Local Business Marketing: 11 ways to find and reach potential clients in your local area

If you’re trying to grow your clientele and build customer loyalty for your local small business, you can start by networking locally, the very first step is talking to your existing clients, offer a discount on their next product or service with a new recommendation or referral. In small towns word of mouth will eventually gain the most referrals especially if you are exceptional in your customer service and can convey trust & reliability. If you are very new the best way is family and friends at first, and follow it up by going to your local community college to offer your specialized knowledge with mini classes or a full day seminar, if you can pair up with an already established entrepreneur the better chances you have of filling up the seats. Otherwise here is a list that will help you get recognition by your colleagues, create your brand and develop a solid reputation in your community.

1. Networking: Don’t look at your local peers in your industry as competition, there’s always more than enough clients to go around and most are very willing to refer clients your way if their schedule is full. So rub shoulders, schmooze, scratch backs and make connections. Find a way to stand out so you won’t be forgotten and by earning trust you will earn their professional referrals, just remember to return the favor.

2. Trade Shows: It does take an initial investment to purchase the space, but you are getting great exposure to thousands of people who are relatively interested in your field. Be prepared to give away little goodies so you attract potential clients. If you give special ‘show’ coupons for discounts, you can see how much business it generated by taking part in the trade show. If you have a raffle, your prospects will be filling out their information like their name and email address, make sure there’s a box to check for permission to send ‘occasional’ updates. This is an excellent way to build your email lists with local prospects.

3. Local Fairs and Fetes: Just like trade shows you can demonstrate your product or service to your community directly, a warm smile and pleasant demeanor goes a long way when face-to-face marketing. By giving out ‘fair’ discounts most clients will want to take advantage of a good deal. You can have your QR codes out and ready so you can network to get new clients. Most fair goers leave with loads of flyers and small freebies, so making a connection like having a direct link they can take immediately, will ensure they won’t forget you as soon as they walk away from your tent or table.

4. Speaking Engagements: If you’re networking with your peers and any other related business to your field, keep your ear to the ground for local events and seminars. You may need to volunteer a few times to earn your dues before the local businessmen will hand over a choice and lucrative speaking engagement, but the time you invest in your community will pay off, it shows that you are invested in your community. Depending on what your business is you can offer to speak at the local college for a particular class or even the local High School. You can offer your knowledge to young minds and if you’re a good enough orator leave a lasting impression.

5. Chamber of Commerce: If you live in the USA, just about every township and city has a Chamber of Commerce, contact them and see about being a member and getting involved. If you live outside the US, talk to your local city council-ship to see how you can register or be active in your local business activities, charities or community-lead events and or festivals. The key is to be an active and engaged member in the community.

6. Local Newspapers and Feature Stories: If you’re just opening up, call your local paper and see if they’ll write up an article featuring your business in their local interest section. Most are very willing, after all you may purchase an add in their paper anything that’s local news always intrigues readers. As long as you can tie it into how you’re looking to better serve the community or make a difference you shouldn’t have any trouble getting a local journalist to write up the article.

7. Local Radio Show: What better way to get free advertising that offering to be a guest on the local radio station. With a little research you can see who the station’s past guests were and what interesting topics you can offer to the listeners. You can share your experience, your knowledge and offer your skills, you can also promote your business or products, it’s even a good idea to offer it as a prize for the radio’s daily quiz or competition game that most have daily. You will need to sell yourself, so be prepared to be articulate and quick witted.

8. Write an Article: You can offer to write a weekly article in a local periodical that’s informational and informative to readers. This is where you can offer your specialized knowledge and plug your services or products, discreetly of course. As a contributor you can write up your bio and slide in your webpage, if you also have a blog you can plug that too.

9. Host an Event: Gather your fellow professional affiliates, any other business owners that relate to your industry and host your own event. Whether it’s centered on health like a “Spring into Health Fair”, or a charity event like a “Walkathon” or “Race to Raise” funds for a local charity, the choice is up to you. You can make your event as large or as intimate as possible. Maybe you can host a yearly appreciation day for your clients and encourage them to bring a friend, it shows that you are grateful for their patronage and value their loyalty.

10. LinkedIn Networking: This site offers the ability to link your professional profile with your professional peers, prior employers, trade schools, college clubs, and past colleagues. By networking online you can stay connected and widen your networking arena, being connected to a reputable and established local business owner gives you a bit more credence to your reputation and offers trust to potential clients.

11. Twitter Trending: To gather more local interest look to Twitter, it has listings of what is trending in your local area. Find a way to relate those trending topics back to your business by utilizing trending hashtags in your tweets to gain followers and get more mentions, especially if your followers are willing to re-tweet.

How Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Can Improve Your Marketing

Ever heard of the term, “Sex Sells”? The reason that this term is so redundant in culture today is simply, it works. The question is why it works? Sex is a very basic instinct that drives every person at their most primal levels. Maslow’s Hierarchy proves this in marketing and business. His theory is very profound and yet simple at the same time. Maslow’s Pyramid has many levels, but at the base is physiological needs. Once these needs are met there is an ascending order until a person reaches the pinnacle which is the need for personal growth or self actualization. Each of these levels appeal to different people. A good marketing / business strategy will utilize these insights to reach for the desired affect for its intended target audience.

The easiest to market is the basic needs because everyone needs food, clothing, and a safe place to sleep. However, in marketing it’s not enough just to show a nice house. For example, the marketing for housing often shows a family playing in the yard and then entering the house to sit around the kitchen. Why not just show the house by itself? In this scenario, the marketing strategy is hitting as many different levels of Maslow’s theory as possible. The family playing together in the yard shows that they feel secure with the house. The fact that there is a family there shows their basic needs were already met. Intimacy is implied because of the husband, wife and children, the nuclear family. The presence of the children also lends to the fact that there has been reproduction of the species. All of this is being said without words and hits the four base levels of Maslow’s Pyramid.

Reaching the upper levels of the pyramid is not a difficult task either. Using the same housing example with the family there is an easy step to moving it to the top of the pyramid. If the same family that is playing in the front yard goes inside and we see a study or den full of books and the next image shows the kids sitting down doing homework while the parents are researching something for work, what does the picture tell you now? All of the basic levels are there from food to personal growth and the understanding is presented in a commercial that is only thirty-five seconds long. This is just one aspect of the use of the theory but all good marketing strategies hit as many of these needs as possible based upon the product being marketed.

Maslow’s theory on the surface seems very crude in some ways, but, on further reflection the eloquence of his observations have made huge strides for marketing techniques. In today’s visual media and instant access to information a human being’s basic needs still need to be addressed or none of the levels above mean anything. When a strategy is developed for a product the question must be asked, what basic need does it fulfill and then take it up from there. If the product is athletic wear, the marketing strategy is going to use attractive athletic models sweating hard on the court or in the gym. If the product is software for a computer, the pitch is to make work easier so you can get back to what counts, family. All of these marketing strategies present the same things, how it benefits the audience and how that relates to the basic instincts of the human psyche. Understanding these basic principles of behavior is the key to reaching your audience.

A consumer’s shopping habits are based off all of Maslow’s hierarchy levels. Going back to the example of marketing a house, the first need is shelter, without it we are vulnerable to the elements and inclement weather. The next level would be safety, the consumer needs to feel safe, a home with a security system will make one feel safe from intruders and home invasion. Going back to the family scene in their home, if you were to show an intruder attempting to break-in, but is stopped due to the loud alarm, unless the target audience already has an alarm system, the consumer will no longer feel safe without one and will most likely purchase a system to feel safe once again.

Once the consumer’s basic needs are met food, shelter, clothing, then security and safety, they will look for the next level, comfort, family and friends. In the example of home, the basic would be shelter followed by safety. That would make comfort and relationships the next step, filling one’s home with comfortable furnishings like a nice soft bed, sofas and chairs for example, or making one’s home visitor friendly. How are consumer choices or behaviors influenced by relationships? Using once again the marketing of housing, you can set the scene of social gatherings. Is your home large enough to accommodate your growing family? Do you need a larger back yard for all those BBQs you will be having with friends and family? You may need to purchase more furniture for all those intimate gatherings.

After the need of social fulfillment is met and relationships are created, according to Maslow’s hierarchy, a person starts to desire personal achievement and a feeling of material success. All their basic needs are met, they have shelter, clothing, safety, a social life and comfort. The need or desire for something more begins to arise. A bigger home in an up-scale neighborhood is a way consumers fulfill this level of need. Does “Keeping up with the Jones” ring any bells? By wearing better clothes, driving a newer car, and living in an expensive house a consumer not only feels a boost in their self-esteem, they are sending a message to the rest of the world, they have made it.

The final tier in Maslow’s hierarchy is morality, creativity and reaching one’s full potential. Once a person has reached this level, they no longer feel a satisfaction from the material things, they have good relationships, and food on the table with a roof over their head, but the desire for something more will begin to tug at their conscious. They may start to seek out self-improvement courses, or travel for the experience and not the social status.

As a consumer, one may look to hobbies to fulfill their creative need, gardening, painting or arts and crafts for example. Morality will rear its head in ways like, what one can can do to help his fellow man, it may start by giving away or donating furniture, extra clothing or time to those that are less fortunate. Many grocery stores will have food donation receptacles reminding those to help meet the basic needs of the poor. Around the holidays, toy drives and wish lists are prominently displayed in departments stores prompting charitable emotions for consumers with more disposable income than the average shopper, a person who has reached the apex of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

The New SEO: What You Need to Know

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a method of affecting visibility of the search results of a webpage or website in a search engines. SEO targets different types of searches to ensure the webpage or website or article appear more frequently in the searches. The more they appear on the searches, the more views they will get. SEO has evolved and changed drastically since its beginnings.

Initially, SEO was all about determining keywords and initiating a campaign focused on those specified keywords. It was majorly about article marketing, link building, comment linking, etc. However, this process has changed due to increase in web literacy, consumer awareness, online competition, and majorly due to Google’s algorithm changes. The search engine giant aims to provide enriching, exciting, and valuable search experience for its users. Google is a dominant search engine, and continues to improve the search experience to maintain its leadership in the market. This is how the new SEO was born.

The new SEO process, unlike the strategies of old SEO, focuses primarily on quality and value. This results in better user experience, enriched content, and a boost in business. How did this change happen? Google merely raised the bar higher! The world had no choice but to go along and improve their SEO techniques. Google has been doing this gradually for years through updates in their systematic algorithm.

In 2013, the Hummingbird algorithm was released by Google. Hummingbird is more rigorous and demanding then Penguin and Panda combined. It improved the processing of natural language and semantic understanding of websites and web pages. In order to do SEO effectively now, you must be a PR specialist, conversion rate optimizer, content strategist, social media marketer and a digital strategist. Some of these are inherent in nature, but for the majority of businesses, all of these are different areas of capabilities and hire different individuals to fulfill these jobs.

In order to adapt to the paradigm shift, it is necessary to focus on the new SEO direction. Here are a few ways to go about the new SEO process.

1. Focus on Your Business Goals
It is crucial to focus on the main goals and aims of the brand; where you want your brand to be, and where is it right now. When the objectives of the brand are clear, it will get easier to focus on the main aspects and develop a good SEO strategy.

2. Market and Audience Research
The reason SEO usually gets a bad reputation of polluting the web is because people create content which is irrelevant. Make sure you create interesting content which is worth reading, and is relevant to your brand; something your target audience will like to read.

3. Keywords
The keywords must not be overused. Ensure that your keywords’ intent matches the goals of your business. The people must be easily able to make a connection to what they are looking for. Make sure you select keywords for your audience to easily find you and not merely for the search engine.

4. Relevant and Connected Content Development
Make sure that all the content developed has some meaning and is linked across search, digital, and social marketing. You need to connect the dots between the social marketing, search, and your web page. Utilizing the data from several data sources, using Google Webmaster Tools data for restoring visibility of partial keywords, and building complete dashboards that gathers all content, social, keywords and rank data in a single place is the best strategy to adopt.

5. Social Strategies
The process of new SEO portrays link building as an initiative which has to be completed. Though the old SEO process of comment linking can still work, but link building through social media and PR seem more natural to the search engine. It is not enough to simple create content and publish it on the web. You have to create links so that the content and your brand are interconnected.

6. Events and Contests
Events and contests are the best methods of getting incentive return. Instead of reaching out to the audience and giving them a free sample, create a contest about a blog post featuring your brand containing a link. You can even include a game in which the entry with the most post shares on social media wins. You can also host an online event like a conference regarding a topic related to your brand and indicate that people have to blog about it and link it to your brand.

7. Social Media
Building profiles on social media, sharing your content and converting the sharers to linkers. This is how you can use the social media to your advantage.

8. Optimization
With SEO, the work is never complete; there is always room for more. It is critical to keep doing the same process over and over again to ensure that your brand reaches the top through SEO marketing. You have to keep on updating your content and try out new social media tactics to stay on top. Furthermore, as Google keeps updating, you must ensure that you are fully aware of all the latest trends and alter your SEO strategy accordingly.

In conclusion, it can be said that SEO has evolved and changed for the better. This new age of SEO marketing and changing trends demand that we continuously strategize, regroup, revise, and adapt to the latest trends to move forward. It has become more challenging yet enjoyable for the SEO marketers. They now have to build brands, grow communities, enchant the target audience, and have more opportunities to showcase their creativity. SEO is now more than ever, playing a significant role in the prosperity and growth of businesses.

How to Build a Content Marketing Editorial Calendar

In order to fully comprehend the significance of a content marketing editorial calendar, it is crucial to understand the phenomenon of content marketing. Content marketing includes creating and sharing the content to engage the target audience.

Content marketing retains consumers and improves brand loyalty. In order to do so, you have to understand your target market and determine what motivates them. This is where a content marketing editorial calendar comes in. It is an excellent tool for keeping track of the content creation, publishing and distribution.

A content marketing editorial calendar is a document for planning and provides you and your team with a roadmap about what has been done and what has to be done. It is like a traditional planner calendar giving you an update about the work within a few minutes. It provides you and your team with a proper structure on how to reach and build trust amongst your target market. It is also an organizational tool to keep you on top of things.

Some significant uses of content marketing editorial calendars are as follows:
• A place for generating key topics and post ideas
• Assigning of writing tasks to the team members
• Creating a publishing schedule
• Allowing you to adjust and update easily
• Visualizing the entire plan for the day, week or month
• Allowing all team members to easily understand the schedule

Below are the four basic steps of building a content marketing editorial calendar:

1. Audience/Topics Identification
A brand will no doubt be publishing content for a mass audience. Some businesses have different types of target audiences and stakeholders who are interested in completely different types of content.

In order to define the type of your target audience, you must consult with different departments dealing with the customers like HR, customer services, marketing, sales etc. It is not possible for one person or even one department to figure out what different kinds of customers they have which is why it is important to consult with other departments.

Furthermore, it is also crucial to decide on the distribution of content between the target markets. For example; 70% of the content must target the product ‘A’ buyers, 15% of the content must target product ‘B’ buyers, 10% of the content must be created for the existing customers while 5% of the content must be created to target potential customers.

You must determine how much content can be created and published in a week/month/year. This must be then divided among the workforce responsible of creating the content. This will show you how much content will be created and published each month by how many content creators and for which target audience.

2. Content Assets Stock
Many businesses have a stock of content already produced for them. These contents are usually those that were written but were not published. Such content can come useful if it has been properly organized and have been mentioned in the calendar regularly.

This content can be used as:
• Slide decks that can be reused as blog posts, videos, tutorials etc.
• For surveys and as infographics for finance department, or even as news stories.
• Transcriptions of audio and video material.
• Whitepaper that can be reused as blog series.
• To update old blog posts with new information.

When reusing the content, you have to careful not to reuse the content already published. This can only happen if you fail to update you marketing editorial calendar. However, utilizing the unused content can take away some burden to come up with thousands of new content ideas. This can provide a break for copywriters to refresh themselves. They can utilize unused content and then use that time to re-energize and come back with better and innovative ideas for content creation.

3. Scheduling, Publishing and Promoting
This calendar can be best used for scheduling meetings and brainstorming sessions between the entire content creation team. It can be scheduled beforehand so that everyone knows when the meeting and brainstorming session is. This way, everyone can come prepared. It can also be used to schedule publishing and circulation of newsletters, pamphlets, social media activity, and other such activities. Moreover, you could even use it to review the revenues generated, other engagements, and visits with clients and stakeholders.

4. Tracking and Updating
Through this calendar, you can also keep track of all the content creation. You can even do an evaluation of the content that has been successful and the content that was less successful. This way you can make the necessary changes and modifications. You can also track content created vs. content curated.

A content marketing editorial calendar is not merely a chart with schedules of content to be published, but it includes proper roadmaps, essential parties, target and methods of delivery. Here are some basic things that can be included in the calendar:

• Content list to be published as per the designed strategy. It can include the topics to be developed, existing topics and topics to update and revise.
• The list of writers and team leaders who create and publish the content. This list may include agencies, graphic designers, writers and editors.
• The dates of creation and publishing of content. When it has to be created, when it is to be proofread and edited, and when it should be published.
• A list of engaging strategies for audience after the content has been published.
• List about the mediums through which the content will be published: blog post, eBooks, social networking sites etc.

Using Vision Boards to Transform Your Business

Every business has a vision and goals to lead it towards prosperity. In order to follow and accomplish these goals and vision, strategic planning takes place.

There are several tools that can help you through this process. A vision board is one such tool.

Represented by a mixture of images and texts related to your goals and desires, vision boards remind you of your goals every day and give you the motivation to follow them. They are simple, easy and fun to make.

A vision board is simply about what you want now and in your future. Here are some benefits of creating a vision board:

• Visualizing and thinking about the goals for your business, then including images and motivational texts on a board enhances the likelihood of achieving them.

• When you see the board everyday highlight your dreams for your business and the goals you want to achieve, it automatically energizes you and motivates you to work harder.

• The visualization encourages you to think outside the box and assists you in opening up to new possibilities.

• It helps overcome obstacles that come your way, as the vision board serves as a reminder about what you will achieve after all these problems and obstacles are resolved.

• It keeps you focused on your goals.

Creating a vision tool is extremely easy and can be made with a vast range of media. From simple pencil sketches to colorful magazine cut images, from paintings to graphic art, anything and everything can be utilized to make a vision board. The most significant thing is to know what you want from your future. Some basic tools that can be used are as follows:

Board: A white board, blackboard, cork board, foam board, or a poster board can be used to make your vision board.

Adhesive: Whichever glue you can find to stick the images together on the board. You can also use removable adhesive so that you can keep updating your vision board without ruining any images.

Images: Pictures that represent your goals and dreams – opening a new branch of your business, designing a new office, more satisfied clients/customers, opening an international office. Print out from computers, your own sketches and drawings, magazine cutouts, stickers etc.

Text: Some words that can describe your vision and goals briefly or some motivational words to keep you going.

You: Yes! You are the most important part of a vision board. Use pictures of yourself, your name, or your business logo on your vision board to make it more personal.

Get all the supplies ready and while keeping your vision in mind, start playing around with images and words. Be as creative as you can be. Place it in your cabin, in a place where all the employees can see it. You can turn it into a group activity to keep your employees motivated and moving towards specified goals.

The process of using vision boards to transform your business is easy and enjoyable. Here is how it works:

1. Setting Goals
Having specific business goals are essential for this process. Think about how you want to see your business in the future. You can include short-term goals and long-term goals as well; generating better revenues, increasing job satisfaction for employees, opening an international office etc.

2. Visualizing
Visualize how your goals look like and how you’d like to feel when you reach them. Use images, symbols or words to represent your goal or maybe the journey to reach it. For better revenues, use a number to represent what your annual or monthly target will be. For opening an international office, place an image of the country’s flag you want to open your office in.

3. Believing
Start believing in yourself and your team. Once you actually ‘see’ you goal, it becomes clearer, realistic, and attainable. Believe that you and your employees can manage to reach these goals and fulfill the vision gradually.

4. Employee Motivation
Once you visualize your goals, involve your employees. Create a group activity for the employees to make their own vision boards. Or use your vision board to motivate them to achieve the specified target. Once you truly believe that the goals are attainable, your employees will start believing it too. This way, you will reach those goals faster.

5. Strategize
Start figuring out how each goal can be achieved. Keep your team in the loop. Discuss ideas and solutions for possible problems. Break the tasks into smaller steps to make it more achievable. Create a roadmap and start following it.

6. Move Towards Your Goals
Don’t just make a vision board and hang it somewhere, take action. You have made the preparations and now the time to act has come. Keep updating your vision board and make necessary changes in your strategy. Be prepared for obstacles and detours you might have to take. Don’t give up and keep your employees motivated.

Vision boards turn your dreams and goals from mere speculation, to something solid, which you can see. Actually more than 40% of the world population is sensitive to sight (visuals). The more specific and vivid the vision board, the better motivator it will be. Keep it somewhere where you and your employees can see it every day. It will keep everyone motivated as they will see their goals and get to know how they will feel once the goal is achieved. This improves the possibility of fulfilling those goals as everyone will be enthusiastically working to achieve them.

A Vision Board is a strong tool promoting behavioral change which, when combined with your hard work and support network, can make any goal achievable. The goal setting common phrase ‘see it, believe it, achieve it’ is represented through vision boards. From the initial process of visualizing, to the completion of the goal, vision boards ensure that you are kept reminded of what you really want. It shows why you have to be persistent and work harder.