I read in a marketing forum the other day about keeping up and staying at the cutting edge of technologies to get first mover advantage — which usually brings tremendous results if done right.
Does small business have to jump on the bandwagon for each marketing technology that appears that month or year?
The short answer is no. Let me elaborate.
The Problem with Staying on the Edge
Every week, if you follow the technology news, there seems to be something new going on. Thinking it for a moment should reveal that a lot of technologies, if used properly, are potential marketing vehicles.
The roles of each technology may be different, but most of them allow you to either distribute your content farther and wider, reach people who are otherwise can’t be reached with existing Internet technologies, automate certain part of your small business so it is more efficient and so on.
Here comes the problem though. If you always strive to keep up with the newest technologies, you have to invent the way into the virgin forest without knowing what to expect. The outcomes may or may not be worth it, especially if you consider the amount of effort you must put to overcome the hurdles.
Another problem is, unless you have a large group of staffs to support preliminary research of the technologies before implementing them for your small business, chances are you will be leaved behind because changes happen very quickly.
How You Can Get Started
Here’s how you can get started though. Instead of wasting a lot of time on the next shiniest and greatest thing, I recommend that you start with something from past years. The benefit is that you only need to follow what have worked and adapt it to your business.
Cost of implementation automatically are more affordable. It can be as easy as buying one or two books from Amazon and apply the strategy by the help of a technology consultant.
Nowadays you can even do it yourself if you take the time to learn how to do it.
What about the competitors though? Isn’t it much harder to penetrate the market if there are people who have been there and done it?
That’s true to some extent, but still no one market is exclusive for only one company, especially online. There will always be demand for more than a handful of sites and businesses in the same category.
Think of self development. People might say that Anthony Robbins dominates the industry but the fact is there are hundreds, if not thousands of others who are doing really well — in the six- to seven-figure — in the same niche.
I never see Tony’s site appears in the first search engine result pages for self development related keywords (at least for terms that I used for searching.)
After all, personal development is a multi-billion business.
I hope I’ve convinced you enough to explore the lowest hanging fruits instead of staying on the edge. There are certainly advantages to being the first, but for small businesses who have limited budget — but the ability to relate to more focused niche markets — I recommend that at least you wait until others have invented the path that you can model.
7 Affordable Small Business Marketing Strategies
Note that you don’t have to use these all marketing strategies to be able to gain results. Take what you can fit on your plate and focus on getting results.
1. Paid Search
Everyone who started a new site before knows that after building a site, the first challenge is to get traffic. Unless you already have a network of partners who you can ask for help to drive traffic your site, or you already own a mailing list of subscribers who are interested in the topic of the site, you are like all others who are starting from scratch.
The fastest way to gain traffic is by using paid search or pay per click. In as little as 10 minutes you can start getting qualified traffic from the keywords you choose.
Just because it’s instant traffic doesn’t mean that you’re able to profit as fast. Optimizing the visitors experience and help them make the buying decisions are important before you will get any sales.
At least using this strategy, you can start working on the process right away. Optimized process is good not only for this particular strategy, but also for other strategies that you will implement along with it.
Those other strategies may take a while before producing any kind of results.
2. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
This strategy also focuses on search engine but on the organic part of it. It takes a lot of effort to rank on the first page on search engine result pages especially for high competitive keywords.
However, the effort may be worth it because once you get there, the traffic is basically free. Feeding traffic into proven marketing process will bring you more business day in and day out.
Starting SEO as early as possible — even as you build the site — is critical because it takes time to get to the first page. I recommend that even if you don’t have time to do a lot of SEO work, at least you work on your site based on SEO principles.
Building easy to navigate site structure and keyword focused content will not only benefit search engines but also site visitors.
Later when you decide to concentrate on this strategy, you already have a strong foundation that you can build upon. Adding one optimized page per day or two per week indeed benefits your site search engine wise.
3. Article Marketing
If you think writing is not for you, think again. Almost everything that you do online to promote your business involves creating content and writing is just the most common way to create content.
There are ways to overcome challenges in writing articles. Remember, practice makes perfect. Do it anyway and you’ll get better over time.
Service professionals can be skeptical about this marketing strategy but I’m here to assure you that articles are one of the most useful assets you can create as a marketer. You can repurpose it and use it again in the future and in other formats.
Article will continue to work in every situation because people like to find information and solution to their problems. If you write your articles based on that fact, you’re not writing yet another article but building your business asset at the same time.
Don’t limit yourself by submitting articles only to article directories. Remember that webmasters and site owners are always seeking for new content. If you can provide what they want, they usually allow you to “steal” their traffic by linking back to your site.
Some ideas to help yous started: be a guest blogger, contribute as a regular writer for related web sites, and do article exchange amongst web site owners in the same niche.
Blogging allows you to build credibility by establishing your expert status. By posting regularly around a specific topic, you can become a thought leader and authority.
Post high quality content regularly to a blog. Invite the readers to participate by commenting on the blog post. A blog allows you to build a community of people who will read your blog posts regularly.
Their contributions are also valuable, from giving feedback to what you write, telling you what topic they are interested in, giving clues about how you should create a product or service, to helping you spread the words about your business.
Blogging often leads to other opportunities such as speaking engagements, book deals, joint venture deals, and much more.
5. Email marketing
Email marketing is alive and kicking. The most common way to use email marketing is by publishing an e-newsletter. The key to marketing via email is by building relationship and becoming resourceful and helpful to the audience first.
Business comes naturally after that. Publishing e-newsletter is a way to provide value to the readers. You can insert product recommendations in the same newsletter and once they trust you, they will see those as complementary content instead of blatant advertising.
Email can be a source of on-going traffic from existing visitors who subscribe to your list.
Email is also useful to reach people when you have something to announce, such as a a new teleseminar or webinar the readers might be interested in, new white papers and basically anything that could be of help to them.
6. RSS feeds
Website visitors often worry about the amount of spam or junk emails they will get if they give away their email address. People do protect their email address aggressively nowadays and for that reason they may be hesitant to give it away even if you offer something valuable in return.
RSS is the answer to that. It lets the readers consume new content from you without giving away any contact information. The control is entirely in their hands. They can unsubscribe at anytime if they want to.
You can’t push the content to them directly. They have to pull what you have already published to get new updates on content.
Podcast takes advantage of the RSS technology but allows the automation of fetching, downloading and getting content on a desktop or portable media player. The benefits are the audience can take the content with them (portability). They can also consume the content at their own time and pace (time-shift).
Podcast technology is able to deliver any type of digital content or files, but the most common formats are audio and video.
As a marketer, you can convey messages more effectively with the help of multimedia content. Podcast makes this possible.
You may be confused by now about where to start. As said earlier, taking all of them at once into your plate may be too much. If that’s the case, try picking two or three strategies. Diversifying is important. That’s why you need to start with a few strategies. Relying on just one strategy may not be good in the long run.
It is important that if you want to drive traffic from search engines, for example, you start as soon as possible because it takes time to rank high on organic search engine result pages.
Again, getting traffic from more than one source is important. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.