Smart Marketing Basics

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!

Quick Competitive Exercises That Will Keep Your Small Business Brand in Shape

Keeping up with the latest competitive maneuvers in your marketplace is important to keeping your small business at the top of its game.  Traditional tools, such as using a SWOT analysis, to assess your organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, can be very helpful in identifying course-corrections or strategy-shifts that you need to act upon.  However, the level of effort required can be time-consuming, relegating this activity to the bottom of the small business manager’s “to-do” list.

While a deep dive analysis can be important to your business health, you can quickly monitor what’s going on in your industry by simply using your browser.  At a minimum, you can quickly check the pulse of your market by doing some searches that could identify companies that could potentially impact your business down the road. 

On a regular basis, say once or twice a month, do a Google search on your main search keyword phrases, and then see who is coming up.  

  • Are your search rankings changing? 
  • Are there new players coming up that you haven’t seen before? 
  • Has a key player slipped on the page one results of Google? 

Let’s say that your organization is a technology company providing document management software to the legal industry.  You might have one of your main keyword phrases be “legal records software” or something similar.  Even though you may have optimized your site for this keyword phrase, and use it in your press releases, web page content, etc., it’s important to monitor the ever-changing competitive landscape. 

Additionally, it’s important to do a search on your company name and product names, and see if anyone of your competitors is doing “paid search” campaigns, such as pay-per-click advertising, on your own branded terms.  And lastly, don’t forget Twitter, the social media micro-blogging service that provides a real-time tracking engine for hot topics.  Twitter Search provides another easy and free tool, where you can input your keyword phrases and branded terms to see what is going out there in the social universe.  You can easily learn more about:

  • Who is being tweeted about and why? 
  • What articles are being published about my competitors? 
  • What do people have to say about my brand?

By using these easy competitive analysis exercises, you can avoid competitive surprises and keep your small business brand in tip, top shape!

For more smart marketing plays for your small business, download our free Smart Marketing Playbook article series.

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:

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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