Internet Marketing for Small Business – The Vital Truth

As a small business owner it’s our natural tendency to approach everything with a hint of skepticism. There are so many ‘next big things’ that it’s oftentimes difficult to distinguish between a passing trend and a legitimate evergreen marketing strategy for a small business.

Skepticism or no, I’m willing to bet that by now you’ve started seriously eyeing Internet marketing for small business as a viable addition to your advertising repertoire; you’re starting to realize that this is something worth jumping on.

Let’s face it – Your competitors are doing it, so you should do it too lest you unknowingly give up a foothold in your niche.

Wait Just a Minute – What is Internet Marketing, Exactly?

Before we go any further I think it’s worth taking some time to clarify exactly what we’re referring to when we say ‘Internet Marketing’. If you’ve done any research at all on the topic of small business online marketing, you’ve probably seen a wide array of terms thrown about. It can be very confusing to learn anything at all about Internet marketing with a seemingly endless amount of ideas out there… How are you supposed to know what’s what? Well, below I’d like to briefly go over a few of the most common terms and methods that you should concern yourself with:

#1. Small Business Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Small business search engine optimization refers to getting your business’ virtual property listed on the first page of search engine results (most commonly in Google) for a select group of keyword phrases. Whether it’s a Google Places page, a YouTube video, a Facebook page or even your own website, the goal is to position yourself so that local searchers see YOU before your competition.It sounds complicated, but that’s why we’re here. The results of a successful SEO campaign can be enormous.

#2. Small Business Email Marketing / List Building

Small business email marketing is without a doubt one of the most powerful forms of lead generation out there. Imagine having the power to reach your loyal customers any time day or night with your newest and greatest promotions? Imagine being able to send your customers coupons, newsletters and other interesting content so that you’re constantly in contact with them, remotely building your brand in their mind’s eye? I’m sure with a little imagination you can start to see the possibilities… Email marketing is one of the most viable long-term marketing strategies for small business owners to consider. Your customers aren’t going to stop using email anytime soon, and the ability to stay in frequent contact with a customer even if they’re not visiting your actual place of business is too good to pass up. If you take nothing else away from this article, at least learn more about small business email marketing.

#3. Social Media Marketing for Local Businesses

This is the newest and greatest trend in the world of Internet Marketing for small businesses. Facebook alone has over 800 Million users worldwide, and most users spend a minimum of 6 hours per month on this website. As Facebook grows it’s an increasing amount of time YOU could be using to further your business. Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites are going to be some of the greatest marketing mediums of 2012 because they give you the ability to keep up with interested customers on a daily basis through websites that they’re spending lots of time on anyways. Why not take advantage of this opportunity?

#4. Pay-Per-Click Advertising for Direct Marketing

The next time you’re searching for something in Google I want you to pay attention to the right side of the screen. You should notice a few small ads that are separate from the search results. These are actually paid advertisements from Google’s AdWords program, and they’re a crucial aspect of small business online marketing.

The pay per click advertising (PPC) works is a simple 3 step process:
• Write a small ad for your business
• Pick keywords or locales to target
• Pay per click for traffic directly to your business’ website

Pretty easy, right?

This is a great way to start off your Internet marketing campaign because with Pay Per Click you get exactly the results you pay for. Want to give 100 new customers the chance to fall in love with your business? Pay for 100 clicks to your website… Done. I’m sure you can see the value in this kind of cost-per-lead advertising. Through proper lead generation and analytics you can have yourself quite a profitable campaign that runs virtually on autopilot.

And hey, want to really explode your customer base? Why not use PPC advertising to drive targeted traffic to your email newsletter so you can stay in contact with your new potential customers?

Why Internet Marketing for Small Businesses is a Good Investment

What holds back most small business online marketing campaigns that the business owners fail at marketing automation.

We’ve all learned this lesson: When you try to do everything yourself you inevitably fall behind in the areas you’re best at, and don’t get far enough in the areas you’re good at. The result is that your business slows down, and you don’t see as much revenue as you should / could. If time is money, then you can’t afford to spend an increasing amount of time on something that someone else could be doing faster.

That’s why when approaching Internet marketing for small business I recommend enlisting the assistance of a trained professional.

Time and time again we’ve seen a much greater ROI when the business owner focuses on running an outstanding business, while the Internet marketers do what they do best – Capture the interest of potential customers. Whether you decide to pursue small business search engine optimization to bolster the rankings of your website or social media marketing to get the word out through Facebook / Twitter, you can rest assured that you’ll see better results from someone who’s done it before.

Internet marketing for small business doesn’t have to be time consuming, and it’s certainly doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, an Internet Marketing campaign can be relatively cheap when compared with other marketing strategies for small businesses! As a small business owner you’d be giving up a lot if you limited yourself to offline marketing only, so I urge you to consider the techniques and methods outlined in this article. I’m sure you can find an Internet Marketing company or service provider who would be more than willing to help you with these internet marketing services so you can start finding new potential customers on autopilot. What are you waiting for?

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Work-Life Balance Tips for Small Businesses

People involved in small business get a bad rap for their workaholic ways. You know because you either know someone who is involved in small business or you are that person. Let’s look at some facts about small businesses in San Diego and then ways people involved in small business everywhere can a better create work-life balance.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, 99.9-percent of the 27.5 million businesses in the United States are considered small firms with fewer than 500 employees*. According to the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, the majority of companies in San Diego County are small businesses with 50 employees or less. One out of every five small businesses in San Diego County are in the business services segment which includes consulting, engineering, accounting, research and management. The additional types of business segments in descending size order are wholesale trade, manufacturing / repair, transportation, consumer services, specialty construction, builders, retail, finance/real estate/insurance and an “other” segment (the unclassified small businesses in the county). In San Diego County, the average number of people employed by a small business is 7.3 people.

Everyone related to small business – the owners, the employees, the people who cater to and support small businesses – here are three tips for more balance in your life:

1. Schedule time off. Small business owners value the importance of sticking to a schedule and deadlines. Decide how much time you can schedule to relax, be social or spend time with family in the next week and also how much time you would ideally like to have for such activities in the future. Then, schedule time away from work. Maybe this upcoming week you can only dedicate one hour away from everything work related; block out that hour on your calendar immediately. Knowing that your ideal amount of time is two full weekdays per month, a small business owner can set aside those specific dates in February now. Once those days are on the schedule, they must be respected as if they are meetings with the most valuable client. Commit to taking the time off for the things that matter most outside of business and protect that scheduled time.

2. Turn off the cell phone. This goes for small business owners and anyone who has ever thought about work outside of the workplace. Especially when spending time with others outside of working hours, turn off the distractions of business. By removing the distractions of phone calls, text messages, instant messages, e-mails and phone alerts for a short time, you can truly relish in your time away from the office.

Do you (or the small business owner you know) feel anxiety rise up inside of you when you merely consider turning off your phone? What if you took up the challenge of turning your phone off for one hour next week? Maybe it’s turning off the phone for the hour you’ve scheduled for yourself and your family. Maybe you turn off your phone before you fall asleep or leave it off while you get ready in the morning. Another suggestion is to shut off your phone during your commute if you drive. Since you shouldn’t be on it if you are driving, turn it off and turn up your favorite tunes. Whenever you decide to turn off your phone, you are claiming that time for yourself, which is a crucial piece of the work-life balance equation.

Once you’ve turned on your phone again and realized that your business or work hasn’t imploded or exploded, your anxiety will be less the next time you cut off this type of communication. And what if your business does start to implode or explode? If you are not the sole person in your business, then someone will get ahold of you through your significant other, neighbor, friend, coworker or someone will show up where you are to tell you. If you are the sole person in your business, find another business owner in the same situation and work out a trade where you ensure each other’s businesses don’t go awry. Which brings us to the next point.

3. Appoint a second-in-command for when you are inaccessible. You will take time off whether it’s an hour next week or a full month next year, and you don’t want to worry about your work during that time. That would eliminate the balance. Select a second-in-command and let the person know in what circumstance they will be in charge and how to reach you if a true emergency arises. (You may want to clarify what you consider an emergency with this person.) Let everyone in your company and important vendors know who is in charge in your absence moving forward. That way if something comes up in the hour you are in a business meeting or at your child’s play or in the month you are on vacation abroad, all employees and important vendors will know who to go to. Your second-in-command acts like the gatekeeper to your time away and assesses when he or she needs to contact you. Finally, when setting up your away messages with the times and dates you will be out of pocket, list your second-in-command’s contact information. Your away message may be on your website, in your social media messages, in an e-mail bounce-back message, on your store’s door, and on the phones in your business. If you’d like that breath of fresh air without the worry, then take the steps needed to prevent work from finding you unnecessarily while you are claiming more life in your work-life balance.

With the majority of businesses in United States and in San Diego County operating as small businesses, work-life balance is necessary to continue and grow. By scheduling time off, turning off the cell phone and choosing a second-in-command, you can protect and freely enjoy your time away from the small business you run, work for or support. Here’s to work-life balance in small businesses everywhere!

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