Small business marketing is about community

Find great small business marketing ideas at http://NanetteLevin.com

“Perhaps one did not want to be loved so much as to be understood.”                             – George Orwell

Sometimes, opportunities come when it’s inconvenient. That doesn’t mean you should dismiss them. Small business marketing requires seizing opportunities when they come. that’s not always on your schedule.

It’s bad timing. I’m still reeling from a move out-of-state I haven’t yet completed. I’m diving into a new reality that’s different than I had imagined. My things are scattered across state lines so I’m having trouble finding what I need. I’ve been struggling with limited internet access.

Find great small business marketing ideas at http://NanetteLevin.comAs I considered the prospect of this being the last Ultimate Blog Challenge and all the reasons I shouldn’t participate, I realized there was an overriding reason to do so – prior success. I’m coming in late, won’t be doubling up to ‘win’ the challenge and may not add a post everyday forward, but will participate as fully as I can to make the time spent worth it. Of course, part of this is giving back.

So, I’m throwing my hat in once again to interact with this tremendous community. Here’s hoping that Michelle and Michele – the minds behind this grand idea – participate as fully as they did during my first experience with this fantastic concept when I launched this blog.

Reach requires relationships

Do you look askance at claims social (read internet – ironic the term has morphed so from millenniums prior) is all about the numbers? I see so many in a race to amass more likes, connections, shares, page views and all sorts of status to demonstrate they’re popular.

Most I see boasting about their Klout Score, Fan Page likes, comment streams, Linked In connections, Pinterest popularity and every other internet communications symbol of sovereignty mentionable – are broke. They scurry without an end-game in mind to support a Google benchmark that doesn’t convert well to business prosperity.

Selling is about understanding. It’s not about adopting some formula kit “that’s made millions”. Putting a call to action on everything you post will annoy your best prospects. The key is to help people understand what you provide can help them get to where they want to go. As a small business owner, if part of your marketing mix doesn’t include talking to individuals periodically, you’ll find business life challenging.

So, how do build credibility and lead prospects to customer status? The answer is simple and one you can devise. Figure out what your audience is willing to buy, determine how you can do it better than anyone else then communicate with people on a personal level.

Size doesn’t matter

I have a pitiful, by most standards, following on my Fan Page for Horse Sense and Cents. Part is due to neglect promoting and supporting it. Still, with followers in the hundreds, this loyal clan buys, refers and endorses what we sell. If we throw something out there (most of what we provide here is free guidance on issues of import to the equine loving readers) asking for help sharing, promoting or announcing something that involves a profit point for the company, readers generally rally to help. Of course, it’s harder for everyone to see such streams now (hence the decision to spend little time there), but it’s always amazing to see a correlation in sales to a post that seems to fall on deaf ears.

Lists in the thousands or millions only matter if you’re using a shotgun vs. rifle approach. Know your audience, pinpoint the message and appeal to needs you know will resonate with an audience you understand and you can do well selling to a small list. Keep most of the information you send easy-to-implement ideas given as a gift and you’ll be amazed what a large percentage of your list buys when you occasionally ask.

Personally, I’d rather cater to a small audience of a highly qualified list than a large one gathered from freebie inducements. I get it’s all the rage now, but with tight niches (the easiest to market to), the gimmee more free groupies are poor prospects. I’ll take 200 people excited about what I’m selling over 200,000 grabbing gifts any day.

Time is all you have

One of the most critical decisions you make as a business owner is where you spend your time. Topping the charts in social rankings is a good use of your time only if it translates to sales (or you’re wealthy but get warm fuzzies from spending 25 hours a week doing thumb workouts). For me, the Ultimate Blog Challenge has proven worthwhile. Not so much for clients (although this will come – this company has a much longer sales cycle than Horse Sense and Cents®), but it’s been fantastic for connections, identifying vendors, building alliances, reaching an audience and finding friends.

So, here’s hoping the moral support, reach and fun new people I meet are grander than ever. I’m delighted with the prospect of reconnecting with friends from the past and meeting some neat new idea makers.

Let me know if there are small business marketing, sales, public speaking or writing tips you want to see featured in posts this month by commenting below.

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