How to Pull Off Superstar Marketing on a Starving Artist Budget

Struggling to cover the cost of your small business marketing plan? We’re all rich when it comes to a few brilliant ideas and Internet marketing.

superstar marketing, small business marketing, content marketing, inbound marketing
Photo courtesy of Superstar (1999) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0167427/

So you’re a small business owner. Perhaps you’re a startup with nothing in the budget for a glitzy televised ad with a celebrity spokesperson. Thankfully for those in small business marketing, there’s another option.

Internet marketing is budget friendly and produces results, but that’s not to say it’s easy. You’ll need both time and a good idea of what you’re doing. Here are some pointers.

Get Your Shine On

Everyone loves a superstar – they are the stars that shine oh so bright. How can you become an online superstar? We’re so glad you asked.

Regardless of the nature of your merchandise or services, those in need will likely begin their quest with a search engine query. And let’s be blunt: Google, for all intents and purposes, is the only game in town. That means you’ll have to play by their rules. The best way to make this titan happy is to provide valuable, relevant content. (Check out WTF is Content Marketing for some amazing tips.)

If your specialty is cupcakes, for example, write a thoughtful and entertaining blog on the subject, complete with appropriate keywords. And once the sentry that is the search engine lets you past the online gate, potential customers who share your passion for pastries will feel similarly rewarded with your musings on sugary confections.

Ideally, your content will position you as an authority in your field and be worthwhile enough a read to keep people coming back. Be sure to update your posts frequently.

Give the People What They Want

If you’ve played your cards right, at this point you should have amassed a gaggle of loyal followers. Don’t stop there – you’ve piqued the interest of folks who are virtually lining up at your door. Now make it worth their time by offering them coupons or exclusive member discounts that encourage them to close the sale.

They surely wouldn’t mind getting such a thing in return for providing their email addresses; you can then use these to send out further offers and ads to bring in repeat business.

Stay in the Mix

So you’re sharing valuable content and have built a sizable community of fans. Good job, but you’re not done yet. You’d be remiss not to take advantage of social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and various others.

In keeping with our baked goods analogy, absolute cupcake junkies will very likely congregate on a Facebook group devoted to the topic. You’ll need to be seen here. And of course, the best part of the social media experience for marketers is its viral nature.

If one person with a sweet tooth “likes” your establishment, you can be sure others on the network will follow suit. Post links to your blog entries here as well, in hopes of getting shared and offer the same sort of exclusive discounts to your fans as those on your email list.

Stay Hungry

I see it all of the time – as soon as a starving artist gets that big check, he goes out and buys a steak dinner and stops “being hungry.” You’ve got to keep that same passion and continue to grind and work hard. Take advantage of the opportunity to market your small business on the Internet and stay hungry.

It’s called the “World Wide Web” for a reason – it’s a gigantic virtual planet of information unto itself. There are millions of ways to make use of it in your small business marketing endeavor. But unless you don’t mind being branded a spammer, Google pariah, or even worse, it’s best to stick to the points above.

What’s the Word: Satisfying the appetites of search engines provides you with the avenue to fulfill the needs of future customers, which in turns gets your foot in the door with their social networking peers. Keep it up, and people might wind up Googling you with the keywords “cupcake millionaire.”

What are some other low-cost ways you have been marketing your small business?

WTF Is Content Marketing?

We talk a lot about content marketing and apologize if week after week you’ve been asking yourself, “WTF is content marketing?”

Let’s go over a bit of marketing history. About 15 to 20 years ago, marketing was simple – TV, print and radio. Pick one, better yet, use all three and your business would blow up overnight. But then, the Internet introduced a new way of life and shit got real crazy. All of a sudden dot-com companies were taking over the world and knocking TV, radio and print advertisers right out of the market.

Photo courtesy of http://talktothehump.blogspot.com/
Photo courtesy of http://talktothehump.blogspot.com/

So what is content marketing? Content marketing is a strategy that involves promoting your business by sharing high quality content that your audience wants to read. Notice I said “your audience” … not everyone.

Engage Your Peeps

Content marketing is not about engaging everybody – the Internet is way too crowded for that and you’ll constantly spin your wheels trying to reach everyone. Instead, you need to focus on your niche – your ‘hood – and tell the folks in your community what they need to hear from you.

Build Street Cred

Street cred means people respect you in your hood. You’re known as the best dressed, the top hair stylist, the marketing guru – whatever it is … when you have street cred, people listen when you talk. And that’s exactly the type of respect you want to gain in your market.

How do you build street cred? Do whatever you do well and then let people in on how you do what you do. The idea here is to share information – words, videos, photos, etc. – that the folks in your community want to read.

If you provide senior care, share information about senior health, nutrition, etc. Hair stylists – let women know how they can keep their hair looking good after a workout. If you have a legal practice, tell your audience how they can avoid legal pitfalls.

Why bother? You’ve got to give a little, to get something big. Your community grows as people share your epic posts and a percentage of those community members will be moved enough to actually buy your products and services.

What’s the Word: Whatever your market, offer web surfers information and insight about the goods or services you provide, as well as any related subjects. Doing so increases the odds that your site will turn up in search results.

Once you’ve snagged that surfer and satisfied his itch for worthwhile information, the ability to act on that knowledge and make a purchase should be but a click away. 

What one thing will you do today to build Web and street cred for your business?

Is Poor Grammar Stopping Your Readers from Enjoying Your Blog Content?

Poor grammar can bring your content marketing efforts to a screeching halt and prevent readers from truly enjoying your message.

poor grammar, content marketing, poor grammar examples

Poor grammar has no place in your marketing content. While the Microsoft Word spelling tool is useful, we simply can’t trust it to spot all of our content errors. Perhaps we just don’t have some innate, Shakespearean command of the language. Perhaps we’re simply buffoons. Whatever the case, few things can sink otherwise great content like poor grammar.

If your 5th grade English teacher can’t take your writing seriously, you can’t expect potential customers or clients to be all that impressed either. Thankfully, for those in need of a more professional sheen on their work, there are a number of fine online grammar help tools that can hammer even the crudest scrawling into a worthwhile read.

We’ll explore two of them here.

Online Grammar Check

This online grammar tool wins points for having the most succinct domain name, and gets extra credit for being a free service. This particular online grammar check tool — to be perfectly redundant — checks grammar and offers the ubiquitous, obligatory spell check feature as well.

But it’s the bonus features that make this site worth clicking around on for more than a minute. Has it been some times since you’ve had to conjugate transitive verbs?

This site features a conjugation tool that can take you from ignoramus to erudite. And for those with untold hours to spend in search of grammatical supremacy, games of hangman and crossword are sure to hone your chops. Lose yourself in a syntactical wonderland!

SpellCheckPlus

poor grammar, content marketing, poor grammar examples

For those writers who can do without the frills, this online tool is just for you. Simply copy and paste your text into the box, and the site will delight your eyes with glowing red spelling errors and common grammatical missteps highlighted in yellow.

If phrases like “we had went there” or “it was more better” have failed to ingratiate you to the intelligentsia, this service might be just what you want. And there’s no need to worry about wasting too much time here; in addition to its strictly utilitarian tone, the glaring banner ads that support this free site will chase you out of there as soon as your job is done.

Whether you like your grammar help tools extravagant or streamlined, the online grammar check services detailed above are sure to suit your needs. A simple Google search might turn up another more to your liking; such sites might either charge you for something others are simply giving away, or may be entirely unreliable (one professes to correct grammar “erros,” which could be a misspelling of either of two words).

What’s the Word: Online grammar tools can make a critical difference in how your content is received.  A few rare readers might take pity on a dullard writer, but far more would rather we content producers speak the language.

 

Three Ways to Boost Website Visibility Now

Learning how to boost website visibility is much more difficult than simply having a website, which is why many business owners fall short when it comes to website promotion. Content marketing is a new phrase that surfaced a few years ago. Now really cool and smart marketing professionals use it frequently. But is content marketing really a new concept?

content marketing, promote web content, Zach Michonski
Three Proven Ways to Promote Your Web Content

Just like bell bottom pants and platform shoes, all things come full circle and content marketing is no different. This highly effective concept of creating informational content that’s valuable to clients and prospects has been around for decades.

Many very cool and smart marketers have been developing content-rich material and sharing it online – but maybe never knew what to call it … until recently. The bottom line is that content marketing or whatever you want to call it is here to stay. Either you get in the game or go home.

Shout out to Zach Michonski for writing about “The Three E’s of Successful Content Marketing.”

Here’s a look at how to promote your web content using three easy content marketing tactics.

1. Engage
What action do you want your web content to encourage? Think about your audience. What can you say to engage your customers and move them in your desired direction?

Michonski suggests “the content should naturally match the personality of your audience.”

2. Educate
Customers want to be informed. So, give your audience what they want. Educating your customers is a win-win – they get the solid web content they crave and you get increased exposure.

Michonski says to “make sure you’re devoting some resources to a strategy that lets you update website content with articles that educate the user on your industry or the environment in which the product or service is used.”

3. Earn
You’ve engaged and educated your audience. Now it’s time to earn the rewards of your work. Stay tuned in to Google Analytics or other similar tools to measure what web content drives conversions.

Michonski says “by identifying the pages that keep people on your site, inspire them [to] click around and—hopefully—convert, you’ll get insights on how to update your strategy for maximized, sustained content earnings.”

What’s the Word: Promoting your blog, website copy or other web content takes time and patience. However, you must engage and educate your audience to reap the rewards of your content marketing efforts.

How are you engaging your online audience?

Build Your Brand Online Fast: Trust Words as Your Top Salesperson

Want to build your brand fast? Your marketing communications should be your hardest working salesperson.

alt="content marketing, words that sell, top salesperson
Use Marketing Content as Your Top Salesperson

You don’t have to spend a fortune on advertising and amazing marketing materials. All you need is a good in-house or freelance writer to craft compelling copy that will sell your products and services.

Sounds simple enough right?

Well, we all know nothing in life is free … or simple. However, great content will get you headed in the right direction.

Check out these five tips on using content as your most valuable salesperson.

1. Get online … fast
Are you still dragging your feet on launching a company website? If so, you’re missing out on an opportunity to reach millions of Internet users. By the way, in 2011, more than 70 percent of the U.S. population used the Internet. Although pictures are worth a thousand words, no website is complete without good content.

2. Get in the news
Just celebrate your company’s five-year anniversary? Land a new client? Donate your products or services to charity? Great, now go let everyone know. Put some content together and blast out a press release online. No one will know your company exists, if you don’t start the conversation.

3. Leave behind marketing literature
I started off by saying you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on an advertising campaign. However, you do need strong marketing materials that sell your company’s story and the benefits of your products and services. Literature can sell your company when you’re not around – so make it concise, yet descriptive.

4. Be searchable
No blog about the importance of content is complete without mentioning search engine optimization – SEO. You’ve heard it all, so I’ll be brief here. Bottom line: having SEO-based website content is a simple way to attract prospects online.

5. Sell your brand’s value
As a business owner, you must convince the market why they need your products and services. So don’t just tell people about your company, sell your business by highlighting the benefits and competitive features of your products and services.

What’s the Word: Content is critical to your marketing strategy. But not just any content – strong, concise and keyword-rich messaging builds brands.

How are you using powerful words to sell the value of your brand?