Category: Marketing

May 31 2012

The Benefits of Article Marketing for Your Business

 

Article marketing has proven to be an effective way to promote your online business for a number of reasons. They are the equivalent of infomercials on the TV, giving both interesting factual information and promoting products and services that can help solve a particular problem.

In addition, article marketing can drive traffic to your site, help you get subscribers for your newsletter, and help you improve your page ranking with certain search engines. Links back to your site or products from other sites can be perceived by Google as a vote for your site, indicating that it is interesting and relevant to a particular keyword.

Article marketing is the use of factual articles on niche topics to help drive traffic to your own site. Rather than a pure promotional piece, these articles will contain high-quality information and leave the reader eager for more. On the top article directories such as Ezinearticles, your content will appear attractively and at the end of the article you will be allowed to give promotional data about yourself in the form of a resource box.

In your resource box you would put a brief biography of yourself and your contact information, including a link over to your site.

Article marketing has become a popular way to spread the word about your business in a non-spammy way on a wide variety of sites around the Internet. It has also been used to boost the rank of a site in the eyes of search engines like Google, though with the April 2012 Google update, these links are not only valued less highly, but can even be penalized under the Penguin algorithm update. (See Joan Mullally’s guide on 44 Marketing Trends in 2012 for more information.)

The more articles you put into the directory, the better will your site’s search results will be because the site will be considered to be more relevant. Sites at the top of Google’s search engine results pages will get more natural traffic, also termed organic traffic, that is, traffic that is not paid for, as compared with Pay Per Click (PPC) traffic.

Some article directories have gained a reputation for publishing rubbish, but there are still some reputable ones that will help add to your online presence. Look at it this way. If someone uses those sites regularly and types in dog training, you have a better chance of being found and ranking highly on the article directory for that key phrase than you do on Google.

If visitors then like what they read and click to find out more about you, you have the potential for a repeat visitor and perhaps even subscriber and customer.

Some people advocate publishing an incomplete article to force people to come to your site, but this seems fairly obvious as a marketing ploy and can be frustrating for the reader.

Other Internet marketers offer good articles off site at the directories but lead them to a rubbish site full of ads with the express goal of getting ad revenue from the clicks they get on the ads and banners they have put up all over the site. This is a valid way of making money, but certainly not loyal repeat visitors, which we feel are the life-blood of any long-term, sustainable online business.

Still other sites are publishing articles which are incomplete and poorly written in an effort to get as many up as possible for the sake of the links and the page rankings. The recent changes to the Google Panda update that first hit in Feb 2011 and has now hit online business owners in April 2012 can actually trigger a site review by a human being. If your site fails, you can end up in a penalty box for 3 to 6 months, which would cause the traffic at most sites to plummet.

The trend towards article marketing has also led to a lot of copied content or rephrased content, which we commonly refer to as spun content. Content spinning through software or human means was designed to help business owners rank highly for as many keywords as possible related to the niche they were working in.

With the recent Google changes, duplicate content and keyword stuffing in poorly written articles generated by a computer will also get you penalized if you are not careful.

Article marketing is not dead, but it is certainly in need of an overhaul in 2012. If you have been cranking out a lot of poor-quality articles, slow down and let your quality start to come through. Do not try to take short cuts. After all, the content that you produce is a reflection of the information products that you are trying to sell online. If you see all of your content on your site and article directories as a free sample of what people can look forward to if they buy your product, you might be able to make more sales of your products.

At the very least, you can start to position yourself as a knowledgeable expert on your niche without being seen as a spammer. Combined with other search engine optimization techniques, article marketing done correctly can still be a valuable source of traffic to your site and a measure of relevance and therefore rank so long as you know what Google is looking for, and what they are penalizing.

FURTHER READING
SEO Success Secrets: How to Master Search Engine Optimization Techniques for Continuous Free Traffic to Your Website

44 Top Online Marketing Trends in 2013: How to Use Them to Increase Your Profits

May 15 2012

How to Use Business Cards as an Effective Marketing Tool

Organize Your Business Cards to Supercharge Your Networking

Business cards are one of the most powerful networking tools on the planet – and one of the most abused and underused. Most people go to networking events and just collect a bunch of business cards that never get contacted.

This is a terrible system. If you don’t have a good system for organizing your business cards, you’re flushing money and contacts down the drain.

==> Rule #1: Write on Your Business Cards

Whenever you meet someone new, write some notes on the back of the business card. For example, if you get a business card from a graphic designer, write “Knows tech execs, may be good for networking, also great designer for Fred, brown hair, tall.”

Next time you look through your business cards and come across that card, all you need to do is turn it over and read your notes. You’ll instantly know who it is and what your next to-do is regarding that card.

==> Contact Them within 48 Hours of Meeting

Even if you don’t have anything you want to do with them yet, always follow up within 48 hours.

Even if your follow up is something as simple as “Ben, it was great meeting you last night – Let me know if you ever need help with X.”

This opens the dialogue and opens a channel of communication. Later, when you want to make real meaningful contact, they’ll remember who you are.

==> File All Your Business Cards

People often don’t file business cards the same way that they file other important papers. Something about the small size of the business card makes it seem somehow less important.

It’s not. Filing business cards is just as important as filing any other crucial business document.

File your business cards by networking event, by category of services or by how you’d like to connect with them in the future. Go through these cards every couple weeks to see if there are people you’d like to connect with.

==> Throw Away Cards You’ll Never Contact

People often feel guilty about throwing business cards away. It feels rude, as if you were disrespecting someone else’s business or a potential connection.

The reality is, if there’s a card that you’re never going to contact, it doesn’t make a difference whether it’s in your drawer or your trash can.

Having cards you’ll never contact in your business card pile makes it a lot harder to figure out which cards are actually valuable.

Getting in the habit of writing on your cards, contacting people quickly, sorting your cards and tossing the ones you’ll never use is one of the most valuable business habits you could develop. This is how you meet potential clients, investors, employers, employees and partners.

Other Reading:

Click here for a listing of all our Business Guides

Your Green Business Start-Up Guide: How to Start and Run a Sustainable Business

May 09 2012

How to Use Stories to Engage Your Customers

One of the best ways to build customer empathy is through telling stories. Stories suck people in, keep people entertained and can help get your message across in a much more heartfelt way.

When people listen to a story, they immediately put their guards down. People aren’t looking out for a sales pitch. Instead, they relax and let you take the lead.

When you tell a great story, your audience will not only love the experience, but also understand your point and connect with your brand more.

So how do you tell a great story?

==> Focus on the Opening and Closing

The two most important parts of the story are the beginning and the end.

The beginning of the story needs to catch people’s attention so they pay attention to the whole thing. You need to set up the “what’s in it for me” right from the get go. Let your audience know that an essential lesson is buried in the story and that they need to listen closely.

The end is equally important. This is where you reveal the moral of the story and tie it back to your audience’s real life. The end of your story should feel like an eye-opening experience to your audience.

==> Trim the Fat

Beginning storytellers often try to tell the story as completely and accurately as possible. Unfortunately, that often results in rambling and overly long stories.

Trim out as much of the story as you can, without losing the core of the story and without losing any of the punch.

Don’t worry about getting all the details in. It’s okay if the story is just slightly different than what happened, as long as you’re abbreviating and not lying.

Keep it simple and to the point.

==> Make the Characters Come Alive

One of the biggest things to pay attention to in the story is the characters, especially the main character.

The audience should be able to relate to the main character. As you’re telling the story, they should be able to vicariously experience the emotional arc that the character is going through.

Every story should have a beginning, where the problem is set up. Throughout the story, some sort of tension arises. The character battles through the story and eventually comes out victorious or defeated.

Throughout the story, the audience should get to know the character more and more until they feel like they somehow know this person.

==> Use Stories from Everywhere

The best storytellers use stories for all over their lives. Always be on the lookout for ways you can turn experiences you’ve had in your life into stories to help hammer your message home.

Storytelling is one of the best ways to build empathy with your customers. Focus on the opening, trim the fat, emphasize the characters and look for stories from all over your life.

Other Reading:

How to
Use Twitter for Viral Marketing

How to Start Using Twitter as an Effective Marketing Tool for Your
Business

Successful
Social Media Marketing In 15 Minutes A Day

Jan 21 2009

How to Perk Up Trade Shows – Prizes 4

Trade shows are expensive to participate in, and so you need to really make sure you get the most bang for your buck.

Setting up a prize drawing in the ways we have suggested offers two benefits.  It gives you concrete leads to build your business, and it offers you the opportunity to award the prizes at the show or after the show at a later date when you can call people and let them know they’ve won.

Make sure to not let this information go to waste.  Use the information you’ve collected to send out information about promotions and new products. Don’t just do a one and done, after the trade show, but maintain regular contact, at least once a quarter, to keep people up to date on what you are doing.

The easiest way to do this is of course with an email list, and leading them to a special url with a special offer. Remember, it often takes 17 exposures to a brand before recognition sets in, let alone someone making a purchasing decision.

With a bit of time and effort, and the cost of the better prizes (which you can usually get inexpensively if you buy in bulk, or get commission on if you join an affiliate program and buy through your own link), you can have fun and generate valuable leads at the same time.

Just keep in mind that not everyone will want to play, and not everyone will be a true customer, since there are always going to be people who will just go for the freebies. And of course, there will be the people who are more intent on getting YOU as THEIR customer, than being yours!

Whether you choose to host a drawing or ask your attendees to play a game, giving away prizes is a great way to introduce new people to your products and gain future customers.

Jan 19 2009

How to Perk Up Trade Shows – Prizes 3

How to Perk Up Trade Shows –  Prizes 3

The other great way to find people to donate prizes to is to have a drawing or sweepstakes.  Each person invited is encouraged to enter the drawing by throwing in their business card (have blank slips of paper at the ready with pens too for all those people who forgot their business cards, or simply ran out) and the first, second, and third names drawn each receive a prize.

Of course if you have more prizes to award, then you can continue to draw and donate prizes as you go.  In most cases, as we said, they should be prizes of your products and services, and have an estimated value.

A drawing is also an easy way to generate leads if you do it cleverly. Instead of having people simply put their name on a piece of paper, they can actually fill out a pre-set postcard.

Consider asking for the following information:

– Name

– Address

Make sure all your contact information and url is on the postcard. you might even want to give them a special url so you can gauge how successful the follow up is, or to entice them with a special attendees-only offer or discount.

The only disadvantage of this plan is you will have to enter the data in your database before you mail the card, and it will cost postage to do so.

Also, Name and Address are important, but there is other information you might want to collect from your prospects, including,

– Phone number
– Email address
– Title

– If they are interested in becoming an affiliate and earning commissions selling your products

Jan 15 2009

How to Perk Up Trade Shows – Prizes 1

One great way to make direct sales parties and trade shows memorable and fun is to donate prizes to a few choice guests.

However, you don’t want to break the bank by giving away too many goodies, and you do want to use the prize giveaway as a lead generation tool.

In which case, make sure you are giving away items that are related to your company, with the occasional ‘big ticket’ item like an Ipod or DVD player to make the prize giveaway more enticing.

Yes, MORE enticing, because believe it or not, it’s actually often difficult to find people to donate prizes to! Many people are traveling away from home and don’t want to lug stuff. You might also want to stipulate that they have to be in the building at the time of the giveaway to pick up their item (though if you want to collect more business cards and leads, you can offer to mail it if it is not too large and won’t cost too much to do so.

In this article, we are going to cover how to find people to donate prizes to fairly, and still have fun.

Dec 30 2008

Starting Up Your Effective New Marketing Campaign 6

Starting Up Your Effective New Marketing Campaign 6

One other way to get the most bang for your buck is to ask your practice audience you are performing your business presentations in front of if they might be interested in helping you, in exchange for a commission, of course.

In other words, they have already sat through the elevator speech and the presentation, perhaps several times. It might be only a few short steps more to actually train them. In fact, some of your family and friends might have similar skills, and be happy to have the opportunity, and an additional income and business they can take a proprietary interest in without having to start their own business from scratch themselves.

Make it fun for them and promise you’ll be a good coach and sales representative. Let them know what’s in it for them too, commission, samples, or discounts on products if you are enlisting them as another affiliate for the program you have signed up for.

You might also consider bartering with them, their help, in exchange for yours with their core business, or some other assistance. For example, if this person does a lot of traveling anyway, and can hand out your materials at trade shows as long as he or she is there, you can offer to look after their garden while they are away at the show.

Find out if they have a website, and do mutual linking, or even better, round robin linking, in which anyone with similar businesses links to you, but not directly, rather, in a circle, so the links count for more than mere reciprocal links.

It is almost guaranteed that there are other consultants and business people with similar interests right in your own community. Take an ad out in the local pennysaver paper and set up a presentation at your house or a local school or church center, and see who turns up.

Some might be customers, others trying to sell their own stuff, but a third group might genuinely interested in your products and be willing to sign on as a sales rep on commission in order to earn a little additional income during these financially tough times.

Make sure you have sales material with your url on it, and even better, a unique url for them, so that you can see how much traffic is being generated from certain urls, in other words, certain helpers or affiliates.
Track this, and you can then consider offering them a better deal, the more traffic and paying customers or leads they are generating.

It may take a little creative thinking to get people to start acting as spokespersons for your new company. However, once the ball is rolling and you’ve educated your potential people and given them the right sales collateral to use, hopefully you will all get into the mindset of looking for opportunities everywhere, and always being armed with information to pass along to anyone who might want more information.

Following these simple marketing rules will get your new business or affiliate business well on its way to attaining your financial goals without breaking the bank or exhausting yourself.

Dec 28 2008

Starting Up Your Effective New Marketing Campaign 5

Your Corporate Presentation

As we said in the last section of this series of articles, be prepared to rehearse our 30 second intro and your corporate powerpoint presentation.

And you will need to rehearse often, until you are able to do the 30 second speech and core presentation without any pauses, ums, or ramblings.

So who can your audience be?

One of the most obvious places to start is with your relatives.  Heck, they’re family, right?  If you can’t pass muster with them, you will be eaten alive in public.

Friends, former work colleagues and associates you trust if you are going into business for yourself might be other places you might look.

You might also consider an informal gathering at your house and invite the neighbors. Tell them that you are going into business for yourself, and see if they are willing to take part in a demo, or willing to have a look at the website online and give you some feedback.

Email the url of your site to people as well, and pay attention to any criticism you get. That they are even bothering to give you any feedback is very useful, so pay attention, even if you feel like your blood is going to boil.

Remember, don’t take it personally. It is just business. But since over 65% of new businesses fail within the first five years, the ostrich school of management is not the one you want to adopt. Face problems head on, and be proactive.

After all, you’re investing a lot of time, even if not a lot of money, to get this off the ground, so make sure that no matter how many dollars or how many minutes you spend, you get a real return on your investment.