Selling To Small Business

Selling To Small Business - Strategies to help you sell to small business entrepreneurs

Monday, March 10, 2008

Social Media: Your Ticket to Small Businesses

Guest Contributor: Lewis Green
Lewis' Posts - Lewis' Blog


Entrepreneurs and small businesses are learning that using social media tools is an inexpensive way to build their brands and market their wares. Since reaching people where they live and work is critical to marketing success, if you aren't executing on a social media strategy, you are missing an opportunity to sell to small businesses.

When I first began the blog in 2005, he had a formidable goal of attracting customers for his fledgling business, but no plan to back it up. Not surprisingly, I generated little traffic and few business leads.

Instead of giving up, however, I took the time to study social media, then implemented a detailed strategy for attracting and maintaining a solid readership base. As a result, I turned my inexpensive blog into a major source of lead generation, triggering a 40% increase in my client base, which is made up mostly of small to mid-sized businesses.

The Campaign:
BizSolutionsPlus, my company's re-engineered blog, launched in July 2006. Its new strategy focused on building relationships of trust, credibility, and respect instead of promoting products and services or building a direct mail database.

I pinpointed the readers with whom I wanted to exchange ideas: current and potential clients, entrepreneurs, other marketers, and bloggers. I set out to cement relationships with those groups by...

1. Writing about shared interests, such as best practices, and ideas for creating good business through a strong display of values

2. Soliciting reader feedback in as many ways as possible, often ending posts with questions phrased to provoke thought and conversation

3. Responding to every reader comment directly by email or telephone, and adding remarks to the blog's comment record

4. Following web traffic patterns in order to identify the most popular topics, then tailoring future posts to readers' interests, as determined through tracking, blog comments, and other feedback

To generate readership and drive traffic to the BizSolutionsPlus blog, I used the following:
• Blog directories: Green engages the power of social networking by listing or otherwise promoting the blog on Facebook, PlaxoPulse, MySpace, LinkedIn, Digg, and BlogCatalog, among others.

• Amazon.com: As an author with a book for sale on Amazon.com, Green is allowed to include his blog on the page promoting his book.

• Linking to other blogs: By sharing links and comments, Green aligns himself with other blogs he deems interesting. Dubbed "link love," such a strategy can improve a blog's Google rankings, which are in part based on how many links a blog has. Nonetheless, Green is careful to select only frequently published, well-written blogs.

• Commenting on other blogs: Green also posts comments on other blogs, which allows him to gain visibility with those blogs' authors as well as their readers.

• Guest blogging: Green has been invited to write guest posts for a variety of blogs, including Dell's ReGeneration blog and MarketingProfs' Daily Fix. With the same respect given his own readers, Green tries to respond to every comment received. He also shares the links to these posts on his own blog.

• Offline marketing: The blog's Web address is listed on all L&G Business Solutions marketing materials, and Green often provides that address to potential clients instead of his company Web site's. Furthermore, he mentions the blog every time he is interviewed about his book.
Lessons Learned:

• Think of your fellow bloggers as partners, not competition. Share ideas, swap links, contribute to each other's blogs, post comments-whatever you can do to build a positive presence and make yourself heard. By doing so, you might establish some great contacts—and possible referrals-in addition to increasing your readership.

• Encourage feedback and listen to the resulting comments. To ensure that you are consistently meeting your customers' needs, it is important to listen, learn and evolve. In listening to my readers, my subject matter becomes more focused, and the services we offer improved. I constantly solicit customer opinion by asking specific questions in my posts, prompting conversations among my readers.

Getting Started:
Typepad and WordPress offer inexpensive services to get you started. Although you might have the capability to host and build your own Blog, I recommend these services because of their cost-savings, ease of use, and their content and promotional value-added functions. However you build your blog, they key to success lies in your strategy and its execution.

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Name: Evan Carmichael
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EvanCarmichael.com is the world's #1 website for small business motivation and strategies. Evan also runs a series of successful Mastermind Groups in Toronto for entrepreneurs.


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Selling To Small Business