Small Business Marketing Strategies Overview
If you own a small business or wanting to learn how to market online, I’m really glad you’re here. I’ve been a small business marketing consultant for a little over a year now, and that was a direct result of learning how to market online for myself first. What I’ve discovered in the small business marketplace is that the business owners are inundated with advertising agencies and marketing companies proposing marketing programs that either worked in the past (and don’t anymore), or they are sold marketing solutions that are way too expensive for their budgets for the benefit they can gain from it.
I see gross overcharging more than anything from SEO companies that don’t know Search Engine Optimization. I see web designers selling custom websites for 5-6K to a local pizza shop with no SEO foundation to get found. (That’s equivalent to putting their business that needs foot traffic in the middle of nowhere) I see video production companies making 3-5K videos that again, never get noticed online because there is no search engine foundation support to get it to rank online. I saw a guy that paid YP.com $589 a month for…I’m still trying to figure out what he was paying for…
It’s incredulous to me the types of marketing proposals being pitched in the marketplace to small business owners that can’t afford to throw their (extremely) hard earned money away. So for a long time I’ve wanted to try to make a difference and help all I could to those that are interested in truly finding a way to affordably grow their business.
I’m creating a free online marketing course (there will be offline marketing training too) for anyone that wants to learn how to make money online, someone interested in learning local marketing to small business owners, or for the small business owner on a budget that can finally get sustainable results for their business, guaranteed.
This free online marketing course is called Local Business Gold and I’m telling you, it’s going to be incredible! I’m going to share almost everything I know about local marketing, ranking videos and websites quickly, learn how to capture customer data to follow up, save money, get cheap branding packages, build affordable websites, outsource…everything! This is the first lesson so let’s go ahead and get started.
Free Online Marketing Course – Small Business Marketing “Big Rocks” Establishing an Attractive, Cohesive Brand
I started a company called 360 Business Reviews and what we do when we first meet a small business owner is put the pen and paper aside and simply lesson to what’s going on with this business. If the business owner will open up and be transparent, we simply want to know where their pain is, where they are advertising (is it working?), what their online foundation looks like, and focus on their “Big Rocks” (core marketing components they need to establish a solid presence).
Small Business Marketing Components – First “Rock”
I work with plumbers, electricians, restaurant owners, dog groomers, veterinarians, ice cream shops, roofers, HVAC guys, salons, concert halls, mechanics, Christian Gift stores, you name it. After being a small business owner myself for over 25 years, I know how extremely tough it is to build a successful business from the ground up. It usually stems from a good recipe, a skill set of working on cars, plumbing, building, and one thing leads to another and the person decides to start their own company.
Most of the time, I see very little effort was put into their branding and marketing on the front end. The business just kinda “happened”. The business owner didn’t get a good logo, make a professionally designed business card, or make brochures to leave with prospects because they didn’t have the money to do so or thought it would be expensive. And in many cases, they were right. Logos and branding from traditional advertising agencies (whose focus is larger companies) is extremely expensive. They usually get a cousin to make one for them, build their website, and away they go… (If you own a franchise, you can scroll down past this section as most of your branding is already solid)
A small business owner does NOT typically need a high-level branding package, and it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to get nice looking materials anymore. This is where outsourcing can come in handy.
There are several companies online today that are venues for freelancers all over the world that bid on small projects to do for small business owners. They’ll build websites, write blog content, make logos, brochures or anything you can think for $5 (Seriously) on up to $35-50 an hour for their work. It’s incredibly affordable.
Top Freelance Sites for Graphic Design, Branding Packages
These outsourcing sites are amazing in that you can place your project out for bid, get proposals back immediately, and choose your freelancer by rating, expertise or price. You have a lot of control over the outcome of your project and the quality of work is awesome based on my experience.
- Freelancer – Freelancer is the one I use the most because I like the ability to communicate pretty easily with the online community about specific needs. They have a great rating system and I find designers, programmers or technicians for $10-25 an hour in most cases that do quality work. You can post a project for a logo for example, set a budget of $50-100, and get 30-50 designs back from Freelancers bidding on the job that look fantastic. You simply choose the one you want, pay them through the system and you’re done. There are thousands of freelancers in this community so you can find anything you need help on quickly. Be careful about certain projects like SEO on any Freelance site because there are times you need to fully trust what is being done behind closed doors. Not saying these are rogue sites, but a graphic design or content work is much easier to visually see what you are getting.
- Upwork – Like Freelancer, Upwork has a large community of independent freelancers that compete for jobs, allow you to view profiles of the designers, see ratings and comments from past customers so you get a good vibe from who you select as your freelancer.
- Fiverr.com – This site is pretty cool in that you can get a lot of simple things done for 5 bucks! Simple videos, back links, social media shares, likes, logos, and more. I use this site occasionally for again, very simple projects but I don’t like the communication that Fiverr allows for engagement on the project. The quality of work is not as good as Freelancer, but there is amazing value for business owners on a budget. It’s definitely worth a look. For more upscale work, and long term hires, Freelancer is the way to go in my opinion.
If you don’t already have a good logo, nice brochures or your branding could use a little sprucing up, consider using one of these companies for your business. It’s time and money well spent.
Small Business Marketing Foundation Two – Website and Blog
This is where I want you to listen closely to what I’m about to tell you. I would estimate that 90% of the websites that I see from small business owners are either poorly designed and optimized, not functional to get leads, or they simply don’t have one. I have an alarming amount of salon owners and restaurant owners that tell me they use Facebook for all their marketing…wow…
Here’s the problem with that…Your company is Your Brand! Facebook is not your company, and while it’s one of the best ways to market your business today, it might not be so popular in the future. This is a critical mistake not to have online “real estate” for your business in the form of an effective, lead generating website with a blog component.
Gone are the days of static websites you post and get gobs of traffic overnight. You probably won’t even be able to get your own domain name for your brand. There are ways around that however in this tutorial I made for choosing a good domain name for your business. A website needs a blog component that allows you make changes to it often. Google likes fresh content for it’s viewers, and rewards you for that in the way of increased traffic to your site. You don’t have to change it everyday, or you can hire someone on Freelancer to create content for you on a regular basis for a song and a dance. This will help tremendously with your online rankings, viewer engagement, traffic, and ultimately leads into your business.
Who Should You Hire to Build Your Small Business Website?
Remember that cousin that builds websites? You probably shouldn’t hire him! LOL I laugh because I’ve heard that so many times and the company in question has a website that is awful. You’ve GOT to have not only a good looking website, but one that is properly optimized for traffic and leads. Follow closely with me to avoid the pitfalls of a bad website, games custom website developers and SEO companies play to extract your cash from your bank account. It’s mind boggling to me some of the travesties that I see when it comes to website design and development. This is one of the most important investments you can make in your business.
Get an effective website, you’ll make more money in your business. Period. Get a bad website or SEO company, and it can harm your brand or become a money pit for search engine optimization companies that are more than willing to steal your money.
Free Online Marketing Course – Tips for Hiring a Good Website Designer and SEO Company (Search Engine Expert)
- Get References – Here’s what I see all the time…Business owner meets a slick salesperson from YP.com, local XYZ firm that works with some big name companies, uses words you don’t understand like keywords, SMO, SEO, SEM, Back links, blah blah blah. Small business owners make pizza, cut hair, put on tires, groom dogs…they don’t understand marketing. Listen to the proposal, do THOROUGH research from some of the companies they have worked with and do the following: Call Their customers and ask how the process went. Do their designs look modern and easy to navigate?
- What Website Design Platform Do They Use? For most small businesses, I do NOT recommend custom websites. Sorry custom guys, you’re just way too expensive for this niche. There is certainly a place for custom work, and while I appreciate their knowledge, there are ready-made platforms that major corporations use for their websites that are fantastic. Why pay thousands of dollars for a website someone has to custom create because they’re an “arteest” (pun intended)? Wordpress is a great way to go for creating a nice looking, highly functional website. It’s open source with thousands of beautiful themes to choose from, plugins that can make your site do just about anything you need it to do. Shopify and Big Commerce are excellent E-Commerce shopping platforms with great looking templates that are customizable to your brand as well. Don’t fall for the “custom website baloney” in most cases. You get National support from developers and designers all over the world when using these popular platforms instead of having to pay to redesign down the road. Furthermore, 90% of the custom sites I see look plain jane opposed to a $50 Premium WordPress Template you can have customized to your liking. I don’t recommend Wix or Weebly, at all for reasons mentioned in the video above, but I’m ok with Squarespace for small businesses. It’s actually very cool and simple to set up. It allows for syncing with your inventory too with their Square merchant platform which certainly has it’s advantages. We’ll dive deeper into web platforms later in the course, but for now, in most cases don’t buy a custom site is my best recommendation for 99.5% of small businesses. One guy can’t build a million plugins or designs to choose from, or give your site the functionality that you can get out of the box with WordPress. Don’t buy the hype!
- Does Your Designer or SEO Company Understand Search Engine Optimization? Go to Google and type in words most people would use to search for them. (not their own company name, ugh, this is a game they play) auto repair birmingham al (or their area, Hoover, etc), pizza hoover al, Christian Gifts Nashville TN, etc If they don’t rank for broad terms within 3-4 months in the top 10 on maps or organic, I wouldn’t recommend hiring them because they don’t have a grasp of search engine optimization. I see a huge problem every…single…day… Small companies, large companies pay Search Engine firms, or YP.com (do not hire them) hundreds to thousands of dollars a month for SEO work and they are invisible. I had a personal injury attorney that paid a firm over $90K to do work for him last year and what I found behind the scenes was borderline criminal. This firm didn’t have the most basic of SEO principles on the site, or links to it, listings claimed with the wrong address, on and on. It took me two months of hard work to clean that mess up, but after being invisible online (seriously) he now owns the space for personal injury attorneys in Birmingham AL. He’s #1-3 on most terms because he is properly optimized on his site as well as off-site. SEO is serious business. Just because someone knows buzzwords like keywords or SEO, SEM, Social Media Optimization doesn’t make them an expert on SEO.
- 99% of the Time, Don’t Hire a Large or Regional Firm for Your Small Business Marketing – This list includes YP.com, Yodle.com, Webs.com, AL.com in my area, or anyone with layers upon layers of administration to pay. Here’s the problem with large firms. You have a salesperson that learns slick terms to sell you on the “possibility” of getting all this unfound business online. The problem is they take it back to their manager, who takes it to the creative manager,
who takes it to the newly hired designer, content writer or “SEO Expert”. The CEO’s have to get paid, the CFO has a big salary, the managers do as well, and the person completing the work gets paid hourly too. Throw in the TV ads, pay per click campaigns online, and you have a recipe for colossal overcharging. It’s real, and I don’t recommend using these companies if you want the most bang for your marketing buck. I’ve just never seen anyone that was delivered results commensurate with the money invested into these types of programs.
- 99.9% of the Time, Don’t Ever Ever Sign a Long Term Contract for Marketing – Ugh…ugh again… I see this everyday too. If these large company’s marketing solutions are so great why do they have to sign you to a long term contract? Certainly you would keep their service if you were getting results, right? Most large firms lock customers into long term contracts to forecast future profits and allow for commissions to be paid to 2nd and 3rd level sales representatives. It’s ridiculous in my opinion. Unless you can clearly see an financial advantage, a free iPad for a Loyalty Program or offsetting upfront website design costs over time, (we do this too to help and protect ourselves) there’s usually not a good reason to sign a long term contract for your benefit. The focus should be your business success, not their profit. Sadly, I don’t hear of too many good transactions where the small business owner won in a contract or in their dealings with large, slow-moving firms.
In wrapping up on this section of the Local Business Gold course, I hope you got some value out this initial overview on branding, outsourcing, website design and development, or SEO service companies that promise a lot, yet fail to deliver any measurable results. By the end of this free internet marketing course, you should have a tremendous grasp on online marketing fundamentals if you follow the course in its entirety. We’ll continue in the next section discussing setting up your Social Media profiles, setting up the crucial business directory listings to give your website strength, learn about loyalty programs, and advantages of creating a small business video commercial for your business. I also encourage you to please share this article with your friends that own small businesses, so that it may help them too.
I’m truly sickened by what I see on a daily basis from so many developers and large firms. The mission of this free online marketing course is give pure value to small business owners everywhere and teach others how to help local businesses be more profitable, and avoid paying for marketing services that don’t work.
Looking forward to getting to know you throughout the course and feel free to ask any questions along the way. Take care
Free Online Marketing Course
Free Online Marketing Course