Smart Marketing Basics

Category Archive

The following is a list of all entries from the Marketing Plans category.

Engagement Marketing – Nurturing Prospective Customers Over Time

I recently received an inquiry regarding participation or engagement marketing and what this category of marketing means to small businesses. So I thought I would devote a few words on this topic in a quick blog post. Please feel free to share your insights as well, by posting a comment.

In its simplest sense, engagement marketing means “lead nurture” and involves providing a steady stream of outreach or communications to prospective customers in order to build a relationship with them over time.

Think of it this way. Marketers pay to acquire leads by executing on a variety of campaigns and programs, such as email blasts, banner ads, opt-in forms on your website, etc.  However, only some of those prospects will convert into customers right away. That does not mean that those that don’t should be discarded or disqualified, rather they should be nurtured.

Offering up a steady stream of news announcements, or thought leadership content (e.g. customer case studies, products tips and tricks, or best practices articles) can help your organization to build a relationship of trust, and keep these prospective customers “engaged” over time, until they become ready to buy.

Automated email or drip email campaigns are a good way to execute on engagement marketing programs. You can easily segment your list of prospects by action – those that respond to your campaign should go into your sales pipeline for follow up, and those that don’t can go into your automated drip campaign. Set a schedule (say once per month) to send out a brief email offering up some valuable content, such as the examples mentioned above, and you will begin build up a longer-term database of prospects. This in-house database will become a valuable strategic asset to your business because it provides you with a low-cost outreach tool for marketing, and allows you to continue to build your brand in a positive way.

Let us know about your experiences in engagement marketing, and what has worked for your small business, as well as what hasn’t!

Small Business PR Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Small business marketers often make two common mistakes when it comes public relations.  The first one is not doing enough to promote or publicize your daily business wins and successes, and the second is not preparing for a press interview after you have issued some news.  Let’s talk about mistake number one first. 

Mistake #1 – Lack of regular public relations

Investing in some public relations activities is a smart marketing basic that all small businesses should engage in.  This can simply involve making a point to tell your story, and sharing your successes and accomplishments with the outside world by issuing press releases.  This doesn’t have to cost a lot.  By posting news announcements to your website on a regular basis, and giving these same press releases to your sales team to send out to their customers and prospects, you can quickly build credibility for your small business and generate a lot of interest in your products and services.

By simply planning a calendar of press release topics, and sticking to it, you can generate a steady stream of news.  Your news doesn’t have to be ‘earth shattering’.  Yes, you might feel you are competing against uber-big headlines, like Facebook finally planning to go IPO, but what you really need to focus on is news that shows the world how you are providing value to your customers, and solving key issues in your industry.

There are three basic press release types that apply to most small businesses:  1) announcing a new product or service, 2) announcing a new customer win, and 3) announcing a special event your organization is hosting or participating in.  Your event could be a local chamber of commerce event you are sponsoring, a tradeshow you are speaking at, or an online training event that you are offering.  If you develop a simple press release calendar around these three type of news annoucements, and plan to issue one per month, you can drive a lot of interest in your business, as well as improve your search rankings on your website because your content is fresh and updated regularly. 

For more insights on these three press release types, check out this previous blog post on Three Press Releases to Grow Your Small Business.

Mistake #2 – Not preparing for a press interview

Once you issue some news and generate interest from a reporter, say from an industry trade publication writer or a local business journalist, be sure to prepare for the interview.  Have your press release available with your key messages highlighted so you ensure that you reinforce those during your meeting.  Be sure you to ask up front how much time the journalist has to speak with you so that you use time wisely.  Be prepared to focus on only 1-2 things if your meeting needs to be cut short. 

Research previous articles that the reporter has written so that you can be familiar with her work, her writing style, and the topics that she covers the most.  And lastly, be prepared for the last question she will usually ask, which is “Is there anything else that you would like to add?”  This is a good opportunity to remind the journalist of how you are different from other competitive offerings or providers. is a great resource for marketing research, and features quite a few blogs as well.  Daniel Burnstein wrote a great post on the topic of 5 interview mistakes that drive journalists crazy, so be sure to check out his tips at this link:

Subscribe to the Smart Marketing Basics blog for more tips on public relations, writing press releases, and small business marketing topics.

Press Releases – How to Convince Your Colleagues to use Press Release Marketing

The goal of is to provide simple marketing plans and templates to small business marketers and entrepreneurs who need simple, actionable tools to help them get started in marketing.  Smart Marketing Basics, our blog discusses simple strategies to help small business owners grow their business, while our featured articles provide more insight into the ten smart marketing plays that can help make your business successful.

Previously, our we featured a post called “Press Release Tips for Small Business Marketers” which recommended some free articles on the subjects of common “do’s and don’ts” of pitching your small business to a reporter, and how to use press releases to market your small business.  These are great resources available at no cost to you.  Be sure to check out this post if you have not seen it yet.

I have heard from other marketing professionals that often times they need help convincing their colleagues, business partners, value-added resellers and other key stakeholders they work with, of the importance of Press Release marketing.  While writing press releases to promote your small business is a “no brainer” strategy to many professional marketers, they often times have to influence their corporate peers to support this activity.

To address this request, has introduced a new, low -cost marketing template, a ready-to-use presentation slide deck available today for only $4.95 from our Marketing Templates Library:

Using Press Releases to Market Your Small Business – A PowerPoint Presentation

Using Press Releases to Market Your Small Business - PowerPoint Presentation

Using Press Releases to Market Your Small Business

Download this 15-slide presentation on how to use press releases to promote your small business. It talks about how the press release has evolved from being a simple news communication device, to a broader tool that supports your marketing, sales, and search engine optimization efforts.  It illustrates when to use press releases and how they can be used in a variety of ways, in an easy to follow format. 

Get your partners and stakeholders on board immediately to support your press release marketing efforts by downloading and presenting this presentation at your next sales meeting, or online marketing event.  Visit our Marketing Templates Page at:

My Favorite Marketing “Tweets” for Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners

It is not hard to argue the importance of marketing to the success of any business. For entrepreneurs and small business marketers, the challenge seems to lie in simply getting started. The discipline of marketing is vast, encompassing many practice areas where most marketing professionals focus on mastering only a few specific skill areas.

After spending 20+ years in the marketing arena, my experience has shown that startups and small businesses need actionable, easy ways to get started marketing, and they need to do it fast.  They can’t usually afford in the beginning to invest in a lot of staff, agencies or consultants, and so having some easy templates and strategies to get them going is key. If the initial steps seem too complicated, they simply won’t do it.  Think easy, actionable tips – or in this case, tweetable tips!

If you subscribe to my blog, Smart Marketing Basics, or follow me on Twitter @SMB_marketer, you can see that I write on this topic often.  Below I feature some of my favorite ‘tweets’ that highlight two “must do” marketing tips for small businesses simply trying to get started with marketing:

1) Use PR to promote Your Business
This is easier than most people think, and is a low cost of entry investment.  Even if you are not doing a big PR blitz around a new product launch, creating press releases give you a sales tool for cold calling, helps with drive better search results to your website, and gives you content you can email to prospect lists.  You should regularly write press releases on what your business is up to.  One idea is to seek out local business and industry events where you can speak on a topic related to your business.  Here are some of my favorite tweets on this topic:

Small Business Marketing Should Include Speaking at Events:

Tips for small business on how to write winning press releases:

2) Good Marketing Starts with a Solid Message
Most small companies don’t invest in this activity, and so initial marketing results meet with poor performance because their messages are not clear, concise and compelling to readers. There are cheap, easy templates available from many sites to help get you started (including ours, Here is a favorite tweet on this topic:

Smart Marketing Starts with a Solid Message:

I hope these tweeted tips give you the marketing inspiration you need to get going!  Don’t get overwhelmed by all the marketing possibilities out there.  Rather, focus on doing a couple of things first, and then build from there.  Once you are ready to add more to your marketing mix, check out our free article, Ten Marketing Basics for Your Small Business on our website.

Article: Ten Marketing Basics for your Small Business

Article: Ten Marketing Basics for your Small Business

Small Business Marketing Plans for 2011

If you are like most small businesses, you have just finished up your third quarter, and getting ready to make the final push through to year end.  A last final sales and marketing push to help you make your numbers, and close those deals that you have been nurturing earlier this year.  While getting your business over the goal line for 2010 is key, that is not the only thing that should be on your mind.  As a business owner or business marketing manager, laying the foundation for 2011 needs to start happening now. 

Like all other aspects of your business, marketing activities need to be planned for.  If you wait for “things to slow down,” or for when you “have some free time”, marketing won’t happen at all.  Effective marketing programs require time to be developed, time to be created, time to prepare your sales and operational teams to support them, time to get customer approvals, and most importantly, time to be executed out in the marketplace, so that you can actually see some results.

Additionally, executing marketing activities should not be a sporadic, infrequent occurrence.  Effective marketing requires regular investments, at regular intervals throughout the year.  Why?  Because the role of marketing is to create demand for your offerings; creating demand involves moving your customers through each phase of complex, emotional, and sometimes lengthy customer purchase decision process. 

While the customer purchase process can seem complex, the marketing planning process doesn’t have to be.  It’s important to map your planning process to the scale of your business – there’s is no need to conduct lengthy offsite meetings or create multi-page marketing documents that take you a  month to write up.  It’s OK to keep it simple, especially if you are just getting started, or are new to marketing planning. 

My advice to small business marketers is to focus on two principles: 1) utilize a marketing calendar as a simple planning methodology, and 2)  map it against your customer purchase process.  The customer purchase process model is based on the premise that a customer advances through four phases, in a linear fashion, as part of his or her decision to purchase products or services.  These phases include awareness, consideration, purchase, and loyalty, and marketing programs can be used to drive your customers through each phase. 

The customer purchase process is always ongoing, which is why it is important to develop a calendar that can be used to identify which marketing programs and tactics you will take on each quarter.  The beauty of a marketing calendar that maps to this purchase process, is that it can start out simple and evolve over time to be a sophisticated as you need it to be.  It can easily scale as your business grows over time. 

To learn more about the Customer Purchase Process model, and how to create your own marketing planning calendar, visit our website as to learn more about our Marketing Planning and Calendar Template.  This is a low cost, downloadable resource that provides helpful insights and templates that will jumpstart your marketing activities for 2011.

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