Marketing Gold In Your Filing System

A recent conversation with a millennial business owner confirmed what I’ve suspected for some time: Facebook and IG (Instagram) are still viable platforms for promoting your business, but if you choose to go the paid advertisement route, be prepared for higher costs and possibly lower returns. Even if folks click on your ad the first time around, but don’t make a purchase of a product or reach out to contact you about a service, your campaign is only half-successful. To complete thee conversion into sales, you’ll have to re-target your advertising to those who clicked your ad, possibly with different content and messaging that may be better at persuading these folks to complete what we call the ‘sales funnel” and make a purchase or reach out to you with their information. I’m not saying that social media platform advertising has lost its luster; it’s still a great way to generate leads (and sales) for most business owners. But be mindful that one ad rarely suffices, and unless you’re willing to invest in a series of re-targeting ads, and trying out split testing, you’re not going to get the results you want as quickly as you want. This, of course, requires planning and budgeting.

For those who lack the resources for the above strategy, consider what you already have: your existing book of business. Email marketing using free web-based services such as MailChimp is one way by which you can shift your business development to focus on getting referrals from past and current customers, instead of working to capture new ones.

Existing or past customers are a key source of referrals and repeat business for all of us. But like prospective customers, you need to be on their “radar” in order for them to think about what you can do for people within their own respective networks. On idea is to set up a MailChimp account and create a list for your past clients with whom you haven’t communicated for a while. If you have an existing MailChimp account, set up a separate contact list and title it as such. All you need is a first name, last name and email address for each contact.

This is essentially a data-entry project. It may require going through all your files to input names and email addresses. But remember that once you get this done (or hire someone to do it for a minimum hourly rate e.g. an intern), you don’t have to do it again. Let’s say you have 150 clients you’ve worked with in the past. You can reach out to them to ask for testimonials and/or share with them a special offer that you make available from prospective clients referred to you when your client contacts forward the email to them (i.e. refer you to others). For almost no money at all, you can refresh your relationships with these past clients, who may actually know someone who could use your service or product as they did.

Again, you’ve got to be committed to a series of emails that breathe new life into your connections to past clients. They need fresh education on what you do, and how well you do it. And always remember to include a “call-to-action” such as “forward this email to someone you know who may benefit from what I do as you have and they will receive “xyz” (e.g. 15% discount).

Even if one person out of 100 past clients refers you to a fresh prospect, and the latter becomes a client, that’s still new business for almost no money at all!

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Before You Invest in Marketing, Think About How Else To Leverage Your Business

I built a website for a client who owns and runs a beautiful farm in the Hudson Valley. She sells produce, boards horses, and breeds goats. I typically start off projects with clients with an overview of their business, with the goal of clarifying their goals so that I can map out their business strategy. With this client, I posed a key question — whether one of her barns was available for rent by would-be brides and companies seeking a more interesting venue for their annual events. These ideas had crossed her mind before, but now that she had to figure out what she wanted her website to promote, it became essential to think about the actual specific revenue streams of her business model.

I’m no McKinsey consultant, but I do know small business.

To me, a business doesn’t “do” marketing simply by jumping into social media advertising, blogging or sales events. The larger picture counts because with the wrong strategic focus, you can lose precious time and money and gain little traction in generating prospects for your business.

Back to my client with the farm … I recommended that she start with group tours on her farm, as the income would be immediate, the capital outlay almost nil, and with a new website and a fairly active social media presence, this seemed the most viable option to focus on. The problem? Insurance. But that too was easily fixed when I found and introduced her to a broker who specialized in farms. He was able to create an umbrella policy for her farm that would also include coverage for group tours, and later, event space rentals.

In short, she could proceed to market these offerings on her website, thereby opening up new sources of revenue.

In time, I also located a highly respected and well-connected family-owned caterer, who would also add value to her farm’s own brand when it came to offering an all-inclusive package for individuals and businesses looking for a seamless and quality experience in event space use. I am a strong believer in co-branding where the fit is good, and a real symbiosis has room to emerge.

My point is this: when you are paying someone to build your website, or take on parts of your marketing, consider first the other ways you might to maximize your assets.

Assets aren’t only physical assets, but can also extend to your own talents or unique strengths. For law firms, it may sometimes be a shift in focus. For example, an estate planning attorney may wish to focus his practice on the straightforward process of setting up Legal Guardianship for children, where clients who sign up will naturally segue into becoming candidates for more complex estate planning. If you’re an immigration attorney who deals primarily with Removal Proceedings (deportation) , it may make sense to partner with criminal law attorneys as removals are often complicated by criminal histories or charges. Even in creative fields, one can find ways to exploit and market one’s other abilities (e.g. a painter who also teaches music can use his website to showcase his art, but in his bio, highlight his experience in teaching music).

So if you do nothing else, do this: take the time to really think about your strengths and assets, and plan and market to them. You may be surprised by what you discover in untapped opportunities and strategic leverage.

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Why The Mobile Version of Your Website is All-Important

I just received another update from Google. This notice is relevant for anyone who has a website -- if your website isn't mobile-friendly, it's time to make sure it is.

Why?

Simply because Google's search-bots rank your site according to your MOBILE version, not your desktop version (as it did in the old days).


If you've got a website that lacks a "responsive" design, then it's time to get that fixed. This isn't anything new, but I've seen enough dated websites to wonder whether some folks aren't aware of how lacking a mobile-friendly site not only hurt the optics of their brand, it also damages their search rankings.

My advice: either you have a modern website that meets search engine requirements and contain valuable content that cater to long-tail searches ... or DON't have one at all. Badly designed, non-compliant sites create a bad first impression.

If you haven't got time to create an entire new website, then create a single Cover Page with the essentials, and build your fresh content (additional pages) over time.

And make sure that single page is mobile-friendly and comparable to your site's desk-top version.

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