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!


Advertising Tips for Small Business Marketers

The practice of advertising can seem overwhelming to small business marketers, viewed by most as appropriate only for large corporations with big ad budgets.  Actually, when used properly and in a targeted fashion, advertising can be a powerful tool in the small business marketer’s tool box.  Advertising is designed to build awareness for a particular product or service, and is a cost-effective way to get a consistent message communicated out to a large group of people.  The first step, before pursuing any type of advertising investment, is to define the marketing objectives for your company, and then determine whether advertising is a good fit or not.

A key marketing objective for any small business to promote their thought leadership, or business expertise.  Many small businesses overlook marketing what they do on a daily basis, when in fact, sharing some of their knowledge in a webinar event, or speaking at an industry trade show, can be a great way to showcase the value they provide.  This can be done by hosting and promoting an educational-themed event where company executives or subject matter experts share their industry perspectives.  Another idea is to share a company’s best practices, or customer research findings. 

It does not cost much money to hire a local graphic designer and copy writer to craft a simple, professional ad layout around your “business expertise” content.  Advertising your expertise works well, because readers will respond positively to offers of educational value because, especially when researching new solutions.  Featured ads in targeted publications and websites can be very effective in branding your company as a thought-leader.  Running fractional ads in local business sections of newspapers, or in industry association newsletters, can provide any small business marketer with a lot traction among prospective customers.   

As part of your advertising strategy, be sure to include a compelling “call-to-action” or next step that your prospects can take to get more information.  For example, a link to a recorded event, or an offer for a free white paper, or case study on a topic important to your customers.  Again, targeting print ads in vertical industry magazines or conference programs, or local business journals, as well as online banner ads in those same venues, can be an economical way to get started in advertising.  Just remember to stay focused, and avoid the mass media outlets that reach a broad user profile, such as TV or radio, because those can be very expensive and not very targeted to your audience.

For more information on smart marketing basics, download my free article, Ten Marketing Basics for Your Small Business, located on the SMBmarketer.com website.


Get Your Small Business a Speaking Gig: 32 Tips from ToiletPaperEnterpreneur

I’ve written about the importance of speaking at events as a key strategy for small business marketing. Pitching yourself for speaking opportunities at relevant industry tradeshows or local business events that your customers attend is a great way to establish yourself as a thought leader in your area of expertise, and to get exposure for your small business. I offered up a couple of my favorite tips in my previous blog post, Pitching Your Small Business For Speaking Events.  

My contributions were also featured in a great article compiled by Mike Michalowicz, Author of The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur, in his blog post titled, “Ways To Get A Lot More Speaking Engagements“.  If you are serious about pitching yourself for speaking engagements, then you should definitely check out this article.  It features 32 easy-to-read, actionable tips from a variety of experts that can help any small business get the speaking gig they really want!


Marketing Your Thought Leadership

Here’s an inspirational story from Inc.com about entrepreneur, Michele Leder, who after getting laid off, parlayed her industry knowledge into a successful company.  She used a blog to market her thought leadership – a smart marketing play for any small business.  Marketing your industry expertise in the form of free articles on your website, case studies, professional tips and tricks, is a great way to build your brand, without investing a lot of money.  It helps you to build credibility, and to get you known within your industry.

Read her story by going to: http://www.inc.com/news/articles/2010/03/morningstar-acquires-footnoted.html



%d bloggers like this: