Many entrepreneurs wrongly believe that a marketing plan requires weeks or even months of brainstorming, analysis, and implementation. Not so, says Mark Satterfield, author of The One Week Marketing Plan.
Along with some comments from yours truly, here are 10 easy marketing moves, based on Satterfield's book, that you can do today to reach and win customers.
1. Offer something substantial for free.
Conventional business wisdom maintains that giving freebies to prospective clients is a dumb way to do business. However, if you're not offering at least something for free, you'll lose customers you otherwise might win.
Nowhere is this more obvious than in mobile apps, where nearly every product starts free and then becomes pay to play. However, the same tactic works in B2B. Many SMBs provide prospects with a free report or white paper.
2. Hone your marketing content.
Many companies have marketing materials written in boring corporate talk and unnecessarily complicated technical jargon. Here's a trick: Read your marketing content aloud; if you sound like Dilbert's pointy-headed boss, it needs rewriting.
To create content for your site that captures the ongoing interest of potential customers, aim for the tone you'd strike in a one-on-one conversation with a prospect or customer you already like.
Geoffrey's comment: Clear writing requires clear thinking, especially when it comes to removing biz-blab. I recently posted three exercises to train your brain to think and write without these verbal crutches.
3. Start a blog.
Blogging can bring customers to your site, provided you write well and actually have something to say. Each time you post, people searching for keywords it contains will be drawn to your site.
Write about things your target audience cares about, and include the words and phrases they're likely to use when searching for that information. When it's natural, include these keywords in your headlines, too.
Geoffrey's comment: Blogging regularly is not for the faint of heart. Many CEOs and busy executives hire professional writers who already know how to craft posts people want to read and share.
4. Target your social media presence.
People are increasingly using Facebook and LinkedIn as search engines rather than just for social media. Therefore, you must pay as much attention to your pages on these sites as you do to your official website.
As with your blog posts, make sure your bio or profile includes the keywords or phrases that potential customers would use if they were searching for the products or services you offer.
5. Tweet 10 times.
Twitter moves very fast, which means you can get immediate attention. However, to have a sustained presence on Twitter, you've got to commit to tweeting multiple times a day. The trick with Twitter is to find new ways to point at your great content.
For example, suppose your new blog post is "5 Surprising Ways to Reduce Your Taxes." You might tweet a question to tease the blog, e.g., "Which of these tax-saving ideas would save YOU the most money?"
Geoffrey's comment: Don't overuse the retweet function if your following has a big overlap with that of the original tweeter.
6. Create a simple video.
According to numerous studies, video is more effective than text in terms of SEO, lead generation, attracting prospects to your website, keeping them engaged while they are there, and ultimately converting them into customers.
Don't go overboard, though. Create a simple "talking head" video, in which you tell viewers what you've got, why they need it, and what you want them to do next. If you're camera-shy, use a PowerPoint deck and add an audio track.
Geoffrey's comment: Before doing your video, you should create a strong sales message consisting of: 1) a benefit, 2) a differentiator, and 3) an ask. This is easier if you've created your killer elevator pitch.
7. Reply to relevant YouTube videos.
A video reply is where you use your video as a comment on someone else's video. The trick to making this work is to find videos that relate to yours. In other words, would people watching these other videos also be interested in your video?
Start by searching under your keyword phrase to find appropriate videos to reply to. Look for videos that have tens of thousands of views. Avoid videos with hundreds of views (who cares?) or millions of views (you'll get lost in the crowd).
8. Send some direct mail.
Even in today's electronic world of email, texting, and social media, direct mail is still an effective workhorse, simply because so many companies have abandoned it as a marketing method. There is less competition in the mailbox than in an inbox.
Furthermore, with direct mail you not only can pinpoint your target audience, but, unlike email marketing, your customers look at only one envelope at a time, so there's less information overload.
Geoffrey's comment: If you decide to send some direct mail, don't fall into the trap of thinking you'll get a better response if you include more information. Stick with the short and sweet; use your sales message as the core.
9. Initiate a joint venture.
A joint venture is simply a collaboration with someone else with the goal of making money for both of you. Ask yourself: Who else has relationships with the types of people I want as customers or clients?
Find some way to jointly market your services. For example, real estate agents are natural partners for mortgage brokers. Ditto with financial advisers and estate-planning lawyers, or chiropractors and personal-injury attorneys.
Geoffrey's comment: While it takes only a phone call to initiate a joint venture, keeping them alive and active requires personal effort, just like any important relationship.
10. Write a killer press release.
For some reason, most business owners have the slightly crazy idea that the purpose of a press release is to tell people about their businesses and their products. In fact, nobody cares about any of that, least of all the reporters you hope will pick up your story.
It's really quite simple. The media want story ideas that will get people to watch or listen to their show, buy their paper or magazine, or visit their website. To do this, press releases must be evergreen (generally useful advice) or tied to a current event or holiday.
Geoffrey's comment: Journalists are more likely to publish (or use) your press release if it's already written in the style of the specific publication. Online publications tend to like lists ("5 Ways to ...") while print publications prefer narratives ("How I Sold ...").