15 December

Be Your Own Brand Ambassador: How to Market Your Small Business

Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been in business for decades, it’s always a good time to review your marketing strategies to make sure you’re getting the best exposure possible. With ever-changing technological advances, small business marketing efforts can evolve quicker than you may imagine, rendering your entrepreneurship irrelevant or unseen rather quickly. With a few good business practices, however, you can stay on top of the changes and become your own brand ambassador, keeping your venture at the forefront of your market.

How to Market Your Small Business

According to Forbes.com, “Marketing is a concentrated effort to push your brand across a variety of platforms and hope that enough makes it through to your customer.” Often times, your business needs to be seen a number of times before it is truly recognized and converted to business, so the more you brand, the higher your chances of a successful effort. This is Marketing 101 and likely something most business owners are already aware of. So how do you convert this concept into something that stays current?

Becoming Your Own Brand Ambassador

The most important step to marketing your brand is organization and revision. This is the process of taking a look at what areas you are currently marketing your products and services and analyzing how they are performing. You’ll want to highlight areas that are working well – are customers bringing in mailed fliers or using certain promo codes you issued? These are things you’ll want to continue, or even tweak to keep things fresh. You’ll also want to note which areas aren’t bringing in the traffic you’d like to see so you can either rethink them and try a new angle or scratch the idea altogether. This process of reviewing what’s currently going on is one that should be repeated at least quarterly in order to stay relevant and give you the best response time.

Research Current Trends

If you want to stay relevant, you need to make sure your business is growing and moving along with technology and the digital age. Doing a little research will help you ensure you’re reaching the full extent of your client base with your marketing efforts. Take a look at what related businesses are using to promote their brand: are they pushing social media platforms or improving their mobile-friendly visibility? Also, take a look at more organic resources in your area that you could tap into. Is there an up-coming local festival or charity event you could sponsor or get involved with? These should give you ideas for what is trending currently and how you can adapt your branding efforts to match the trends.

Network, Network, Network

Let’s be honest here, of all the methods an entrepreneur can market their goods or services with, few compare to the benefits of networking. Networking is simply the act of getting out into your community and/or line of business and making connections with others. This is done by attending conferences, joining local organizations such as a Chamber of Commerce or utilizing communal work spaces, sponsoring related events, and just plain being seen. By doing this, you’re expanding the potential client base by bringing awareness to your business as well as giving yourself an essentially limitless pool of future connections.

Recap and Adapt

To recap, the best thing you can do to become your own brand ambassador and increase your bottom line is to review your efforts frequently, research what’s trending, and get out there and network in your community and trade. By keeping up with what is working, and changing what is not, you’ll be able to stay on top of marketing trends and boost your brand more effectively.

15 March

How to Build Your Virtual Business: Creating an Online Presence

Whether you’re just starting out with your new business, or you’re a well-established hub who’s looking to expand, creating an online presence is essential to success today. With current trends focused so heavily on the web (online shopping, reviews, networking, etc.), creating a captivating virtual business can truly make or break your brand.

“Whether you are a local restaurant with ten years of industry experience or a startup that hopes to revolutionize commercial-grade cookware, taking your brand online can positively impact your company.” – Forbes.com

So, you know you need to have a successful online presence, but how? I mean, how many of us are truly web-design gurus here? Even if you’re fairly handy with technology and can fumble your way around web design templates, you’re still not likely to be a closet design genius.

Creating an online presence that works for your company can be a stressful and frustrating time – but it doesn’t have to be. By equipping yourself with the right tools, you can ease some of the tension and confusion around designing your virtual business. Let’s take a look at how to simplify the process one step at a time.

1 – Take Stock of Your Brand for Your Virtual Business

The first step you need to take when expanding your virtual business, is to take stock of your brand. What do we mean by this? Look at what you have developed on site so far and take note of your key items. Do you have items that are top sellers, or products and services that are popular locally? Look at your business or brand strengths and incorporate them into a plan. Be sure to note all things you wish to achieve with your online business. This will give you a basic outline for building your business on the web.

2 – Familiarize Yourself with Web Lingo

It may seem daunting, but one of the best ways to ensure online success is to do a little research on what’s out there. You’ll want to familiarize yourself with terms like Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Google Analytics to help you build a solid platform that’s ripe for virtual traffic. Understanding the basics of virtual marketing techniques can help you decipher what avenues will be best to represent your individual business needs online.

3 – Be Consistently Present

Once you have decided which online presence is best for your virtual business (social media, web pages, blogging, etc.), you need to get to work. By that we mean, you need to be consistently present online. If you’re blogging, make sure you’re producing pieces daily. If you’re on social media, share relevant information frequently (at least once a day) to get your brand out there. Staying consistently present is key to developing an online presence.

4 – Drum Up Traffic

A successful virtual business requires a steady flow of traffic to your site or interactions with your posts. How do you do this? You build a following. And how do you do that? Well, in addition to being consistently present as we noted above, you need to drum up some interest in your virtual business. This can be done in a number of ways, depending upon your specific business, but some of the easiest and most common ways include:

  • Running promotions or contests (“Like and share this post for a chance to win!”)
  • “Online Only” sales and promo codes
  • Offer referral discounts for friends and family of current clients
  • Interacting with your customers/clients frequently and personally online

5 – Track Your Progress

Lastly, as with anything in business, it’s always important to track your virtual business progress. Keep logs of what type of promotions worked best or what posts generated the greatest attention. Doing so will help you see how your target audience is reacting to your online presence and will give you the tools to tweak your approach as you go.

Keep in mind that all businesses are unique to their own existence, so no one single approach will work for everyone. The best advice? Do your research, keep track of what works (and what doesn’t), and stay at it!