Avoid These 6 Small Business Marketing Mistakes

When you have a small business, there is typically less room for error. Every decision you make is important, so it is vital that you get the most out of every move you make. This is especially true when it comes you your marketing. Too many marketing mistakes can cost you valuable time and money, while good marketing decisions will help your business grow.

Let’s look at some common marketing mistakes many small business owners make, along with strategies you can implement to avoid them:

1. Going Too Cheap

Remember the old adage “You have to spend money to make money.” It’s true. There are affordable and effective marketing strategies out there, but you don’t want to cheap out on all marketing. There is a big difference between being smart with your investments and being a cheapskate. Do your research and spend your marketing dollars wisely.

2. Overlook Your Marketing Budget

Part of investing in marketing is staying within a budget. Be as aggressive as you can without going beyond your means. Also, remember a budget shouldn’t be set in stone. Every year (if not every quarter), you should review your marketing budget. As your business grows, so should your budget.

3. The Dreaded Shotgun Approach

You aren’t Coca-Cola or Budweiser. You don’t have millions of dollars to spend on marketing and advertising every year. This means you should target your marketing as much as possible. Identify your ideal customers and find effective means to reach them directly. We’re talking ad placements in targeted publications or specific sections of publications. We’re talking social media marketing and Google Adwords that can be dialed in to reach a narrow audience. We’re talking SEO-oriented web content, direct mail, blogs and email campaigns designed to generate calls to action from your target audience.

4. Failing to Do Research

Haphazard marketing leads to inconsistent results. Study what your competition is doing. Research your target audience and their spending habits. Look at all your marketing and media options before investing in a full-scale marketing campaign. In other words, look before you leap.

5. Not Paying Attention to Your Results

Again, every marketing decision you make is crucial to your success. Track your results, understand where leads are coming from and know what is working (and what is not). This will enable you to adjust your strategies and distribute your budget in a way that is most effective as time goes on. Never stop tracking your marketing results.

6. DIY Disasters

There are some areas in life where you can get away with a do-it-yourself (DIY) approach. Unless you’ve studied marketing (branding, media placement, graphic design, copywriting, SEO/web content, social media strategy, etc.), you will be at a disadvantage. You will make more mistakes at the beginning or you may not be able to notice the mistakes you are making. Consider investing in professional marketing services, just like you would your business attorney or accountant. Let the experts do what they do best while you are focusing on other important components of your business.

NextGear Marketing offers a wide variety of marketing services catered to small businesses. We understand you have a budget, and we know how to help you get the most of it. From our custom web content, blogging and social media management packages to creating high-quality branding and marketing materials for your company, we provide all the marketing services you need at an affordable rate. NextGear Marketing is a small business, as well, so we know what it takes to help your small business achieve more.

Contact us today for a no-obligation marketing consultation.

What Are Community Pages?

Last week, we discussed the advantages of setting call-to-action-oriented landing pages to attract new customers and gather contact information for future use. We briefly mentioned the concept of “community” pages, which are a little different in purpose. This week, we want to explore the ins and outs of community-specific landing pages.

So, What is a Community Page?

Like a landing page, it is a singular page that is not necessarily part of your main site’s navigation. It’s purpose, however, is primarily for SEO more than it is about inducing a specific action from the visitor.

A community page highlights a specific product or service that you offer, while simultaneously including keywords and searchable information about each specific community you serve. Community pages are best utilized by a business that is regionally focused.

A Real-Life Scenario

For example, NextGear Marketing is based in Orange County, CA. We actually work with clients all over North America, but for the sake of argument let’s say we wanted to create a targeted community page campaign to attract more local business. And let’s say we want to promote our blogging services for small businesses.

Orange County is a big place and there are many cities here. We can’t include all of them in SEO tags, page titles and content keywords throughout our typical web pages and blog posts. That would be too cumbersome. Therefore, we can create multiple landing pages to promote our blogging services in the various communities/cities of Orange County.

Ultimately, there could be dozens of pages. One for Santa Ana, one for Irvine, Orange, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Anaheim, San Clemente… you get the idea. Each one will highlight some aspects of the city (landmarks, major businesses, district names, schools, etc.) and why it’s great to do business there. Then, we would talk about the features of NextGear Marketing’s blog packages and why they would benefit a small business in that particular community.

Now, you have a page that has very strong and very targeted SEO geared toward NextGear Marketing’s blog services relating to a specific city, not just Orange County, Southern California or North America in general. You can see how this might have a powerful impact if a business owner from that city is looking for localized information about blogging. They have a much better chance of finding NextGear Marketing’s targeted landing page, and when they do they’ll find someone that appeals to their own local focus.

Strategies for Community Pages

It’s important to remember that each community page has different verbiage. Many of the selling points can be the same and the overall tone should be consistent, but you absolutely need to mix up the wording. In addition, incorporate some localized imagery relating to the community being featured. Each page needs to have unique content or you will lose significant SEO potential. It can be a tedious job, but it is well worth it in the end.

There should be strong calls-to-action incorporated into the content and internal links to other pages on your website for more information about different topics. Direct sales can come from a good community landing page. Just remember that SEO is the primary goal with them.

NextGear Marketing offers good package pricing for writing the content of community landing pages. You should talk with your web developer about what it will take to set up the individual pages with a unique subdomain or URL pattern that won’t interfere with your normal site navigation.

To discuss the potential of custom community landing pages further, contact NextGear Marketing today for a free marketing consultation.

Get the Most Out of Your Landing Pages

Last week, we talked about how to boost and advertise specific blog posts in order to increase exposure for your business. Though boosting can be an effective long-term strategy, it likely won’t generate as many direct results, such as:

     • Product Sales

     • Lead Generation

     • Gathering Contact Information for Emails, Telemarketing, etc.

If these immediate results are what you are looking for, you’ll want to consider a different web content approach: landing pages.

A landing page is a stand-alone web page. Typically it won’t show up on your regular website’s navigation and the landing page itself might not contain any navigation elements to take a visitor back to your website. It is designed with a singular purpose in mind. The landing page is meant to drive a specific action on behalf of the visitor.

Let’s say you have a product you want to sell. You build web page just to promote this one product and you incorporate strong calls to action throughout the page. You create a strong case for why someone would want that product and highlight any features that make it enticing. Think of it like a QVC segment on a web page. You create demand and desire with engaging content, imagery and graphics.

Calls to action should be peppered throughout the page so that the reader will be drawn to take that next step. Whether it’s a number they need to call or a hyperlink to a product ordering page, give them many opportunities to purchase that product immediately.

If lead generation or information gathering is your goal, then encourage that response throughout the page and include contact info fields for them to fill out. Make that action step clear and prominent.

A landing page is typically very different than a blog. Blogs are a good long-term web marketing strategy and the content shouldn’t be overly salesy (at least in our opinion). Landing pages are direct response oriented.

Having said that, there are several different styles that marketers will utilize when developing landing pages:

  1. Direct Sales You sell your product or service very directly. It’s clear that the page wants you to buy something from the moment you look at it.
  2. Informational Article These can be more subtle and similar to a blog approach, but they are still written to produce a specific result. Present the web page like a news article or information page and then build up to a specific call to action.
  3. Event Sales Perhaps you host seminars where the real sales happen or your sales require a more in-depth personal approach (on the phone, in person, online chats, etc.). Use a landing page to get people to an event or to schedule a consultation, where the sales can then be made.
  4. Community Pages These are a bit more involved and there will be a more detailed article here next week on the NextGear Marketing blog. In a nutshell, these are multiple landing pages with sales/service information tailored to all the different geographic communities or target audiences you wish to attract.

So how do people find your landing page if it’s not directly connected to your website? That’s where you might use social media advertising methods on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. Or, Google Adwords and other pay-per-click options. Certainly share links to the page on your social media pages. A landing page could also be converted into an email campaign (either to drive people to the landing page or the landing page itself is sent in an email format). The landing page itself should also include plenty of key words and SEO tags so people can find it organically through web searches.

Whatever your goals, a landing page (or series of landing pages) may be the right web content approach for you. For more information about landing pages, contact NextGear Marketing today.

Should You Pay to Boost Blog Posts?

It’s a good question.

However, the answer—like so many things in marketing—is a bit more complex than just yes or no. It depends on your budget and your blog objectives. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of boosting specific blog posts.

What it Means to Boost a Blog Post or Web Page

First, let’s review what it means to pay for boosting a post. Facebook and most other social media sites will allow you to boost any post. You can set a daily advertising budget and whittle down your target audience based on geography, demographics and identified interests. You could also use Google Adwords or other online advertising outlets to boost a specific page on your website. That could be a blog post you think is engaging, a targeted landing page or just your general home page. For this article, though, we’re just talking about boosting specific blog articles.

There’s no doubt that paying extra to boost a blog post will garner more exposure for that article. As long as you have an interesting headline and tease copy, you will get some click-throughs. If more exposure for your company is your primary goal, then boosted posts are worthwhile. You will get more visitors to your site and that’s a good thing.

On the other side of the coin, if your objective is to generate sales, you will probably want to focus your efforts on a call-to-action oriented landing page rather than a regular blog article.

The Purpose of Blogging

At NextGear Marketing, we don’t view business blogging as a direct sales tool. It’s a long-term marketing strategy, not a short-term solution that will get you a ton of calls overnight. Over time, your blog will help you build up your brand exposure, customer loyalty, industry credibility and, obviously, SEO appeal through engaging, substantive content that’s posted on a frequent basis.

A landing page will allow you to be more sales-oriented and focused on creating a call-to-action from the consumer. Next week, we will focus more on how to build an effective landing page.

Sales vs. Engagement

If your blog is too salesy, it just won’t be as effective. Yes, you definitely want to incorporate some call-to-action in the articles. Just follow our blog and you’ll see NextGear Marketing is always referenced with some sort of “contact us” line toward the end of each post.

That said, the quality of the content should always come first with a blog. It should be engaging and/or informative, otherwise nobody will read the articles and you won’t develop any consistent followers. Any call-to-action is secondary or should be subtly incorporated into the story. Though they will happen, you typically don’t want to expect a lot of direct sales to come from your blog. That line of thinking will lead to a poor blog strategy in our opinion.

So, going back to the original question. Boosting blog posts you think will garner a lot of interest from your customer base is a good idea if your main focus is to generate more exposure for your company. If immediate sales is the only priority, then come back to NextGear Marketing next week for insight on creating powerful landing pages.