cost free or low cost ways.

a) Be personal with new prospects. Attend Chamber of Commerce meetings to get the lay of the land.

b) Partner with someone else. It can be a one-off or a bigger project.

c) Write articles to attract people to your website.

d) Write a book. You can easily write an e-book in less than thirty days.

e) Sign up for LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

f) Hire an expert to provide an overview of your marketing plan.

Seventh, Change Your Attitude.

It’s all in the attitude! If you focus on and spend time with losers, you are one. Loser, that is. If you spend time with successful people, you to are a success, if by nothing else than association. Choose your circle of friends, associates and peers wisely. Remember, you are the sum of people you spend time with.

Put these new strategies in place for at least thirty days and you will see a movement towards prosperity for you and your small business.

Copyright 2012 Updated All Rights Reserved Worldwide

Generate A Constant Flow of Leads to Your Small Business

Whether you’re just getting started in small business, or you’re a seasoned professional, you know that leads are critical to keeping your business afloat. You can either pay a lot of money for new leads, or you can follow these creative steps to generate them without paying a dime.

Here are five powerful ways to generate new leads without a marketing budget:

1. Networking– Using your customer network, frequently remind the top 20 people in your circle that you’re here to help them. Always focus on the ways that you can help your members without coming across as self-serving. By helping others first, they will help you with new leads, in return.

2. Publishing– Write articles and blog posts frequently. As you build up your body of work, you’ll generate leads from multiple directions. Not only will this build your credibility, but it will also position you as an expert in your field.

3. Referrals– Frequently ask your current customers for referrals. Ask you customers for the names of people that are of the same quality and caliber they are. Develop multiple referral systems to gather clients from different areas.

4. Niche yourself– Do not try to sell everything to everyone. Instead, specialize and become the number one in the World for your particular niche. When prospects are looking for a solution to their problem, your name is much more likely to come up if you’re a specialist in your niche.

5. Build an email list– By building a list, you’ll have a direct conversation on a frequent basis, with people that really want to know what you have to say. Email is very intimate and it allows your customers to focus on your message much longer than social media.

3 Reasons Why Blogging Will Help You Grow Your Small Business

I have been intimately involved in building, growing and consulting many small businesses both online and offline for many years and what I have found is that entrepreneurs at all stages of growth and development are anxious to discover both strategic and cost-effective marketing tools that will help them attract new profitable customers in an ever-changing dynamic market place environment.

Increasingly, small businesses are smartly adding blogs as a key tactical online marketing technique for three important reasons.

3 Reasons Why Blogging Will Help You Grow Your Small Business

1. Blogging Is a Great Strategy To Help You Increase Visibility To Your Ideal Targeted Market.

The bottom line is that incorporating a blog into your online marketing strategy can help you improve your chances to increase sales and grow your business.

Do understand that this is not a quick or short-term sales success technique. Be committed to a long view of blogging and this technique will help you build value as a lead generation tool over time.

But if you have the determination to post consistently adding content that is fresh and helpful to your ideal target niche market, it will help you gain a competitive edge over your competitors.

The most important tip for you to follow when starting a business blog is to “Define The Purpose of Your Blog.” Just as any company must have a business plan, your blog must have a specific direction and purpose.

For instance, if your blog’s purpose is to help your customers and prospects with information that delivers tips, solutions free advice and/or adds value to your primary product or service, then make it clear.

If fact, make it very easy for any first time visitor to your blog to recognize what it’s all about. The key here is to write your blog posts with your end-users in mind.

2. Maintaining An Active Blog Will Help You Improve Your Websites Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Results.

If you do decide to develop a blog as a marketing tool to help you grow your small business, focus on building it around two basic criteria:

  1. Your most valuable keywords
  2. Continually adding new and informative content

If you do this, you can gain leverage allowing you to effectively compete against the big boy brands.

As search engines continue to shake up the way they rank sites for relevancy, adding fresh and regularly updated content will continue to be an essential marketing strategy for your small business.

A couple key tips here are to:

  1. Differentiate your blog and make it stand out in a crowded and competitive marketplace. Make it “cool” for a lack of a better way to say it.
  2. Write your blog posts with your prospective searchers in mind. Put yourself in their shoes and use words and terms that they would be thinking in their heads when they are searching for what you offer.

Lastly, remember that as cliché as it sounds content is still king which means you should focus on delivering unique and helpful information. The reason is that fresh and relevant content is still the foundation of a smart SEO strategy.

3. Credible Content Will Help You Drive Traffic To Your Company Website.

If your objective is to build a blog that helps you generate sales leads and/or strengthen relationships with your existing customers, then you must realize that great content is what will help you build your reader and visitor base.

In fact, think of it this way, the content you deliver in your posts is like the food (or nourishment) you feed your readers and those who are searching the Internet for the information, tips and solutions you are writing about.

Plus, it’s the information that keeps them interested and hooked on your blog and will motivate them to share it with their friends and family. This helps to make it viral and valuable.

I stated it above and will emphasize here again that you should ask yourself “why am I publishing this blog?”

The answer to this question will lead you to creating great content. But continue to be diligent in keeping your focus on THEM (your reader).

In fact, paste this famous marketing saying on your computer screen as you write every post, “It’s all about them, it’s not about you.”

If you actually do this, you will create content your readers will be interested in and the by-product will be that you increase your competitive marketplace leadership, your SEO rankings, your sales leads and interested customer or client prospects.

One more tip when writing a business blog is to position yourself as the expert in your niche.

No one will actually come to you and crown you the expert but if you really do have expertise, experience and education in your area, then proclaim yourself the expert and share some of your successes and testimonials. This will increase your social proof helping to solidify the credibility of your blog enormously.

Conclusion

The bottom line is that incorporating a blog into your online marketing strategy will help you improve your chances to increase sales and grow your business.

What is Direct Mail Marketing and Why Should I Use It to Promote My Small Business

Most small business owners have heard of direct mail marketing, but may not really know what it is. And there’s good reason to consider direct mail to promote your small business.

It’s versatile, effective and affordable. It allows you to give prospects one-to-one direct attention, and it allows you more control over growth than nearly any other type of promotion.

Direct mail marketing is one of several types of direct response copywriting. I suppose it’s somewhat confusing, but most tend to think of the two terms as interchangeable. There is however, a subtle difference.

Direct mail marketing can be defined as one-to-one communication sent by mail directly to potential clients with the goal of specific action by the recipient. Direct response copywriting is basically the same thing, but isn’t limited to snail mail delivery.

Direct Mail Marketing is Versatile

Direct response is one of the most versatile forms of small business promotion there is. You are in fact, really only limited by your imagination. Some of the more common types of direct response are:

  • Direct mail letters
  • Direct post cards
  • “Lumpy” mail
  • Business letters of introduction
  • Direct response brochures
  • Flyers
  • Direct fax
  • Direct email
  • Bulletin board letters

Of the eight different types listed above, only the last three wouldn’t be considered direct mail marketing, but would instead be considered a different type of direct response copywriting.

Most of them are self-explanatory, but you may not have heard of “lumpy” mail. Lumpy mail is simply direct mail with the addition of something related to your message in the envelope besides just a letter. It could be as simple as a stubby pencil, a sample-sized bar of soap, or even a child’s toy. It might cost a bit more, but it often leads to a surprisingly big increase in response rates.

And perhaps you haven’t heard of bulletin board letters. Technically, they’re not a form of direct response, since they’re not sent directly to a particular recipient, but rather are posted on a community bulletin board where anyone in the local area can find them.

Community bulletin board letters can be nearly as effective as a direct mail letter, but have the added advantages of lower costs and reaching a larger audience. They’re most often hand-delivered, stapled to bulletin boards in towns, in storefront windows, or anywhere else you feel they’d be seen.

Direct Mail is Affordable

Whatever the mode of delivery, dollar for dollar, direct response copywriting is one of the most cost-effective ways to promote your small business. On average, a direct mail letter costs less than $1 per recipient. That’s including paper, envelopes, printing and postage stamps.

A direct postcard can cost even less because it costs less to mail–total cost is around 70 cents. However, higher paper costs could even out the cost difference.

Direct Mail is Effective

With average response rates between 1 and 3%, it’s one of the most effective ways to promote your small business as well.

Unfortunately, most amateur copywriters (and many professionals as well) don’t have response rates nearly that high. They’re soon discouraged, giving up on direct mail marketing when their first efforts show a poor, or no response.

One of the reasons might be that they’ve chosen the wrong goal. Keeping in mind that it takes an average of 5 to 7 contacts before a potential client actually buys something from you, your goal should seldom be a sale.

Most of your contacts will need to get to know you before they spend their hard-earned dollars on your product or service. Don’t expect a sale. Rather, consider any purchases from introductory direct mail a pleasant bonus.

A much better goal might be to consider direct response as lead generation instead of sales generation. For example, you might want your recipient to visit your web site, contact you for a free report, or call you for more information. Those types of requests are more likely to result in the type of response you’re looking for.

Direct Mail Allows You to Speak Directly to Your Recipient

What other form of small business promotion allows you speak directly to your recipient? Not television, radio, billboards, or your web site. Besides, with the exception of a web site, TV, radio and billboards cost way too much for most small business owners to consider.

Addressing your recipient personally, as in “Dear Joe” or “Dear Ms. Smith” rather than using “Dear Colleague” or “Dear Homeowner” increases response rates dramatically. And it improves the chances that your recipient will actually open the envelope instead of throwing it away unopened. (So does using an actual stamp instead of a postage meter by the way).

Direct Mail Gives You Control Over Your Growth Rate

Growing your small business too fast is almost as dangerous as not growing fast enough! What would you do if you suddenly grow way past your company’s capability? It’s a danger you might think you’d welcome, but there is such a thing as too much growth.

With direct mail, you control your growth as simply as controlling the number of direct mail letters you decide to send. If your goal is one new lead a month, knowing the average response rate is 1 to 3%, you can send between 33 and 100 letters for one response

No matter how you’re promoting your small business right now, I hope you’re convinced to add direct mail marketing as one of your strategies. If done well, it truly is one of the most effective marketing strategies available to small business owners.