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Small Business Success Index 4

Index Score*   Grade
73 marginal
Capital Access 67
Marketing & Innovation 65
Workforce 76
Customer Service 88
Computer Technology 73
Compliance 92
*Index score is calculated on a 1-100 scale.

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Posts Tagged ‘blog’

10 Cost Effective Ways to Market Your Business, Part 1

July 12th, 2010 :: Monika Jansen

As all of us small business owners know, marketing need not be expensive, but it does take some time and effort.  About 6 weeks ago, I signed up for yet another great webinar sponsored by the American Marketing Association called 10 Cost Effective Ways to Market Your Business.  It was so packed with great information that it’s going to take me two blog posts to write about what was included. 

Before I share what I learned, keep in mind this standard rule of thumb when marketing your business: 80% of the information you publish should be valuable content, while 20% can be pure promotion.

10. Tie Your Company’s Promotions Into Daily or Monthly Events

Ever hear of Chase’s Calendar of Events?  It is really cool and a very useful tool for marketers.  For 42 years, they’ve been publishing a yearly calendar that lists everything from celebrity birthdays to monthly celebrations (think National Black History Month).  From the truly obscure (July 1—the day I’m writing this post—is Midyear Day in Thailand) to the historic (the Battle of Gettysburg took place on July1 in 1863), there are several items listed every day of the year that, if you get creative and think ahead, you could base a promotion on.   

9. Tap Into Your Network

The companies and people you work with are great sources of information and shouldn’t be ignored.  Share leads with partners and solicit feedback from vendors, especially for new products or services. Don’t forget your customers, either.  Use feedback from them as the basis for a research study.  Publish and share the study with them (and potential customers).

8. Syndicate Your Content

Blog syndication is really underutilized, so tap into it.  (Syndication means something is published in more than one place—think advice columns that appear in newspapers nationwide.)  First get a Creative Commons license to ensure you retain the copyright of your content when it is re-published.  Then look up blogs where the subject you want to write about fits in and that also accept non-original content.

7. Get Yourself Some User-Generated Content

Adding user-generated content to your website takes some organizing but is a relatively easy way to goose inbound marketing. Three ideas: Ask vendors, customers, and partners to guest blog for you.  Add a forum to your website; topics could include help/support, news, info, industry gossip, product or service ideas, etc.  Put together a blog series written by experts in your field.

6. Don’t Forget Outbound Marketing

Posting on other sites is important, too.  Write a review on for a book written about your industry, answer questions related to your field on LinkedIn, post on companies’ Facebook walls, and be sure to share all of the content you are creating on social media sites: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Continue reading by checking out the next blog post on this topic here.

5 Tips for Integrating Ecommerce into Your Blog Content

June 8th, 2010 :: Thursday Bram

A blog can be an effective way to sell products if you have an ecommerce store. You can provide readers with a reason to look at your products week after week, as well as convince them that your product is exactly the tool that they need. But promoting products through a blog must be handled carefully: if your blog is nothing but posts about how great your product is, not only won’t you make any sales, but it’s likely that you won’t have any readers, either. These tips will help you integrate your ecommerce efforts into your blog without scaring off your customers.

  1. Provide tutorials for your products: If you can show your prospective customers how to use your product to its fullest potential, along with some of the great results they can expect, you can avoid your posts looking like just another product example. Taking tutorials a step beyond and bringing in past customers to talk about their experiences using your products can provide social proof that your products are particularly useful.
  2. Write about specific problems: Your prospective customers have specific problems that your products (hopefully) will solve. Those problems can provide extensive topics for blog posts. You can write about how those problems can occur, the right mindset with which to tackle them and other information your audience will find useful. Then, at the end of such posts, you can give a quick mention tying in your products.
  3. Review relevant products: Go beyond your own products and discuss those tools and services that work will with what you’re offering. If, for instance, you’re selling pianos, you could review piano tuners, piano movers, piano teachers, sheet music and much more. You can also review the competition, but that can be a tricky proposition — you don’t want to look like your bashing the other guys, but you also don’t want your customers to think that the competition is actually better.
  4. Discuss the process behind the product: If you have a story about how you came to be in business, tell it to your customers. Put up profiles of the people involved in your company. Explain how you operate. Your customers want to know about what goes on behind the scenes — why you do the things you do. Give them that information and they’ll quickly come to feel like they know you.
  5. Explain problems: It’s a rare business where everything goes right every day. If something goes wrong, though, you shouldn’t try to ignore it. Instead, bring it out in the open on your blog and explain how you’re resolving the issue. You can actually come out ahead with a problem, provided that you can show your prospective clients that you take their concerns seriously and are willing to move heaven and earth to make sure that they’re happy.

There are plenty of other ways to discuss your products on a blog without overwhelming your readers, but these five approaches will offer plenty of variety in your posts, no matter what you’re selling online.

Image by Flickr user inju