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Innovative Ways to Market
Innovative Ways to Market
By Sharon Housley
Marketing is a three-syllable word that
seems so simple, yet encompasses so much. Marketing
is a multi-faceted approach to promoting a product or
service. Both traditional and unconventional marketing
methods have a place in the small business world. Marketing
helps small businesses focus on building their brand
There are few limitations to marketing
options, and the opportunities listed here are just
a few that will generally result in a decent ROI (Return
On Investment) for most small businesses. That said,
do not be afraid to be creative -- no one knows or understands
a small business like its owner, so think outside of
the box and don't be afraid to experiment.
Create continuity between an online website,
logos, letterheads, business cards, and packaging. Create
an identity that will make your business stand out from
the competition, and leave a good initial impression
on potential customers. A professional image associated
with your company or product will remind customers of
their past brand experiences, and will reinforce your
Niche publications are journals or magazines
that focus on a specific market. If your product or
service is appropriate for a specific market, then advertising
in their trade publications will allow you to immediately
drill down and target that very specific audience.
Branded giveaways have long been used
by marketers to attract potential customers. Products
that have a long shelf life will help keep your business
in the forefront of a customer's mind. Weeks, months,
and even years after a product is purchased or service
is performed, promotional items will remind the customer
of your brand.
Solicit product reviews from reputable
industry sources, magazine reviewers, bloggers, or industry
journalists. Product reviews lend credibility to a product
In order to help your website's search
engine ranking, use keyword advertising. Focused and
targeted keyword advertising will drive web traffic
that has a genuine interest in your product or service.
Use online niche directories to promote
products or services. Visitors who frequent topical
directories have a strong interest and are more likely
Once known as "word of mouth" marketing,
viral marketing has taken on a life of its own. Encourage
product buzz, as well as customers referring customers.
Opt-In Email Marketing
Use email as a marketing tool to notify
your existing customers about specials, new products
or services, or product releases and updates. While
some say email marketing is dead, others say that measured
results of email marketing tell a very different story.
Opt-in, targeted email marketing works, and produces
results when done correctly.
Partnerships / Strategic Relationships
We see large companies leveraging their
assets every day, and small online businesses should
too! Whether it be as a partner, an affiliate, or a
strategic relationship, all of these relationships can
benefit small businesses. Businesses can use strategic
relationships to penetrate niche markets. Affiliates
can expand their reach and tap into the customer bases
of similar products. Partners can provide additional
value to existing products or services. Determine what
types of relationships could be beneficial to your small
Craigslist is likely the best known online
classified system. Classified systems increase visibility
and are often overlooked by small businesses. Consider
posting classifieds that relate to product or services,
and monitor the results.
Sponsorship / Contests
Contests not only encourage customers
to have fun, but also generate publicity and draw attention
to your company and brand. Sponsor industry events,
run contests, or donate prizes to industry contests
in order to increase visibility and generate goodwill.
Communication is critical to all businesses,
and small businesses are no exception. Be sure to establish
a communication channel with customers and potential
customers. Newsletters are a very popular communication
channel for software developers.
RSS is growing in popularity. It is an
alternative communication channel that has the benefit
of reaching a larger audience through syndication. Supplement
and enhance email and newsletter campaigns by providing
an RSS channel for their content.
Participation in newsgroups and forums
will result in building credibility. Business relationships
will often result from online dialogue in industry forums
and newsgroups. Actively participate and always behave
in a professional manner.
All forum posts and emails you send should
contain a "signature" that advertises your business
name, tag line, and URL.
Blogging and posting comments on blogs
can result in an increase in web links and traffic.
Socialization and engaging others with well thought
out comments can establish a business reputation and
generate product interest.
YouTube is a boon to business. If you
are creative, consider compiling an educational or humorous
video. YouTube is a huge distribution channel and can
generate product or industry interest.
The avenue to inexpensive press! Write
a press release to promote new products or services
and reap the benefits with media attention.
Writing articles can help lend credibility
to your product line and improve your business reputation.
Contact local newspapers and pitch a unique
story to them. Publicity is free and can generate discussions
Consider exploring alternative channels
for advertising and marketing. Keep in mind that advertising
need not be costly; creative marketers can often find
inexpensive avenues that will result in a great return.
About the Author:
Sharon Housley manages marketing for FeedForAll http://www.feedforall.com
software for creating, editing, publishing RSS feeds
and podcasts. In addition Sharon manages marketing for
audio recording and editing software.
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