This past weekend, I traveled to Washington DC to speak at the Code(Her) Conference. It was exciting to present at the Washington Post about one of my favorite topics – How to Promote Your Business Without Breaking the Bank. My message and mission holds true anywhere in the world. You don’t have to be a millionaire to market you brand, you just have to know how to do it. And, do it!
It’s always rewarding to teach budding professionals and socially conscious entrepreneurs how to share their message in an authentic way. Clarity is important as it provides a foundation, but from years of experience it helps to have a sounding board. You can start a business on your own, but you can’t build a brand by yourself. So, get some help and make it a team effort. Then, everyone can be part of the success.
- Be clear on who you are and where you want to go. Don’t sell yourself short. We often think we can’t go as far as we’d like. That’s just a story we tell ourselves to be safe. It’s BS. Go for it. Learn. And keep going.
- Create a roadmap for your particular goals. If you’re looking for quality leads, take a look at where your best customers are coming from, or research what successful competitors are doing. Consider every option to get the biggest bang for your buck, then choose wisely.
- There are 100’s of ways to promote your brand for free, but a savvy marketer will start small, see what works and then build out. Mistakes are part of the process. Get over it and move on!
- Use PR and Marketing tools to attract a base of raving fans. If women are your target market, try Pinterest. If that’s working, add Instagram. Then create a series of videos to launch a YouTube channel. If you’re a visual brand, be visual.
- Consider speaking. Even if you’re not getting paid, speaking builds credibility as an expert. It also fuels sales, presuming you’re in front of a room of your target audience. If you’re not presenting to ideal prospects, look at hidden opportunities. Work the room, so the work comes in.
Above all, whether you’re speaking, networking, online or offline – just be you. Align your work with your personal and professional core values. Write down what you want to do with your business and life, because they work together. And of course, make time for fun. You know life isn’t a dress rehearsal.
We all know that using an email signature is a sure-fire way to promote your brand for free. You have the freedom and flexibility to promote whatever you like — an upcoming event, a new chapter in a book or your social media channels.
But, are you taking advantage of the signature space when you send emails from your mobile phone? The one that might read like this: Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone.
To make sure you’re getting the biggest bang for your buck, customize your email signature in settings and align it with your brand so people can be reminded of who you are and what you do.
Happy to share a resource from Constant Contact about 125 Links to Make You a Better Marketer. It’s all about email marketing best practices and worth a look.
Every week, I’m setting up new clients with marketing campaigns and helping them with their design, because email marketing works – and design does make an impact – if you use it right! And, staying in touch with customers brings in business.
If you’d like me to look at any of your email campaigns or take a test drive with a free trial of Constant Contact for 60 days, please reach out. I’m happy to schedule a complimentary session to see what your goals are.
In full transparency, I also get a small commission depending on the size of your list, but you can also use a free service which won’t have all the bells and whistles – and so much more.
All in all, email marketing works.
Tiny Business Habits to Help You Make More Money
Do you slow down in the summer working on your business? To some extent, we all do, but there are some tiny business habits that will make your small business more money.
Read KC Agu’s article in Entrepreneur.com and pick which habit you’ll commit to this week. The list has 5 items and it’s not daunting. In fact, it makes perfect sense!
I’m going for #2: Track just one major business metric daily.
It’s already given me clarity in forecasting for next quarter. I could tell you to up your PR and marketing efforts and answer HARO 3 times a week, but you already knew that.
If you’re a small business today, chances are you’re on social media, in one way or another. If you’re not, prospects and customers may wonder why. An active online presence is even better – and shows not just that you’re in the digital age, but you want to connect with your audience. And, that’s important to them!
9 No-Brainer Social Media Tips to Grow a Brand
- Find Your Audience and Stick with it. You will never be Mr. or Mrs. Wonderful who everyone loves. Find your buyers online and grow that list into a base of raving fans who always want to know more and buy.
- Lose Perfection. Get content out there. Nothing is ever perfect, and that’s especially true when you start out. Experiment with posting and see what’s popular with your audience. Tweak and adjust from there.
- Go with Your Gut. One of the first mistakes I made as a copywriter was asking for the opinion of a handful of people. Was I on target? Was my message clear? Bottom line, pick one person who you trust as an editor and trust the process.
- Do What You Can Do. Stop trying to be Superman® or Wonder Woman®. I used to think I had to be the be-all end-all, especially when I was starting out. Pick and choose your copy, platforms, schedule and go with it. Build from there.
- Forget About Being on the Cutting Edge. I hope you are, but don’t be disappointed if you’re not. I’m thinking you’re working on and in your business, so if you’re on pace with your industry or ahead of your own time that’s probably good enough. See #2. Lose perfection.
- See what’s trending and go with it. PR pros call it newsjacking. I call it smart marketing. Check out one of my favorite tools, Buzzsumo.com and punch in your keywords. What are people writing, talking about and sharing?
- Figure Out Your Call-to-Action. What do you want your followers to do? Click through, ask a question, take a survey? Just be you, the expert, and make sure you’re always engaging in your brand’s tone and voice.
- Automate to Save Time. Using tools like Buffer, HootSuite and Edgar, you can plan ahead, save time and money. After all, you should be in your genius time as much as possible, not copy and pasting.
- Be Patient and Test. We’re not in life-saving mode. We’re discovering our voice and connecting with our audience and other influencers. Don’t stress, mistakes make us better marketers!
Social media is just one piece of the PR and marketing pie. You’ve got dozens of other promotional tactics to promote your brand and grow your business. The key is that all should be working together towards a common goal.
Tweak, Test and Try. 3 T’s to Ta Da!
I’m a sentimental soul and remember my dad not just on Father’s Day, but other days too. I can’t imagine my life without his entrepreneurial inspiration, guidance, acceptance of my crazy ideas and endless hours of listening to my questions – at the kitchen table as a kid and through the years, working on and off, from about 8 years-old to when I got my first full-time job after college.
As a mentor, he shaped my life until the day he died. This is for you, Dad.
Words of Wisdom from a Serial Entrepreneur
- Being an entrepreneur is the only way to go. You can set your price and your schedule. It’s not always easy, but it’s always yours.
- Make friends with your competition. This wasn’t such a welcome idea at 14 when he asked me to invite all the ‘pretty’ girls to a party. He told me I would assess the situation quickly. Ouch.
- If I die at the lake, throw me in the water with my briefcase, you and your brother will collect double.
- It’s not so much about the cost, it’s about the terms. If you want it, go for it. You can figure it out later. He said this with a pencil, always behind his ear.
- Pick a point on your drive home, then leave your business there. It will still be there on your way back.
- A happy wife is a happy life. My take on this age old advice: living in harmony is good for everyone.
- Don’t burn the candle on both ends. You need to rest.
- Pick the right partner that will support you thick and thin.
- Travel and see the world. Life is short. Have fun!
- Take care of your family. They’re why you work so hard.
My dad also told me I should study PR, even when I wasn’t quite sure what it was. “You’d be good at it,” he said. Years later, I figure he was right.
You can look at search engine optimization (SEO) as an easy task, or a daunting one. If you have time and money to spend, feel free to hire an expert, especially if you’re in a super competitive industry. But, if you’re on a budget, you can still apply the basics with DIY weekly tasks to drive traffic and increase visibility to rank higher in Google.
Master these 9 SEO Tips to Get Higher Google Rankings and More Business
- Know that SEO is a process, not an overnight magic trick. And, that’s true whether you hire out or DIY. Look at your Google Analytics and set a goal for what you’d like to accomplish. Test and track to see what’s working. Then tweak accordingly.
- Use keywords on your title tags and get them right. What words would your prospects and customers use to search for you? Title tags are keyword rich and usually have between 50 – 60 characters. Be sure they’re also in the headers, body and image alt-tags too.
- Create and verify your Google My Business Page (GMB). You’ll want to ask for reviews from your customers here and post consistently. This will help drive traffic, especially if you aren’t writing a blog or other content as part of a deeper campaign. Bad reviews? Answer promptly and politely.
- Consider using Word Press plugins like Yoast SEO. Once you focus on keywords and start writing, Yoast will grade you – from red, yellow to green when you’re hitting the mark. The more you write the better you’ll get.
- Post videos and transcripts on your website. Videos keep visitors on your page longer (and Google likes that). As an added bonus, provide a transcript of the video with medium and long tail keywords to build SEO and drive traffic.
- Go to a local college and find an online wiz or intern. Teach him/her 10 steps to easy SEO, including how to blog, build an audience, post to a Facebook page, distribute to social media and social bookmarking sites including Twitter, Google+, Pinterest or a host of others.
- Keep track of your online listings and make sure they’re accurate. If you’re practicing organic SEO, be consistent in your efforts to get the biggest bang for your buck. Again, look at Google+, Yelp, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube and listings where you have online presence.
- Don’t overlook Google Maps when you’re planning SEO. If you have a store front location or work from the road, you can benefit from having all roads point to you. You don’t have to be there all the time, this SEO tactic drives traffic to your site and potentially to your store!
- Lastly, answer HARO ads as a way to build SEO and backlinks. Sign up at HelpAReporter.com and show journalists that you’re an expert. When you’re published, there’s almost always a backlink, back to, you guessed it, you.
If you’d like more information on SEO read this: Moz’s Beginners Guide to SEO
I’m on a Facebook kick lately – to add to the mix of free and low-budget ideas to promote your small business. And, the reason is pretty clear.
If you’re a small business owner, consider a Facebook business page. It’s another forum to showcase your brand, expertise and personality. Just sitting there, your Facebook page is a missed opportunity for visibility and new business. Work Facebook so it will work for you!
Here Ares 15 Ways to Get More Facebook Likes:
- We’re wired to look at pictures, so use images. Take your own, buy interesting stock photos or use free ones. Look at these links for image ideas. Facebook loves video like Facebook Live, but it’s not so crazy about YouTube links. Guess why?
- Have a personal profile? Consider linking your Facebook page as ‘where you work’. Chances are, you’ll get added traffic.
- Cross promote with other pages that are complementary. You’ll find out very quickly who is reliable. Choose partners that are partners.
- Create a Facebook Group as a way to build prospects and trust. This can be a no-selling zone, but you could have a Promo-Monday. Remember, people don’t come to Facebook to be sold.
- Tag other pages in your posts. That creates a potentially bigger audience for you.
- Make a welcome video that’s compelling and include it on your fan page. That allows prospects to get to know you better and see how you can improve their life or business.
- Craft and email to your list and ask them to like your page. You can also add a call to action in your email signature.
- Collect your prospects and client’s questions and use that content to answer posts. It’s relevant to your audience.
- Point followers from different platforms to your page, especially if there’s a good discussion going on. There are no rules here. Experiment.
- Keep your posts short, sweet and personal. Fans like to know there’s a person behind the brand. Don’t confess your deepest darkest secrets of course, but engage to gain the LKT factor. (Like, know, trust).
- Discounts? Yup. Flash freebies (first 20 people to…) Yup. Shareable images like infographics also work to build engagement.
- Have employees? Going to a trade show? Build your likes. Ask and you will receive.
- Speaking? Ask your fans to tag themselves when they upload pictures. Then their friends and followers will also see you.
- Customize your Facebook background banner on Canva or other design sites. Make sure you’re consistently branded, but don’t forget to also include a call to action. Ask people to Like My Page!
- Lastly, every once in a while, include a PS at the end of your email like, Connect with us on Facebook. PS is a powerful Promotional tool!
We all know the power of video and it’s no secret that in 3 years, 75% of content on mobile phones (and Facebook) will probably be mostly video.
It took some time to get on bandwagon and I’m not sure if I was just being my perfectionist self or wondering how it was going to happen. But, it did. At the end of last year, I wrote down my goals and in less than two weeks, my YouTube channel was born.
With expert help and strategy, we got to #1 in Google for small business marketing expert, at least for a short while. If that can happen for me, it can happen for you.
So, what’s important for small businesses to know this year about video?
- You don’t have to have a big budget to grow your brand, create awareness and set yourself apart as a leader or expert in your industry. While many businesses are just blogging, video content often makes a bigger impression – especially when you’re producing and uploading on a consistent basis.
- Since Google owns YouTube, you have a greater chance of being ranked higher on that search engine. Viewers also typically think: top position = more qualified. Fact is, you can get there by earned status or paid. My favorite is promoting without a PR budget.
- Now, you can’t put out video that stinks or that’s not geared for your target audience. Research is a must and your content has to be valuable. Also remember, you don’t have to produce an epic video — it can be simple. An intro video about who you are, testimonials, behind the scenes. See where I’m going?
- Also keep in mind the length of your video. Keep them short, about 60 – 90 seconds. You can give a tip, an insight, create a montage. Inform, educate or entertain, but most importantly have fun. Brand personality shows in your eyes, actions and energy – on camera and off.
- Lastly, you’ll want to upload your content to YouTube, but, don’t forget about Facebook or using Facebook Live so that you’re upfront and personal with your fans and followers. Check these sites too: Vimeo, Daily Motion and Metacafe. And, Instagram and Snapchat? Recent studies show Instagram has 500 million monthly users and Snapchat with a mere 5 billion videos watched in a day.
Time to get into the video game for digital marketing growth?
I hear that as a yes. Start small. Think big.
MIT Sloan grads are among the smartest in the world, and I’m fortunate to be friends with one who’s promoting an app for a European company. He describes it as a fascinating project, but he’s also encountered challenges with a super niche audience. Does that help or hinder his efforts? Although I could recommend at least 50 ways to get free publicity and online mention, there are also best practices recommended from the app world.
App Happy? Get insight from these articles:
Simple Tips to Get Your App Indexed, Ranked and Installed by SearchEngineLand.com
25 Creative Ways to Promote Your App for Free by Entrepreneur.com
How to Market Your Mobile App by Kissmetrics.com