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6 Ways to Take Your Marketing Online

So you own a small boutique in a small town. Or you’re a doctor. Or you run a produce shop. You think marketing online is for people who have customers nationwide. You couldn’t be further from the truth.

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Early on, the promise of the Internet as the great equalizer went largely unfulfilled for the numerous small businesses with local customers. In 2007, with localization and geocoding, those same small businesses can maintain a very effective, yet targeted web presence; enhancing their local presence and not wasting money on attempting to extend themselves into a position they cannot support.

More people are throwing out their hefty phone books in favor of using the internet to find local businesses. I, for one, won’t even consider a local business if they don’t have some kind of web presence. Why? I want to:

a) See what they offer before driving to the business (try before you buy). I’m a big menu reader online!
b) Determine whether they deem it worthwhile to develop a decent professional presence on the web. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but having a website goes a long way toward making me feel the business understands the value.

If I, for instance, need to find a car collision repair shop in Orlando near where my car was rear-ended last week (true story), I type “car repair Orlando”  in a Google search. I find one where I want it, and call. It may not be true, but if the business has a website, I feel they’re less likely to be a “fly-by-night”  operation. It’s all image.

Why Viral Marketing Works So Well

If you’re an entrepreneur with a small marketing budget (and I assume you are because you’re reading this), viral marketing can be a great tool to get the word out about your product or brand without spending much (if any) money.

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The concept behind viral marketing is that is spreads like, well, a virus, by word of mouth and social media. It’s not the giant billboard downtown. It’s not the glossy magazine ad. It’s the kids passing out energy drink samples at a concert. It’s Digg. It’s telling a friend how much you like a store.

Take this blogger, for example. Douglas Karr runs The Marketing Technology Blog, and in order to promote it, is offering an analysis of other blogs in return for a mention on other people’s blogs. One little mention gets a value-added service. In just the 4 days this promotion has been running, he has already had several people take up his offer (me included). Now here’s the viral element. If you are a blogger and you’re reading this, I’m willing to bet you will click on the link to his blog to find out how you can get tips from Douglas on improving your blog. To do so, you have to put a link up. A few bloggers read it on your blog, and the promotion is as viral as the cold I’m getting today. Only without the phlegm.

A 5 Point Description of Marketing 2.0

If you follow my blog (and I understand there actually are a few of you who do), you hear me talk about Marketing 2.0. You heard it here first! I want to break it down into its most basic form so that you can better understand the importance it is playing in our world of ecommerce.

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  • First, it is interactive. No longer are we forced to sit on the couch and take our daily dose of advertising. We now can jump in the television (or computer) and change the color of the background, choose what pose the personality takes, and tell them how we like to get our messages. More or less.


Take YouTube, for example. What started out as a way for teenagers to post inane videos of skateboarding falls has turned into the single biggest factor affecting media today. Yes, there are still the ‘idiot videos,’ but now they’re mixed in with product spoofs (spoof or not, it got iPhone attention), commercials that are actually interesting, and now even political debates. What used to be solely for the tech-savvy consumer is now being wooed by major players like CNN.

YouTube works because it is interactive. Once you view a video you can share it with friends. That’s how a silly Transformers rap has been viewed over 510,000 times!

  • Marketing 2.0 is a conversation between consumers and companies. Since we have all but removed commercials from our television viewing repertoire thanks to Tivo, companies have to find new ways to reach their audience. That means they have to ask consumers what they want. They’re listening for once!

The Secret of The Marketing Mix

I have an MBA, so of course I can rattle off the elements of marketing mix at the drop of a dime. Okay, I lied. Let me drag my marketing book out from under the futon, rescuing it from rabid dustbunnies.

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To the very technical, a marketing mix consists of:

We all know these are important. It’s a given. I’m going to shake things up (sorry Dr. Kim) and redefine marketing mix. I’m going to define it as:

A Royalty-Free Picture is Worth More Than a Thousand Words

I recently read an article about the popularity of iStockPhoto.com. It's a site where you can buy royalty free photos, illustrations and videos to use in marketing, on websites, or any way you please. Then, when I was reading John Jantsch's Duct Tape Marketing Blog, I saw an ad for the website. I get the point. I'll write about it on my blog.

Are You a Man (or Woman) Without a Plan? 5 Steps to a Better Marketing Plan

Driving through my Orlando suburb, I see so many businesses that are destined to fail. It pains me, because I know with proper planning, these businesses would have been successful. That’s all it takes. Do you have a marketing plan?

Many companies have business plans, primarily to secure financing. But marketing plans tend to get overlooked, maybe because a marketing plan is for you, not your investors. Businesses may not see them as necessary, but they absolutely are! A marketing plan will help you prioritize your actions and lay out a clear step-by-step map to help guide you to grow your business, and in conjunction with your budget, will help you determine the scope of what you will and will not be able to accomplish.
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Step 1: Marketing Plan SWOT

For my fellow MBAs, SWOT is all too familiar. It stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Jot down what your company’s strong points are, as well as areas it could use a little work. Survey your industry and determine where there are opportunities for your business to grow, and where competitors may threaten to take some of your market share. If you want more in depth information on SWOT, click here

Step 2: Marketing Creativity

Now comes the fun part. You get creative. Think about all the forms of marketing that appeal to you or that are hot in your market. If you’re really savvy (or hire me) think of marketing ideas that aren’t yet abuzz, but soon will be. Riding the wave of Marketing 2.0 may be your key to success.

Research ROI and costs involved, and decide which aren’t worth the trouble. Mark them off your list. ROI on marketing is a dark art at best, so a gut check may be in order as well as tight status checking to ensure you don’t bet the bank on an inappropriate marketing mix.

Why You Can’t Afford NOT to Have a Marketing Budget

It eludes me why so many people put marketing last in their financial planning and budgeting. I understand that electricity and paying employees’ salaries is important, but establishing a marketing budget is just as important. Without it, you have no customers, so you don’t need electricity or employees!

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I think entrepreneurs assume they need a star-dazzling six-digit marketing budget. Nothing could be further from the truth. To get started, when income isn’t yet rolling in, I suggest my clients allot just 10% of their revenues to marketing. As revenues increase, you can increase the amount or set a dollar amount.

When I started Egg almost a year ago, I had ZERO funds for marketing or anything else. I was so afraid my company wouldn’t make it without marketing money. But as soon as I committed to setting aside just 10% of my revenue, I slowly created a marketing pile of money that afforded me networking opportunities, small website advertising, and print collateral. These channels helped me build up Egg, and now my marketing budget has grown to meet my company’s growing success.

5 Ways Small Business Can Use Internet Marketing

So you’ve heard of internet marketing, but you’re not sure what it is. Do you need to install it? Nope. Web 2.0 is what you’re using right now to read this blog. It’s the interactive factor of today’s internet. (I say this as if I sound like I know what I’m talking about. I’m actually still learning!).

Remember when the internet was a place you sent the occasional email or tried to look up information (only to be disappointed with the results)? It’s hard to remember those times, but the ability to find virtually anything we need online is only a recent phenomenon. I know that even just three years ago, I probably could not have run an internet-based company! People would have thought I was crazy to market to people across the country!

Giving Away Free Information as a Marketing Strategy

“Content is king.” You’ve heard this a dozen times over the last few years. But what does it mean to you as an entrepreneur, and for your marketing strategy?

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People hate advertising.

People love free information.

Today, there is virtually unlimited information on any given topic. But do you realize how much of it comes from businesses trying to get exposure for their company? A lot. Information is becoming the new foot in the door for small businesses who don’t have a big marketing budget.

The Element of Surprise as a Marketing Strategy

Where has the element of surprise gone? We spend so much time meticulously planning out marketing campaigns. Subscribers know when to expect our emails. How can you shock and amaze your customers in an era of knowing what’s coming next?…

Marketing Your Business with Creative Networking and Volunteering

If you’re like me, you’ve just about exhausted the usual channels for networking. While networking groups are good for making contacts, those contacts don’t always translate into sales. Attending too many meetings with different groups can sometimes do nothing more than drain your pocketbook. So how can you meet people in your community that will be interested in your product, and bring you steady sales?

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Volunteering as a Marketing Strategy

Think about it. You’re working with a diverse group of go-getters for a cause. While you will all be like-minded in the sense that you want to help a particular organization or non-profit, you all work in different parts of the city and do different things. Without having a specific agenda to sell, you will build relationships with these people, who will then think of you when a need arises that you can fill.

How Will Volunteering Help My Marketing Efforts?

Think about the people you have met at church, at your children’s school, in the community. You probably know where they work, and if anyone mentions needing services or products, you immediately think of the people you know can provide them.

Market Your Business with Little or No Money

It’s a common situation: you need to market your business, but you don’t have the capital to do so early in your company’s operations. The dilemma is difficult. You can’t generate business without marketing and advertising, but you need money for marketing and advertising. Unfortunately, many of the small businesses will fail as a result of not advertising their products or services.

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These tips will keep you from becoming a statistic:

1. Take Marketing Risks

You wouldn’t be in business if you weren’t willing to take risks. You may have taken out a second mortgage on your home, raided the nest egg, or scrimped and saved to start your business. It is a complete waste of all of that if you do not advertise.

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