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Marketing

How do you compete with larger competitors who can afford to run more advertising, offer lower prices, and are better established in the marketplace?

Well, first off don’t compete directly with them on their turf but rather become the “alternative” – that is, promote and advertise an aspect of your product and/or service that the leader simply can’t offer. This allows you to compete with the leader in a part of the market where they may not be very strong.  Research the competitive landscape in your market and determine how you can position your business as the best alternative to the established market leader. 

Secondly, sell what they don’t have – YOU!  Build your personal reputation as experts in your field and become the “public face” for your company. As a small business owner, you can effectively represent yourself as an expert in your area of expertise and drive awareness for your small business through publicity and media relations activities.  Know that your personal approach to buidling your business is your competitive advantage that the larger competitors lack.  Use it wisely and you can stand to compete with the big guys! 

If you’ve spent some time setting up a basic website to tell the world about your business, you need to drive traffic to your site so that it can generate business for you and you can do so with little or no investment. 

$0 Campaigns

If your new product or service is an interesting one, there are thousands of on-line and off-line publications, that are looking for news stories to pass on to their readers. Prepare a small news release or write the website editor a quick e-mail to invite them to visit your site. If they like what they see, they will probably feature your new idea in an upcoming article on their website or magazine and they will likely include your website address. Now readers of the publication can find you online, resulting in highly targeted free traffic for your business. 

If you can’t get traction for your new idea, then write your own quality article about your expertise and knowledge of the product or service you are selling. Include a few lines about your business at the end of the article. Find websites that publish articles on the topic of relating to your product or service and send them your article along with a request to publish it and your URL if they find the article useful.

If you are not much of a writer, then ask for a review of your product or service from an established website or e-zine. By requesting a review, you are opening the door to some very good publicity if the review is favorable. However, there is some risk. An unfavorable review may hurt your reputation, and once you ask for a review you can’t control the opinion of the editor. 

Under $100 Campaigns

If you want to generate fast traffic, look to Google’s “AdWords” program that allows you to quickly buy an ad that appears on Google when certain keywords are typed in. The price of the ad is determined by the popularity of the keyword you are targeting. The key feature of Google is the speed with which your ad can appear online. Once you have signed up, written your two-line ad,  and selected your keywords, you ad will start running within minutes. You also have the option of setting a maximum daily budget that will limit your daily expenses. In the first 5 days of your ad, you should get a good idea of what type of results you are getting from this service. 

Ezines are electronic magazines for just about every topic imaginable. Most ezines will accept advertising from businesses just like yours. The key to ezine advertising is that your message is being sent to a highly targeted market. By narrowing your target audience down to only those who are most likely to be interested in your message, you increase the potential for business as a result of your ad.

We're constantly bombarded with marketing claims of bringing fast, easy business and they are hard to resist.  Have you ever been told that all you had to do was something simple, such as to purchase a top sponsor ad in an ezine, and you spent the money, followed the instructions and did not get the results you were hoping for? 

We need to learn and understand that not all marketing effort is worthwhile or successful.  Testing marketing efforts is critical to your success!

If you have a web site, the simplest way to test is to use an ad tracker.  Ad trackers usually don't cost much and provide you with a way to track each of your marketing campaigns; they tell you how many hits and unique visitors you get from each of your advertising campaigns. By analyzing this information, you're able to gain valuable insight into which of your campaigns are successful and which are not.

If you don't have a web site, consider building one. 

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