There are a lot of tools available for marketing, and it's important to match the advertising tools you use to your target clients. For instance, it wouldn't make sense to dress a college student up in a costume and have them dance on the corner of the street to market your business, unless your dancing college student was at a conference of your target audience.
AdWords and Pay Per Click (PPC)
Google, and other search engines such as Yahoo, offer online advertising. When a user sits at their computer and types in a phrase, Google gives them the results. For the people that have paid for advertising, if the search phrase is triggered, an ad shows up. If the person clicks on that paid ad, the advertiser is charged.
There's a lot to learn with AdWords to make them work for you. You need to research the search phrases that are relevant to your company. Some search phrases cost a lot of money and have high competition. You might need to pay a lot per click to get high on the list of "sponsored links." Secondly, you need to monitor the results. Some people have made careers out of AdWords consulting.
Pros: The money cost, technical skill required, and time to implement are average.
Cons: To get good at this technique, you need to read a lot and practice.
Articles are written pieces of information, like essays. You can write articles and publish them on your website, other appropriate websites, magazines, and on websites that specialize in expert articles.
Writing articles gives you the chance to present yourself as an expert in whatever you write. Articles give you some credibility. Also, if you post articles on your website, you increase your content and increase the likelihood that people will find your website.
Pros: Articles written by you in areas you're an expert in don't require much research, and they don't cost much, if anything. It doesn't take a lot of technical skill to write, and your Internet skills need only be average.
Cons: You must write. Some people do not like to write.
A blog is a "web log." The idea is that you post articles or mini-messages regularly, and people subscribe to your web log. They then read what you have posted.
Pros: Blogs are cheap and don't require a ton of research.
Cons: Blogs can be time consuming, and you need to know a little bit more about computers than you do for just writing articles.
Hand out brochures at conferences and meetings to people who might be interested in your services. Brochures list your services and testimonials and encourage people to call you or go to your website.
Pros: Brochures are nice to be able to hand out to potential clients. They tend to lend credibility to your company.
Cons: Brochures can be expensive.
Business cards are a must. Business cards are cheaper, and easier to handle, than brochures. You can give them out to more people.
Pros: Business cards are cheap and don't require tons of research to make.
Cons: All companies need business cards.
Dancing college student in a costume
About the only way I can see this tool being useful is if you specialize in a niche, like writer support, and then you go to a conference of writers and have your college student dress up like a pen. I pretty much just put this tool in here for the humor, and because there's a lot of liberty statues dancing on the street corners these days.
Pros: Minimal research and time on your part is required.
Cons: This can get expensive.
Direct mail is what most of us refer to as junk mail. This is only useful if you can get a list that is relevant to your business. Direct mail is expensive, and if you do the envelope stuffing or labeling yourself, it can be time consuming too.
Pros: Little research is required. Minimal computers skills are needed.
Cons: This is expensive and some people are offended by junk mail.
Email campaigns come with a host of problems unless you only market to people who have voluntarily subscribed to your list. Sending email out to people who have not subscribed to your list is a good way to get yourself banned from ISPs and make it so normal correspondence won't go through.
Pros: This is cheap.
Cons: This annoys people. This takes a lot of computer savy. You must do tons of research to make sure you don't violate any laws.
If a person searches on a term and then puts a location next to it, Google responds with a list of businesses that are close to the location. This is easy to set up and might generate a few calls for you each month.
Pros: This is free.
Cons: This takes just a little bit of time to set up, and you need to do a little keyword research and have a little bit of computer knowledge.
Newsletters should be sent out regularly to people who have subscribed to your email list. Your newsletter can contain articles that can help your readers, new products or services you will offer, stories of interest, pointers to new technologies you've discovered, and many other things.
Pros: This is cheap.
Cons: You must write. If you don't like to write, this might not be the best tool for you.
A press release is a written announcement that is given to members of the press. Pay attention to your audience if you use press releases. There are press release services that distribute the releases to different companies.
Just ask your current clients to refer you when appropriate. You can consider a referral fee.
Give aways can be as inexpensive as pens and can get really expensive, like leather bags.
Social media is basically internet sites that normal people can use and quickly publish blurbs, videos, and pictures, for other people to easily access. Social media is used for lots of stuff, including planning parties, keeping the grandparents up to date with pictures of grandbabies, and connecting with old friends.
Some of the top social media websites are:
- YouTube.com for posting videos
- Flickr.com for sharing pictures
- Facebook.com for reconnecting with old friends, sharing pictures, planning parties, playing games
- LinkedIn.com for keeping up with your business connections
- Twitter.com for connecting with friends and people with little, tiny messages and links
Change your voice mail to include a short version of your elevator speech or a quick list of your services.
Your website can be as simple as an online brochure or it can host products that you sell, useful articles for your clients, books, classes, and calculators.
The gist of website optimization can be learned in a weekend, but the techniques change constantly.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of making sure a website follows all the rules established by the primary search engines, such as Google, so that the website is indexed as well as possible. The task of search engine optimization is good for the website, the search engines, and people surfing the web.
Hopefully this is done when your web site is built and is maintained as your web site changes.