5 Small Business Marketing Schemes That Will Waste Your Money

5 Small Business Marketing Schemes That Waste Money

Marketing is no easy task. Whole businesses exist devoted to marketing other businesses. Some companies have their own marketing departments. Small businesses often rely on the DIY approach to marketing. When developing your own marketing strategy, take care to avoid wasting your time and money.

Marketing Schemes That Waste Money

Mistake 1: Too Many Social Channels

Judging by some of the marketing advice you’ll come across on the web, you may think you need to be everywhere, all the time.

What a colossal waste.

When it comes to marketing via social networks, the most important thing is for you to be where your target audience is already spending their time. Do your customers spend lots of time on Instagram? Then don’t waste your time Tweeting.

Focus your marketing and engagement efforts on Instagram. This frees up your time to engage directly with your customers even more on their favorite channels. You can find out which social networks your customers prefer by simply asking, or by using a CRM with social media integration built in.

Mistake 2: Creating New Content

You’ve heard you need fresh content all the time. New blog post every day, right? Nope.

Your customers want a relationship with your business. They want to know you value them. They don’t want to get buried in your posts. Trying to create new content about your business or related to your business gets old fast — for you and your customers.

Try a better approach. Use some of your marketing budget to hire a content developer to create high quality content optimized for your business. Remember quality over quantity.

An interesting, professionally crafted infographic will get you much more customer engagement than a rambling post on your biz blog about industry minutiae.

Sharing content is important for engagement and variety. Choose carefully. Share only things that your audience will find value in. Save those 50 cat memes for your personal accounts.

Mistake 3: Casting a Wide Net

Your marketing efforts will work better if you target your audience effectively. Casting a wide net may seem like a simpler method, especially for DIYers, but you’ll end up wasting time and money marketing to the wrong people in the wrong places.

Ask current customers where they spend time online, what encourages them to make a purchase, and how they found you.

Create a Buyer Persona, this is a sort of bio of your ideal customer. Use the persona and any data you collect from customers to identify where best to apply your marketing efforts.

Mistake 4: Influencer Marketing

Everywhere you look, someone is advising you to find influencers to promote your business. This trend in marketing is taking off.

First, decide whether it’s right for your business. If you’re in an obscure industry or create products for a small niche market, influencers are probably not going to be much help to you.

If you decide this is the right path for you, be sure you have compelling things for an influencer to share about you in the first place. An interesting narrative can make all the difference. It’s imperative you identify key influencers in your industry with whom to build relationships.

Avoid wasting your time and money on a low impact influencer or one in the wrong industry.

Mistake 5: Video Marketing

Before you shell out beaucoup bucks hiring a video production company to create the perfect marketing video, consider a few important things. Chances are very good that your customers are watching video online, but where?

It’s important to know what platform your videos would be viewed on before you create one. Marketing videos on Instagram will be consumed a bit differently than on Facebook, for example. What kind of value will video give your customers?

A boring product demo is probably not going to inspire much engagement. A sneak peek of a new product that leaves some features to the imagination can be exciting. Video that makes an emotional impact inspires engagement well.

Before hitching your wagon to a new marketing technique, be sure it’s right for your business. It must be a way to provide your customers something of value. It must be shared where they are most likely to engage. Develop a detailed strategy with clear goals. Always measure your results, so you can make adjustments as necessary.

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This article, “5 Small Business Marketing Schemes That Will Waste Your Money” was first published on Small Business Trends

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How to Run an Email Marketing Campaign That Doesn’t Annoy Recipients

How to Avoid Annoying Your Email List

Email marketing is a core facet of online marketing. No matter how a customer or potential customer landed on your email list, it is important to use the opportunity to build a deeper relationship while avoiding falling into the “annoying” or “spam” categories.

If you want to retain email followers and turn them into customers, follow these basic guidelines to ensure they remain a happy subscriber for years to come.

How to Avoid Annoying Your Email List

Don’t Start with a Hard Sell

People sign up for your email list for a variety of reasons. The most popular methods to build lists today revolve around giveaways and freebies. If someone signs up for your list to get a free eBook, the first thing you do shouldn’t be asking for money.

It is okay to sell to your email list. In fact, that is the biggest reason to have an email list for most brands, but it takes time to build the trust for someone to want to spend money on your product or service. Instead of starting with a sale, start by thanking them for being a part of your list and giving them the free giveaway they asked for.

Focus on Being Helpful

If you are helpful, users will start to trust and enjoy hearing from you. Always try to be as helpful as possible each time you send a message to a subscriber. Either include something useful for your target audience in the email text or point readers to another resource on the web, maybe something new on your blog, that will help them succeed.

If you help your subscribers regularly, they are sure to come back for more. The more helpful you are, the more loyal they will be. If you really change the game for someone, they might even become an online evangelist helping spread the word about your business.

Mix Up Your Emails to Stay Interesting

If you use the same template again and again and again and again and again and again and again, you will see more and more readers clicking the unsubscribe link at the bottom of your emails. Don’t be repetitive and boring, be useful and fun.

In my email series for new subscribers at Personal Profitability, I have some short emails and some long emails. Some focus on a specific tool that can help people save time and money, while others focus on “homework” readers can participate in to level up their finances. By mixing things up and keeping it interesting, I have seen my email open rates increase and my list size grow.

Be Genuine and Honest

My email subscribers trust me because I am honest, transparent and genuine. In fact, I go so far as to publish how much money I earn each month on my website. While that may seem crazy in a world where money talk is still a faux pas, by sharing my successes and failures, I am showing readers my true colors, further building trust.

Sharing my online income reports each month also gives subscribers a reason to come back to my site each month. I give a unique, personal update via email and share the details on the blog.

Make Your Emails Something People Look Forward To

I have unsubscribed from hundreds of newsletters, but there are a few that I have stuck with over time. One example is Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income email list. Pat is an online entrepreneurship rock star, and his emails and blog posts give amazing, free information that helps me and thousands of others improve their online business.

I always look forward to Pat’s emails because he is genuine, friendly and incredibly helpful. His free guides are packed with actionable steps and tips that anyone with a business can use to improve online performance. While I know an email from Pat will likely lead to me doing more work, I look forward to it because his advice almost always comes with a great payoff.

Be Clear About Your Goals

Passive aggressiveness is horribly annoying in real life, subtle hints online are not even tolerable to most people. When you are trying to be helpful, be clear that your goal with that email is being helpful. If you are trying to get affiliate signups, be clear and present your readers with one thing to do in that email, signing up for the affiliate.

When it comes to product sales, you shouldn’t sell with every single email, but it is okay to make a direct sale every once in a while. In my old website development business, emails one to four were solely designed to be helpful. Number five was a soft sell. Six through eight were also freebies packed with useful information. The final email in the signup series, email nine, was a hard sell. In the selling emails, I made it very clear that my goals were to sell a service.

Put Yourself in the Subscriber’s Position

How do you feel when you signup for email lists? Why do you choose to signup and what keeps you on the list with so many demands for your attention? Learn from your favorite email lists and mimic, without directly copying, what your favorite email lists provide.

If you can synthesize what you enjoy and put your own original twist on it, you are sure to retain subscribers for the long-term. And long-term subscribers are the most likely to become fans and customers. If you can avoid being annoying and always focus on providing great value, you will be on track for great success with your list.

Email Marketing Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “How to Run an Email Marketing Campaign That Doesn’t Annoy Recipients” was first published on Small Business Trends

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The Executive Update The latest business ideas distilled into one practical guide – Ian Mann

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7 Questions to Ask When Brainstorming Content Ideas for Marketing

7 Questions to Ask When Brainstorming Content Ideas for Marketing

One of the requirements for a sustainable content marketing campaign is the aptitude for generating topic ideas. It may sound easy, but at some point, you’ll realize that this can be harder than producing the content itself — whether it’s a blog post, podcast or any form of visual content.

Smart marketers capitalize on tools that randomly generate titles based on keywords. There are also content research tools like BuzzSumo that can help you identify what’s trending in your niche. While these can help you obtain rough ideas on what your next piece will be about, they rarely provide you with usable titles that are worth publishing.

Brainstorming Content Ideas

Take note that you need a strategic approach when generating topic ideas. But before you finalize and start working on any title, be sure to ask yourself the following questions first:

1. Have You Done Anything Similar Before?

Some content marketers are guilty of reusing the same idea for multiple content pieces, especially if they contribute to different publications. If you’re really struggling to come up with something new, then you may revert back to old topic ideas.

Reusing a previous title idea can be advantageous as long as you’re doing it knowingly. Otherwise, you may disappoint subscribers who religiously follow your blog.

The first thing you can do is to explore the topic from a different angle or furnish it with a new set of actionable steps. If possible, you can also present it using a different format to appeal to new audiences. Old data-rich posts, for example, can be repurposed into infographics, which garner three times more engagement on social media.

2. Are There Sufficient Resources Online?

If you answered “no” to the previous question, then you probably lack comprehensive knowledge on the topic you chose. Sure, diligent content producers can relate to anything with extensive research, but it’s very difficult to instill value to new content if there aren’t enough information sources online.

Unless you have firsthand experience on a subject, make sure there are abundant research materials available before you get started. To establish yourself as a credible, authoritative brand, you should only provide 100 percent accurate information that’s validated by studies and other resources. And if you really need to delve into a topic, then be prepared to purchase reports and studies from certified research firms.

Additionally, make sure you only reference the most recent sources available. A simple trick is to filter results through search engines and content research tools by date instead of relevance.

3. Is There Similar Content Elsewhere?

Let’s face it — all content marketers have at least considered copying ideas or “borrowing inspiration” from other content producers. With millions of websites publishing content every second, it’s hard to come up with something that’s truly unique.

Although it’s fine if you don’t have first dibs on a new content idea, you should aim to make your version better in every single way. This is doable if you can update old data, add more information, or incorporate additional visual elements. But if you can’t do any of these, then you should ditch the topic and start anew. This involves getting links from authoritative websites that linked to the original content, making the technique highly beneficial for SEO.

4. Can You Offer Original Views and Add Value?

Take note that content marketing is now much more difficult than ever. If you keep on repeating everything that other publishers already shared, it’ll be impossible to cut through the content noise and make your brand stand out.

In addition to making your content better, assess if you can offer your original views to elevate its value. You can apply the information yourself to gain deeper insights and expound actionable steps. Finally, the content should also align with your brand’s voice — something that fosters familiarity between you and the online audience.

5. Can You Be More Specific?

Another way to be more unique is to dissect a topic into smaller pieces and focus on those individually. For example, if you initially wanted to cover influencer marketing, you can shift your focus on subtopics such as researching potential influencers, writing your outreach email and tracking relationships with brand advocates.

Every topic can be narrowed down with a little creativity and resourcefulness. Apart from finding subtopics, you can also tailor your new content to a different audience type. Play around with demographics such as age groups, employment status, income level, and location. This can unlock new topic possibilities with the same set of ideas.

6. Do You Have the Best Content Type in Mind?

In an interview with Mention, Rand Fishkin of Moz says that content marketers should explore new content types if they want to stay relevant.

“Content marketers are going to have to be more unique with the types of content they create,” says Fishkin. “They’re going to have more niche — serving smaller and smaller interest groups, but doing a better job of serving each of those.”

The good news is, brands don’t need a huge amount of capital to start diversifying their content arsenal. For example, simple visual content like infographics, quote cards and data visualizations can be created with a tool like Canva. It is a drag-and-drop platform that offers templates, icons and other features that can help you create shareable images within minutes.

Most modern smartphones are also capable of recording short video clips for social media. According to Cisco, videos will account for 80 percent of all online traffic by the year 2019. So rather than planning another blog post, consider writing an explainer video script instead.

7. Will It Come with a Catchy Headline?

The final touches of a topic idea involve crafting a captivating headline that’s searchable, audience-oriented, and compelling. After answering all the previous questions, make sure you can wrap everything up in as few words as possible.

According to Kissmetrics, the perfect headline is only six words long because readers tend to focus on the first and last three words. But since this is nearly impossible to pull off consistently, aim for anywhere from eight to twelve words. Ideally, you should use numbers and power words to make the headline more interesting.

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This article, “7 Questions to Ask When Brainstorming Content Ideas for Marketing” was first published on Small Business Trends

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