Marketing ideas for the shoestring bourgeoisie.

Marketing Ideas 101 Blog Carnival, December 18, 2012

Marketing Ideas 101 Blog Carnival

Welcome to the December 18, 2012 edition of the Marketing Ideas 101 Blog Carnival.

Blogging

Bill Smith presents Breaking The Barriers Of Language With WordPress Transposh posted at Captured Technology, saying, “Some websites have good content however, not all of them get high rankings because of the different languages that people use when writing.”

Jeremy Biberdorf presents It Is Your Blogging Journey, You Make The Rules posted at Modest Money, saying, “There are things where there is no set blueprint that you need to follow. You are free to do what works for you and sometimes just wing it. Blogging is one of those things. There may be strategies that have worked well for others, but how you approach it is completely up to you.”

Arnel Ariate presents Blogging for Money posted at Money Soldiers, saying, “I treat blogging as my business. Just like any other businesses, blogging needs customers. In this article, I talked about the different ways I did to increase my blog’s readership.”

Marketing Ideas

Matt Schoenherr presents How to Drive Traffic to Your Blog posted at Marketing Ideas 101, saying, “Driving traffic to your blog can be one of the most difficult things to do. With so many blogs starting up each day, it’s difficult to differentiate yourself and your blog from the others online and to culminate an effective online presence. While it does take hard work and perseverance, driving and maintaining traffic to your blog can be done by utilizing a few key practices to your daily blogging habits.”

Catherine presents Grow Your Business with Evolved Marketing and Advertising by Webshark 360 -Legal Brand Development, Marketing and Design.

David Leonhardt presents Does Google think it’s God? posted at David Leonhardt’s SEO and Social Media Marketing, saying, “Google looks at your website on the Internet that same way as God looks at you. Google sees what our websites are really made of – the code, the content, the information.”

Small Business Marketing

David Leonhardt presents What marketing experience means posted at David Leonhardt’s SEO and Social Media Marketing, saying, “Experience does not mean you know everything. It does, however, mean that you have a pretty good idea where to look and how to evaluate what you find.”

Patricia Lotich presents Customer Questions – Are You Paying Attention? posted at The Thriving Small Business, saying, “Another great opportunity to understand a consumer’s experience is by taking advantage of the questions customers ask. When a customer asks a question, it provides a great learning opportunity. What we learn from customer questions is very valuable and should be used as yet another tool to improve products and services.”

Jon Rhodes presents Want High Affiliate Sales? Build Up Your Trust posted at Affiliate Help!, saying, “This article shows why it is so important to build trust when selling affiliate products online.”

baliconfederate presents So you Should Consider your Shipping Cost as a Marketing Cost? posted at WebandRank.com Blog, saying, “consider shipping cost like marketing investment.”

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of the Marketing Ideas 101 Blog Carnival using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

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How to Drive Traffic to Your Blog

marketing ideas drive traffic blog

Driving traffic to your blog can be one of the most difficult things to do.  With so many blogs starting up each day, it’s difficult to differentiate yourself and your blog from the others online and to culminate an effective online presence.  While it does take hard work and perseverance, driving and maintaining traffic to your blog can be done by utilizing a few key practices to your daily blogging habits.

Blog Targeting: Keep Your Audience in Mind

This is imperative when creating a blog and writing posts.  Have a targeted demographic in mind and write for them, covering topics they want to read about and that they would find useful in their lives. Often over-looked is the tone of your blog posts, which is crucial to your blog’s success.  If you’re writing a fashion and style blog, make the tone fun, informative and friendly—even casual, as if it’s between friends.

On the other hand, if you’re writing a blog for business men and women, or financially-minded people, then you want the tone to be business-like and knowledgeable. Business readers don’t want to feel like they’re getting information from an unreliable source, just as fashion readers don’t want to feel as if they’re being told what to do.  Knowing who is reading your blog and then writing to them will not only set your blog apart but ensure you have repeat readers.

Blog Optimization: Keep Your Search Keywords in Mind

Once you have your blog written in the appropriate tone and content, go back through and ensure that you’ve used words and phrases that will be picked up by Google search bots. (Read How To Work Keywords Into Your Website.) Using a SEO platform to build your blog on can make it extremely easy to ensure that your blog posts will be returned in searches for your topic.  Having good quality blog posts come up in results will make readers take note of the source and come back to peruse the rest of the blog.

Blog Management: Share, Post and Interact

Having a blog that isn’t seen isn’t really a blog at all.  Make your blog something that you are proud of, sharing it on all social media platforms so that you can encourage traffic and increase the amount of clicks on your links.  Sharing photos and posts on platforms that your readers are members of will increase your traffic and increase reader awareness of your blog.  Social media can give your blog a trustworthy reputation and brand it as a trusted source for your topic.

Drive traffic to your blog to help more, connect more, and earn more.

Before you decide to employ these small changes to your blogging practice and aim to make them a habit, install an analytics program so that you can see the results and increase in your traffic these techniques have brought to your blog.  Once you have mastered these habits and can create effective blog posts, there are many more techniques you can incorporate that are more advanced to drive traffic to your blog.  Because ultimately it is traffic to your blog that will eventually make your blog lucrative and help your message reach many more people, so do what you can to increase your blog traffic!

How To Work Keywords Into Your Website

marketing ideas how to add keywords

One of the most important things you can do to improve your rankings in the search engines and directories (Google, Yahoo, Bing, DMOZ, et cetera) is to ensure your website is optimized in accordance with the keywords and key phrases you are looking to target.

To “optimize” a website for search engine relevancy means going over it with a fine-tooth comb and seeking out ways to make the website more targeted toward the topic it incites. There are a number of ways to do this.

Domain Name

Does your domain name carry with it “maximum information per square inch?” As in, is your product or service in your name? While this can help your rankings, it is not the end all, be all. After all, do a search in Google on “fast food” and you will notice McDonald’s and Wendy’s sites come up to the top and their domain names are not mcdonaldsfastfood.com or wendysfastfood.com.

Page Titles

Each web page on your site should have its own distinct title. A web page title should tell the user and the search engines what the page is about and you want to make sure to work in a couple keywords relevant to your website and specific to that page. Recommendation: Resist the temptation to place your company name first in the title—your keywords are more important to both humans and bots, so they go first.

Metadata

Add keywords and key phrases into your website’s metadata. Every web page has the capacity to have within it a hidden description and set of keywords. Whether web designers make use of this feature is another matter. Besides your domain name and page titles, this is one of the first things the search engines use to determine where in their indexes your site should be placed. While the importance for metadata has been greatly reduced over the years, it is still something you want to address as it’s the meta description that shows up in the search results.

Copy

Your copy (the text you write,) your links and the images you choose can all be constructed to give the search engines a greater idea about your website’s singular reason for being.

When you seek to “keyword optimize” your website, you begin by knowing the keywords you want to target. Once you have a list of 20 to 30 keywords or key phrases, you may then begin to craft your message to your public, sprinkling in those important words along the way. A good rule of thumb here is to focus on a few keywords per page, rather than trying to stuff them all onto every page.

Tip: Write for humans, but optimize for search engines. Do not pack your site with your keywords. The top search engines have algorithms in place that will penalize for “keyword stuffing.” (Keyword stuffing is considered to be a “black hat” search engine optimization technique and is wonderful way to get your website banned from the search engines. Not recommended.)

Links

Descriptive links are another great way to tell the search engines what your site is about and they carry a good amount of weight and should be used wisely. If you are merely stating “click here” or “read more” you are missing an opportunity. Instead of stopping at “read more”, build a little more information into the link by saying “read more about online marketing” (or whatever your topic.) Assuming “online marketing” was one of our key phrases, we just gave that search engine a little more reason to promote our site when someone searches on online marketing.

Images

Even the images you use can build relevancy for your website. For example, if you have a dog grooming company, abstain from putting up pictures of your clients that still carry the same filename as the day they were pulled off the digital camera. “DC3459.jpg” tells the search engines nothing about the subject of that image. Since search engines cannot actually see the image to interpret it (yet,) they can only rely upon the filename you give your image (and an “alt” tag, which we will discuss later,) balanced against the rest of the page on which it resides. A better filename might be “dog-grooming-service.jpg” or “pet-grooming.jpg.” This same principle holds true for every filename you use on your site (.doc, .pdf, .gif, .htm, .php, etc.,) including even the pages of your website.

Does it sound like we are catering to the search engines? We are. Search engines and directories are large conduits into your website. Without them, there would be considerably less traffic on your site, so you want to make it clear to them you are 1) an authority in your field, and 2) your website contains great value to those who will find it.

Marketing Idea #9: Match Competitors’ Prices

marketing ideas match competitor prices

Offer to match your competition’s prices. Bargain shoppers thrive on being able to bring in your competition’s ads to have you beat the prices. There are a few things that work to your advantage here:

  • Your regular patrons will be less likely to be swayed away from you because of price.
  • The hunt for the lowest price is a process that engages the public and draws attention.
  • You never have to worry about keeping a tab on the competition’s price strategy (but you do have to worry about being able to maintain the same price strategy).

Caution: Make sure your margins allow for price wars. There is something to be said for positioning yourself as the premium product or service in the marketplace. For instance, Ruler or Sage brand archetypes may not want to battle at the low end of the pricing scale since those brands lend more to a moderate to high pricing strategy. In contrast, the Jester or Regular Guy/Girl brand archetypes would be better suited for this tactic, due to their broader mass appeal.

Marketing Idea #18: Start an Affiliate Program

marketing ideas affiliate programs

Create a referral or affiliate program. Otherwise known as making it worth other people’s time to help you reach new clients. The goal of a referral program is to create revenue or to provide some other incentive for those who help you reach more people.

Example: Dreamscape Multimedia offers a referral program with our web hosting service and makes it free to sign up using a simple one-page form. We call it our Prosperity program, as it pays a hefty 50 percent monthly commission* on web hosting accounts you refer to us.

*Giving back 50 percent of a revenue stream may not be possible for your company. Determine what a responsible return might look like, and proceed conservatively at first.

Marketing Idea #25: Always Carry Business Cards

marketing ideas business cards

Always have enough business cards with you. While this seems like it should be obvious, people are still caught off-guard without their business cards. You’ll never know when or where opportunities will arise. Also, whenever you know you’re on your way to a trade show, mixer, or other networking event, make sure you take a lot of business cards. It’s better to have too many than not enough!

Tip: Keep a number of “card caches” around you at all times. Keeping business cards in your car, at your desk, at your home office, and in your briefcase or purse can keep you from looking ill-prepared if you forget to replenish the cards in your wallet.

What NOT to do: I’ve seen people leave their business cards randomly at restaurants, in rest rooms, and on bar counters by registers. Maybe this works, but I’m doubtful. In my mind, this would be even less effective than placing your business card on a bulletin board! Do you really think the wait staff are going to keep you business cards after you leave? Nah. I think they’re going to clean the table and those expensive die-cut, embossed business cards you had to have are going to end up wearing your table scraps in the trash.

Hint: Save your cards for the people who care.

Marketing Idea #83: Tradeshow Giveaways

Marketing Ideas Tradeshow Giveaways

The best and most obvious reason for visiting some tables at trade shows is for the free giveaways. You will find that many people will make the rounds to collect the free stuff. In some cases, the booths without free giveaways may experience lower traffic as a result. It’s a cheap ploy, but the right giveaway can gain you exposure you wouldn’t have had without it. Of course, you have to question the quality of your traffic if it’s only coming over to steal another one of those great metal pens…

Tip: Have fun with your giveaways! After all, if it’s really good, it will likely end up in the hands of their kids.

Marketing Idea #2: What is Your Marketing Budget?

Marketing Ideas Marketing Budget

Set aside money for marketing efforts each year. Don’t use it for anything else. Often, we have a tendency to pull our marketing funds from the same pool of money as our operating funds. This habit can reduce an organization’s ability to market itself when the time is right. Be especially protective of your marketing budget; this is the investment that pays the bills.

Below, I’ve reposted a brief article by the Wall Street Journal which discusses the success of companies who remain steady in their marketing efforts, even in the face of a recession. Folks, if this can’t convince you to invest in your own marketing efforts, I don’t know what will.

In support of your efforts,

Matt

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The Basic Argument for Advertising in a Recession

from The Wall Street Journal (publication information unknown)
View the original article

When times turn bad, they’re made worse by hesitation, halfway measures, and panicky decisions. Such as the decision to reduce or eliminate advertising. The fact is, companies that maintain or increase their advertising spending during recessions get ahead. A less crowded field allows messages to be seen more clearly, and that increased visibility results in higher sales both during and after a recession.

Recessionary Advertising Works

Studies by the American Business Press examined the relationship between advertising and sales in 143 companies during the severe 1974/75 downturn. They found that companies that did not cut advertising either year had the highest growth in sales and the net income during the two study years and the following two years. The studies also proved that companies that cut advertising during both years had the lowest sales and net-income increases during the two study years and the following two years.

And not surprisingly, companies that cut advertising during only one of the recession years had sales and net-income increases that fell in between.

Long-Term Benefits

A study by McGraw-Hill of both the 1974/75 and 1981/82 recessions confirmed the long-range advantage of keeping a strong advertising presence. It found that companies that cut advertising in 1981/82 increased sales by only 19% between 1980 and 1985, while companies that continued to advertise in 1981/82 enjoyed a 275% sales increase.

An industry-specific study published by the Harvard Business Review found that airlines that increased their advertising expenditure during 1974/75 increased sales and market share in both years, while airlines that cut advertising in both years lost sales and share both years.

The results of all three studies are consistent, clear and unequivocal: Those companies that advertise during a recession have better sales than those companies that don’t.

The way to minimize a downturn and take maximum advantage of the upturn is to maintain a strong communications link with your buying public.

Marketing Idea #4: Note Those Hot Ideas

Marketing Ideas Hot Ideas

You probably already have ideas and future plans for your company in your head. Put these ideas down in print somewhere. Include a section for collecting marketing ideas and opportunity information. You’ll be amazed at the great ideas you lose track of as you get caught up in your day-to-day efforts. Make it a point to review this file quarterly and delegate the best ideas if you can’t tackle them yourself.

Marketing Mastery Series: 5 Steps to Powerful Article Marketing

Marketing Ideas Article Marketing

Today, article marketing is probably one of the most powerful and inexpensive forms of online marketing available to small business owners and non-profits. For those not savvy with the term “article marketing”, here is a quick definition:

In exchange for a little sweat and focus, an article author (you) shares their wisdom and experience with the world by posting their short article of advice or insight to blogs, social media and article publication sites. Within those articles are one-way links leading back into the author’s own website, raising their website’s “authority” karma with the search engines and increasing their qualified web traffic.

You Are the Expert

Here is a little mental preparation for you. I want to make sure you are looking at article marketing—and yourself—through the proper lens.

When you produce articles, it is your goal to encapsulate gems of experience-hardened wisdom and share them with the online community. In doing so, you:

  1. Help to advise those who are seeking that knowledge, and you
  2. Position yourself as an expert on the topic. (Important!)

Warning: Don’t get caught on the term “expert.” Many humble folks who are vastly knowledgeable about their industry wouldn’t refer to themselves as experts because they are also aware there is much they don’t know. You don’t have to know it all. You just need to know more than your customers and then know where to find the answers when you are stumped.

Your Mission: Inspire, Inform, Entertain

Your primary goal in business is to help, right? Businesses and non-profit organizations provide products and services with the intent of helping people. (Naïve? Maybe. Choosing to see the best? Definitely.) That might mean helping to:

  1. Provide a solution to a problem,
  2. Offer inspiration, motivation or elevation,
  3. Foster greater awareness to a social concern, or even to
  4. Entertain and enthrall.

The best place to start? Begin with what you know. Offer advice. Offer your life experience. Offer sagacious words of wisdom. Expound and elucidate. Maybe even do a little research. Article marketing is your vehicle for taking your wisdom to your audience, answering their questions before their questions have bubbled up.

Step 1: Target Your Topic

What do you specialize in? What do you know a lot about? What is the point to your website? After all, the goal of any article marketing campaign is to place articles of value out into the world and grow your number of back links (links that point back to your website from another website.) Google and other popular search engines/directories see these links leading into your website as proof you must be something of an authority.

Translation: On the Internet, you are somebody important if other people say you are. It’s like high school all over again! Yeah!

Step 2: Write the Article

To begin marketing with articles, you must write the articles. No kidding. Sure, there is some work involved here, but the rewards can be great as qualified traffic to your website increases. Yes, I’m aware there are certain sources for pre-written articles on a myriad of topics, however I would recommend against putting your name on other people’s work. Call me paranoid, but here are some possible dangers with this:

  1. Loss of credibility and damage to your reputation when it’s discovered you’re not writing your own material,
  2. Being called upon to discuss a topic you barely considered to begin with, and
  3. Being accountable for someone else’s errors if they pop up.

Remember: One of the greatest things about writing is the fact you’re building an asset when you write. You are building a body of reproducible and shareable knowledge. This is what “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” author, Rob Kiyosaki, refers to as “doing it once and replicating it over and over.”

To write an article, you don’t have to be a Harvard literature graduate, but you should know how to complete a thought, hold a one-way conversation with a friend, and use spellcheck.

  • First, know what your goal is for your article. What is your point? Being clear on this will help keep you on track as craft your introduction, body and conclusion.
  • Next, pretend you are relaying this information to a friend. What would you say? How would you counsel this friend if they came to you seeking this advice?
  • Finally, use spellcheck. Proofread, proofread, proofread. Read the article aloud to test for smooth flow and phrasing. Ferret out all typos, grammatical errors and punctuation gaffs. If missed, these mistakes can detract from your writing and credibility.

The Resource Box

The last detail you’ll consider for your article will be your resource box. Your resource box is the little paragraph at the end of your article that tells the reader a little about you and how to contact you. It should always include a link to your website. Always. You want your readers to be able to find you if they desire more information and you want the search engines to see you as an authority through that back link, remember?

Key point: In your resource box, you don’t always have to use the same link back to your website’s homepage. In fact, you will likely have greater success by linking to the page on your site most closely related to your article’s topic. This moves visitors from the article directly to their topic of interest. (For example, if a web design company also offers web hosting, their article “How to pick the best web host” should link back to the page on their website that describes their web hosting services.)

Step 3: Launch!

There! You have produced a shiny little gem of literary brilliance. Now it is time to set it free.

  • Place it on your blog (if you have one and if it fits appropriately.)
  • Share it with Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and your other social media outlets. You can post it over and over by hand or use tools like PingFM to automate this process.
  • Submit your article to free article directories! Here are the top 10 most popular article directories, according to list of the top 50, found at http://www.vretoolbar.com/articles/directories.php:
  1. ezinearticles.com
  2. ehow.com
  3. hubpages.com
  4. squidoo.com
  5. articlesbase.com
  6. buzzle.com
  7. associatedcontent.com
  8. suite101.com
  9. technorati.com
  • Use an article submission software or service to shorten this process. One good example is isnare.com.
  • Feeling brave? Record your article as you read it into a microphone and post it to iTunes.
  • Braver still? Use your digital video camera and post your work to YouTube and the like.

Step 4: Track Your Results

Just because you’ve accomplished the first three steps of deciding, drafting and delivering your article, don’t think you’re done! You should be watching to see how this article affects your traffic. Did you see an increase? Did your website’s conversion rate (the number of calls, emails, sign-ups, sales, etc.) edge up? If not, did your article compel people to want to know more? Did it provide enough value? Was it placed properly?

Marketing Tip: Use the powerful and free traffic-tracking tool, Google Analytics (www.google.com/analytics). Design your Analytics reports and schedule them to automatically arrive in your inbox as frequently as you like.

Step 5: Rinse and Repeat

Now do it again. Find different-but-related categories to place your articles under so they don’t compete with each other. Discuss different aspects of products and services you offer. Determine how often you will produce and post your articles. This depends on how intensely you will run your article marketing campaign. You’ll need to weigh your priorities against your normal day-to-day workload, your goals and the competitiveness of your industry.

If you’re just starting out, aim to write weekly or bi-weekly articles using the promotional campaign in Step 3 as a model. If you are an ambitious writer or blogger, step up your efforts to daily and spread your articles across the media outlets.

Marketing Tip: Since you’re writing these articles anyways, you may as well post them to your website to keep your site’s content fresh. Then place them in your online newsletter and send them to your mailing list.

Afterglow

At this point, you have enough of a blueprint to successfully manage your own article marketing campaign. Writing articles can be a fun way to promote your website and your effort, but it can also be a great way to collect your thoughts and bring greater clarity to challenges you and your audience may be facing. Use articles to entertain, educate and inspire!

In support of your efforts,
M