Category Archives: Marketing

Valuable marketing tips for small businesses.

Run a Professional Brokerage on a Budget

Virtual OfficeEver wonder how a lot of mortgage brokers and lenders can afford to pay for their big fancy offices, staff and flashy website in this down market? The answer is that they aren’t—it just appears that way. Offered below are some very valuable tips on presenting a polished, professional and successful looking company on a budget. You don’t have to be a multimillion-dollar brokerage outfit to succeed in this market, but looking like you are will attract the clientele that will help you become one.

Your Website: Dress For Success

A clean and straightforward professional-looking image is always better than an over-embellished (over-spent) one. And today, as a small business owner in the hi-tech age, your “image” is your website; it serves as a resource for your clients and the touchstone for who you are and what you do. But don’t make the mistake of spending a ton of money on a fancy site or, worse, trying to set it up yourself (your expertise is needed elsewhere!): A quality website can be had for under $1,000. You would be much better served to hire a professional to create the few essential pages of your unique-looking website, than to eat up your hours experimenting with a site you don’t have the skills to properly develop. Just tell your pro: Keep it simple and leave off the flashy add-ons! As for you, the content provider, keep the gimmicky language to a minimum.

Business Cards Are Not Optional

A smartly designed business card is one of your very best marketing investments, and you’ll need plenty of them! Your card is literally your “calling card,” so hand it out whenever you see an opportunity. Post it on community bulletin boards, in restaurants, at car washes, you-name-it. Follow the same rules as with your website: keep the card simple and clean; opt out of flashy images and resist the temptation to display the latest photo of yourself. Clearly present company name, title, email, website and the phone number with the most direct access (probably your cell). Inexpensive card options abound, you can order online and competition is fierce, so ask about special introductory offers.

Virtual Posh Is For You, Too

Having a big fancy office is the dream of many small business owners, but it’s certainly not a wise use of your capital. Most business these days is conducted over the phone or via the Internet, and when face-to-face meetings do occur, they’re frequently at a neutral locale such as a restaurant or a client’s home or place of business. Even medium to large-size firms that can afford big offices have down-sized their brick-and-mortar operations to be “lean and mean”. Yet if this is the case, you may be wondering why so many of your competitors boast posh Park Avenue (or similar) headquarters? That’s easy: They’ve simply exploited the benefits of the Virtual Office. A “virtual” office is a non-physical office at a real location (usually a preeminent or upscale address in a city by you) where, for a nominal monthly fee, you can register the mailing address of your company.

Social Media

Social Media Marketing for Small Businesses

Social MediaThe social media arena can be an intimidating place for many small business owners. With all the options available today who can blame them. Many ask themselves: where do I begin? How will this generate revenue? Is this really worth my time and effort? These questions arise for the simple reason that many small business owners are just not too familiar with the uses of social media and their benefits.

Social media is an incredible opportunity for small businesses to reach audiences because more and more consumers are embracing social media as part of their everyday lives. Even the over-50 population is adapting at staggering rates. Did you know that nearly 20% of all page views on the web are on Facebook? Still not impressed? Here are some more compelling statistics on why your business should be active on social media.

  • The average user spends nearly seven hours per month on Facebook, 21 minutes on Twitter, 17 minutes on LinkedIn and 3 minutes on Google+. (WordPress Hosting SEO)
  • 60% of people who use three or more digital means of research for product purchases learned about a specific brand or retailer from a social networking site. 48% of these consumers responded to a retailer’s offer posted on Facebook or Twitter. (MediaPost)
  • 57% of companies say they generated sales through their blogs, and an identical share closed business transactions through LinkedIn. (iMedia Connection)
  • Companies that blog have 434% more indexed pages. And companies with more indexed pages generate far more leads from search. (Search Engine Journal)
  • Companies that publish new blog posts just 1-2 times per month generate 70% more leads that companies that don’t’ blog at all. (MarketingProfs)
Getting Started

Marketing your business on social media is not difficult if you are organized. Opening accounts everywhere is not a good approach. In the end you will be overwhelmed and leave many accounts open that are not maintained. That won’t reflect too well on your company. Instead, open 3-4 accounts one by one and develop them slowly. Make sure your company profile is fully completed on all accounts. What social media platforms should you invest your time in? I suggest businesses start with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and WordPress for your company’s blog. Here’s why:

Facebook is without a doubt the most popular social network out there with over 800 million users. Having a fan page is just as important as having a website nowadays. Customers do research online before they do business with companies, and finding them on Facebook is a popular way.

In 2012 Twitter, the 2nd largest social network, added over 1 million accounts per day. Many successful businesses have used it to keep clients current on new products and events. It’s even a great channel to offer customer service.

LinkedIn is a great tool to network and meet new contacts. Nearly 50% of LinkedIn users are decision makers at their companies, which are important people you want to bring into your networking circle.

Google+ plus is fairly new, but growing fast adding over 625,000 user each day. Google is also integrating these profiles into its search algorithm with Google Authorship.

Wordpress is the most popular blogging platform in the market today. It offers a user-friendly interface to manage your blog which can be customized by even the least tech savvy person.

I’m on. Now what do I do?

Social Media ConfusionSocial media is not a place to shout your company’s name at the top of your lungs in hopes to get a response. It’s a tool to share your ideas, content, generate leads and create meaningful connections for your business. Although, Social media can provide your business the visibility and authority in your industry, it can be a double-edged sword if not used properly.

There is no right or wrong when it comes to social networks: You can be as creative as you like, but here are a few things you want to stay away from:

Forget the Plan
Just like any other marketing activity, it’s important to take time to get to know the networks you are joining. Set realistic goals and develop a plan of action to achieve those goals. This will prove to be essential as you market your product.

This is never a good idea, and can not only hurt your reputation, but it can also hurt your brand in the long run. More than one company has posted a tweet, which received serious backlash. Be careful.

Ignore Everyone Else
Acting like you are the only person out there is a quick way to social media failure. This can be as simple as thanking people for retweets and Facebook likes, offering your expertise to help others, and sharing a little of your personal side.

Spam Your Followers
Who said spamming is only for email? This practice has also entered the world of social media. Some forms of social media spamming to stay away from include unsolicited sales pitches, posting the same updates over and over, and sending private messages after being asked to stop.

Share Too Much
You joined the network to promote your products, but, there’s a thin line between being engaging and sharing too much. A good rule of thumb is to think of what you’re posting as if it’s a personal message going out to your most important client or a mentor. If you wouldn’t say it in front of people who are valuable in your business, keep it off social media sites.

Self-Promote All the Time
While you can and should share your experiences and the value of your business, products and services, balance your self-promotion by promoting and helping others. This will make your friends and followers much more receptive to your promotional posts, and your followers may be more likely to pass your promotions on to their own networks.

Final Thoughts

There aren’t any written rules about how you should approach and carry out your social media marketing plan. This is just a short guide that will help you get started without feel overwhelmed by the multitude of networks available. Remember to be creative and follow best practices when engaging your audience. Doing so will assure your success on the social networks.