by Lisa J. Lehr
I don’t know about you, but I’m getting really tired of hearing the phrase “in this economy.” As in: “Everyone’s trying to save money…in this economy.” “Who can afford this, that, or the other thing…in this economy?” “Good luck getting a job, making a profit, running a business…in this economy.”
It’s as if “this economy” is a catch-all excuse for failure, inaction, and stuck-ness. Okay, certain things are out of our control. But let’s not throw everything that is within our control into the same hopeless bag. If you’re a business owner, there’s a lot you can do to secure an advantage over your competition who’s given in to the doom-and-gloom mentality of “this economy.”
Here are some starters:
1. Figure out your USP, and tell everybody what it is. If you’re not sure if you even have a USP, it means “unique selling proposition.” So what makes you so special? If you’re not the biggest, the oldest, or the closest, you must have something else that no one else has. Dig it out, polish it up, show it off. Hint: what do your best customers say about you?
2. Make sure your website is as good as it can be. Please don’t tell me you don’t have a website! (Okay, do tell me…I can help.) Forget the flash and snazzy graphics. You need a clean, easily navigable, informative website. The more content, the better—both for getting more web traffic and for making your readers know, like, and trust you. People who know, like, and trust you will buy from you! And on that website…
3. Put an opt-in form in a prominent place. This simple tool can literally bring in 90% of your sales. If you’re not sure what this is, I’m sure you’ve seen them on other websites: people enter their name and e-mail address and give you permission to keep in touch with them. Voila, when they need the product or service you offer, guess who’s top-of-mind—you!
4. Be famous. Not celebrity-famous—but establishing yourself as an expert in your field will put you light-years ahead of your competitors. This means you offer articles, news releases, blog posts, case studies, white papers, even an informative Yellow Pages ad—all kinds of free, no-obligation content that gets your name “out there” and convinces people you know your stuff. Secondary benefit: all that “free stuff” makes people feel indebted to you—and more likely to choose you over your competitors.
5. Have materials to hand out. Called “marketing collateral,” these are all the print pieces that support any sales messages you have: brochures, free articles, point-of-sale take-home pieces, catalogs, magalogs, white papers, and so on. These offline pieces have a “stickiness” that online content doesn’t have: people will keep, re-read, and pass along to others informative reading material. Make sure your contact info (including your web address!) is on everything.
Advertising can be expensive. And that “I can’t afford to advertise…in this economy” mentality has led to the failure of many businesses…especially in this economy. But the above relatively simple and inexpensive strategies will give you the visibility, authority, and distinction you need to remain competitive in your field. Even in this economy. Especially in this economy.
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 a message series, and receive a free Marketing Guide.