Owning a business has its ups and downs.  In fact, 33% of all new businesses fail within the first two years.  The #1 reason they fail is lack of revenue.  Most business owners start off with great intentions.  They exhaust their circle of influence, join the local chamber and hand out business cards or count on word of mouth traffic.  These old school ways just aren’t enough to help anyone reach their perfect day!

It is still difficult to gauge your return on investment with traditional marketing and advertising.  Every advertising sales person and their mom would have you believe that their ad is going to make you rich.  You’ve got the yellow pages, the local paper, shopping cart ads, coupons, door hangers, and industry publications. Then there are these companies that promise to build you a site or “optimize” your existing site.  I hear it all the time – “We paid a group $10K to build our site”.  The problem is that not one lead was generated from it.

Now, I was one of those that paid tons of money for a website with no results.  In 2006, I owned a credit repair company.  I had 24 employees, 12 of which were sales people.  What we really needed was leads, but we didn’t leverage the Internet at all.  Instead, I had sales people call mortgage brokers and realtors all over the United States looking for people with bad credit.  The problem with this business model, like so many others, is that we had an expensive, fancy website BUT no freaking leads were coming from it!

There are millions of people on the Internet with their hands raised saying, “Hey, I want to buy your stuff!”  In retrospect, I would have fired all but 2 or 3 salespeople and had a bad to the bone Internet marketing campaign to generate tons of leads online.

The good news is that I learned (the hard way) to leverage social media, affiliate marketing, webinars, etc., so I’m going to give you the benefit of my own experience and equip you with the tools you need to be successful online and off.  My goal is to help you make an impact in your small to mid-size business–today.

Social Media

Other than social media, can you show me a FREE way to generate followers, get connected with people, post free video commercials, or post anything that on your mind???  Let me answer this….NO!

If you aren’t on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or YouTube you are, simply put, living in the dark ages.  The number of people on social media today is ridiculous!  At the risk of sounding cliché, I’ll even say that everyone is doing it! Why not capitalize on these free marketing platforms?  Oh, you don’t know how?  Well, that’s ok because most business owners are in the same boat.  Fortunately, you don’t have to be the smartest kid in the class as long as you sit beside him!

First off, take baby steps.  Create a Facebook business page, ask past clients to join it, and post about your business.   Create a LinkedIn profile, search and connect with your clients, and ask them recommend you after you do business with them.  Create a Twitter profile and tweet interesting industry specific articles.  Buy a small HD camera and shoot a cool how-to video to post on YouTube.

This just scratches the surface; there are many other ingenious ways to maximize your social media presence.

Website

I’m not going to tell you why it’s important to have a website because at this point, it is really not even an option.  It doesn’t cost a lot of money to have a really nice website built these days.  A simple blog is FREE!  Installing a WordPress website template might run you a couple hundred dollars, but even that is chump change when you consider the necessity of an online presence.  The point here is: get a site!

Your website isn’t going to make money unless you have a specific strategy for engaging your visitors.  The main priority is to capture your visitors’ contact information by using an opt-in form.  These can easily be created through email services like aWeber or iContact.

So why would a visitor give you their information?  The short answer is to receive the value that you offer to them.  You must give in order to get.  There are a lot of companies who understand this and are offering coupons, free iPads, eBooks, etc for an opt-in.  Get creative here and you’ll be surprised what you can come up with.

Video

Most people are shy in front of the camera so I don’t suggest using the first video you’ve ever shot on your front page.  This might actually scare people away!  Take some time and think about what your target prospect would want to see on video.  Example: If you’re an electrician, you might want to do a video how-to series on simple household electrical fixes.

The key here is that the video must be entertaining and informative.  Draw people in to learn more about you and your company.  Load your videos onto YouTube and add keywords that will draw traffic from Google when people are searching for help.

Database

I am amazed at how many businesses still don’t get a name and email address when visitors come to their establishment.  There is a local burger joint here in Frisco that asks patrons to fill out a survey that includes name and email.  They use this information to send out coupons to drive more traffic on slow days.

Your database can be used for other clever ideas as well.  If you collect birthdates, you could send a note or a special gift/coupon on your customers’ birthdays.  People love to be recognized on their special occasions.  I get a call from my insurance agent every year on my birthday and that has had more impact on my decision to stay with that company than it should.  If I call the Gecko, is he going to sing Happy Birthday to me?

Get a database.  There are a number to choose from and they do not have to cost an arm and a leg.  Some come complete with email marketing, merchant processing, and follow-up automation.  I’ve seen businesses literally triple sales after just a few months of using a database.

These are just a few things that can make or break your business.  I could go on and on about all the extra things within each category that make them work even more efficiently.  If you’d like to talk more about growing your business, give us a shout.