A Small Business Can Promote Its Services in a Big Way

If you’re a small business owner, you probably struggle to find time and money to market and promote your business. Questions swirl around in your mind: what should you spend on first? Is it important to have a website for your business or to run ads in the local newspaper? One person you talk to says it’s a good idea to buy promotional items like pens and give them away. Another person you talk to insists that postcard marketing is the way to go. How can you, as a small business owner with a limited budget, get your products and services out into the public in a big way without breaking the bank?

There are several steps you can take to overcome these challenges:

  1. Focus and define not what you do or sell, but how it helps other people. That’s called the benefit statement. No matter what kind of promotional activity you’re doing for your business, knowing the benefits you want to share with your customers and sharing them consistently can go a long way to helping your marketing efforts be successful.
  2. Who are your best potential customers? As a consultant, I hear over and over from small business owners “Oh, everyone is my customer.” Even bottled water has a unique market (not everyone buys or appreciates bottled water, believe it or not.) So who are your customers? Are they local, national? Are your customers men, women, teens, children? What age are they, what do they look like, what problems do they have that only your business can solve? Sit down and write-up a short description of your ideal customers. Like knowing the benefits your company provides, knowing who your ideal customers can help you communicate with them better and, more importantly, weed out any marketing opportunities that do not reach them.
  3. Focus your marketing efforts on the big picture stuff first. If your company needs a website, hire a professional within the budget you can afford to create a great website that accomplishes your business goals. If you own a retail store, concentrate on making the store experience wonderful to build word of mouth referrals.
  4. Create a great website for your business. No matter what your business does, in today’s world, people go online to research everything under the sun. If your business doesn’t have a website, you run the risk of missing potential customers. But don’t settle for any old website or let your best friend slap together something. First impressions are always lasting impressions, and a sloppy site can also turn off prospective customers.
  5. Now when it comes time to choose the marketing activities for your business, compare the audience or people the activity will reach with the profile you created of your ideal customer. Will you reach your ideal customer if you run that newspaper ad? When you know who your ideal customer is, you can spot opportunities to reach them through various marketing activities.

I’m a big fan of marketing plans. If your eyes glaze over and you yawn at the thought of creating a marketing plan, think of it this way. Most people draw up a financial plan for their life; a simple budget, let’s say, so that they know what money they have each week to pay the rent, the utility bill, the phone bill, etc. A marketing plan helps you figure out why, when and how to promote your business so that you can put your resources behind efforts that have the best potential. Without a marketing plan, you run the risk of diluting your resources or running marketing campaigns when you ‘have the time.’ And let’s face it – what small business owner can actually say, “I have time today. Let me work on that.” Most small business owners don’t have time to tie their shoelaces much less focus on creating a marketing plan!

These basics can help you organize and think about your marketing plan for your small business in a very general way. For specific advice, it’s best to find a great marketing consultant or agency you can trust to guide you through the process.

10 Questions a Business Owner Needs to Ask Before Using Facebook Advertising

Have you tried to use Facebook advertising and had no luck? I have spoken to a lot of business owners the last couple of years that have said to me that I tried to advertise on Facebook and it was a waste of time. First of all, I will be the first one to say that Facebook Advertising is not for every business and if people can easily buy your product elsewhere, or can compare prices easily online, then selling your product on Facebook is going to be difficult. However, on the flip side if your product is unique or personalized then Facebook advertising is for you. Facebook is the worldwide capital of individual expression and it is perfect to sell customized and personalized products. Here are ten questions every business owner needs to ask before advertising on Facebook.

1.) Can people buy a product very similar to yours at a big box store, i.e Walmart?

If you sell a product that can be bought easily in a brick and mortar store and at a lower price like a discount store like Walmart then it is going to be harder to sell your product and make money with Facebook advertising unless you are the lowest price.

2.) Do you sell to consumers? (B2C)

Facebook advertising is for you if you sell to consumers and not businesses. Remember Facebook is a place to socialize and hang out with friends and family and if a friend or family member talks or brags about something new they just bought you have a potential new client.

3.) Do you sell to other businesses?

As I just mentioned if you are a business selling to other businesses then Facebook advertising is not for you. However, and exception can sometimes be if you sell to small businesses with few employees because at those types of businesses work and home are sometimes mixed and blended together.

4.) Is your product technical, industrial, process oriented and/ or academic?

If your product is highly technical and process oriented it will be tougher to sell and make money using Facebook advertising.

5.) Do you sell events, memberships, experiences, and/ or entertainment?

If you sell “fun” Facebook Advertising is a great place to promote your product. Products that appeal to a person’s core identity are great products to sell on Facebook. Because Facebook is social people are always asking “Where have you been?” What clubs do you belong to?” and “Where do you want to go?”

6.) Do you sell personal improvement products or travel?

Again, products that get to an individuals core identity and emotions are really good products to use Facebook advertising.

7.) Are your products or services customized, delivered in person or personalized?

Answering yes to this questions puts you right in the sweet spot to use Facebook advertising. The more your product is personalized and customized the higher your chances of getting people to click your ad and purchase from you.

8.) Does your market have strong preconceived notions about what your prices “should” be?

If your product or service is easily defined in the market place on price it will be more challenging to use Facebook advertising. However, if your product or service is one that the marketplace really does not know what it costs then you probably have a real good chance of profiting from Facebook advertising.

9.) Does your business harmonize with political, religious convictions, beliefs or social movements?

If you answered “yes” to this question then you hit another sweet spot because if your product or service harmonizes with a person’s identity – political affiliations, religious convictions, beliefs, or social movements then you will have a significant advantage using Facebook advertising.

10.) Is your business local or national?

In a previous post I wrote about Facebook advertising – I mentioned that if your business is local and someone can turn a door knob then you have a really good shot at getting new clients from your Facebook advertising. There is one caveat and that is you need to have answered yes to at least questions #2, #5, #6, #7 and possibly #9. If you were able to answer yes to all of them then I would say Facebook advertising is for you.

I hope these 10 questions help clarify for you on whether or not Facebook  is right for you. Also, just so we are straight just because you may have a product that does not sell well using Facebook advertising that does not mean that you can’t use it to build your brand and awareness of your product.

If you would like to learn more on how to use Facebook to get traffic and customers to your site I have developed a course for business owners that helps walk them through the process step by step. You can learn more about it at www.gettingfbtrafficsystem.com.

How to Build a Small Business in London

Building a business can be very tough indeed. When you’re starting out you’ll be working long hours and will have a load to organise and think about. If your business is in London then you have an even harder job. With roughly 16,000 businesses operating in the capital there’s stiff competition. Follow these tips to give yourself a flying head start.

Get your business in London directories

Directory listings are a useful tool to get extra exposure for your business. There are many print based local directories available throughout the capital city such as the Yellow Pages or Thomson Local. However, the best way to gain exposure is to list your business in online directories. There are dozens of business directory websites that focus solely on businesses operating in London. A great one is Londonnet, but there are plenty of others. Most of the online directories that focus on the London area are free to use. Many also offer premium options where you can feature advertisements and include extra details and pictures in your listings. When you’re trying to build your business, this can be a perfect way to capture the attention of a wider target audience.

Get your business online
Nowadays people use the internet as their first resource. Cyberspace is full of useful information and is much quicker to use than other outdated search methods. Searches for businesses in London are extremely common, after all, there are 7.7 million people living in the capital, most having the internet. If you don’t have a website then you’re missing a potentially huge market and will soon fall behind your competitors.

Use conference rooms in London

This is highly important if you need to have regular business meetings. It is even more important when you are starting out in business. London conference venues are plentiful and found in all districts, from London Bridge to Hammersmith. Using conference centres gives you a much more professional image and is great for meeting clients in a pleasant location. You’ll have access to all of the state-of-the-art equipment needed to make a memorable meeting. When building your business, using meeting rooms is especially important as you’ll want to impress any potential clients you meet. There are a few London conference centres that focus especially on small businesses and mobile workers. These centres often offer reduced rates or special pricing tariffs that are suited to the small business owner.