Thursday, June 30, 2005

Marketing Tips - On a Budget

With all the latest buzz lately on writing articles and how to do it right, I thought you'd find this article helpful.

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Marketing Tips - On a Budget


I don’t know about you, but when I started my business and even today with a son in college, I don’t have a lot of money to spend on marketing. I need to make sure that every penny I spend is spent wisely, very wisely. So when I market my business, I need to make sure that I’m creative and use all the tools I have available that don’t cost money. Here are some tips that I have found that worked for me.

Cooperative Marketing - This process creates fellowship, alliances with others who are working hard to achieve the same goals, and exposure to your sites. This entails working with other groups, forums, VAs, etc., and sharing together to build your business.

We do a lot of this already in the virtual assisting business with joining associations and putting their banners/buttons up and becoming active, but you can take it a step further. You can actively become a part of different forums, exchanging banners, buttons, newsletter ads, ideas, and more.

All it takes is an e-mail expressing an interest. For example, a simple, ‘Hi, I’m Diana Ennen of Virtual Word Publishing. I’m an active part of your forum already, but I’d like to take it a step further and would like to do some cooperative marketing with you. Perhaps we could exchange our banners, buttons, newsletter ads, contests, etc.” The goal is to get more and more people talking about you and your services. As Dianne Fratscher of WAHMUnited states, “It’s a win, win for everyone. We both benefit with more exposure.”

Radio/Media - It’s not that hard. It’s important to get out there and get aggressive in marketing your business. Have a plan of action and stick to it. Each week decide to send out so many press releases, contacts to radio stations, local media, etc. Stay in tune with what’s currently happening and see if it’s something that you can write about. I’ve found that having an angle works. Get an e-mail to them and pitch your angle hard, but make sure you can follow-up with something solid. There are so many Internet Radio shows now that offer great opportunities. Here’s a new one I just discovered that’s really awesome -- Kim Komando Radio Show -- www.komando.com . You can sign up for her tips of the day and cool site of the day. It’s great!

Forums / Listserves - Being active in forums and listserves is so beneficial to your business. You establish yourself as an expert and also you gain friendships and alliances with others. Plus, it’s a great way to promote your business. Naturally you never want to blatantly advertise your business, but many forums will have special days set up where you can promote your products and specials. Take advantage of these. Don’t get discouraged if you try it once and it doesn’t work. It takes time for people to get to recognize you and once they do, then you are more likely to get people to contact you.

Market Research Your Webstats - Learn how to read, understand and make use of your web stats to properly market and research who is coming to your site. A good webstat service is often included with most hosting services. This is free information that your site gathers about your visitors and customers. It tells you who your customer is, where they're coming from, which days they do their surfing - even what time of day they do it.

As many people know I recently signed up with a new SEO person who has just made tremendous results in my business. Almost immediately I started seeing more book sales and within a few weeks I landed two GREAT clients. One of the first things she did was to put a tracker on my site. Now, not only was I able to see who was coming to my site, but I was able to determine what Google Adwords people were looking to get to my site. Magic!! That’s what it felt like to me.

Writing Articles - Submitting articles to sites is still a good marketing tool and I still recommend it. However, you want to do it right. Make sure you submit to your targeted market. Write on topics that you are very familiar with and that you will help those on that site with advice. Don’t just write for publicity --Give something back. Making sure that your topic and information is appreciated is important. For example, I write articles frequently on starting a business. I’ve been in business since 1985 and I love helping people start their own business. I want to provide help, support, and encouragement. For me, I send the articles out myself or I have my virtual assistant send them out. That way I know that the articles are going to the right places. This week I got this back from someone and I thought I’d share it. I think it helps to support the fact that article writing not only is beneficial as a marketing tool, but also as a help to those stopping by the sites. Wendy wrote, “I'm currently working on a business plan to get my thoughts straight and my ideas on paper. I read your article at http://www.geocities.com/freehomebasedbusiness/articles-geocities-084.htm that mentioned e-mailing you for a free booklet on getting started. I'm hoping you can e-mail a version to me. I appreciate the fact that you're sharing your knowledge and expertise in this area. Reading your articles is one of the things that actually got me motivated enough to put things into motion.” Makes it all worthwhile!

So whether you have savings to help you get started, or are working with limited funds, just remember YOU CAN DO IT!! Marketing a business doesn’t have to be expensive if you just remember to network and use all the tools available to you. See you next month!

**************************
Diana Ennen, Author: Virtual Assistant the Series, Become a Highly Successful, Sought After VA (http://www.va-theseries.com/) and Words From Home: Start, Profit, and Run a Successful Word Processing Business, http://www.virtualwordpublishing.com/, diana@virtualwordpublishing.com

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