Miles Burke

Thoughts on startups, small business, marketing & more.

Tag: Marketing

Grow your own Sales

Many people I’ve spoken to recently have repeated the same words: new enquiries are down, because people are wary of starting new projects in the current climate. This is an excellent opportunity for you to increase your focus on sales, and there’s no better customer to sell to than an existing one.

Ask any successful salesperson and she’ll tell you — it’s cheaper and often easier to sell to an existing consumer, than to sell to a new one.

Think about it. With a new prospect, you need to build a relationship, gain their trust, explain the merits of your product or service, prove to them you have the skills and reputation, and that they stand to benefit from what you can offer. Then, you still need to procure that sale — a lengthy process indeed.

With an existing client, you’ve already achieved the above (I hope!). You can skip most of that, and jump straight to offering solutions to their requirements.

“But we only built their web site a year ago,” I hear you say. Start by looking at your current offerings, and see if there’s a service or product that you’ve developed since you last spoke to them that they may be interested in.

Then, consider what else they may need.

Perhaps they’ve created dozens of pages of bad content in the content management system (CMS) you installed for them. You could approach them and suggest you edit their copy. Maybe they’ve lost their way with search engine optimization, and you need to help tune their web site back to perfection.

Does the client have an email newsletter? You can design and develop a system for them to be able to send regular newsletters out. Maybe they started small on the Web, but now could be a time to speak to them about adding ecommerce or installing a CMS, so they can take care of maintenance themselves.

These may often seem small compared to your standard projects, however a handful of these jobs can easily fill gaps in your schedule, and help you touch base with a rejuvenated customer.

Let me know how you go. I’d be interested to see what products or services you create as additional extras.

This post first appeared as part of Issue 438 of the SitePoint Tribune, a very popular email newsletter that I am co-editor of. Thanks to SitePoint for allowing me to reproduce the work here.

More Low- or No-cost Marketing Strategies

Kowloon Night Markets, Hong Kong

We’ve discussed Facebook, but there are plenty of other affordable, grass roots-style marketing strategies you can implement to build your business during lean times.

Many online marketing strategies boil down to having the time to work on them. They are often free (apart from the time spent), and so it’s a case of setting aside a block of time every week to work on them.

Here are just a handful of free or low-cost ideas to help reach existing clients and attract new prospects:

Create video tutorials or talks and post them on video-sharing sites. Most of you will have seen the great Will It Blend? video series — they reach out to millions of viewers for a tenth of the cost of a television advertisement.

Post screenshots of your work on photo-sharing sites. A good way to show off your design work is to post screen grabs on sites such as Flickr and the like. You can even make your username your business name or URL. Be careful though, of looking as if you’re spamming, as they all have strict terms of use.

Create an email newsletter. If you’ve yet to do so, I recommend creating an email newsletter to distribute to your clients. Crafting good content and adding forward to a friend tools means they are more likely to be read and forwarded to prospective clients.

Try out contextual advertising. Services such as Google Adwords allow for low budget, short-term, pay-per-click advertising, which you can trial and then track the results.

Spend time understanding SEO. Spending time on search engine optimization can dramatically increase your ranking and have a considerable effect on prospects making contact with you.

Then there are offline efforts as well:

Try asking for (and rewarding) referrals. Ask existing clients for leads, and reward them with a bottle of wine or movie tickets. Simple gifts like these make your clients feel appreciated, and helps to maximize your marketing efforts.

Become involved with public speaking. Offer your services to local business and industry groups, or hold your own talk at the office or nearby conference facilities, and invite everyone you know to attend.

Best of luck with the above ideas, and I wish you plenty of success!

This post first appeared as part of Issue 434 of the SitePoint Tribune, a very popular email newsletter that I am co-editor of. Thanks to SitePoint for allowing me to reproduce the work here.

Using Facebook Pages to Market Your Business

Ladies Markets, Kowloon, Hong Kong

In a recent Tribune, I suggested looking at Facebook Pages as a free marketing medium for your business. Love or hate Facebook, it will be around for a while yet, and it’s very likely that many of your target audience are already on there. So how do you best leverage Facebook for your business?

Facebook have a few tools available for you to use the platform as a marketing medium. Firstly, the more traditional advertising system, where you pay for impressions or actions on text-based and image-based ads. The level of reporting and targeting is advanced; you can build a campaign to target only those who list certain interests (such as small business), or meet specific demographics (females, aged 25-40 in Canada only).

Then, there’s the simple Facebook Share button which can be integrated into your own web site, popular for content-based services.

Then, if you’re up for a challenge, you could use the Facebook API to build your own innovative application that works within Facebook. This does require a certain level of development experience though.

The one I’m focusing on today, however, is Facebook Pages. The Facebook Terms of Use prohibit organizations to have their own profiles, unlike individuals. Your options as an organization are better served with Pages, which are open to anyone to use.

You can create a company page from within your individual profile by clicking on the Advertising link in the footer. By choosing a category, naming the page, and completing a number of fields, your page will be created. You can then share it with others, and they can choose to Become a fan.

As people become fans of your organization’s page, it appears within their News Feed, revealing to the rest of their Facebook colleagues that you have added the page. It then links the page name with your page, driving more people to click on the link and have a look.

This is where your page can win or lose. I suggest that you consider your Facebook page as a micro-site; you should start adding more content to the page, encourage conversation within the discussion board, and ask fans to promote it using the Share feature.

Here are a few examples of how SitePoint Tribune readers are using Facebook Pages as part of their marketing strategy.

OntarioColleges.ca uses its Facebook Page to share details of events (120 events listed at the time of writing), as well as link their find-a-college program using a large graphic in the center of the page. They have also linked YouTube videos and lively discussion on their Wall and Discussion Board. Janice Henshall from ontariocolleges.ca says “With our fan base steadily increasing, we’re hoping that our target demographic (potential college applicants, many who are between 18 and 24 years of age) find it a useful communication tool. Time will tell.”

Chinese nightlife web site, Zhuhai Nights uses their Facebook page as a promotional tool to drive people to their web site. They have many videos (including fan videos) and photos to build rich content within the page.

Mark Clulow from Coos Creations, creators of the site, states “We use the page to generate interest and tell people about events. The most popular feature though, is photo tagging. Tagging people in photos from events we’re involved with lets them know about the site, as well as their friends and family — all in a subtle but effective way. Actually watermarking the photos with Facebook has proven very successful at dragging people over to our site.”

Chicago web design business, Addicott Web has a Facebook page to market their services to a wider audience. Hirsch Fishman from Addicott has a few great ideas on how to better utilize Facebook Pages for web professionals.

“I set up a Facebook page because I wanted to directly market my web design business to everyone I know on Facebook. The vast majority of my clients come through word of mouth, but only a few of these know about my web site. Then there are people where it’s been years since I’ve spoken to them so they’re unaware of what I’m up to now. Posting on the Facebook page allows for these situations — and help fuel the word of mouth and referrals that might come my way.

Overall my goal has to been to create a well-rounded marketing piece for Addicott Web on the Facebook page. As much as my web site serves that purpose, if people don’t visit, then it’s pointless. With so many people on Facebook, it seemed the perfect approach.

What am I doing in particular on my page?

I import my RSS feed to it, so that all blog posts display on Facebook as soon as I post them on my blog.

I’ve been using the photo gallery as my portfolio and in the caption of each web site that I feature, post the complete project details, taken word-for-word from my actual web site.

I’ve asked some past clients to post positive reviews of my work.

I specifically invite new clients to Become a fan of my Facebook page so that they can see all of this information (if they’ve yet to look at my web site).

The most positive aspect of all is that it’s given me a potential service that I can now offer clients as well — creating and consulting on their Facebook presence as a complement to the web site that I’m creating for them. Being able to offer services like this helps me as a professional, as I can offer clients more than just a web site — and that’s the value proposition of my business.”

Thanks for your feedback and suggestions, Janice, Mark, and Hirsch. It’s great to see businesses using a variety of methods on their Facebook Pages to increase their fan base and interact with audiences.

I trust this article has you thinking about how better to market your organization using Facebook Pages — best of luck with it!

This post first appeared as part of Issue 434 of the SitePoint Tribune, a very popular email newsletter that I am co-editor of. Thanks to SitePoint for allowing me to reproduce the work here.

Spread that Christmas Cheer!

Vegetables

Christmas is just around the corner, and whether you celebrate it or not, the event happens to coincide nicely with the end of the calendar year — a great time to thank those who have supported your business over the last twelve months.

Not only that, but a well-timed Christmas message may end up reviving a waning business relationship. Given we’re halfway through November, we’d need to work fast to meet printing and postal deadlines, or alternatively, build an electronic Christmas message, if that’s preferred.

Let’s look at options. The traditional Christmas card is still well received. There are a few rules with these, though:

  • Try to opt for your own professionally-designed company Christmas card, so that it’s unique to your business (and there’s no risk of a competitor sending the same image!)
  • For the personal touch, hand-sign rather than print signatures in the card.
  • It’s better to send earlier rather than later. Leaving it until December 20th isn’t a wise move. Ideally, the card should arrive in the first week of December.
  • Cards should fly solo, rather than share the envelope with extra marketing material that makes the card less genuine.
  • It’s fine to include a logo, but keep it small or put it on the back so that it’s not the main focus.
  • If you must resort to off-the-shelf cards, buy them through a charity who uses the profits to help others.
  • Consider a different concept, such as the products MOO offer, with varying shapes and an individual touch.

Electronic cards are great as well, and are considerably better for the environment. They do, however, suffer from low open rates, and may get read by people other than those it was actually intended for. Indeed, it’s possible less people will see it, compared to the paper versions which tend to sit in office reception areas, being read by all in the weeks leading up to the break.

If you do send an ecard, consider using email campaign software; it can provide a text version if required and track email open rates. There are plenty of options available on the market.

When designing that email card, consider your audience wisely, as well as the technical limitations of email. To see which email clients support what CSS, have a gander at the Email Standards Project web site.

Prefer to send something more substantial? There’s always the usual bottle of wine or gift hamper. Perhaps consider trying some branded promotional gear, such as USB flash drives with your logo, or similar.

Make sure though, that you either buy quality products or forget it. There’s nothing worse than spending all year building a reputation for quality, only to damage it by sending some cheap pen that never works, or has your logo printed badly on the side.

It’s unfortunate, but clients will remember it — more often than the times you worked all night to get a web site live for them.

This post first appeared as part of Issue 422 of the SitePoint Tribune, a very popular email newsletter that I am co-editor of. Thanks to SitePoint for allowing me to reproduce the work here.

Words & Images © 2005-2016, Miles Burke. All rights reserved.