If investment banks can break the economy; small businesses can start the healing process. Now that start up costs are lower than ever, thousands of talented and skilled individuals who are frustrated by lack of corporate opportunity will do what they’ve always wanted and become their own boss.
However, many small businesses are using old methods of marketing – leaflet drops, advertising in trade magazines and cold calling. All of these methods are expensive, unfocussed and, ultimately, soul-destroying. Old marketing techniques fire their message from a splatter-gun hoping that something might hit home. New marketing starts a conversation with the customer. Oh, and the good news is it’s cheap!
So, let’s say you want to start a project management company. This is what you do:
So you want to be the first in Google for “project management”? That’s not going to happen. But you can research what other words are commonly used with those terms and target these phrases. Here are some of the most common search terms used with “project management”.
- project management software
- project management vacancies
- project management jobs
- project management exam
- project management courses
- project management tools
- online project management
- project management system
- project management training
- project management templates
- project management certification
This not only shows you clues as to what’s being searched for but also can give you great ideas for blog posts. But it doesn’t end there. Try all other words you can think of that are related to “project management” and see what people are searching for. These people are your customers! You need to understand them.
And search these terms in the ordinary Google search engine. Are there search advertisements running along the top and right-hand side of the organic results? If there are this means they’re lucrative terms. But, don’t get too obsessed with what’s popular, it may be easier to rank highly with phrases that only have a few thousand searches a month.
Pay particular attention to the long tail. These are long groups of keywords that are searched for only a few times a day, but when taken together, comprise the majority of the world’s searches.
I would advise all small businesses to start blogging. Why? Because a blog provides you with an easy way to create new content. The search engines love new content and it will drive targeted traffic right where you want it – to your site.
If you haven’t already got a blog, don’t worry about the design, SEO, domain name or hosting, just start one now and begin your database of quality articles because they will be your main currency in marketing your business.
Try to write at least one blog post every week of no less than 350 words. Here are some I quickly thought up for our project management case study.
- What to look for in a project manager
- How to find work in project management
- 5 do’s and don’t's of running a project
- 10 classic project management mistakes
- 7 reasons to hire a project manager
- 5 golden rules of good project management
- How to start a project
- How to define your project strategy
- Basics of writing a project brief
- The place of project management within the company
- Why everyone needs a good project manager
Remember, you need quality as well as quantity and you don’t want to run out of ideas after only a few months (as many, many bloggers do). So divide up the subject matter of your articles so that each can be covered quickly and concisely.
Usually we are too busy to write 1,000 words on advanced techniques. So start with the basic information which may be obvious to you but like gold to other people. The interest these posts generate will result in good links, good traffic and interest in your organization.
Make your posts interesting and easy to read. Here is an incredibly useful guide to writing well. Have fun writing your posts! If you have fun writing them, your visitors will have fun reading them.
Once you have your WordPress blog up and running it is necessary to perform a few SEO tweaks so it performs well in search engine results. However, remember, the best SEO is writing regular quality content.
- Put keywords in your blog title and make your post titles precede your blog title
- Put keywords in your URLs – not a load of numbers
- Create meaningful categories for your posts and write meaningful descriptions for them
<h3>subheadings in your posts
- Give your images meaningful titles (not “image01.jpg”) and descriptive alt texts
- Create an XML Sitemap and register it at Google Webmaster Tools and point to it with robots.txt
- Make sure HTML and CSS code is standards compliant.
There are many ways to get links to your website. Here are a few:
- Adding links to signatures in forums
- Commenting on other blogs related to your niche
- Submitting to directories
- Writing guest articles for other blogs and articles sites
Every different person from every different niche will have their own particular blend of social media. I can’t say to definitely do Twitter and LinkedIn – even though they have been of enormous benefit to me – because they may not be right for some people.
- Automate and sync up all your various social media in as many ways as possible. Putting as much stuff “out there” without having to waste your time doing it.
- Always answer all your serious comments both in your blog and on social media.
Use these methods in an honest, respectful and “white hat” way. Whether you are writing a comment on a blog or tweeting or leaving a message on any particular social site, make sure you are saying something useful. And keep having fun! There is no quick and easy solution to any of the above. It takes time to do and time to see the results.
As ever, I’m always eager to learn off you guys, what other small business marketing tips do you have?