How To Start Implementing Your Marketing Strategy Today

 

As a small business owner you have to assume many roles, from the chief marketing officer to the VP of Janitorial Services (e.g., cleaning the bathrooms).  With so much on your plate it can be difficult to find time to do what is probably the most important activity for your business, marketing.

If you’re not an experienced marketer, which most first-time business owners aren’t, you may find it overwhelming to keep up with the never-ending need to market your business.  Taking time to research and plan your marketing activities can be difficult when you have dozens of other things to do during the course of the day, but you must spend the necessary time to plan and implement your marketing strategy if you want your business to grow.  No matter how great your product or service is, it doesn’t matter if people don’t know about it.

 

Break Your Marketing Down Into Actionable Steps

Just the thought of creating a marketing campaign would make many small business owners cringe, the key is to break down your marketing activities (or anything really) into bite-sized action steps that you can complete in a short amount of time.  By breaking down your marketing activities into smaller steps, it allows you to take action more often, without having to wait until you have a large block time.

Whenever I have something important I need to get done, I like to create a mini-project out of it.  If you simply write down something like, “write a blog post”on your to do list, it might not get done.  Why? Because writing a blog post requires several activities to be performed in order to create a new blog post.  The key is breaking down all of those activities in order and gathering all of the necessary resources you will need for the project beforehand.  The method I use is based on the book, “Making Ideas Happen”.

While most of my life is digital, there are some things where I still prefer a paper and pen, and a to-do list is one of those things.  If you prefer digital, there are several online applications that can help manage prjects, the one I use and highly recommend is called Trello.  It’s simple to use, it’s free and it kind of feels like you are using index cards on a corkboard, which I also love.

What I use is a simple folder to hold any notes or information I might need and paper clip a sheet of paper on the front of it that breaks down all of the activities I need to do in order to complete my project, which in this case is creating a new blog post.  See the image below for an example (you can download a PDF of the sheet I use below)

Marketing Project Worksheet Sheet Example

Create a List of Marketing Opportunities

Make a list of all the available marketing opportunities you would like to pursue.  Hopefully, you can get this information from your marketing plan. If you do not have a marketing plan in place yet,  just make a list of marketing opportunities. You may have been meaning to place an ad in the local paper or to create a new Facebook advertising campaign, list out everything on a sheet of paper or on your computer.

 

Turn Each Marketing Activity Into Its Own Project

I personally love the Action Method by Behance, where you turn everything you need to accomplish into mini-projects that lets you break anything down into simple action steps.

Using a sheet of paper, do the following:

  • Write down the marketing activity you would like to take action on
  • Write out all of the steps necessary to make it happen, in sequential order
  • Gather necessary information and resources that will be needed and put them in your folder
  • Keep all of your resources together for reference.  You can print your resources and place them  in a folder or add the reference links to your computer document.

Better yet, download these project sheets for free based on the action method used in the book, “Making Things Happen“.

 

Take Action

Now that you have each marketing activity written down with its own action steps, you are ready to take action.  Starting with the most important marketing activity, simply take one action step at a time until the project is completed.  Don’t feel the need to wait until you have enough time to finish all of the steps, do one at a time and continue when you have the opportunity.  For example, if the project you have has four steps and you think completing all of them will take two hours, start with only the first step which may only take twenty minutes and continue to step two when you have more time.  If you do a little bit at a time you will keep moving forward until the project is complete.

 

Below is a sample of a project created for placing an ad on Facebook To Drive Traffic To Your Website

 

  1. Read the tutorial on Facebook on how to create a Facebook ad (15 min)
  2. Read three articles like this one on Facebook advertising (20 min)
  3. Create a profile for the type of customer I will be targeting (20 min)
  4. Sign up for Facebook advertising (10 min)
  5. Determine the budget that will be allocated to campaign (10 min)
  6. Write out 3 versions of my ad and gather images for each ad  (60 min)
  7. Create each ad and start campaign ( 15 min)

 

As you can see, I took a project that was going to take me approximately 2 1/2 hours and broke it down into seven smaller steps that can be completed one at a time, without having to continue on to the next step if time does not allow.  It may take you a month to set aside 2 1/2 hours, but you may be able to start tomorrow if you only need fifteen minutes to complete a single step.

As you can see, it’s really a simple system, but it works.  This method not only applies to your marketing activities but to any tasks that will require time to complete.  There is also the satisfaction of crossing off each step as you complete them, getting you ever closer to your goal.

5 Places Where Your Business Is Leaving Revenue On The Table

5 Places Where Your Business Is Leaving Revenue On The Table

Every business wants to generate more revenue.  More (and hopefully better) marketing is usually the solution to that, at least that is how most business owners see it.

 

What business owners don’t see is the mountain of revenue that goes untapped each year in their business.  Right in front of them, all around them, are opportunities to generate more revenue without gaining a single new customer or spending a dollar on additional marketing.

 

So why is the focus almost always on finding new business instead of maximizing the business they already have?  In my opinion, it comes down to the complexity of the solution.

 

More marketing usually means spending some money on advertising to generate interest and leads.  Pretty straightforward, spend some money and get some business.  Yes, a super simple example but you get the point….it doesn’t require a ton of planning/effort on the part of the business owner, only some money in most cases.

 

On the other hand, generating more revenue from missed opportunities in your business usually requires more planning/effort than money.  Figuring out how to generate more revenue with existing opportunities requires evaluation, strategy, planning, and execution……who has time for that?  Many internal opportunities lie in operational inefficiencies, lack of training and lack of managerial oversight.  All things that pretty much place the responsibility and blame on the business owner.

 

Much easier to just spend more money on advertising than to confront these complex issues.

 

So while every business needs to generate a continual stream of new business in order to stay healthy, they also need to look at their existing business and figure out how to generate more revenue from the leads and customers they already have.

 

Below are some common places where businesses continually leave money on the table.

 

Current Customers

Your current customers are your most important source of additional revenue.  You have an existing relationship with these people and they have already proven that they are willing to spend money on your business.  You have already spent the time and money to acquire them, so why not make the most of it?

 

Look at your current customers and see what additional products/services you can offer them.  Many of your current customers may have no idea what else you offer, it is your job to introduce them to these other offerings.  If you sell a one-time product, like a home generator or HVAC system, you can offer a yearly maintenance contract to service it each year.  Look at your current customer list and see who you can offer this subscription service to.

 

If you sell replenishable products, do you know when each of your customers should be running out of product?  Timely reminders and discounts can entice customers to purchase more frequently from you.  If they currently buy from you twice a year on average, imagine what your business would look like if you could get your customers to buy three times a year?

 

From additional sales to more referrals, examine your current customer database to find opportunities to grow your revenue.

 

Upsells

Are you making the most of each sale?  Why do you think supermarkets are full of candy, magazines, beverages and small ticket items in each checkout lane?  Because these are impulse purchases that people make that they probably wouldn’t have if they were sitting there in front of them.  Better yet, train your employees (or build into your checkout process if e-commerce), to offer complementary products/services at the point of sale.

 

If you sell swimming pools, offer a discounted pool chemical package at the time of purchase, they will need it anyway.  You can also offer upgraded filters, pumps, heaters, etc at the time of purchase.  A customer may not even know these upgrades are available and won’t know to ask unless you offer it to them.  If you are a bakery, remind people that it’s cheaper to buy by the dozen or offer a free pastry if they purchase a dozen, it can help push someone only wanting 6 pastries into buying 12.

 

Think about how you can bundle additional products/services at the point of sale to increase your average ticket size. The easiest time to sell to someone is when they have made or are about to make a purchase.  The wallet is out, their wallet is out, make the most of it because you may never see it again.

 

Conversions

I had a client that used to continually say that not getting enough leads was the one big bottleneck in their business. They would say they had a great sales team, support staff and everything needed to grow their business….except they did not have enough leads.  Since transactions happened offline, it was difficult to see conversion numbers but I was told they consistently had a 30-35% close rate once they scheduled an appointment.  That’s a pretty impressive close rate considering they were selling services that cost between $8-30K.

 

Over 3 years we doubled the amount of leads they received each year, but the revenue was barely growing.  So we instituted a new CRM/Marketing Automation package to closely track every lead that came in.  And guess what we learned?  Conversions are actually sitting around 7% and a good chunk of their yearly sales are coming from old, existing referral business where the sales were pretty much automatic.  So much for a well-oiled machine.

 

With a dismal conversion rate, it makes no sense to spend more on marketing until you can fix your conversion issues.  It’s like having a shower with very little water pressure due to a leaking pipe and trying to fix it by cranking up the water pressure.  Yeah, you had a nice shower but flooded your basement in the process.

 

Examine your conversions (if you use your gut, you are 100% always wrong) and your sales process and see where the leaks are.  Increasing your conversion rate by only a few percentage points can have a dramatic impact on your bottom line.  But like I said earlier, it’s easier to spend more money on advertising than it is to repair a broken sales process.

 

Past Customers

Just like current customers, past customers can be a gold mine of additional revenue waiting for you to take it.  Once people stop doing business with you, it’s easy to forget about them or to place them on some generic newsletter until they finally mark you as a spammer.

 

It’s hard work, but maintaining relationships with past customers can keep the door open to new business.  People stop doing business with you for a variety of reasons.  Maybe they no longer needed your services, or finances got in the way, or maybe they decided to try a competitor, the point is that they purchased from you once and some of them will purchase again.

 

Maybe you are offering new products/services from when they were your customer.  Maybe their circumstances have changed and they are now ready to start buying from you again.  You will never know unless you re-open the lines of communications again.

 

I have a client who has a corporate training business that wanted figure out how to generate new business as it was in decline ever since the recession hit in 2008.  We went through his business and discovered he had run over 1500 corporate training events over the past 20 years.  When I asked him what he did to stay in touch with these past customers and to get repeat gigs, you know what his answer was?  Nothing.  Yes, he spent all of his energy trying to figure out how to get new business and completely ignored 20 years of past customers.  Shocking but true and there are many businesses out there that do the exact same thing.

 

Even if they don’t need you anymore, maintaining a good relationship will keep the door open for referrals from them in the future. Go through and find some of your best past customers and start building a relationship with them again.

 

New Offerings

Do you know what your customers want?  Have you ever asked them?  For internet marketers, the most successful strategy going is to build a huge audience (leads for their online business) and then just ask them what they want.  Once the audience tells them, they go out and make it for them and make lots of money in the process.  They actually do the exact opposite of every other business, they build a relationship with their audience and then sell them whatever they are looking to buy.

 

Maybe you need to offer additional products or services to your business.  Maybe you need to bundle your products/services or the opposite, breaking your product/service into smaller parcels for your customers.  Maybe you need to do all of this.

 

Snack packs came about because some people didn’t want to buy a giant pack of potato chips, they only wanted enough for a single serving.  Costco came about because families wanted to buy in larger quantities (at a cheaper price) than they could get at the supermarket.  Online tax services well audit protection services as an add-on because people who do their own taxes are afraid of the prospect of having to deal with the IRS on their own if they get audited.

 

Look at your customers and look at your current offerings and see where there is potential to offer them something new, something old just packaged and presented differently.

 

Go find that revenue

So now you have a few ideas where you can increase revenues without needing new customers or paying for more advertising.  It takes more time and effort, but cashing in on these opportunities can have a huge impact on the financial health of your business.

Crush Your Competition by Exploiting the Arbitrage in Your Industry

Marketing Arbitrage

Are the businesses in your industry using all marketing options available to them to their full potential?

The answer is no.  And in many industries, the answer is, “not even close”.

If you take the time to study your industry and your competitors, you will find that there are numerous examples of marketing arbitrage ready for you to exploit.

What is Arbitrage?

Arbitrage is a term traditionally used with financial instruments like commodities and stocks.  There are sometimes differences in the price someone is willing to pay for a financial instrument and what people are selling them for. Arbitrage is the exploiting of this middle price area where you simultaneously buy and sell that financial instrument and make a profit off of the price difference between the two.

You use arbitrage all the time.  A simple example is going to a garage sale where you see an antique table selling for $10.  You know it is worth more, so you buy it and then resell that table on Ebay for $50.  You took advantage of the arbitrage in what the table was selling for and what it was actually worth.  In this case you made a cool $40 because you were able to spot the arbitrage where no one else was.

If you are in a service industry like mortgage brokers, real estate agents, cleaning companies, you probably know of several companies offering to sell leads to you for a price.  These companies are already taking advantage of the marketing arbitrage in your industry.  In this case, they know they can get a lead at a certian price and then sell it to you for a much higher price.

So now that you understand what arbitrage is, do you see how this can be applied to marketing?

Marketing Arbitrage

Marketing legend, Jay Abraham, was the one who introduced me to the concept of looking for marketing arbitrage opportunities.

I’m primarily an internet marketer, that is what I sell and where I spend most of my time.  But I also own another business where we spend plenty of time and money on traditional marketing so finding marketing arbitrage opportunities is not just for online marketing.

You can find marketing arbitrage opportunities in many areas, like where businesses are marketing, how they package/position their product or bringing ideas from another industry into yours.

Finding the  Arbitrage in Your Industry

In some industries, marketing arbitrage is easy to spot.  Many traditional industries are still stuck in the stone age,  thinking that a Yellow Pages ad or a roadside billboard places you in on the cutting edge of marketing.

Lawyers, especially older firms, are an example of an industry still living in the past.  I personally know of two lawyers who have been paying for Yellow Pages ads for over 25 years just because that is what they have always done.  Neither of them have a website.  Yes, no website.

Car dealers still spend the vast majority of their advertising budget on billboards and newspaper ads.  They still go with the outdated  motto of, “people are coming through the door and buying cars so it must be working”.  What a waste of money and what an opportunity for the car dealer down the street who is ready to venture into new marketing territory and to think differently from their dinosaur peers.

On the flip side, you have many internet first companies spending 100% of their resources with online marketing, which is why you are seeing some internet companies starting to use more traditional methods of advertising, they are looking for areas of opportunity in their industry that are not being exploited.

While many of the arbitrage opportunities we are speaking about revolve around marketing, you can find opportunities in the actual product/service, technology and how you deliver your product/service.

If you want to spot the opportunities, then you need to study what your industry and competitors are doing to market themselves.  Search online, subscribe to competitor newsletters, buy the local papers and look through the ads.  Buy their products, call their companies, let their sales reps give their pitch to you (or a friend) You need to know what your competitors are doing (or not doing) before you can find the arbitrage and exploit it.

Some questions to ask.

  • Where are they spending their time and marketing dollars?
  • Who are the innovators in my industry and what are they doing differently?
  • Who really impresses you with their marketing?
  • What was the last big change or innovation in your industry?
  • Are the businesses in your industry marketing the same way they did 10 years ago?

What you will usually find is that there are a handful of first movers who are always on the front line of news things, some do it very well and some are still trying to figure it out.  The majority of your competitors though are still stuck in the status quo, going along with everyone else like a school of guppies.

Some industries innovate faster than others, but many are just waiting for someone to come along and turn the industry upside down.  In your case, you don’t have to turn your entire industry upside down (unless you want to), just your local market.

Examples

Diamond Candles

Candle making is thousands of years old.  It’s an industry, for the most part, that has been left unchanged aside from new scents and candle shapes.  Unless you sell bulk, it doesn’t really make sense to sell online since anyone can go their neighborhood box or dollar store and buy a candle.

Diamond Candles came in and turned the candle industry on its head.  And they did it with no budget, no prior experience in candle making and no connections in the candle industry.  I believe last year, they had revenues of over 20 million dollars selling candles online and they have only been in business a few years.

So what did they do differently?  

They looked at a complacent industry and looked for ways to bring innovation to it.  They used the classic “combining” creativity technique and brought together two industries.  Candles and jewelry.  Every candle has a ring inside it, with some of them having a diamond ring inside it.  So when you purchase a candle from them, you get the suspense of waiting to see if there is a diamond ring waiting at the end of your candle.  People have gone nuts of this concept and has spawned dozens of copycats and variations on this concept to the candle industry.

If you want to learn more about the creative technique of “Combining” along with dozens of other creativity exercises, read the book, “Thinkertoys”, by Michael Michalko.  It is the best book I have found on creativity.

Uber

The Taxi and Limousine Commission has left the taxi industry virtually unchanged in 50 years.  They still use the same radios, pricing system and equipment they have always used, despite numerous opportunities to bring innovation into their industry.

Along comes Uber, who said, “people getting frustrated not being able to hail a cab, yet there are thousands of people driving around in their cars who would love to make some extra money”.

So what did they do differently?

They combined technology and an untapped workforce to democratize the taxi industry, allowing just about anyone to make some extra money whenever they feel like it.  They also made a lot of enemies and pissed a lot of people off along the way, but like it or not, that’s how you innovate.

Is your industry underutilizing technology or other resources that you can exploit?  I bet if you do an hour of brainstorming you will find at least one gold nugget on your list of ideas.

Similar to Uber, Airbnb has disrupted the hotel industry and has turned anyone with a rental property or a spare bedroom into a hotelier.

Some Arbitrage Ideas For You

There are hundreds of opportunities waiting for you, but below are some ideas and examples to get you started.

Online Marketing

I have a client who uses Google Adwords for their Pay Per Click marketing.  Problem is that virtually all of their competitors are on Google Adwords, with a single click costing over $20.  But when it comes to Facebook Ads, there is only one other competitor on there, leaving the entire platform wide open for us to dominate it and at a fraction of the cost of Google Adwords.

Look for online marketing opportunities in your industry that your competitors are ignoring or don’t really understand.  This could be SEO, paid advertising or email marketing, the point is to look for the gaps and opportunities you can leverage.

Sales

Are your competitors only using outbound sales practices like cold calling, door knocking, email marketing?  If they are not using inbound marketing strategies then that is a golden opportunity for you to leverage your expertise to become the thought leader in your industry.  Think of Dr. Sears for pediatrics or Seth Godin for marketing.

On the flip side, if everyone is focusing on creating content and waiting for the leads to come to them, go out and initiate some outbound sales practices and account based marketing for your business.  The key is, if the norm in your industry is to do “X”, then go and try “Y”.

Product/Service Innovation

If you offer a service, look at productizing some of your offerings.  If you have a product or service, think about how you can bring a product or idea from another industry and apply it to yours, just like Diamond Candles did.

Create value propositions that will make your competitors too scared to match.  An unconditional money back guarantee is something most businesses are afraid to offer, but can increase sales by 10x.  The truth is, and why most retailers like Amazon offer them, is that the rate of return is minuscule compared to the increased revenue they get by doing something others are afraid to do.

If you want to listen to how it’s done from an expert, click here to listen to Tony Robbins interview Jay Abraham.

If the standard warranty for you industry is 1 year, make yours 5.  You’ve seen this in the auto industry over the last few years where standard 3-year warranties have become 10-year bumper to bumper warranties.

If people come to your business, then go to their homes.  If your product comes in a certain size, offer more sizes.  Use healthier ingredients in your products or just offer more of it at the same price as your competitors.  Start a generous loyalty program or awesome value adds with every purchase.  The thing is to look at what your competition is not doing, or doing poorly, and leverage it to your advantage.

Partnerships

Make strategic partnerships in your community.  Other businesses, non-profits and local government are all ways to stand out from your competitors.  Most of your competitors probably don’t have the time to do this kind of business development, but strategic partnerships can not only grow your business, they can also give you leverage in your community that your competitors can’t easily copy.

Find the arbitrage opportunities in your industry

Now that you know what arbitrage is, examples of how other companies used it and some ideas to get you started, where is the arbitrage in your industry and how will you take advantage of it?

How To Get an Entry Level Marketing Job

 

Are you looking for an entry level marketing job?

Maybe you’re close to finishing university and starting to look at the current job market or you’re switching careers and want to get into marketing.  In either case, you probably know by now that the competition for marketing jobs is fierce.

And when I mean marketing jobs, I don’t mean marketing jobs where you sit in a call center all day annoying people or selling door to door for some MLM scheme.  I mean a real marketing job with a real marketing agency doing real marketing.

I’ve hired my share of marketing newbies over the past 9 years and have also hosted  several marketing internships. I’ve also hired for many marketing positions on behalf of my clients.  What I have learned is that most universities (at least the ones I have hired from) do a poor job in preparing marketing majors for the real world.  Sure, they may learn all about brand positioning, AIDA, the P’s and C’s of marketing, market research, etc, but they rarely teach the skills that marketing agencies are really looking for.

Too Fast For School

I work primarily in the digital marketing space and I think it moves too fast for university curriculums to keep up to date with, which is why they mostly teach broad, timeless marketing principles. Many that are woefully outdated.   While this may serve as a good foundation for individuals just getting started in marketing, it still leaves marketing agencies with the heavy task of training new hires in pretty much everything.

Have you ever done a marketing internship?  If you’re like most students, you were either the office gopher (more coffee please?) or you were stuck doing the grunt work nobody else in the office wanted to do.  Why?  Because you did not have the skills that they were looking for and they did not have the time or energy to train you or hold your hand all summer so instead they matched you for what you were qualified for, not much.

Am I being harsh?  A little bit, but there is a lot of truth in what I am saying because I hear it from marketing students all the time.

So what do you do?

The first thing you do is to realize that a marketing degree gets you a ticket to the game, but it does not get you a ticket to a marketing job, or even a marketing internship position.  It’s nice that you graduated with a marketing degree, you and 50 thousand other people this year.

The second thing you need to realize is that what will get you your first entry-level marketing job is not what you have done in school, but what you have done outside of school while you were in school.  That’s a mouthful.

When I look at a marketing resume, the only things that jump out at me are the marketing accomplishments outside of school.  

Things I Look For

Your Own Blog

Do you have a blog?  No?  Why not? Having your own blog shows that you not only love marketing, but also love to write about it.  It’s your chance to show people and future employers your ideas about marketing, how you think and to show off how much you know.  Marketing today revolves a lot around content, showing future employers that you know how to write gives you a leg up on your competition.

Social Media Presence

On a personal level, I’m not that active on social media, though I do have a decent Twitter following.  This only happened once, but I had a marketing student interview for an internship and when I checked her Twitter profile, she had a following twice the size of mine.  Color me impressed!  Not only do I know that she understood social media, she was really good at it.  Moral of the story?  Actions speak much louder than words.

Certifications and Skills Earned Outside of School

Most people don’t realize this, but you don’t have to go to university in order to learn.  Want to walk into a marketing interview with accomplishments that 99.99% of your peers will not have?  Show up to an agency interview as a Google Certified Adwords Individual (you will have to get an agency to sponsor you or sign up as an agency)  or a graduate of Hubspot Inbound Marketing University or Hootsuite’s Podium.  What do all of these have in common?  They are freely available to anyone who wants to take them.  You can also sign up for courses on Udemy or similar platforms and start educating yourself on that is important in marketing today.

Dilbert Marketing Quote

Dilbert.com

Skills Most Agencies/Companies Look For In New Marketing Hires

Content Marketing

Content plays such a big role in marketing today.  From SEO to branding, inbound marketing is how many companies are spending their marketing resources and creating great content is the cornerstone of a great inbound marketing strategy.

You should have an understanding of copywriting, how to edit and format content for the web and how to use Content Management System,  like WordPress.  Having your own active blog will demonstrate all of these proficiencies for you to a prospective employer.

Conversion Optimization

Conversion Optimization gets its roots from direct mail, where you are creating an environment for people to take action.  It’s setting up your website, landing page, advertisements, and emails so they move prospective customers through the path you want to take them, which will eventually lead to a sale or similar conversion goal.

They really don’t teach this in school. but if you have a firm grasp on how conversion optimization works, you will be ahead of pretty much all of your peers, even many of the people you would be working with.  This is something you can learn on your own and practice on your own.  You can learn about Conversion Optimization here, here and here.

Search Engine Optimization

This is the holy grail of skills in marketing.  Many people claim to be good at SEO but most people don’t really understand what it is, let alone have the skills/knowledge to be good at it.  The reason is that good SEO involves a wide skill set and involves have a grasp of technical/coding knowledge, content creation, and the hardest one of all, link building (or link earning, as many new age SEO’s like to say).

Now, as an entry level marketer, you would not be expected to know all of this, but you can look like an all-star in your interview when you can demonstrate functional proficiency in SEO.  You can learn the basics of SEO here.

Social Media

Most companies (even agencies) are still trying to figure out how to make social media work for them.  Having a firm grasp on how social media works, and being able to prove it with your own social media profiles, will go a long way in demonstrating you can “walk the walk”.

It’s a big letdown when I read a resume saying they can have experience in social media and then check their social profiles to see that their online presence is lame at best.  The funnier thing is, you’ll see marketing agencies specializing in social media with pathetic online presences…..go figure.

If you are going to walk into an interview saying you get social media, be prepared to show them proof through your own social media accounts.

Pay Per Click and Social Media Advertising

Google Adwords and Facebook Ads are the two Kings of pay per click marketing, with the two of them giving you advertising options for a good chunk of the internet.   Pay Per Click advertising is when you show an advertisement and only pay when someone clicks on your ad.

The thing is that getting start with pay per click advertising is not very hard, but it is very hard to be good at it.  When it comes to online advertising, you need to be both a creative person and a data geek at the same time.  You have your creative side where you research and create the ads and the data side where you have to figure out what is working and how to make the ads perform better.

This is a skill I don’t think even gets touched on in University.  Like SEO, it changes so fast that it is difficult to create curriculums around it as they are usually outdated by the time you graduate.  The good news is that there are lots of great resources online to learn about pay per click advertising, you read about it here and here.

Analytics

So much of marketing today is data-driven, even branding is getting more and more data-driven as companies want to understand what is working and what is not with their marketing dollars.  The most popular web analytics platform used today is Google Analytics.  Looking through Google Analytics is like peeling a never ending onion, there are always additional layers of data underneath the data you are currently looking at.

Google Adwords and other ad platforms also have a plethora of data and you will need to be able to read through the data and derive meaning from it.

The real skill with analytics is being able to look at the data, pull the few points that are important to you and your business, and be able to derive meaning from it.  Analytics is useless without action, so someone good at understanding analytics can pull actionable insights out of the data.  You can learn more about the basics of Google Analytics here.

 

So, I need to learn all of this?

No, you don’t.  Even seasoned marketing professionals aren’t experts in all of the above, but they do have a solid understanding of them.

Most likely you will be applying for a specific position that will only require 1-3 of the above skill sets as many of them overlap.  But also, be prepared to be thrown into other areas of marketing not outlined in the job description, as many companies will try and use your skill sets across different marketing channels.

The more skills you have in your toolbelt, the more valuable you will become in the eyes of a marketing agency or company looking to hire an entry level marketer.  You don’t have to wait for school to teach you marketing, it is all around you if you look.

5 Easy Things Every Business Can Do To Increase Conversions On Their Website

How Increase Conversions on Website Small Business

Having trouble getting website visitors to convert into leads for your business?

Join the club.

The majority of small business websites do a terrible job at creating a compelling website experience where people become engaged and will want to take action.

Most of the time they simply don’t ask people to take action or they fail to make it clear what actions people are supposed to take.

Here’s a test for you.  When someone visits your website, if you could have them take any one action on your website, what would it be?  Now look at your website, is that action crystal clear to people that visit your website?  Is your website set up to move people towards that conversion action?

If not, then you need to think about the end result you’re looking for people to take on your site and start creating your website experience to support it.

Below are five relatively easy, but powerful changes you can make on your website to start turning it into a lead generating machine for your business.

Create a Powerful Value Proposition

A value proposition is a statement telling visitors what value you can bring them if they do business with you.  When people land on your website, the first thing (the only thing actually) they want to know is, how is this business going to help me and make my life better?

Value Porposition Example

A value proposition is not a catchy headline or a self-gratifying statement ( we are #1 in sales), it is a value based message, letting people know what they stand to gain if they decide to do business with you.  It can be a combination of your headline, supporting statement and value based bullet points letting people know all of the value your are ready to give them.

Evernote Value Proposition Example

You can read more about value propositions and how to create them here.

You can read this for help on writing a great value proposition.

Make an Offer They Can’t Refuse

The easiest way to create more conversions is to make an offer where people are thinking, “Hell, Yeah!”  Create an irresistible offer where the benefits far outway the costs of choosing your business over any other.  How do you do this?

  • Make it very clear the end result the customer will receive
  • Take away the risk of this type of purchase
  • Make the benefits far outway the risks of choosing you
  • Make it a no brainer

 

Incredible Offer Example By Small Business

So what are some things you can offer?

  • No questions asked, money back guarantee or a double your money back.
  • Lifetime warranty, or warranty far longer than your competitors
  • Extended free trial period
  • A value-add that has a large perceived value to a customer but low cost to you
  • Get a second product or service free with purchase
  • Free training or free resource access with purchase

These are just some examples, but you get the point.

Ebay Money Back Guarantee

Look at what your competitors are offering and then make an offer that puts them to shame.  Afraid to offer a money back guarantee or rock solid warranty?  If you deliver what you promise, the vast majority of people will never take you up on your offers, but will feel comforted knowing they are there when they make the purchase.  Even if you do have a few people that want a refund or call you on your warranty, the increase in business you get by putting yourself out there will far outway the occasional person who wants a refund.

And if you do have a lot of people wanting refunds or requesting multiple warranty calls?  Then stop what you are doing and go fix your business because it’s broken.

Want to learn how to create irresistible offers?  Learn from the best.  You can also read more about creating irresistible offers here.

Place a Contact Form and Call To Action Right On The Homepage

Turn your homepage into a conversion-centric landing page.  Too many business websites bury their contact form in a single place, their Contact Us page.  Why are you making it so hard for people to contact you?  Make it easy for people to contact you by placing contact forms throughout your website, along with strong calls to action.

Example Small Business With Call To Action

And if you can’t place the form on your homepage, then at least have a call to action and a button that will direct people to your contact page or to take some sort of action that will move them closer to contacting you.

The two easiest places to add a contact form is right on your homepage as well as all of your secondary pages, which usually has some sort of sidebar waiting for you to add some value to it.

Example Website With Contact Form on Sidebar

One mistake many website owners make is to assume everyone is starting their visit on the home page.  If you have a lot of pages on your site, especially if you have a blog, then many visitors will be starting on a page other than your homepage.  So what do you need to do?  Look at every page on your website and make sure each page has everything people need to know about your business and an easy way to contact you.  Essentially, every page on your website is a landing page.

Add Testimonials and Social Proof

If people are coming to your website from an ad or an organic search, chances are they do not know you or your business.  They don’t about your high level of integrity or the awards you have won over the years, you need to let them know that it is safe for them to trust you.  How do you do this?  By adding trust and credibility elements to your website such as:

  • Customer reviews and testimonials
  • Links to 3rd party review sites
  • Trade associations you belong to
  • Industry awards you have won in the past
  • Media outlets that have interviewed you

 

Landing Page with Customer Reviews

Let people know that is safe for them to trust you.  Most of the time businesses bury their testimonials on a dedicated testimonial page…..that is not very effective because you are assuming every visitor to your website will visit that page.  If you look at your Google Analytics, you will see that is not the case.  Best practice is to spread out your testimonials, customer reviews, awards, etc across you entire site, especially important pages like the homepage and your service pages.

Man Packs Landing Page Example

Learn more about the power of social proof here.

Get Clear With Your Copywriting

Copywriting.  While the design and images on your website will get people’s attention, it’s the words on the page that will turn them into leads.  Don’t be wishy-washy with your copy.  Good copywriting for a business website should be clear, specific and value based, so the reader knows exactly what benefits and outcomes they will be getting by doing business with you.

Your website should talk about 3 things:

  • The features of your product/service (size, ease of use, technical details, etc)
  • The benefits people will receive by using it (how using it will help them)
  • The outcomes people will have by using it (How their life will be improved by using it)

Unfortunately, most businesses never get past the features, which is the weakest part of the value chain here.  People want to know the benefits they will receive, and more importantly, the outcomes.

Here’s an example using an Apple iPod Touch.

Features

  • Comes in 5 colors
  • 8 megapixel camera
  • 32 megabytes of storage

Benefits

  • Bring you entire music library with you wherever you go
  • Take stunning pictures while on vacation
  • Enjoy hi-definition stereo sound for a full music experience

Outcomes

  • Capture precious family moments anytime the moment strikes
  • Relax while listening to your favorite music in hi-definition, you’ll feel like you’re at the concert
  • Create customized playlists, to push you through that last grueling mile on training day

If you want to create powerful words on your site that will engage readers, focus on the benefits and outcomes your product/service can offer.

You can read more about creating great copy for your website here.

Start getting more conversions on your website

If you do the above 5 things for your website, you will be ahead of 99% of all other business websites on the internet.  Think about that, not just your competitors, but all business websites.  Start a plan today to start turning your website into the lead generating machine you always dreamed it would be.

10 Reasons Online Marketing Is Smarter Than Traditional Marketing

Online Marketing Outperforms Traditional Marketing

Is traditional marketing dead?  Sort of.

There will always be a place for traditional marketing such as direct mailers, newspaper ads, etc……but using traditional marketing as your only source of marketing is as dead as the companies that continue to stubbornly refuse to embrace the internet.

It’s like being alive in 1925 and still thinking automobiles are just a fad.

Proves ROI for Your Marketing Dollars

Online marketing, especially when using Marketing Automation, will let you track a user from the moment they click on a specific marketing campaign you are running……..all the way until they become a paying customer.  Sometimes this will all happen in a matter of minutes, other times it will happen in a matter of months.  It gives you a clear picture of how your online marketing campaigns are impacting your revenue.

When you run a television commercial or a radio spot, how do you prove ROI?  If you’re like most business owners, you hope for an uptick in business following the ad campaign and attribute any additional business to that campaign.  If you have a direct marketing mindset, you may include channel specific offer codes, which will give you, at least something you can track

But what if you have an extended sales cycle?  How do you trace a sale today back to a specific television ad you ran 6 months ago?  You can’t.   With online marketing, you can.

71% of companies planned to increase their digital marketing budgets this year – Webbiquity (2015)

Better Matches Consumer Behavior

Traditional marketing is also known as interruption marketing.  Just when somebody is very engaged in an activity, like reading an article or watching a TV show, you “interrupt” them with your ad, which they often find non-relevant and annoying.  Consumers today are very savvy, they do not want to me marketed to, they want you to be there when they are ready to see what you have to offer.

Seth Godin Death of Traditional Marketing

Well run online marketing campaigns place your business in front of a consumer at the moment they show interest in what you have to offer.  They are the most engaged at this time and offers you the perfect opportunity to introduce them to your brand and the value you can bring to them.

Online marketing allows you to reach consumers when they show signs of buying and the most open to your marketing messages.

Adults 50 years old and above represent the Web’s largest constituency, comprising one-third of the total 195.3 million Internet users in the U.S. – Abobe CMO 2014

More Cost Effective

Two things make online marketing very cost effective compared to traditional marketing.

Search Engine Optimization.  90+% of consumers do research online before making a purchase.  Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a marketing method where you get your website ranked high in the search engine results.  Once you get your rankings, you do not have to pay each time someone clicks and visits your website.  A quality SEO campaign can produce tens of thousands of visitors each month to your website for free.  It’s like paying for a television commercial once and then having it run free of charge for the next 3 years.

Targeted Marketing.  Would you rather pay for a magazine ad based (and priced) on it reaching 50K people, but only 100 of them may be interested in what you have to offer, or would you rather just pay to market to those 100 interested people?  That’s the difference in spending $300 on a targeted online ad campaign vs paying thousands of dollars for a mass advertising campaign that reaches the same amount of interested people.

SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate, while outbound leads (such as direct mail or print advertising) have a 1.7% close rate. – Search Engine Journal

Deep Segmentation

With mass advertising, you create a single marketing message for everyone.  Not really an effective strategy.  People buy your products for different reasons, online marketing allows you to create different marketing messaging for each of your different customer segments.  Why highlight how cost effective you are to your wealthier customer segment who are more interested in your higher end features?

Online marketing allows you, all the way down to a one on one level, to communicate with your customers with the benefits they find most valuable.  This type of marketing segmentation creates more relevant marketing communications and higher conversion rates.

60% of all Internet activity in the US originates from mobile devices and about half of total Internet Traffic flows through mobile apps. – CMOcouncil.org

Real Time Results

A good marketing strategy isn’t something you create once, it’s something that is continually improved upon over time.  Online marketing allows you to see the results of your campaign in real-time, allowing you to make changes on the fly based on the data coming in. If you see something working very well, you can double down on your winner and drop your losers without having to wait until your entire ad budget is gone.

With mass advertising, television ads and direct mailers, you have to try and get it right the first time as there are no changes once production starts.  Online marketing allows you to be nimble, making changes as you go so everything isn’t riding on getting it right the first time.

72% of marketers think branded content is more effective than advertising in a magazine; 69% say it is superior to direct mail and PR. – NewsCred (2014)

Campaign Testing and Optimization

One fo the greatest benefits of online marketing is having access to a wealth of data, helping you make smarter marketing decisions.  Testing your marketing campaigns, using multiple variables, can help you determine the right message that resonates with your potential customers.

Split testing, also known as A/B testing, allows you to test different headlines, offers and designs to see which ones consumers are responding to (and which ones are turning into revenue).  These side by side, real-time comparisons allows you to make decisions faster and save you from wasting money on poor performing ads.  The nice part is that they are run simultaneously, on the same audience, so there is little bias in the results.   It would be like running two newspaper ads side by side at the same time to see which one people respond better to and dropping the poorer performing one without having to pay for it.

Content marketing in 2015 generates 3 times as many leads as traditional outbound marketing, but costs 62% less – Hubspot

Wider Reach

Most traditional advertising options are local or regional in nature, unless you are a major brand and can pay for nationwide coverage.  So you have to pick and choose your markets. With online advertising, you can segment locations all the way from the entire country (or planet), down to a specific neighborhood in a city. You can choose specific cities across the country or even specific neighborhoods in each city.

This slicing and dicing of where you want to advertise allows you to advertise only in the areas that will give you the most bang for your buck, without the waste.  It’s like being able to choose only the cable channels you want to watch, instead of paying for a bundle with hundreds of useless cable channels.

Nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads. – The Annuitas Group

Better Targeting Options

With traditional advertising, you will usually get vague, generic demographic data like gender, age and income information from the media outlets selling these ads.  While it gives you a general idea of who is reading or watching, it doesn’t necessarily give you detailed information or signs of interest or buying intent.

Two things you can do with online advertising that you can’t do with traditional advertising:

  • You can run Pay Per Click ads, where you only pay whens someone searches for what you are offering and then clicks on your ad, which leads them to your website.  This is advertising based on buyer intent (I want to buy), which is what the entire Amazon.com platform is built on, people searching to buy stuff.
  • You can create highly targeted ad campaigns based on demographics, interests and behaviors. Facebook is the king fo this so I will use them as an example.  With Facebook, I can run a specific ad campaign (I’m a motorcycle dealer) that targets males aged 40-55, that live in Charlotte, NC that are belong to one or more motorcycle member groups and have purchased a motorcycle in the last 3 years.  I can actually dial down a lot tighter than in this example, but you get my point.

 97 percent of consumers go online to research products and services locally – BIA/Kelsey

More Interactive With Consumers

People want to engage with the companies and brands they love, not read one-way marketing messages.  Online marketing allows consumers to engage with brands in a way traditional marketing cannot do.  You can speak to your customers directly via social media or answer questions from potential customers. You can offer visitors to your website free downloadable guides or free tools they can use to help them make smarter buying decisions.

Traditional Marketing Image

The ways you can engage your customers and potential customers are endless and gives you the opportunity to deliver value to people on an individual level. This type of personalized experiences is what consumers love and what they are coming to expect from all of the companies they do business with.

 79% of marketing leads never convert into sales. Lack of lead nurturing is the common cause of this poor performance.  – MarketingSherpa

It’s the Present and the Future

The internet is here, online marketing is here.  It’s only going to become more so in the future as people move more and more from paper and scheduled viewing to bytes and on-demand viewing.  You be hard pressed to find anyone with a traditional Yellow Pages book in their home (under 75) just as you ar finding less and less people subscribing to cable television.

People want to read, watch and buy when they want and how they want.  The internet is the only medium that lets companies reach these people when they indicate they are interested.

37% of B2B marketers are using marketing automation to generate leads

So, is traditional marketing dead?

No, it’s not dead, it actually can play a very important role as part of a bigger marketing strategy that uses online marketing as its cornerstone.

The most important thing is to understand where consumer behavior is heading, which is online,  and to make sure your company’s marketing strategy is evolving along with the times and that your marketing dollars aren’t destined for the recycling bin.

Five Steps to Conducting Great Marketing Research for Your Small Business

Small Business Market Research

We all know that conducting market research is crucial to a strong, well thought-out business and marketing plan, but with the plethora of information out there it’s tough to establish where to start and what to look for. Luckily, the marketing research process can be broken down into five simple and manageable steps:

Define the Problem and Establish your Research Objectives

Before embarking on your marketing research, you must define the problem and your research objectives. This step is the most important and you should set aside a decent amount of time to think about it. Start off by asking yourself the following questions: what’s the issue to be addressed/ problem to be solved? What do I need to learn – and more importantly, why? How will I use that information? Answering these important questions will help you focus your research and save you time.

Develop the Research Plan and Design the Project

 When it comes to this step, you need to think about questions such as: who can answer my questions? Who can answer them best? What must I ask each group – specifically? You should also start thinking about what type of research you will be conducting and what sources you will look at. Although online data are plentiful and free, don’t limit yourself to only this type of research. Other great research methods include: observational, focus-group, survey, behavioural, ethnography, and experimental. Secondary data sources include: internal sources (customer databases, sales stats, service teams, etc.), government publications, periodicals and books, commercial data, on-line associations, on-line business information, and etc.  Always do qualitative research first. Qualitative research is much more in-depth and will help you make better sense of your findings.

Collect the Information

 Good marketing research is scientific and creative. What I mean by scientific is research that it is process based, conducted in a controlled environment with variables that can be clearly identified and controlled, and has results which can be replicated. Creative marketing research comes in handy because some people may be reluctant to answer questions.  People don’t always tell you exactly what they really think and some may have difficulty articulating ideas or feelings well. Make sure that your questions are neutral enough for people to want to answer (for instance, if you are asking whether a person is a leader versus a follower, make both options sound good.) Strong marketing research is also non-biased, examines data in the correct context, uses multiple methods, realizes the interdependence of models and data, and maintains a “healthy” skepticism.

Analyze the Information

 Study the information you gathered carefully. What trends can you see? Where does the information point you? You may discover that some of your initial assumptions were completely off. This is not a bad thing! Don’t try to make your research fit your assumptions, and instead let it guide you to making new decisions regarding your business. I also recommend getting the input of other people in your company at this step. They will be able to look at your research with a fresh perspective and point out anything you may have overlooked.

Present the Findings

  Now that your marketing research is complete, it’s time to apply it to your business and marketing plan. When done correctly, your research will prove very useful in developing your business strategy (pricing, markets, etc.), developing and improving your product or service, determining a market segment, improving operations (internal, supply chain and distribution channels), as well as with employee motivation.

Conducting marketing research is not as difficult and tedious as it may seem – in fact it can even be fun. Remember to take it one step at a time, determine exactly what you need to find out and why, get the input of others, and analyze your findings carefully. Happy researching!

An Annual Marketing Timeline For Your Business [Free Download]

Annual Marketing Tiemline Excel Download Free

Creating a marketing plan for your small business is a must.

Unfortunately most business owners go year after year without a formal marketing plan.  Each week they make “gut decisions” on how to market their business, and most experience poor results.  This sort of reactive marketing opens you up to poor decision making, deceptive sales practices from friendly ad salespeople and leaves you without a clue as to prepare for each of your selling seasons.

Every Fall, I sit down and review what worked and what didn’t in terms of the current year’s marketing efforts.  I then sit down and create the next years plan, hopefully doing a little better in terms of marketing efficiency than last year.  Because that is what marketing is, small improvements made over time.

Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.  ~John Wanamaker

When I’m done creating my annual marketing plan, I add key dates to my Google Apps calendar to remind me when it’s time to take action.  While this method works well for me, as a visual learner, I wanted something where I can visually see all my marketing activities in a single timeline and to share with my team members.

A visual timeline of my marketing efforts helped me see a entire years worth of marketing at a single glance.  I find it helps me to see when my busy marketing periods are, which activities overlap, and if there are time periods where I need to ramp up my marketing efforts.

Below is the link where you can download it free of charge.  It’s one of many useful tools I have as part of my Small Business Operations Manual.  Feel free to use it, share it, customize it, or use it as a guide for creating your own.

I hope you find it useful for your business.  If you find yourself struggling with your marketing efforts, contact me here.

Annual Marketing Timeline (Download)

Visualize your small business marketing plan

5 Ways To Connect With Your Customers

Connecting with customers memeDo you give your customers a reason to connect with your business, to get excited about your business?

Every business wants to have loyal and engaged customers, people who will buy from you simply because they love you and your business.  In order to do this, you need to give them a reason to feel this way.

Some businesses wish they had “raving fans”, while others go out and make them.  Creating a loyal and connected customer base takes work and involves you going out and giving people a reason to connect and engage with your business.

Below are 5 simple, yet underused ways you can reach out and connect with your customers as well as potential customers.

Start a Blog

Yeah, yeah, everyone tells you to start a blog.  The thing is, it works.  The problem is, most people give up on it way before they can ever realize the benefits of it.  A blog is a great way to speak directly to your customers.  No self-serving advertisements or cheesy calls to action to get in between you and your customer.  Take the wall down between you and your customer and start talking to them as a person, not a business.

Resources

Art of Blog: How to start a blog from start to finish

Hubspot: How to start a business blog

Copy Blogger: Sign up for their free online marketing course

Create a Podcast

This may not be for every type of business, but podcasting has really taken off in recent years.  You can thank the iPod and iPhone for that.  Millions of people are turning to podcasts as a learning and education tool.  They would rather listen to something of value while they work out or take their morning commute.  If you have a good natured personality and enjoy educating others, a podcast is a tremendous platform to drive an entirely new type of customer to your business.

Resources

Smartpassiveincome.com: Starting a podcast

Authorityenigne.com: Your Business+Podcast

The Podcast Answer Man

Libsyn: Great place to host your podcasts

Use Video

Video is not hot, it’s En Fuego!  Adding video messaging to your website can take things to a whole other marketing level.  People love to watch videos, at least quality one’s with a great message.  Video is not only applicable to your website, you can create personalized video messages that you can email to your customer or create a video training series on how to use your product.  Lots of potential and lots of platforms available to get your message out.  Idea, create a FAQ page answering everything in video.

Resources

Wistia: Great video hosting and awesome learning center

The Distilled guide to video marketing

KissMetrics: The Youtube Marketing Guide

Get Creative With Email

Did you know that email marketing still delivers the best ROI out of any other marketing platform?  Did you know that 99% of business are awful at email marketing?  Do you see the disconnect and the opportunity here?  Personalized, value based emails can turn potential leads into raving fans.  Create an engaging and valuable auto-responder series, send personalized “thank you” emails (add a video message!) and start getting some mileage out of this highly profitable marketing channel.

Resources

Mailchimp: Email marketing field guide

Copyblogger: Growing your business with email marketing

Copyblogger: Creating an email autoresponder

Use Social Media

If done right, social media is a great way to connect to current and future customers.  I think where many small business owners go awry in this space is because they treat it as just another marketing platform.  It’s not, at least not in the sense of traditional marketing.  Social media is more of a cocktail party rather then a networking event.  A great way to connect with your customers is to be the first person promoting their content on social media.  They are your customer, but you are their fan.  Give shout-outs to your customers, share interesting content and be really helpful.  See, a different way to do market your business.

Open Forum: Business guide to social media

Blog Tyrant: Social Media simplified

Social Media Examiner: Selling with social media

Try one or try them all

As you can see, many of these methods overlap.  Try a few and see which one’s will work for you and your business.  Creating multiple ways to reach out and connect to both current and potential customers is a sure fire way to reach them through methods your competitors aren’t using.  They are probably still sending out mass mail postcards and hoping for the best.

6 Ways To Sell Your Products Beyond Your Store Front

Running a business, especially one with a traditional store front is a lot of work.  Your overhead is high, you have to maintain your store, as well as physically man it during operating hours.

The other thing is that there is only one place where people can buy your stuff…..at your store.

But what if people want to buy from you, but they don’t live near by?  What if they don’t want to travel to your store to get what they want?  You want to make it easy for people to buy from you and you want to reach as many of your customers as you can.

So why not bring the products out of your store and get them out where your potential customers like to hang out?  Whether it’s offline or online, finding places other than your store front to sell your goods can have a tremendous impact on your business.  No longer do you have to try to figure out how to get people into your store, you bring the store to them.

Here are 6 ways you can get your products out of your store and in front of potential buyers.

Ebay stores for small business

Ebay

I think pretty much everyone knows what Ebay is, with some people being totally addicted to buying there.  I’ve purchased everything from flooring nailers to coupons on Ebay over the years.  Why not take some of your inventory and start listing it?

You can list products as an individual, or if you sell a lot there, you can open up your own virtual store front.  The upside is that there is a huge marketplace of people looking to buy just about anything on Ebay.  The downside is that if you sell something, the fees you pay are pretty high, around 10-12% of the value of the sale.  Great place if you have higher margin items to sell.

 Amazon for small business

Amazon

Selling on Amazon is a bit like selling on Ebay, with less of a flea market feel to it.  There are two things you can do on Amazon, at least that I know of.  You can sell your products on the Amazon Marketplace as a third party individual or business, where your products show up as part of the Amazon store and you are listed as an additional Marketplace seller.  The other option is advertising your products on Amazon and actually have people click on your product ad and go directly to your website, sort of like Pay Per Click marketing with Google Adwords.

Both are great options as you are tapping into the biggest online marketplace on the planet. The downside being, like Ebay, the selling fees tend to be high, with an average selling fee of 8-15%.  If you have higher margin products, you can move a lot of stuff on Amazon.

Local flea market to start business

Your Local Market

The real world model that Ebay was spawned from.  Not all flea markets are created equal, some are just plain crap while others can offer a great opportunity to get in front of potential customers.  Every town has some sort of weekly marketplace or farmers market, check your local government to find out about available opportunities.

The good side is that renting a stand at one of these markets is pretty inexpensive.  The downside is that someone has to man the table, which is usually over the course of a weekend.  If you can keep your costs down, selling at a flea market can be a great boost in revenue.

Craigslist

Craigslist & Kijiji

I have a friend who sells water purification systems strictly on Craigslist, he generates over 200,000 in revenue a year from this free online classified site.  Talk about building a business on the cheap!  People assume Craigslist or Kijiji (a popular Canadian version of Craigslist) is for buying and selling used stuff.  This is true, but there are also thousands of sales made every day by retailers selling goods and services in this online marketplace.

It’s a great place to list products and services for free, the downside is that you are limited in where and how many times you can post an ad at any given time.  Also, depending on your brand strategy, selling this way may not bring you the brand recognition you’re looking for.

Starting your own ecommerce store-logo

Your own Ecommerce Store

Starting your own Ecommerce store can expose you to a whole new audience and expand your reach in a way your physical store could never do.  Ecommerce is one of those things that can be really hard to get right, but if you do, it’s totally awesome.  I recently wrote an article on getting started with Ecommerce, you can check it out here.

The upside to starting your own online store is that it’s your own online real estate which you own and operate, much like your physical store.  Opening an online store is liking opening a second location without the overhead and headaches of a physical location, though it comes with it’s own challenges.  Dealing with the technical aspects of a more complicated website like an Ecommerce store can be a challenge, as well as trying to sell something virtually, without a great salesperson present to close the deal.

Start a popup store

Open up a Popup Store

A Popup Store, made popular in dense urban cities like NYC and Tokyo, is when you open a temporary store in an vacant location or even inside another store for a short period of time to take advantage of busy foot traffic and buzz around that location.  Typically you will make a short term lease commitment, anywhere from 1 day to 3 months and try and make the most of this short term selling opportunity.

Some of the reasons you would open a Popup Store would be when launching a new business, taking advantage of a prime location in an area your business doesn’t serve, or piggybacking off of a popular business by opening up a “store within a store”.  Lots of great ideas for this concept.

The upside is you can make a quick “hit and run”, taking advantage of a short term opportunity without any long term commitments.  The downside is that it’s temporary and people may forget about you once you are gone, so be sure to let them know about other ways they can buy from you.

Get out of your store and start selling

So here are 6 ways you can get your products out of your store and into your customers hands.  I personally like the online opportunities better as you’re not chained to one location for any period of time, but all are great options if you’re willing to put in the work.