When you aren't seeing any orders coming in or when you are starting to bite your nails due to the current economy. It's a normal reaction to start looking at things that can be cut in the budget like marketing. Marketing should be the LAST thing on your list to cut out. If you make that choice to cut out marketing you are taking a huge risk of crashing faster than you thought you already were!
Marketing your business and attracting new customers should be an ongoing process, not something you do one month and then forget about for three or four at a time. You will never see a sale at that rate! Below are a list of low cost to free advertising options so you can succeed online.
Join the Social Networking Sites: This is a must. If you haven't gotten around to joining social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter. Now is the time when you should sign up for an account to market your products or services. Social Networking or Bookmarking Sites are great ways to generate traffic and to start a buzz about your business. They are free to use and get tons of traffic each month.
Be prepared for Peak Seasons
You must be prepared for peak seasons. The holiday shopping season is already here!!! Do you have your holiday items on your site? Do you have your holiday newsletters and sales lined up. If not, don't start running around, pulling out every strand of your hair off your head. Simply sit down and write out your plans for this holiday shopping frenzy. What new products or services are you going to offer. Are they holiday themed products or are they gifts for people or pets even? Have a service that you offer to other businesses? Create a holiday package just for your customers. Offer a discount or an incentive. Research seasonal keywords that people are already using for the type of products or services you have to offer.
Unique items or services : Make sure that you have unique items or services offered on your site. Take a look at your competitors site and see what they are offering and what they aren't offering. Try to find products being offered by manufacturers in your niche that your competitors do not have yet. Don't forget about the “Small Business Owners”! Small business manufacturers have the most unique products and are looking for retailers to help distribute their products. Contact them to see if you can get a sole contact with them to sell their products online. If you do land a contract, make sure to state it in your products description. You can use words like “Exclusive” “Only Available” or Available Online Only. If your product is online available online then a buyer who is interested will be more inclined to make a purchase.
Get on top of your SEO: If you haven't done so yet, make sure to put SEO on your calender before the month is over. You really don't want to be left out in the cold or finding yourself closing shop the first of the year due to no sales. Take some time to research your keywords in your niche. If you don't take the time to properly optimize your site, just remember this big tip: YOUR COMPETITION WILL!
As you may know, some businesses thrive from referrals. I have found that one of the best ways to get referrals is by having others help you find customers for you. You can do this by offering a rewards program or a referral program. You can either give out free merchandise, give a discount off of their future purchases, or offer a percentage of your sales. It all depends on your the type of business you have and what you can give away. Now be realistic. Don't offer a 50% cash incentive if you can not afford to pay the incentive. If you send out a newsletter, include a section in your newsletter where your customers can tell a friend or you can set up a form on your site that will allow your customers to enter in the names of their friends. When you get a new customer from the referral, make sure to send the person a personalized thank you note along with their reward.
Send out a newsletter: Have a sign up form on your site and give a discount for those who sign up. Make sure the discount is automatic. You can do this by doing a custom thank you page and include the coupon code in the thank you message. It's important to keep your customers up to date on sales, contest, and new products. Keep your newsletter simple and straight to the point. Your newsletter can be themed based where you send out information that is geared toward one specific type of product or service. Make sure to get permission from everyone you send out a newsletter too and make sure to give them an option to unsubscribe from your newsletter. You don't want to take the risk of getting to many spam marks or you will not be able to send out newsletters because your email address will be marked as a SPAM address.
Sponsor a Giveaway or Do a Giveaway:
Sponsoring a contest or doing one yourself is an excellent way to advertise your site. This is also a great way to collect email addresses, mailing addresses and any other information you would like to use to in the future. I have done plenty of contest advertising for clients and they ended up with over new leads over a period of a month. You can also participate in blog contest events. There are tons of blogs out here that offer Blog Hopping events. Make a note of all of the events and make sure you include your site or blog in the hopping event. You can gain a lot of exposure to your contest and website.
Start a Blog
I should have posted this tip before the giveaway tip?! If you don't have a blog make sure to add that to your To Do List. A blog is another great way to bring traffic to your sites. More and more searchers are looking to see if a website has a blog when they visit sites. A blog is a good way for them to get to know more about the company they want to purchase a product or service from. You can keep your customers informed about any sales, new products or upcoming events you are having. Be as natural as possible with your post. Don't sound like a robot when you are promoting your advertising. Make your post as friendly and as engaging as possible.
Groups and Forums
Join groups and forums that are related to the type of products you have to offer. Many forums will allow you to post your url in your signature. Be very cautious when using this as a method of advertising. Forum members do not like when a business gets on a forum and starts to post links to their site with no other communication. This is known as SPAM and most hate it, so stay away from it. If you join any forums or groups on Yahoo, Google or MSN. Make sure you are there to learn or contribute. Respond to questions that you are familiar with, especially those that pertain to your niche. Become an authority figure on the topic and people will start to respect you and even look for your comments.
Team up with like minded businesses or people:
Find people online and offline who are within the same niche as you or who have a passion for the type of products or services you have to offer. If you sell pet products, team up with pet lovers or groomers. If you sell baby products, team up with new mothers, play groups or day cares in your area. If you are in the website designing niche, team up with hosting companies, SEO'ers, or other website designers. You can offer discounts to anyone you team up with for your products or services. Establish life long relationships and watch your business grow!
If you have read through these 10 tips and are thinking that all of them sound great but you just don't have the time right now. Times are hard right now for a lot of people and they just aren't shopping the way they were a year ago. Although money might be tight right now for a lot of consumers the need for making money is continuous. Try setting aside two to three hours each week to start focusing on advertising your business. When you actually take the time to market your business, and start to see a change in new orders, then believe me, you will be glad you did!
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