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Playing with the big boys – without getting burned

As a small business, you probably think you can’t compete with the big boys. But why not? Most big companies started pretty small themselves.

Sure they are backed by heaps of resources (read – cash), and can spend big on mass-media campaigns, but with some savvy internet marketing, small businesses can hold their own.

Here are ten simple ways to survive in the business shark tank.

  1. Keep content current: Write a blog, update special deals, do whatever is necessary to keep your website fresh. BUT, this may all be in vain if you don’t research your keywords well. Google has a great keyword tool, and remember to focus on long-tail keyword phrases. In other words, not just one word keywords, but rather specific phrases that users type into Google. For instance, instead of “widgets”, a user might key in “Doohickey widgets to fix a leaky roof”
  2. Invest in pay-per-click advertising: When you find long tail keywords that work, using them in a PPC campaign, such as Google adwords. Yes, it will cost you money, but is a very wise investment. If your PPC campaign is strategic, you will see a massive increase in traffic to your site, and it will be targeted traffic that wants to buy your product or service.
  3. Understand what works (and what doesn’t): Keep track of your marketing investment, and get rid of the techniques that are not bringing in paying customers. One huge advantage small business have over their larger competitors is they can move quickly. There’s no need to get Board approval if the only director is you!
  4. Get social: We bang on about this a bit here at DSO, but it really is essential to use social media wisely. At least have a Facebook business page, a Twitter account and a Linked-on profile. Also, now is probably a good time to get on board the Google + train. But manage your time on these wisely – a few minutes a day should be all it takes.
  5. Learn something new every day: Keep abreast of what the leaders in your field are doing. Buy books related to your niche (and actually read them!), do some web research, read business blogs, listen to news radio, read the newspaper. Learn whatever you can about business and about your industry, then learn some more.
  6. Don’t try to do everything: The temptation for small (and micro) businesses is to save money. So you build your own website, do your own copywriting, design, recruitment, finances and more. But honestly, this is usually false economy. If you’re not a writer, it may take you hours to write a flyer – hours that could be spent on income-earning work – whereas an experienced copywriter could do it in less than half the time, and it would likely be a lot more effective.
  7. Develop an outstanding e-newsletter: Make sure you have an opt-in subscription on your landing page, and that it is something that people want to sign up for. Offer a free e-book, or a bonus product in return for email addresses. And make sure your email list is kept up-to date.
  8. Invest in technology: There are all sorts of tools out there than can make the job easier. A lot of big businesses are already using them, and not necessarily well. So take the time to learn about the various automation options, and use them properly. This will free up your time to concentrate on the things that can’t be automated.
  9. Offer great customer service: This is the biggest thing small businesses have over their bigger competitors – personal service. This is why some customers prefer small companies, even though their product or service may be a little more expensive. They want handmade kids’ clothes, not chain-store clothes; they want to speak to a real person on the phone, not an automated voice; and they want to know they matter.
  10. Offer a good product or service. Well, duh. But there is no point offering unique handmade clothes if they fall apart the first time they are washed; or a copywriting service that does not translate to sales for the customer. And be honest – don’t tell a customer that you can turn around the logo design in a week, and then take a month; and don’t say you can write web content if all you’ve ever done are press releases.

So, with 2012 In full swing, now is the time to get ahead of your competitors and grow your business. Direct Sites Online is here to assist and advise at any time. Simply call us on 02 9557 7623 or email Peter on: peter@directsitesonline.com

 

 

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