by Lisa J. Lehr
Business owners can easily get stuck in a vicious cycle: Business isn’t so good. They can’t afford to outsource their marketing. They do it themselves, results remain poor, and business remains not-so-good.
How do business owners get out of this vicious cycle? It’s not easy, but it’s simple: they make a decision to get serious about their marketing before they lose their business altogether. If you’re a business owner finding yourself in this rut, here are some ideas to get you started:
1. Define your audience. If you try to market to everyone, you end up marketing to no one. Who’s your target market? Once you’ve figured this out, you may discover you don’t have to spend as much money on marketing as you have been.
2. Find a copywriter. Ask other local business people or do an online search. You can work with someone locally or long-distance, as you prefer. Fee structures vary. After you’ve interviewed a few, it’s best to choose one in the mid-range. Highly paid copywriters are the best, but a lot of their cost is simply their fame. Don’t choose the lowest bidder—you’ll get what you pay for.
3. Get a website! It’s mind-boggling that some business owners still don’t “get it” that a website is absolutely essential. Many potential customers want to “check you out” before they call you or come into your place of business. If they can’t, they may well go to your competitor instead. It’s really not a highly technical task anymore, but if you don’t have the skills or the time to do it yourself, outsource it.
4. Put an opt-in box on your website. Collect names and e-mail addresses. Keep a list. Then keep in touch with your list. It’s that simple.
5. Have a call to action. This can work in harmony with the opt-in, such as “download your free report,” or separately, such as “call for a free consultation.” But be sure to tell your website visitors what you want them to do.
6. Give them free information. It may seem counter-intuitive, but giving away information accomplishes two things: it establishes you as an expert, and it makes people feel indebted to you. Free information can take many forms. Ask your copywriter about it.
7. Take advantage of free publicity. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and several other social media tools are free. Learn how to use them.
8. Leverage testimonials. The first thing you need to know is that you (almost) never use a testimonial word-for-word. That would be akin to recording a real-life conversation and transcribing it as-is for dialog in a novel. (It really doesn’t sound very good.) If you don’t have testimonials (maybe you’re a new business), your copywriter can help you work around this.
9. Leverage customer complaints. Complaints are not all bad! Among other things, they tell you what you need to improve. While an unhappy customer spreads the “bad” word much farther and wider than a happy one spreads the “good” word, you can turn an unhappy customer into a happy one.
10. As a local business, you can create a “coupon swap” program with another local business and double your potential customer base.
11. Ask your copywriter what kinds of marketing collateral would benefit your business. White papers, news releases, fliers, brochures, postcards, and many others are all in the repertoire of any good copywriter.
These are all ideas I thought of in just a few minutes. If any of them sound mysterious to you, it’s probably because you don’t have the marketing expertise that a copywriter has. And that’s fine; you’re not expected to. That’s what copywriters are for.
Get serious about your marketing. Talk to your colleagues, log on to Google, do whatever you need to do to find a copywriter who will make your marketing work…before your business becomes another victim of the vicious cycle.
Lisa J. Lehr is a writer and copywriter living in Grass Valley. She can help you promote your business with a full range of online and offline marketing pieces. A member of Empire Toastmasters, she’s available to speak to your business or professional group. Visit her website www.justrightcopy.com for more information, opt in for the message series, and receive a free Marketing Guide.
Lisa J. Lehr
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