Marketing Online: Basic Strategies Any Business Can Use

Want to get into marketing online but wondering what the options are and what online marketing strategies will best fit your business and your marketing budget? This marketing online primer presents an overview of strategies for you to choose from. I recommend choosing and implementing at least three; successful marketing online depends on diversity and persistence for most small businesses.

1) Have a Blog/Website.

The first step to successful marketing online is to have a home base on the web.

It doesn’t really matter if you have an official website or a blog or a combination of both. Either will give you a web address where people can find you and a convenient way of referring to you, two things that will facilitate your marketing online efforts. So even if you don’t sell anything online directly, you need a website.

I encourage business people to have a blog on their website or serving as a website because if you blog regularly and have something relevant to say, you will develop a following – and some of those people will help your marketing online efforts by spreading the word about you and your products and/or services.

2) Online Advertising

Many small businesses in particular bother with this marketing online strategy, I suspect because they don’t want to shell out for it.

They only want to do free marketing online. I say, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with free marketing online strategies – as long as you realize they’re not. All the ‘free’ online marketing strategies I’m aware of take a considerable time investment, meaning they’re only free if your time is worth nothing.

CPM stands for Cost Per Thousand Impressions. With this type of marketing online, you basically buy space on a web page and pay for a certain number of impressions, or the number of times your ad is going to be displayed. Many of the banner ads you see on various websites are being paid for on a CPM model.

CPC stands for Cost-Per-Click advertising. In this model, you pay only for the number of times a viewer clicks on your ad, not on the number of times it’s displayed.

Google AdWords is perhaps the best known Pay-per-click marketing online program. When you’re marketing online with this program, you choose particular keywords that you want your ads to be associated with. When people search on Google using one of your keywords, your ad may appear next to the search results.

The theory is that these people are much more likely to be interested in your products or services.

Another online advertising strategy you may wish to try is creating and posting an online video (either to your own website or to a popular video sharing site such as YouTube). An online video can be marketing online gold if it becomes popular.

3) Directory Listings

Adding your business to appropriate directory listings (local directory listings, business directories, etc.) is another way of marketing online that takes little time and is relatively inexpensive. Whatever local business groups you belong to, such as your local Chamber of Commerce, probably have websites where they allow members to list their businesses online and perhaps even place ads on the site at special rates. Search out other local sites, especially those related to tourism, and make sure you’re listed there, too.

Then there are the professional sites. Are you a Virtual Assistant? A CGA? A Canadian retailer? Whatever your professional affiliations, chances are good that organization has a site with a directory of members. There are also a lot of specialized online networking groups/sites that promote marketing online. A Business Advertising package on the Canadian Women’s Business Network, for instance, costs only $36 CAN.

4) Participating in Social Media

Joining the conversation on Twitter, Facebook, and forums, posting on Flicker and YouTube, commenting on other people’s blogs, are all opportunities for marketing online.

Marketing online through social media requires a much more subtle technique than marketing online through advertising or directory listings. With all social media, the trick is to participate intelligently and actually attempt to converse rather than just advertising your products or services. Comments such as “Good point.

The downside of social media marketing is that it’s time-consuming. If you want to do it well and see any real benefit from it, you have to work at it. The upside is that it’s free and can really generate a lot of buzz about your products/services if something that you’ve done online ( a post, a video, an article) becomes really popular.

5) Online Networking

LinkedIn deserves special mention in any discussion of online networking. Its stated purpose is to help the world’s professionals connect with one another to accelerate their success. As of this writing, LinkedIn has over 40 million members in over 200 countries and territories around the world. It’s a powerful tool for internet marketing, giving you the opportunity to connect with potential customers, partners and colleagues.

Besides being a great source of support and information, groups such as these also provide some marketing opportunities. Other members may be potential customers or referral sources as they get to know you and what you do.

Like social media, online networking requires taking a subtle approach. The same basic rule applies to online networking that applies to networking face-to-face. Give, give, give and don’t worry about receiving; you will, likely in bigger, more powerful ways than you ever imagined.

6) Email Marketing

Email marketing is one of the best and most powerful ways of online marketing in my opinion. For one thing, once you’ve developed an email list, (notice the word developed, not bought), you are, in effect, preaching to the converted, sending your marketing message directly to people who have already indicated some interest in your products or services.

For another, email is an excellent tool for building a relationship with your customers, letting you build both repeat business and good word-of-mouth.

Newsletters can be sent to the email list you’ve built from the people who provided the necessary information on your website, for instance, providing these potential customers with news updates about your company, upcoming events and/or special offers – and, of course, reminding them that your business exists and that maybe it’s time for another visit.

Email programs such as VerticalResponse and Constant Contact allow you to customize your email to your potential customer so you can send selected customers messages specific to their interests and actions.

Marketing Online and Offline Are The Same in One Way…

Just like any offline marketing, your online marketing efforts need to be planned. So don’t just post something here and place something there and consider that you’re marketing. Create an internet marketing campaign and plan and measure your results just as you would with any other marketing.

And remember too, that targeting still matters. The more carefully you have targeted your potential customers and the more carefully you have chosen and placed your marketing advertisements or your conversations, the more successful your marketing campaign will be.

The thing that’s different about marketing online, however, is its incredible reach. The Internet gives your business the chance to reach thousands and perhaps even millions of people who would never hear of your products and/or services otherwise – making online marketing a marketing opportunity you don’t want to miss out on.

Source The Balance

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SBA South Florida District Announces District and State of Florida National Small Business Week 2016 Winners

Release Date:

Tuesday, April 5, 2016
Release Number:
16-02 So. Fla.
Contact:
Althea Harris (305) 536-5521 ext. 152

MIAMI – U.S. Small Business South Florida District Director Francisco “Pancho” Marrero is pleased to announce the winners of SBA’s 2016 State of Florida and South Florida District Small Business Week Awards.  The award winners will receive their awards and be celebrated during National Small Business Week, May 1-5, 2016 at locations throughout the SBA South Florida District.

“The caliber of our South Florida small businesses nominated for the SBA’s Small Business Week Awards continues to increase with each passing year,” said Marrero. “Our award winners are truly representative of the high-quality companies that are doing the hard work of business growth, innovation, and job creation that make our South Florida economy and communities stronger and stronger. We are pleased to honor them.” SBA-logo emineo media

The 2016 SBA South Florida Small Business Week Awards Winners are:

South Florida District and State of State of Florida Small Business Person of the Year is Sherry L. Acanfora-Ruohomaki, Owner/President of K9 Kampus, LLC of Melbourne, FL.

South Florida District and State of Florida Minority Owned Small Business Person of the Year is Francisco Semsch, President of FSA in Tampa, FL

South Florida District and State of Florida Small Business Advocate of the Year is Orlando Espinosa, Co-Founder of Emineo Media of Miami, FL.

South Florida District and State of Florida Small Business Media Advocate of the Year are Pete de la Torre and Sally Villalba of World Business Radio Network, LLC which hosts the Pete Biz Radio Show from Doral, FL.

South Florida Small Business Woman-Owned Person of the Year is Tailleen Arias, President of the Doral Conservatory & School of the Arts located in Doral, FL.

South Florida Small Business Veteran Owned Business of the Year is Brian Butler, Vistra Communications, LLC located in Tampa, FL

Region IV Women’s Business Center of Excellence Award: weVenture (formerly The Women’s Business Center at Florida Institute of Technology) located in Melbourne, FL where Beth Gitlin is the Director.

Source : SBA

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Makeover served up to Miami Springs cheesecake bakery

Ever since Milo Irsula, 35, was a child, he and his family dreamed of owning a restaurant. But over the years, life got in the way, and he, his father and two brothers instead ended up living in various corners of the world, including North Carolina and Peru.

“I think for the Irsula family we always thought that our passion for owning a restaurant that specialized in delicious desserts wasn’t ever going to be realized,” said Irsula, who had been a middle-school teacher in North Carolina before his father bought the business. “We called it our ‘pie-in-the-sky dream’ and even joked about it over the years as we moved around the world and started our lives.” emineo media cheesecake, etc miami herald

But the stars aligned for the family in 2012 when Irsula’s father, Orlando, decided to purchase a small, family-owned bakery that had been in business in Miami Springs for more than 40 years.

“My dad saw a great opportunity with this family-owned” business, Irsula said. “It was stable, had solid, long-term contracts and homemade recipes for some terrific cheesecakes and key lime pies. And of course, once my dad bought the business, he got our whole family involved in it right away to help grow it.”

Irsula’s father summoned his sons to Miami six months after purchasing the bakery, and the family went to work, learning as they went along.

“We really didn’t know what we were doing,” Irsula said. “My brother Erick was working in the travel industry in Peru and I was a schoolteacher in North Carolina. But we learned very quickly how difficult it is to be a small-business owner, managing the company, marketing it and doing everything else in between.”

Once my dad bought the business, he got our whole family involved in it right away to help grow it. Milo Irsula, son of Orlando Irsula, who owns Cheesecake, Etc. in Miami Springs

For the next four years, the Irsula family focused on keeping the solid clientele that Cheesecake, Etc. had, finding ways to improve the business and trying out new products. In 2015, the company grossed over $500,000 in sales. In addition to Milo, his brother Erick and father Orlando, the Irsulas employ two full-time staffers who work in production, where Erick runs the show.

In late 2015, when Milo Irsula attended a brand-building workshop held by SCORE— a national nonprofit organization of volunteers who have been successful entrepreneurs and have built thriving businesses — he realized he could get free advice to help him grow the business.

“The workshop, led by SCORE counselor Orlando Espinosa, really inspired me,” Irsula said. “The workshop helped me to understand that although Cheesecakes, Etc. had been in business for 40 years, we would have to spend time creating a solid brand that showcases the quality of our products.”

At the SCORE workshop, Irsula introduced Espinosa to his company and discussed the needs of his business. Soon after, Espinosa worked with the Miami Herald to facilitate a Small Business Makeover.emineo media cheesecake, etc the miami herald makeover

The Irsulas turned to the Miami Herald to help them find efficient ways to promote and grow Cheesecake, Etc. The Herald, in turn, partnered with Miami SCORE. SCORE volunteers use their entrepreneurial skills and offer mentoring services to small business owners free of charge. SCORE identified three counselors to help Cheesecake, Etc. streamline operations, promote the company on social media and find ways to maximize growth opportunities for the business.

The SCORE team included Jane Muir, an attorney at Gersten Muir, a local law firm, specializing in contracts and civil litigation. Rafael Iglesias is a new SCORE counselor who specializes in social media. He was in the world of advertising for 15 years and worked for a local agency. He serves as social media manager for a variety of businesses, including Parawood of the Americas, a provider of Parawood flooring. Doug Shavel is the CEO of Galante Studio Distribution and also runs Shavel Realty, a real estate investment firm.

After working with Cheesecake, Etc. for just over three weeks, the counselors helped the firm understand more about their business and how to run it efficiently. The counselors agreed that after 41 years, the Cheesecake, Etc. brand needed a facelift and some good old-fashioned word-of-mouth via social media to help promote the company and increase sales. To accomplish these goals, the counselors recommended the following:

Dedicate time to managing social media: “In this day and age, if you’re a business owner, you’ve got to have a presence on social media,” Iglesias said. “For Cheesecake, Etc. they need to dedicate time to managing their social media platforms including niche food networks.”

The Irsulas agreed, but according to Milo, none of them had time to spare.

“We have pages set up on social networks,” Irsula said. “But we haven’t posted anything because none of us really have the time to develop the content.”

But Iglesias wasn’t convinced and showed the Irsulas how they can incorporate tools like Hootsuite, a social media management system, into their routine to save time.

“Small-business owners can’t afford not to utilize social media to promote their products,” Iglesias said. “It’s an affordable way to showcase and sell directly to consumers.”

Iglesias recommended that to start out, the company should focus on three social networks for now — Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

In this day and age, if you’re a business owner, you’ve got to have a presence on social media. Rafael Iglesias, social media expert

Iglesias also suggested claiming their company page through Yelp for Business, which allows small business owners to engage with customers with reviews and special promotions.

“Yelp is a hub for consumers who want to inform others about their experiences with businesses and brands,” Iglesias said. “It’s important for Cheesecake, Etc. to take control of their brand, both off and online.”emineo media cheesecake, etc the miami herald

Explore ways to incorporate e-commerce: The SCORE counselors suggested that Cheesecake, Etc. revamp its website to power e-commerce and online sales.

“Cheesecake, Etc. needs to take a look at options in terms of selling its products online,” Shavel said. “It’s an untapped revenue stream that should be quick and easy for the company to set up.”

But the Irsulas had been down that road before with poor results because they couldn’t find a solution for the high cost of shipping.

“We tried to sell online a couple of years back,” Milo Irsula said. “We had issues because it’s really expensive to ship the product, which is frozen. It needs to be shipped in dry ice, and before you know it, you’re asking people to pay $50 for a cheesecake.”

Shavel recommended exploring alternative shipping options including using a co-packer and bringing costs down.

The Irsulas are already hard at work developing new and interesting takes on cheesecake, including introducing flavors such as salted caramel with pecan and another infused with Guinness Stout. The company is also looking at a cheesecake-in-a-cup concept that may prove profitable.

“Outsourcing production to a third party is an option that could lead to a significant savings for the company and increase profitability,” Shavel said.

Streamline operations: Becoming more efficient and finding ways to streamline processes was an area where the company needed help. Shavel offered advice on how reconfiguring their facility would make things run more smoothly.

“Their current space in Miami Springs is adequate, but it needs to be rearranged,” Shavel said. “And right now, they are on a year-to-year lease so renovating wouldn’t be prudent. You would only invest in renovation if you have a 10-year lease for example.”

Muir recommended taking a look at vendor contracts to determine where the company can realize savings or make the contracting process more efficient.

“It’s a good idea to review contracts,” said Muir, who received a Most Productive Young Attorney Award from the Florida Bar in 2015. “This is especially true when a business has been purchased and existing contracts were part of the sale as it was with Cheesecake, Etc.”

Muir recommended looking at terms such as payment times, invoice cycles and liability. She also suggested going over any contract extensions and clauses related to cancellation of the contract.

Develop a new logo: Each of the SCORE counselors advised the company to invest in revamping their decades-old logo.

“We knew that something had to be done with the brand to improve it,” Irsula said. “The idea of creating a new logo that honors the nostalgia of the past came to mind.”

Muir agreed and encouraged the family to develop and trademark their new logo.

“When you create something and it’s out in the public domain, you need to protect it,” Muir said. “It’s important to trademark your brand identity so that you are in control of how it’s used.”

Iglesias recommended using the journey of creating a new brand identity as content to fuel social media feeds.

“It would be great for them to use social media to document the process of creating the new logo and developing a new brand,” Iglesias said. “Solicit ideas from fans and followers and offer treats like a coupon for a free slice of cheesecake. This will improve engagement and improve brand recognition.”

Grow distribution channels: Over the next three to five years, Cheesecake, Etc. wants to grow beyond selling their dessert creations wholesale to bring their products direct to consumers in supermarkets and restaurants around the country.

“We would love to get into grocery stores, cafes and mall kiosks,” Irsula said. “But it’s a competitive market and we weren’t really sure how to get started. Working with SCORE I think we have a better understanding of what it takes.”

Each SCORE counselor committed to continuing their work with the Irsulas and Cheesecake, Etc. to see the advice through.

“He’s got a solid business,” Iglesias said. “He needs to work on spreading the word and innovating for the future.”

The Irsulas are already hard at work developing new and interesting takes on cheesecake, including introducing flavors such as salted caramel with pecan and another infused with Guinness Stout. The company is also looking at a cheesecake-in-a-cup concept that may prove profitable.

“We already sell key lime pie in a cup,” Irsula said. “Cheesecake is the natural evolution of that.”

The Irsulas said they plan to continue the work they started with SCORE and focus on the solutions presented by the counselors as they continue finding ways to expand and innovate.

“That’s the part of the business that I love the most,” Irsula said. “Working with my dad and my brother Erick to create something that hasn’t been done before is a great perk of working in this business.”

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