Beyond Business Cards: Marketing Tools You Need to Succeed

kathryn by Kathryn Hawkins on April 11, 2011
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Back in the old days (as in, just a decade ago), all you really needed to promote your business was a stack of business cards and brochures, and maybe a membership to your local Chamber of Commerce. But now that most potential customers spend hours online every day, there are many new marketing outlets to consider. Here’s a look at some of the latest tools you should be using to promote your company.

1)   Your own website – Even if you don’t sell products online, it’s important to have your own slice of real estate on the web: For most people, Google has replaced the Yellow Pages when it comes to looking up businesses. Your site should provide a good picture of what your business offers, have information on how to contact you, and provide news and special promotions. You can keep things basic — but don’t cut corners on design and development costs, or the resulting site could reflect badly on your image and business.

2)   An online mailing list – A weekly or monthly email newsletter can be a great way to communicate with a growing customer base and offer special promotions to bring them to your store. You can even send different promotions to different customers, depending on their interests. Include a prominent sign-up form on your website, and leave a sign-up sheet in your store for walk-in customers. Try a service like Constant Contact or VerticalResponse to manage your lists.

3)   A Facebook Page – Creating a page on Facebook may seem like overkill when you already have your own website, but think again. Building a Facebook Page is a great way to drive interaction among your existing fans, and to encourage them to spread the word about your business by “sharing” the link to your page with their friends. Check out these tips on building a Facebook Page for your small business.

4)   A blog – A website can work if you simply want to use it as a virtual business card, but if you want to drive new leads, connecting a search-optimized blog is the way to do it. The more content and backlinks you have, the higher your business will rank for the search terms relevant to your industry. For maximum growth, write a post about a relevant topic within your field at least twice a week. Here are some simple tips for making your blog Google-friendly.

5)   White papers and case studies (sometimes) – If you run a retail business, white papers and case studies are probably unnecessary. However, if your company contracts with executive-level clients who need to get a sense of how your product or service works before committing to it, it’s well worth investing in these marketing communication tools. White papers are informative guides to specific industry topics that don’t focus specifically on your branded product, but illustrate how such products can be used to solve a problem. Case studies are detailed examples depicting a previous client’s issue and how your company solved it. Both types of communication must be detailed and well-written, so it’s well worth hiring an experienced marketing copywriter to take on these jobs.

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