Swimming With the Big Fish - Small Biz Marketing Tips for 2014

There are countless opportunities for marketing a business on the internet in 2014. Internet usage around the world continues to grow and expand, meaning that the opportunities to promote a business online are growing as well. This article is going to focus on marketing tips and actionable advice for small businesses to promote themselves online and to reach their target audience.

This advice will apply to just about any business in any industry, however in some cases you might need to make some small adjustments. We'll refer to the people you're marketing to as customers and potential customers, however this will include clients, other business owners, or whoever you are trying to market to.

Staying Social and Interactive

Social media. You've heard it a million times, but if your business doesn't have a solid social presence yet, what are you waiting for? It's one of the easiest and most affordable ways to brand your business online. Even if you don't plan on being active on social media, it's still a good idea to claim your name on all of the popular platforms to prevent a competitor from doing so. Even social media profiles that aren't updated daily will likely show up in the search results for your brand, giving you more control and more "real estate" in the search engines, which is always a plus.

Gary Vaynerchuk is considered one of the top experts on social media, and his recent book "Jab Jab Jab Left Hook" is all about finding the right balance between promoting your business on social media, and providing useful content your readers. To use his metaphor, you should throw a few jabs before going in for the power shot, in other words provide value to your audience before trying to sell them anything. This is where a lot of business owners fail, and they end up alienating their social following.

Search Traffic is Alive and Well

The popular search engines have the power to bring you an endless stream of targeted leads for your business, but it can be difficult because there are so many snake-oil peddlers out there promising you instant results for very cheap. Unless you really want to take the time to learn the ins and outs, you've got to be careful because hiring the wrong people can actually result in your site being penalized or removed from the search engines all-together. For small business owners, the best thing to keep in mind is that slow and steady wins the race. Don't get greedy and don't expect instant results. To show up in search engines, you've got to put out content and the better your content is, the better traction it will get both in terms of search engines, and social media. Good content gets shared, and search engines take notice of that.

What is "Quality Content"?

This term gets tossed around a lot, but how do you even define quality? It's not just a matter of posting articles that are free from spelling and grammar mistakes; it's about actually captivating your reader. Great content is content that has an objective, in other words it serves a purpose beyond just trying to use certain keywords to appease search engines. It should answer a question, illicit an emotional response, or solve some kind of problem for the reader. This applies to articles, videos, info graphics, and all other types of content too. Whether the content is designed to make a sale, to encourage someone to sign up to a newsletter, to get shared, it's important to have an objective in mind and also to never stop split-testing your content. Even if your content is accomplishing its goal, you should always be making tweaks and changes to see if you can make it even more effective. What if you had 10 people singing up for your mailing list from an article each day instead of 5 people? It's easier to improve your conversion rates than it is to increase your traffic, so always be on the lookout for ways to do this.

Be Charitable

It is good to keep yourself informed about what is happening in your city, especially within your niche. You may find sponsorship or grant opportunities, for example, to charities that fight for a cause that you support. That way small businesses can get well-earned positive exposure. Take this example: A well-known Australian company that makes pool fences gives regular donations and support to a charity for prevention of drowning called Hannah's Foundation. Or do it in a funny but elegant way like the CEO of Dejan SEO who celebrated his 3000th follower on Google + by making a donation to a charity of the follower's choice and refusing to drink coffee until the donation goal is reached.

Final Thoughts

This concludes our look at a few tips for small businesses who want to improve their online marketing going into 2014. The internet moves fast, but small businesses can keep up if they want to.



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