1. Position yourself as an expert
When clients approach your business they do so for a reason, they need help. What is the incentive for a client to call a company when they see an impersonal ad in the newspaper? Just the service. However, if they are in need of a service and stumble across an article that answers some of their key questions they have, written by an expert (YOU), they are more likely to trust your company because you have already given them some value up front.
To be an expert, you must 1) project confidence in your voice and physical posture, 2) have thorough knowledge of your products and services, 3) BRAG a little!
There are many ways to achieve expert status and here are a few suggestions that take some of your time and have amazing results, but cost you NOTHING.
30-Second Elevator Pitch
The ability to recite quickly and accurately the value of your product and service to a potential client you meet shows that you know your niche, that you are confident, and that you are organized. Take some time and create a pitch that defines your value in the marketplace, and have your employees each memorize it. It is an invaluable tool and once accomplished will allow for an infallible projection of confidence whenever you or your employees speak about your company.
Find an industry publication and contact the editor. They are always looking for editorial content! Think about becoming a columnist. Make sure to have a nice headshot taken! Take copies of your articles and put them in media kits, on your website, and blog. This gives instantaneous recognition for your talents and status in the industry. Pretty soon you will be getting approached to speak and write articles for other publications! Submit them to free article sites like EzineArticles.
Industry associations, chambers of commerce, and Rotary Clubs are always looking for speakers. Get in there and let them know you are available and what you can offer. Drafting a one page profile outlining the topics you can speak on will also help them when they are looking for resources. Keep an eye out for “Call to Speakers” announcements for conferences and events as well.
Media Interviews and PR Gigs
HARO – Help a Reporter Out is a great resource for PR opportunities. Be sure to sign-up for their daily emails and respond to any inquiries that are relevant to you.
Educate yourself on contests and competitions that are occurring in your area of expertise. Most of the time businesses can enter and vote themselves in. Many times few companies apply for the competition, giving you a great chance of winning. An award from a third-party is something that needs to be displayed on websites, in press-releases, and in the office.
Like physical networking, LinkedIn provides amazing opportunities if used properly. Joining groups and contributing content and answers to questions posted is a great way to position yourself as an expert. Growing your network, contacting leads, and updating your profile status is a great way to touch potential clients.
Have a follow-up system in place so that every satisfied customer is providing you with a written testimonial that you can use on your website, email templates, and brochures.
2. Create and showcase your professional image and brand
Your brand image is an extension of yourself and conveys a level of trust to your clients. If you have not taken your time to develop your brand with care, why should a client believe that you will take a higher level of care with their project? It is worth hiring a professional designer to create a logo, letterhead, business card, and website. Ultimately the investment you make in these tools will make you much more profit in the end. Partner a professional image and website together with a strong operational system, and marketing plan and you are bound to grow a healthy business.
Another major point to consider is brand consistency. Every branding tool you choose from business cards, to vehicle wraps needs to have a common look and feel so that the client can recognize you among the thousands of other brands they see every day!
Many small and medium businesses don’t realize how effective of a branding tool mobile advertising and car wraps actually are. Large companies use vehicle wraps and mobile billboards constantly to penetrate a market, which is probably why small and medium sized companies think that this form of advertising is too expensive. This is false, and I highly recommend this form of advertising for many industries. If you have a car, you should be advertising your business to the thousands of potential customers you drive by every day. So when a client sees your logo, they will say… “I remember seeing them on the highway; they must be a reputable company!”
3. Collect and store critical customer and potential customer data
What do you do with business cards you collect at all of those networking meetings? Like most business owners, you probably throw them into a box and forget about them. Or how about the database full of customers you have already worked with? Or the people visiting your website? All of these people have had contact with you, and you are missing a chance at building a relationship with them and doing business with them in the future.
Here are some simple ways to setup a system to collect and use this data:
Have a pop-up box on the homepage of your website that has a free offer (maybe for one of those expert articles you wrote) where all they need to do is give you their email address and then they get an email copy of the.PDF article. This way you now have a way to contact them and they don’t just turn into another visitor to your website!
Sign-up for an email marketing service, like iContact.com. This way, you can send out monthly emails easily without spamming people. I recommend touching your client base at least twice a month. Make the content exciting so that they want to forward it to their friends!
Have a place on your website for them to sign up for your e-Marketing newsletter.
Consistently touch your client base so they don’t forget about you. You never know when they or someone they know may need what you offer!
4. Generate content and have multiple channels of distribution
In a world of digital communication you MUST use social media, blogging, and PR outlets to compete. If you are not, know that your competitors are.
The main benefit of blogging is search engine optimization (SEO). I highly recommend http://www.blogger.com because it is owned by Google and can get you great rankings for critical keywords fast. It is easy to use and will help your business immediately.
LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook
Whenever you generate any content, you must have a set plan of how you are going to distribute it. Post it on Facebook, write a blog post, tweet a link to the blog post, and send it to your e-marketing list of current clients.
Two major factors that keep a company cutting edge and in front of your clients is content generation and the content distribution channels used. Content is considered news about projects your company has completed, contracts you have won, awards you have won, offers and promotions, articles you have written, new website launches, new products, and pretty much anything else deemed newsworthy. How will they know unless you tell them? Your potential clients are not visiting your site everyday to see what is new. It is your responsibility to tell them, and tell them often. This constant communication builds brand loyalty and creates a community of clients, not just a random encounter!
Create a schedule to maintain a consistent basis for when you touch your clients so you can stay on track. Erratic touches do not generate consistent business. Even when business slows down, cut your marketing budget last. Because when all of your competitors cut their marketing budgets, it opens a window of opportunity for you to capture more market share!
6. Be Easily Found on the Internet
If you can’t be found on the internet, your business is doomed. The yellow pages are obsolete, and word-of-mouth alone will take far too long to build your business. Use these simple strategies to become found… overnight.
Google Local Business
If your business is not listed in Google Local Business, then you are missing a TON of business. You know those links that are below the paid advertising at the top of the page to the right of the map? Those businesses do not pay one cent for that position! They simply listed their businesses with Google Local Business! Whenever a client is looking for a business in their category around their location, they pop-up… for FREE.
As I said above and cannot say it enough, the main benefit of blogging is search engine optimization (SEO). I highly recommend http://www.blogger.com because it is owned by Google and can get you great rankings for critical keywords fast. It is easy to use and will help your business immediately.
Take ten minutes to create a keyword list. Keywords are the search terms that your clients will use to find you on the internet. Be creative. Some of your keywords should be common misspellings of words to find your products. I cannot tell you the number of times we were found with “vehcile wraps” vs. “vehicle wraps” and gained business from Google searches. These keywords should be included in the content of press-releases, your website, blog posts, articles, and in responses to forums online.
Make sure that you know where your clients look for your kind of services. The easiest way to find out – call them and ask. They will tell you the publications they subscribe to, the blogs they read, and the other resources you may have never heard of! Also be sure that you become listed in free directories all over the internet. How will you know where the directories are? Google your own keywords… act like a client.
7. Track what works
Why waste money on strategies that aren’t working? Know what you are doing, and tract each tactic in an excel spreadsheet or in your project management software. It is simple, ask your client, “Where did you hear about us?” and they will tell you. At the end of the month go over your sales and see where the majority of revenue is coming from and where it isn’t, and put more effort into what is working.
I hope these strategies have helped you realize that marketing and PR doesn’t have to be expensive or hard. If you work smart and implement a clear system of executing these tactics it will be reflected in your bottom line. Even in this economy.