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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.

How are you Aiming Your Marketing Message to Consumers?

Marketing. Public Relations. Advertising. Branding.

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You’ve probably heard of all of these, but aren’t sure what the differences are. In truth, they overlap a lot. The lines are often blurred among them.

I couldn’t say it better than that, but I’ll go ahead and ruin it by trying. Let’s order them in terms of blatancy to the most subtle.

1. Advertising (bang your message over someone’s head)
2. Marketing (consumers are aware you’re sending a marketing message to get them to buy)
3. Public Relations (they don’t have to know you called the news station after rescuing that kitten from a tree)
4. Branding (word of mouth is a great example). Branding is usually seen as the most sophisticated because it involves associating the brand with a lifestyle or particular experience, therefore the advertising can be around the Brand rather than the product or service.

You Could Learn a Lot from a Fairy Godmother: How Disney Renewed My Faith in Loyalty and Marketing

I recently was fortunate enough to sit in on a Disney Institute session on loyalty. Not knowing what to expect, I was shocked and delighted when a fairy godmother descended on the room (or rather burst through the doors) and began spouting off interesting information about Disney.

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Of all the meetings I have ever attended, I have to say, this is the one that I will always remember.

But aside from all the wing and bling she spread around the room, I learned a lot about how Disney does marketing. My respect for the company has grown tenfold since the meeting.

4 Signs Your Customers Hate You, and What You Could Learn From a Fairy

Here are 4 questions to ask yourself when it comes to your relationship with your customers:

1. Are your most profitable customers those who have the most reason to be dissatisfied with you?

2. Do you have rules that you want customers to break because doing so generates profits?

3. Do you make it difficult for customers to understand or abide by your rules, and do you actually help customers break them?

4. DO you depend on contracts to prevent customers from defecting?

If you answered “yes” to any of the four questions, your company may be engaged in what an article, “Companies And The Customers Who Hate Them” in the Harvard Business Review calls “adversarial value-extracting strategies.”

Networking on Steroids: More Ways to Market Your Business with Networking

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If you’re not getting the results you want with the typical marketing and advertising channels, here’s another idea that can generate a lot of business for you: networking.

Networking involves regularly attending meetings or events with other business people, with the intent to connect with a group of like-minded individuals. You may find that you need services or products that these people can provide, but your ultimate goal is to find potential customers.

Dive Into Networking

First, do your research. There are likely numerous groups that meet in your area and each may have a slightly different focus. Some meet weekly, but most meet monthly. Some networking groups cater to either men or women, while others include both sexes. Find one you’re interested in, and attend a meeting. Be sure to bring business cards, samples of product or services if you’re able, and a notepad to take notes.

Try Meetup.com. There, you’ll find groups that meet that cater to every interest, industry, and demographic under the sun.

Get the business card of everyone you talk to, whether they seem like a future client or not. Sometimes networking relationships take a while to cultivate, and while someone you meet may not need your services that day, they very well may call you down the road.

Customer Appreciation as a Marketing Strategy

Customer appreciation? How is that a marketing strategy, you ask?

Think about it: your business wouldn’t exist without your customers, so why not build that relationship with them by putting a little effort into nurturing it?

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Contact Management as a Marketing Strategy

Do you have a database of contact information for your clients? What about people who are interested in your company, but who have not yet made their first purchase?

If you don’t have a database of contacts, you should. Keeping in contact with your current and future clients keeps you on top of their minds, which makes them more likely to buy from you. And while it might not seem like it, contact management is one of your key marketing strategies.

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