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Monday, December 31, 2007

Resolutions for 2008 Business Marketing and Branding

If 2007 was a year that you didn't make the most of your ability to market your product or services, turn that around in 2008.

I have seen a number of articles in various publications and blogs about small businesses hiring public relations firms. The debate has been should they or should they not engage a public relations firm. Personally, I do not recommend pr firms for very small businesses. If a business is making under $250k a year, a pr firm is not the right move. Instead there are things that small businesses can do on their own to market and publicize to increase awareness. Here are some tips for 2008:

#1 Refresh Your Brand - Whether you own a storefront retail business or a company offering services do something to refresh your brand. This could be updating your signage outside of your establishment. I especially recommend this if you have had the same signage or logo for over 10 years, if that is the case you are definitely overdue. A brand refresh doesn't have to be really expensive. Work with a freelance branding expert or a graphic design student to come up with something.

Do-It-Yourself Email Marketing#2 Start an Electronic Newsletter - Most small businesses are not doing enough to connect to existing customers. Almost everyone has an email address today and many people are willing to receive information from companies they patronize. Start an e-newsletter and include features on products or services. If you run a business that can offer a special promotion - make sure you include one in every e-newsletter.

#3 Create New Referral Sources - Get out there and network in 2008! Cultivate relationships that can lead to referrals. Pick up a business journal in your area. If you live near or in a major metropolitan city, almost every big city has a business journal. Read it and look for events that could offer good networking. Start by attending events held or sponsored by the business journal. Check the local paper for business event listings.

#4 Refresh Your Website - Many small businesses are guilty of having static websites. (FYI a static website is one that you put up a while ago and have not added one new update or change) Your search engine optimization is dependent on your website having FRESH and RELEVANT contact. Work with your webmaster to post new information to your site.

WebEx MeetMeNow Online Meetings #5 Improve Customer Service - Great customer service is the BEST PR and MARKETING for your business. Even if you think your customer service is stellar, do something to add to it. Make sure you train employees to provide the best customer service possible. If you are in a service oriented business, have your representatives call your customers long after your work is done to make sure they are satisfied. If you have a retail business, do something extra for your customers when they visit your location. I can't talk enough about my dry cleaner who brings my clothes to my car for me each time. His customer service is why I drive out of town to patronize his business.

#6 Advertise Online - You might hear people talking about search engine marketing or SEM. SEM can tremendously increase the visibility of your website in search engines. The best part about this type of advertising is that you create your own budget! You can invest whatever amount of money in SEM that your business can afford. You can literally devote $25 a month to it. SEM is quite easy to do on your own. Search engines such as Yahoo! and Google provide step-by-step instructions to begin your SEM program. If you want more people to find your website, definitely start a search engine marketing campaign.

Good Luck in 2008 and remember to check for more tips for your business.

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