I like to talk to my chiropractor about marketing.
After my first visit, he sent me a letter with referrals. I complimented him on the great marketing tactic and we started talking about how hard it is for a busy small business owner to spend time on marketing.
I thought more about it and on my next visit I suggested what I would do in his situation to market a small business with limited time and resources.
First of all, I don’t think a small business necessarily needs to hire an expensive marketing agency. But to save time, and ensure something will actually get done, I would suggest hiring an inexpensive freelance marketing assistant from a site like UpWork.com or Fiverr.com. I have had success finding reliable help for less than $15 per hour.
Here are two things that you, as a small business owner, can do that could have a big impact:
1) Publish Blog Posts
Business owners have SO much experience and information to share. You can’t possibly cover it all on regular website pages, but you can share it in blog posts.
First, brainstorm a list of frequently asked questions, unusual scenarios and specific problems that you have solved. Then write a short blog post about each one. When a prospective client sees that your business has addressed their specific question/issue/scenario they are much more likely to choose you over someone else.
Now, don’t get scared and stop reading.
I realize that VERY few business owners have the time, or inclination, to write blog posts. That is why I always suggest the “Record-Transcribe-Edit” method. All you have to do is record yourself speaking about topics you’ve addressed a number of times with existing clients. When you get in your car to drive to work, plug in your headset, open the Rev.com app, hit record and start talking. In less than 10 minutes you can record your thoughts; then send the transcription to your assistant to polish into a blog post. It is much easier than you think.
Of course, the blog articles can be published on your website in a BLOG section. Or if your business is just starting out and doesn’t have a website yet, you can publish the content as articles connected with your LinkedIn Profile or your FaceBook business page.
(But you really should have a website. If you don’t, I recommend using Squarespace.com.)
2) Send a Monthly Email
Now that you have all of this great content, you need to share it. Start collecting email addresses from your clients and prospects.
Sign up for an email service such as ConstantContact.com or MailChimp.com. Both of these sites have free versions. You add the content and upload the email addresses and everything else is done for you, including tracking who opens the emails.
Hint: You can use the templates provided but it will look even better if you pay someone from Fiverr.com a one-time fee to set up a personalized template for you. It should not cost more than $50.
Once a month your assistant can copy/paste your new blog post(s) into the template with links back to your website.
Try to keep the email short and to the point. Focus on sharing valuable information and getting people to click though to your website to learn more. And don’t use lots of graphics, especially in the header, as images are normally blocked especially on mobile devices.
In addition to the blog article content I would also suggest that you include a “special offer” in each email. For example, one month you could offer a discount in exchange for referrals. The next month a free giveaway. A nice way to do this is to have a banner designed and add this to the bottom of your email. I have had very nice banners made for just $5 from this artist on Fiverr.com.
If you want to get even more advanced you can add a third step:
3) Use Social Media
A great way to get more people to find your content is to promote it on social media. The social media sites you use will depend on the type of business you own. A local business selling products or services to consumers should use Facebook. A B2B company should use LinkedIn. And if you are feeling even more ambitious you can look into using Twitter, YouTube, Instragram, Pinterest etc...
Your assistant can schedule Facebook and Twitter updates that link back to the blog articles using tools such as Buffer.com or Hootsuite.com. I recommend scheduling at least 10 social media updates, over several months, for each blog article you publish.
Doing just the two steps above – writing blog posts and emailing your contacts – can have a dramatic effect on your business. Companies who do this well honestly don’t need to invest in expensive marketing campaigns.
All it takes is a little bit of time, a little bit of money and some creativity.
By Anya Ciecierski, Collaboration Works Marketing
Follow me on Twitter: @AnyaCWMktg