Do you know what the most exciting part about being a small business owner is? The combined thrill and challenge of being in control of your own destiny! And with technology tools and solutions being released at a break-neck pace, small business owners find themselves with marketing resources available like never before, all at our disposal to help us succeed in promoting our businesses.
If you are looking for resources geared toward the growth of small businesses, this post should be a big help. Each month the we’ll include tips and tools that help entrepreneurs to develop strategies that promote their business without the necessity of a large budget. This month we’ll look at a combination of strategy and tech tips.
Here we go:
1) STRATEGY & PROBLEM SOLVING: SCORE and the Small Business Administration (SBA). These guys are such a wonderful resource! At SCORE, you can schedule appointments with retired business executives whose experience spans a spectrum of business industries. If you have a challenge or need help writing a business plan, make an appointment to visit with one of the SCORE counselors and allow them to help your business to grow – for free! SCORE also hosts local seminars on topics such as ‘Writing a Successful Business Plan’, ‘Writing Proposals That Win Business’, and ‘Financial Management’ (some seminars charge a small fee). To learn more or to find a SCORE chapter near you, visit score.org.
2) EMAIL MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA: Constant Contact. Want to learn how to market your small business using inexpensive and sometimes free etools? You’ll want to attend the Constant Contact small business marketing seminars – most of which are free. In them you’ll learn about email marketing, how to use tools like Constant Contact to manage your contact lists and email campaigns, how to integrate social media with your digital marketing campaigns, create inexpensive digital videos, and leverage Google analytics. To find the next seminar near you, visit constantcontact.com and join their newsletter.
3) BLOGGING OR BUILDING A WEBSITE: WordPress.com. Thinking of starting a blog? Launching a website? Starting an eCommerce business? WordPress can help you get started. I recommend WordPress over other blog tools for three main reasons: Ease of use, SEO and integration with other tools. Just as Google dominates online search, WordPress has evolved into the most standardized platform for a blogging or do-it-yourself website. WordPress offers easy-to-set-up blog sites, if blogging is your end game. Or, if you intend to build your own website, you can find a range of WordPress website templates for under $50 on sites such as themeforest.com. You might still need someone with some technical skills to help you set up your web hosting services (and maybe with the website setup), but most of the site content can be self-populated. Additionally, WordPress offers many available plugins and its sites are structured to help you maximize SEO. For more information, visit wordpress.com.
4) CONTACT MANAGEMENT & LEAD PROSPECTING: LinkedIn.com. Many of us use Linked In to manage our networking database, but don’t think of it as a prospecting tool to obtain sales leads. In fact, Linked In offers 3 premium services starting at just $15.95/mo that enable the user enhanced techniques for identifying potential sales prospects. These services allow the user to create alerts, view full profiles of secondary and tertiary connections and full profiles of those who have visited our profiles. The services allow for an increased number of introductions, and the top two tiers allow for the sending of In Mail messages. Finally, all three premium services allow the user to take advantage of the proprietary Linked In Lead Builder tool. To learn more about the Linked In premium services, one must already have a Linked In profile, then can visit the Linked In Sales Services page.
5) TRADITIONAL NETWORKING: Meetup.com. Nothing helps us develop our interpersonal relationships like good, old-fashioned networking. There are many networking strategies that we could employ: a) Attend general interest networking groups that are open to anyone from any type of professional background that is in transition or looking to get sales leads; 2) Join an industry or discipline specific networking organization; for example, NHRA for human resources professionals or AMA for marketing professionals; 3) Local meetups. Meetups are an especially effective place to network because group members come together based on a common cause, interest or hobby, and are not in attendance (usually) to identify a job or a sales lead opportunity. This leads to a more organic and natural opportunity to get to know other meetup group members and increased likelihood that members of that group will be willing to help you. To learn more about the different types of meetup groups in your local area, visit Meetup.com.
Hopefully you’ll find these marketing resources useful as you develop ways to grow your business in 2013. Check back regularly for additional tips on how to succeed in marketing your small business while maintaining a modest marketing budget.
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