Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Should You Use Craigslist for Marketing?

Craigslist is the largest classified advertising website on the planet. In the past, if you wanted to promote a small business, the best place to go would often be the newspaper's classifieds or services section. Today, this is more or less completely replaced by Craigslist.

Craigslist is free for the vast majority of users. There are certain sections in the Services category that charge a $5 or $10 fee in certain high traffic cities. By and large, however, the majority of users won't have to pay a dime to use Craigslist.

So how can you use Craigslist for local marketing?

The Services Section

The services section of Craigslist is the best place to market most small businesses.

Start by looking through the section you're interested in advertising in. How many other people are competing there? What kind of prices are they asking for? Open as many of your competitors' ads in new tabs as possible.

Scroll through your competitors' ads and put yourself in your customer's shoes. Which competitor would you personally choose? Why?

Did one stand out in some way? Were they offering something that others weren't? Did they seem more credible?

Try to duplicate the things that make one company seem better than the other. For example, if you're a graphic designer and notice that the ads that have a lot of samples in their portfolio seem to be the most compelling, then you should probably do the same.

Before you post in the Services section, make sure you read Craigslist's terms and conditions carefully. It's easy to inadvertently break the rules and get flagged, or in the worst case scenario get banned altogether.

Marketing Other Types of Businesses

What if you have a business that isn't a service? For example, what if you're marketing a restaurant?

One of the best options is to use the "Groups," "Events" and "Classes" sections.

In order to do this, you need to actually host an event at your restaurant. That's pretty simple - you can just put together a wine taster, or an appetizer taster.

Then go on Craigslist and market that event. Of course, you should also market the event over different avenues, mailing lists and in your restaurant itself.

Get creative. You can't just post a flyer for your business or a menu for your restaurant on Craigslist. You need to find a way to fit it into Craigslist's infrastructure.

One Last Method

Finally, you can look for people who've checked "Yes, contact me about other commercial interests." The vast majority of people won't check this box. Those who did, however, you can email directly with your proposition.

That's how you can use Craigslist to promote your local business. Look for a section that specializes in what you offer. If it doesn't exist, then create a way for you to offer something that matches the Craigslist structure.

Happy Marketing!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Fool Proof Marketing Campaigns

The best kinds of marketing campaigns are those that integrate all kinds of different media in one. It's far more effective to use email, social media, blogging, SMS and other media all together than to just use one. So how do you create integrated marketing campaigns?

Tease with Social Media, Launch with Email

The most powerful platform for launching a marketing campaign is by far your email list. You'll be able to reach far more people through your email list than through any other avenue.

Use social media to tease people about upcoming launches. For example, drop hints about what might be in a new product, or tell people that an awesome contest is coming up, without actually letting on what the contest is.

Once it's actually time to launch, use your email list to get things kicked off.

Enroll Cheerleaders and Affiliates Early

Reach out to people who can help you early on. Talk to people who could retweet you once you're ready to launch. Reach out to potential affiliates as early as possible.

Cultivate relationships with people in your industry before you need it. When you're ready to launch a campaign, you should have allies across all kinds of media. You should have people retweeting for you, affiliates mailing promotions and bloggers writing reviews.

Have Two-Way Communication

Build a two-way communication channel with your audience. Use social media and use blog comments to get feedback from your audience. Having open communication also lets your users feed off of each other's excitement.

If you were just using email marketing, people can't talk to each other about your launch. They can't share what they think is coming up, or ask questions of each other. Make sure you have at least one channel of communication that allows your audience to talk to you or to each other.

Using SMS and Direct Mail

SMS and direct mail are two forms of media that are seldom discussed.

For each promotion, product launch or contest, send just one or two SMS messages. Don't overload your audience by sending too many texts. Send your text when it's most timely.

Direct mail is a fantastic avenue for reaching previous customers. It's only really valid for product or event related campaigns, since it's quite costly. You have to be able to make money by making sales to recoup your costs.

These two tactics aren't mandatory, but can really make a big difference when used properly.

During Down Times...

When you're not doing a campaign, do as much as you can to cross-promote your different kinds of media. Use your email list to grow your social media following. Use social media to boost your blog traffic. Use your blog to bring on more email followers. So on and so forth. This makes launching campaigns much more powerful once you get around to it.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Successfully Build Your Brand

Building a successful brand can solidify your business in your niche. It establishes you and your business as a name that can be trusted. Here are some tips to help you build brand success.

What Is a brand?

When you see the swoosh logo, what does it make you think of? And how about Coca-Cola? You know the tagline, don’t you? And if we say “You’re in good hands with -” you can probably finish the sentence.

All of these show how a particular brand has influenced not only society but also our idea of what these certain products should be. For instance, when it comes to photocopying, people use the term “Xeroxed.” Actually, Xerox is a brand name that has become synonymous with the act of photocopying. How is that for brand success?

Building Your Brand

Who’s to say that you won’t become as big as Xerox one day? For any business, you start in the same place – building your brand.

Here are some tips to get the ball rolling.

Be real with your customers – Anyone can create a “smoke and mirrors” advertising campaign. You can promise the world and some will believe you. But, when you don’t deliver, your credibility is shot. One way to be real is to put a face on your business. Add your photo. Speak plainly and in simple terms with your customers.

Make good on your promises – The problem with many companies is poor customer service. If you promise to send a confirmation email after purchase or an answer to an information request, then do so in the time promised.

Sell your product – Inspire customers to buy by giving them a reason to use your product or service. Describe how their life will benefit from having your product in it. Help the customer make an emotional connection to your product.

Promote your product in as many places as possible – When new products come out, do a press release. Promote it on your social networking site, your blog and your website. Create YouTube videos and also podcasts about your products to increase the talk. Don’t forget offline promotion as well.

Be consistent with your brand – Whatever you decide that your brand will stand for, be true to that. Use people and ideas that are in line with your brand to help identify it for your audience.

Target your customers – Now that you know your brand, you have to connect with the people who “need” what you offer. Use keywords to draw your customers to you. Create a list of potentials and then stay in contact with them.

What does your product stand for? Take some time and create your brand. Then, provide quality products that connect with your customers so they almost sell themselves.