Cheap Advertising Strategies for Small Businesses

Another quarter is passing us by, and small businesses are all the rage, lately. With the current attempt to beat the economy into submission, the little guys are suffering much more than the corporate giants. But with this fact comes another: people are more eager to buy from small businesses, and stay away from the soulless conglomerates that are a big part of the problem with the global market.

In fact, a recent study done for National Small Business Week by WebVisible found that 83% of consumers asked said they prefer buying from a small business, versus a large corporation or chain. They cited reasons such as wanting to support their community, liking the more personalized service, and cheaper prices on a larger scale. But taking advantage of this means you have to be seen.

We have spoken a lot in past weeks about some of the more common marketing moneymakers on the Internet. But sometimes you need good old fashioned advertising techniques, especially now that they are so out they are in. You have a fresh start in many of the old ways of getting noticed, and you should utilize this resource to the best of your ability.

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Self-Marketing Versus Marketing Companies

David vs Goliath?

When you run a small business you have very few options by way of marketing, at least in the face of the big guys who will inevitably show above you in much brighter lights. Ecommerce has changed this for the better. It is easier and easier for the little guy to stand on his own and get customers who are specifically looking to avoid the larger corporations who are expensive with little substance or reliability.

But with this new freedom to move amongst a once dominated market comes the issue of choice. It is hard enough to figure out just what kind of campaign to use to create some visibility. But what about the issue of whether or not to do it yourself? This is an important issue, and one that many business owners will gloss over over fear of spending extra money for something they feel they can do themselves.

But the debate can be settled easily, and with just a few facts.

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Marketing in a Bloated Market

Marketing isn’t what it used to be. While it used to be a fairly straight forward of advertising versus product demand, the market has become so bloated with the introduction of ecommerce that it is next to impossible for some small businesses to reach their audience. In order to do so one any real level online they have to first trudge through larger companies, endless scams, and the various marketing ploys of individual companies, affiliates, and con artists trying to make a quick buck.

The problem can seem to be insurmountable. For some, it will prove to be. But if you are looking to market online there are ways you can increase visibility that will at least trim the fat and give you some leverage to work with. Each technique will only increase your visibility as much as a company of your size can, so you will want to make sure you follow by the usual small business marketing codes despite these methods.

Beware of the wrong SEO

Search engine optimization is pretty much a must have for small businesses that are working in an ecommerce format. But there is a right and a wrong way, and going about things in a negative fashion will mean negative results. Literally; you will risk losing the customers you already have. This includes spam-style operations that are so common with online ‘companies’ nowadays.

Your best bet is to go with a company that specialized in SEO and marketing solutions for small businesses, and know how to get you started successfully online. These companies will never force you to settle with bad mass-comment jobs, or mindless blog posts with unrelated anchor links. They will provide real search engine optimization for a professional marketing approach.

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Some thoughts about Zencart’s current newsletter subscription system

Today I was going through my inbox in my regular routine to clean up the spam/ads mails. It’s amazing how much spam I’ve got so far, my inbox has 3000+ unread emails after just a couple of months (these are all emails I don’t bother to read).

Some of them are not exactly spams, they are newsletters emails from various sources I subscribed to in the past. Just simply marking them as spams can be bad for these authentic news sources since email providers like Google flag the sources as spam sources based on users’ reports(BTW, if you are interested in Googles’s policy, check it here: So I opened these emails to find the un-subscription link, and here are the 3 cases I encountered:

  1. No un-subscription -> mark as spam, you DESERVE it
  2. un-subscription requires login, and for 99% of the cases I already forgot my login and don’t want to bother trying to remember it -> mark as spam
  3. un-subscription link allows me to opt out right away, they also have a comment box which I do fill in from time to time when I’m in a happy mode ^_^

So obviously, we all don’t want to be in the first and second cases, we want our emails to the customers who still want them to be delivered in the inbox, not the spam/bulk mail box. We want our users who opt out for any reason at least not filling (more) pissed off, and so I recommend you all checking your current email un-subscription system and see where does it fall in.

As a Zencart user as well as service provider, I also feel disappointed to find out Zencart’s system is falling somewhere in case 2. Perhaps it is time for the developers to fix this issue by providing an easy way to opt out?

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Marketing a Small Business Through Social Media Part II

In part one we talked about the use of social media types like Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter. But these are all incredibly informal means of marketing, and are often unsuccessful for those who are working as consultant, freelancers, or want to market themselves as a service rather than a whole business.

There are several ways to do this, but your two best bets will be professional networking sites, professional directories, personal (interactive) websites, and blogs. Each one of these gives you an easy way to present yourself to potential clients, customers, and even other employers or investors. Because the formats are specifically created to provide something serious and well made it will give you a great platform for marketing your most important asset: yourself.

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Marketing a Small Business Through Social Media Part I

Social media has changed the face of more than just the Internet, but of communication as well. It makes it easier than ever to keep in contact with friends, family, and even strangers from all over the world. But there are business implications as well, and many have been utilized by business owners running small companies. It is a great way of getting the message out for free, and any good business owner will tell you to take full advantage of free advertising when you hear about it.

The problem is deciding what kind of social media to focus on. Reuters did an article last year (“Small business, social media not mixing”) that gave some interesting statistics. Two thirds of 500 small businesses that were asked had found no help from sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn, and had not sought any other social media resources to assist them in better marketing their business. This was because most didn’t know what was available to them, and so missed out on the various sources opened to them through social media.

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The Basic Principles of Branding

Branding is one of the most important elements to any business. Without a brand you cannot create customer loyalty, which will keep your profits from flourishing. It is more beneficial to keep a customer than to find ten new ones, which should show you just how crucial establishing a brand really is. It will also make you recognizable in a crowd, which will draw in new customers that will, in turn, become loyal shoppers of your product or service.

But it is one thing to know what branding is; it is another to know how to do it. The main thing is knowing the principles behind it, so you can begin creating a plan for marketing your business. Each one is another step that you have to check off before you know you are making the progress necessary to becoming a recognizable brand.

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Business Basics: How Business Cards Are Still Relevant

The world has moved into a digital age, and as such many businesses are taking their campaigns online, relying on the world wide web to do their marketing for them. But if you are relying on the net completely, you are losing potential business. You are also losing the chance to create customer loyalty, and attract that market that exists right outside your front door.

So, what can you do to get to this important customer base? Try doing things the old fashioned way, and relying on face to face marketing to get you the clients you need. Business cards are a traditional and effective way of doing this. People will carry a business card in their wallet for weeks, sometimes months, and when they find themselves in need of a service their minds will often go to that card before anything else. This is an effective means of branding that can really benefit your business, especially as a small of medium sized business that doesn’t have a large budget for advertising.

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Finding Your Target Audience

Last week, we talked about the importance of finding a niche market to establish your small business in. Today, we will touch on why, and how, you have to find a target market to advertise to. This is more than creating a general idea of who might be interested. Instead, you will be narrowing down to a select group for each product, and sticking with that group until you have earned enough to expand.

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Finding THE niche for your business

A few years ago I started my first business: selling fashion jewelries only. I had absolutely no experience in either jewelry or online business and boy I wondered how the business could lasted that long after all the mistakes I made. Anyhow, one of the most basic mistake I made was trying to satisfy everyone: I tried to build up stocks that would satisfy the needs of all types of customers, it’s not a surprise that I couldn’t impress anyone. All that money, effort and time went out of the window was not completely wasted however, I did get one very important lesson: You have to concentrate your capital, or what they usually say in marketing courses: Finding your niche (I wish I took those courses before *_*)

Over the years the term ‘niche marketing’ has gotten a rather bad reputation. It tends to conjure images of shifty online businessmen attempting to sell programs that promise to make you millions in a few short months, and to give you everything you need to create a successful company with no work. But this is an unfair generalization that has undermined a basic principle of business for far too long. It has also left many company owners struggling to make end’s meet as their ventures fail.

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