Archives for April 2006

Cheap Ways to Market Your Site – Part 15

Today’s tip will not help you market your site or business, and will take less than a minute to do

Print up business card sized flyers and put them on the windshield of the cars parked next to you.

The flyer doesn’t have to be anything extravagant, probably just a catchy line and your site’s URL would do the trick. Even just your URL may be enough to pique someone’s interest.

Most people have learned to tune out the sheet of paper sized flyers and don’t even bother looking at them before crumpling them up into a ball. However, people will take notice of a flyer if it is the size of a business car.

Certainly, if you had more time and energy, you could put these cards on more than just the cars parked in the immediate vicinity of your car. The more the merrier.

The nice thing about marketing this way is you can carry the cards in your car or even your pocket, and it doesn’t really take much time to leave a card on the four or five cars that are parked next to you.

Cheap Ways to Market Your Site – Part 14

Today’s tip really isn’t a way to market your site, however it does give you a place where you can go to lots of information from marketing experts, all for free!

Use your local library!

Your local library is probably the single greatest resource you have as an entrepreneur or website developer. Where else can you get pages and pages of advice from world renowned experts, all for free?

Over the past six months, I have probably checked out 50 or more books from the library on topics ranging from marketing, running an online business, Adobe Photoshop… you name it, I probably checked it out.

And as an entrepreneur, I always have to be thinking about the bottom line. You know how much all of those books cost me? If you guess free, you’re wrong – I did have a $.75 late fee.

But you catch my drift.

In addition to all of the books and research materials available to you, most public libraries will periodically have free seminars that may be of use to you and your business or site.

All things considered, your local public library should be one of the most important resources you use while you are starting a business.

Cheap Ways to Market Your Site, Part 13

Today’s tip may be pretty difficult to pull off, but if you’re able, it will certainly be worth both your time and effort.

Create a press release and send to all of your local newspapers.

The reason why I say this is hard to pull off is because you have to essentially create a news story out of your site. If you send a press release into a newspaper without a story, it becomes obvious that you are just looking for free advertising.

Newspapers don’t mind you advertising with them… as long as you pay for it!

On the other hand, if you do give them something news worthy, they may be more likely to run a story on your business or site and what it provides to the community at large.

To give you an example, I have sent an email to one of my local newspapers to tell them about Daily Fuel Economy Tip. With gas prices soaring (news item) drivers are looking for the easiest ways to get the most miles out of their gas (another news item). One place people can go to for free information is Daily Fuel Economy Tip (my site).

Granted, I have no idea whether or not I will make it into the newspaper, but at the very least it’s worth a shot. It took me a total of 10 minutes to find the newspaper’s contact information and to draft an email, so I’m not out much if the release never makes it to the paper.

If it does make it to the paper though, that 10 minutes will probably net me hundreds, if not thousands, of hits.

Creative Ways to Market Your Site, Part 12

Today’s tip will not only help you bring in new customers but, more importantly, will help you retain all of your current customers or site visitors.

Have great customer service.

I know, this is probably one of the more obvious tips I’ve given, but the fact remains that it’s hard to get customers or visitors, so once you do get them it’s in your best interest to keep them. The easiest way to do that is through great customer service.

Regardless of whether you have a business, a website or “just” a blog, you need to have top notch customer service. Some examples include:

  • Returning emails and phone calls as quickly as possible
  • If you make a promise to a customer, keep it.
  • Over promise AND over deliver, but be careful to not go overboard on your promises.
  • If a customer asks a question that you don’t know the answer to, be honest and say so. Then get busy finding out the answer.

My high school basketball coach used to say, “Take care of the little things and the big things will take care of themselves,” which is true in customer service as well. Great customer service typically comes down to your willingness to do the little things that your customer expects or wants, like delivering a product when you said you would.

While your customers may not always remember the great customer service they receive from you, all it takes is one slip up to lose that customer, and in some cases their referrals, forever.

Cheap Ways to Market Your Site, Part 11

Today’s tip requires a lot of thinking and creativity (and probably some software as well), but in the long run, will be a great way to help you brand you business, website or even your blog.

Create a logo.

This is something that I’m working on for both The New Business Blog and In My Memories. Actually, let me rephrase that, this is something I’ve asked others to work on for me.

Unfortunately for me, I don’t have an artistic or creative bone in my body, but with programs like Adobe Photoshop it’s becoming easier for people with a little bit of skill to come up with very creative and endearing logos.

If done well, a logo can be something that you can use for people to instantly recognize your business or site. Think about it, I bet you could tell me what the logos for Microsoft, Pepsi, AT&T and the NFL look like without batting an eye.

A logo that is instantly recognized and associated with your product, business or site is worth its weight in gold, so regardless of whether or not you think you need a logo, it’s worth looking into.

Even if it’s just different lettering, if you or someone else can come up with an idea that differentiates your business, you have to go for it.

Cheap Ways to Market Your Site, Part 10

A lot of people feel that today’s tip has gone the way of the dinosaurs, but I’m not buying it.

Get yourself some business cards and hand them out to everyone you meet.

You don’t have to hire a graphics designer or even pay someone else a lot of money to print up the cards for you. Just something nice and simple that you can print out on your own printer should be more than adequate.

For example, a couple of weekends ago I bought business card paper from Office Depot, downloaded some card templates from Microsoft and ultimately spent $15 and a little under an hour creating 300 business cards.

Now when I go out, I carry a couple of cards in my coat pocket and hand them out to people when I talk about The New Business Blog or In My Memories.

Granted, even if you hand out a lot of cards, the effort probably isn’t going to lead to a huge increase in the number of hits to your site or business, but I guarantee you it will bring in some new traffic.

Cheap Ways to Market Your Site, Part 9

Much like yesterday’s post, today I’m going to talk about an item that isn’t necessarily an act of marketing your business, blog or site, but in the long run, implementing this strategy will help you expand your business or site.

Get feedback from everyone that contacts your business or site.

This is critically important in helping you tailor your business or site to what your potential customers want, not what YOU think that they want.

Whether that is giving your customers or visitors the opportunity to leave comments (such as what I do with each post on The New Business Blog), giving out your contact information (such as an email address or phone number) or asking that each customer complete a feedback form, you have to create a way where you can hear what the customer wants from you.

For example, you may have noticed that the number of posts on The New Business Blog regarding In My Memories have become less and less. A lot of that is because of the feedback I’ve received from readers, who have asked for more resources for starting their own businesses and not so many updates regarding mine.

The reason I’m okay with that is because I want people to come here and read my business blog and use it as a resource. If they want me to post less about In My Memories, I will gladly do so.

In order to be successful in business, or in anything for that matter, you have to be flexible and willing to adapt.

There’s no point in being stubborn if it’s ultimately going to cost you visits to your site or decrease the number of sales your business makes.

Cheap Ways to Market Your Site, Part 8

I have to apologize in advance; today’s “Cheap Way to Market Your Site” really isn’t a way to market your site, but ultimately it will help you in marketing your site.

Confused? That’s okay, keep reading.

Keep a daily journal of your marketing activities

Much like writing a business plan, many people don’t log their day to day activities when they’re starting or running a business or a website, probably because they are either to busy actually running the site or think that logging activities is a waste of time.

Not logging what you do is a terrible mistake!

By logging your daily marketing activities you will be able to quickly and easily identify which strategies that are working for you and which strategies need to be reevaluated or dismissed.

Your “log” doesn’t need to be anything extravagant. For example, just write, “Today I added my URL to the signature line of my email accounts.” Nothing elaborate, but detailed enough to jog your memory when you come back and look at it.

By using this log, if you have a sudden spike in the number of hits your site receives each day, you can go back and look at the recent marketing activities and focus on those ideas, considering they probably account for the spike. Or, if for some reason, you find yourself getting less hits each day, you can quickly correct any marketing “errors” you may have made.

Logging your marketing activities doesn’t have to take a lot of time, but it will certainly help you save a lot of time when you’re trying to figure out which strategies are working for you.

Cheap Ways to Market Your Site, Part 7

Thanks to the positive response I’ve received for the “Cheap Ways to Market Your Site” series, I’ve decided to continue it.

Magnetize your URL and take it for a drive.

What do I mean by that?

The other day while I was waiting at Jiffy Lube to get my car’s oil changed and the vehicle in front of me had a magnetic “sticker” across its trunk. And, you guessed it, on the magnet was a company’s URL.

Because there was nothing else to do while I was waiting, I wrote down the URL and then visited the site when I got home, which of course got me thinking about how great that magnet was.

Think about it, how many different cars do you get stuck behind when you’re driving down the road, waiting at the drive thru or sitting at a stop light? I would imagine it’s over a hundred different cars each day. That’s a hundred different people you can expose to your website and even if you don’t get all of them to visit your site once they get home, if you get a few people each day, you’re really going to see a spike in the number of hits, and sales, your site sees.

Also, with proliferation of cell phones that are web accessible, you can even reach people that can access your site immediately (but let’s hope they’re passengers, not drivers).

From the quick research that I’ve done, it looks like you should probably be able to get a relatively simple car magnet for less than $20, which would definitely be money well spent.

Don’t Make Me Think

While I’ve been reading a lot of different articles and books related to Search Engine Optimization, I recently picked up what many will argue is the best book on web usability:

Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krugg

This book should be on the must read list of anyone that plans on starting an online business or even just a website in general.

While I currently use the templates and software to publish my blogs, at some point in the future I would like to be able to design, create and maintain my own templates and sites, independent of Blogger or WordPad. I think this book will give me a good start when I start to map out what I would like my sites to look like.

While many of Krugg’s points are just plain common sense, the way he lays everything out makes it easy to see how you could implement the changes throughout your site.

The most important thing I took away from the book was that a website (specifically an e-commerce site) is set up in pretty much the same way as a store; there are lots of different ways to get to the product you want. The key is to make the shopping experience as simple as possible, so simple that you shouldn’t even need to think about it. If the customer has to think, they’ll go somewhere else.

Make sure that you pick up a copy of this from Amazon and add it to your “must have” collection of business books.