Marketing Tip – Small Business Owners Need a System to Keep in Touch With Contacts and Build Sales

Many small business owners know keeping in touch with their contacts is an important part of their marketing plan. However, all too often, keeping in touch is a sporadic effort. Sending birthday cards or an e-mail newsletter is something that can be done “later.” The problem is “later” never comes. 

Small business owners need to build a marketing calendar that includes when and how each person (or group of people) is going to be contacted.  The best way small business owners can keep on top of their contact efforts is to have some type of system in place.  The system should be as easy and as automatic as possible.
  
There are many software tools you can use to organize your contacts.  Microsoft Outlook and Excel are great programs.  With either of these, you can merge with Microsoft Word to create phone lists, mailing labels and personalized letters. More sophisticated contact management programs you can purchase include ACT! and Goldmine.  
 
Marketing Tools for Keeping in Touch
 
There are a variety of different marketing tools small business owners can use to keep in touch. Here are just a few ideas.
 
E-mail newsletters are a great way to communicate with a large group of people. There are a number of great on-line resources available for e-mail newsletter creation and management. Use e-mail newsletters to provide product information, announce sales, and promote special events. 
 
Real greeting cards (the kind that come in an envelope with a stamp) are great marketing tools to use at Christmas, birthdays and other times of the year.  In fact, the best time a small business owner can send a greeting card is when there is no real reason to send a card! A card sent in August will be remembered much more than one sent in December.

Savvy business owners know that phone calls, personal visits and lunches are always appreciated. The key there is to remember the marketing message when scheduling those calls or visits. Yes, having coffee with a long-term client is great. But be sure to let the client know that you have a great new product that can dramatically help him or her. Too often business owners get wrapped up in the social aspect of personal visits and forget to ask for more business!

The most important part of any system is using it regularly.  If you are very busy, or have a hard time working with schedules, you are better off delegating or outsourcing.  If you have an assistant, that person can print letters, write e-mails, even sign Christmas cards for you.  That leaves you free to work on other areas of your business.

If you don’t have any help in your office, outsourcing is the answer. There are a number of local and on-line services that help business owners with their marketing. Or, try using a virtual assistant.  The marketing money you spend to outsource these routine tasks will be repaid many time over with the new business you get.

Remember — the key to a successful system is to have it automated as much as possible. The less work you have to do, the more likely it is to be done on time, and the more likely you are to get referrals!

Online Video For Business – 3 Reasons Your Company Should Implement in 2010

The Internet started as a text-only medium of communication with largely bulletin boards and eventually e-mail. It progressed to be a more interactive experience and expanded into millions of homes, beyond college campuses and technology institutes. Websites started including pictures, navigation, music, and other enhancements to appeal to viewers. By the end of the 1990s, Internet sites still relied mostly on pictures and sleek navigation to appeal to users. As YouTube skyrocketed in popularity, the integration of online video to professional Websites started to become more common place. Now, offering a Website with only pictures is like running a rental store with only silent movies; Web users and customers expect a more interactive experience, complete with videos of products, services, or people. Websites that include videos offer users more detailed information about products and services, give businesses an opportunity to control the way information is delivered, and increase the conversion rate of visitors to customers.

Captivate Your Audience and Capture Your Customer

One of the great advantages as a Web user to Websites with videos is the ability to see in more detail what one is buying before the purchase, or to learn more about a service before inquiring further. Before purchasing a movie ticket, viewers usually watch a trailer for the movie, showing them more about what they are paying to see. With an apartment complex or hotel, rather than just see lifeless still photos, videos allow people to see the community closer to the way they would actually see it if they were to visit in person, though inevitably somewhat idealized. Seeing people enjoying amenities through a web video is a lot more interesting than seeing pictures, though, because pictures are less capable of capturing the human element or evoking emotion. Another great benefit is seeing a product demonstration video about how a technology product actually works, step by step, so that the potential customer can see how easy it is to use, allaying fears about it being overly complicated or too technical to setup properly. A long, detailed text page with a few pictures about how the product works is a nice addition to video, but not a substitute. Unlike a site with just numerous navigational sections, pictures, and text, a video allows a business to control the way information is given to potential customers.

Better Control of Your Message

On an old Website, the only way to display information was in a logical fashion where the business hopes that visitors click around the site in some sort of sequential order. If a person clicks through the pricing section first, without seeing what the product does, or what services are offered, they may just close the site and go elsewhere. But if they have a video they can see on the home page about what a great product or service the business is offering, they will be less surprised when they see the price. Whereas with a standard Website, the visitor clicks around at will without having much direction, a prominent video on the home page gives them a starting point before looking for more information. It allows the business to control the way the information in the web video is displayed and how it is presented, giving back some control while at the same time giving the site visitor a lot more information that is helpful for their decision-making process as well, which makes them more likely to purchase a product or service from the business.

Improve Sales Conversions

While tracking of such statistics across a broad swath of the Internet is difficult, numerous sites have attested to Web videos converting visitors to clients at a much greater rate than sites with just text and pictures. One of the more well-published studies, by FindLaw (LawyerMarketing.com), indicated that visitors go to an average of 4.8 Websites to find an attorney, but when lawyers added video to their sites, the number dropped to 1.8. In other words, the presence of online video made visitors likely to select a lawyer much more quickly. The Discovery Channel Store did an independent study when the company added video to their e-commerce store and experienced an increase of 78% in sales when customers viewed the product video. A company called iAds integrated their video ads for Tandberg Video Systems, which had a conversion rate of 0.75 to 1.00 percent, but with videos the conversion increased to between 1.5 and 3.0 percent. Numerous such stories are available and there is no doubt that offering video on Websites helps businesses compete more effectively and gain more customers.

With the advance in broadband Internet connections and the high penetration such technology has seen in recent years, most customers have access either at home or at work to high-speed Internet, allowing them to view online videos that give them more information about products and services, help them make decisions with greater confidence, and give businesses greater tools to demonstrate what they offer. In the years to come, companies from all industries and across the Internet will be adding videos to compete more effectively and market themselves with greater confidence. The companies that adopt last will be losing business to companies that have cutting edge videos and quality products or services to offer. Ultimately, the reputation of a company and the products or services they offer will still remain the long-term key to success, but marketing remains an important part of any company’s ability to attract new customers. The professionalism and class of the videos offered online will be the key to competing effectively for years to come.

Small Business Marketing Materials

Small business marketing materials introduce a product to its consumers. The marketing materials detail the features of the product to the public. Small business marketing materials are intended to grab the attention of the public and enhance sales. Marketing materials play a significant role in the positioning of the product in the market. These materials include collateral materials, advertisements and technical tools such as websites and emails.

Marketing materials are designed carefully since they reflect the quality and credibility of the business concern. A small business is always in search of unique marketing materials to withstand the severe competition in the market. The text in the material must compel the consumer with a new offer or information. Small business marketing materials must be standout pieces, highlighting the product.

Small business marketing materials should also be cost effective, since the marketing budget is limited for a small concern. The appearance of the material is important. All the materials of a concern must maintain a unique family look. They are designed according to the strategy of the business. Professional designing is preferred to harness technological advancements in this field. It utilizes different combinations of colors and graphics to make the material more attractive. In technical materials, the possibilities of animation are also exploited. Good quality photographs of the product are included to detail the parts and their purpose. Marketing tips remind us to use effective design without extravagant splashes of color.

Small business marketing collaterals comprise printed materials such as brochures, logos, newsletters and business cards. Advertisings such as banner ads, sign boards, trade show handouts, magazine and directory ads are also marketing materials. Technological advancement has now introduced a wide scenario of web marketing. Websites and email alerts are potential marketing tools. Email alerts and affiliate marketing sites form effective marketing materials. Complimentary gifts such as shirts, caps, pens and curios with the company logo are marketing materials that appeal to the public.

The design of small business marketing materials is usually entrusted to advertising firms. Professionals with technical excellence and creative experience are essential for good designs. The material design must be consistent to avoid confusion among consumers. Guidelines and templates for designs are available on Internet sites.

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