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Marketing Your Service Based Business

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Why Marketing Is Important

When you start a business, it is important to develop a marketing plan. Simply put, "marketing" consists of the activities you perform to publicize your business. If you don't let people know your business exists, they can't hire you. When you begin your business, you will need to put more emphasis into your marketing efforts. You can choose to market your business online as well as offline. Your marketing efforts do not have to cost a small fortune, either. There are plenty of free marketing tricks you can use. However, if you want to take your marketing to the next level, we will also provide you with some paid options.

Paid Forms of Online Marketing

Marketing your business online is a wonderful way to grow your business. You will be able to gain clients around the globe. Online marketing takes many paid forms such as Pay per click programs as well as ads on websites and in ezines. Whenever you market your business, you need to think about your target market ­ the segment of the population you want to tell your business about. This is especially true when you are paying for the advertising. If you are new to marketing, pay per click programs may sound confusing, but they are actually quite easy to use, and offer many benefits. · A pay per click program, such as Google Adwords, allows you to bid on keywords that your target market may use when they search for the service you offer.

· For instance, if you are bidding on the term "virtual assistant" and someone searches for that term, your ad may come up in the search results. · You only pay for your ads when someone clicks on them. If you find a website or ezine that is targeted to your target market, you may want to consider buying ad space. Here are some tips to keep in mind when paying for an ad: · Ask the website owner how many unique visitors they get each month. The number of hits isn't quite as accurate. · If placing an ad in an ezine, ask how many subscribers will receive the ezine. · Before you buy an ad, comparison shop by asking several websites or ezines for their prices. Make sure the price you are paying is relative to the number of subscribers an ezine has or the amount of traffic a website receives. Do not pay an outrageous price for an ad no one will see!

Free Forms of Online Marketing

Marketing your business for free will save you money; but you will have to put in time and effort to see results.

Internet Talk Radio & Podcasts

· Websites that feature Internet Talk Radio Shows and Podcasts are growing by leaps and bounds. Create your own show and provide information on the benefits your services provide.

· Ask to be a guest on others' shows. Send the host a press release or email and tell them about your business and why you would make a good guest for their show. They may contact you and ask you to be interviewed.

Your Mailing List

. · If you have a website, you may already have a mailing list. A mailing list is a group of people who are subscribing to a newsletter, e-course, or some other digital service. · Send out regular emails to your mailing list and let them know the benefits they would receive by using your service.

Other People's Mailing Lists

Teaming up with another WAHM is a great way to publicize your business for free. You can form a "joint venture" with another WAHM and create a way for you to promote your services together. · Perhaps you are an expert copywriter. You can team up with someone who has a website focused on teaching other WAHMs business skills. You can create an e-course that includes some tips and tricks on how to write great copy. · The WAHM you partnered with can give the e-course away for free to her mailing list. You could include a link that says something like "for professional copywriting services, contact:" and include your name, email, and business URL. · When someone on the list needs a professional copywriter, they will contact you.

· Finding someone to team up with is easy; start thinking about projects you may want to create. Send an email to some WAHMs you already know or put up a post on a message board and ask if anyone is interested in your joint venture.

Viral Reports

· A viral report is a small special report that focuses on a single topic. When you create the report, you can specify which areas can be modified. · Other people will take the report and include their affiliate links in the areas that can be modified. They will in turn send this report as a freebie to their mailing lists. · At the end of the report, you can include an "about the author" page that contains information about yourself and your business. Don't forget to include the URL to your website! · This is a win-win situation, as these people will have free, readymade content that they can send to their mailing list, and you will have your business information in front of all the subscribers on all those mailing lists!

Blogs

Blogs are an excellent way to communicate with your target market and gain publicity for your site. Here are some tips to get the most out of your blog: · Update your blog on a regular basis. Adding new posts several times a week will keep your readers coming back for more.

· Provide timely and informative information. Your readers will begin to see you as an expert in your field and will turn to you when they need help. · Install a feed burner. This will allow your readers to subscribe to your blog. They can choose to have your new posts to their email or computer's homepage. It won't cost you any money and it is as simple as adding a small piece of HTML code to your blog.

Article Marketing

· Article marketing is the act of writing articles and submitting them to article reprint directories. · Website owners and bloggers visit article reprint directories regularly in search of articles they can use on their sites. · When you submit an article to a directory, you are giving permission for other website owners and bloggers to publish your article on their site. In exchange for the free content you are providing them, they must include an "about the author" box at the end of the article. You can include some information about your business and a link to your site in this box.

Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization, also known as SEO, is the process of making your website easy for the search engines to find. When you optimize your site for the search engines, your site will be more likely to come up in search results. This will bring more traffic to your site. The following are some SEO tips: · Keywords are extremely important. Keywords are the terms or phrases that your potential customers use when they search for the service you offer.

· The search engines will take notice to the keywords used on your pages. When someone uses the keywords featured on your web page in a search, your page will come up in the results. · Use a keyword tracking service, such as wordtracker to develop a strong list of keywords. · Use targeted keywords that are unique to the content found on each page of your website. Using the same keywords on each page will limit the amount of traffic you receive.

Paid Forms of Offline Marketing

Advertising your business offline is also an option. You never know when a business in your own area is looking for the type of services you provide. Let them know who you are and how you can help them. Remember, if they don't know you are offering the services, they can't hire you! · Put an ad in the local paper or a regional magazine · Put a sign in your car window · Have some "freebies" made for your business, such as coffee mugs, magnets, calendars, stickers, pens, etc and distribute them to local businesses · Send local businesses a direct mail piece, such as a postcard that describes your business and the benefits they would receive by hiring you.

Free and Low Cost Forms of Offline Marketing

There are also many ways to market your business offline for free (or almost free). · You can hang flyers around town; carry them with you and stick one on every bulletin board you see, such as at the grocery store, library, etc. · Business cards are very economical. You can make them at home or order free ones at www.vistaprint.com. You can also hang them up on bulletin boards. Another trick is to staple them to the bottom of your flyers. When someone sees your flyer and wants to call you, they can rip off one of your business cards. · Press Releases are a great way to gain publicity. Plus, it gives your business credibility when it is featured in the media. You can submit a press release to t.v. stations, radio stations, and newspapers. · Your press release should be clear and concise. Keep your target market in mind and explain the benefits they will receive by using your service. Press releases need to follow a strict format; if you don't know how to write one, search the web for instructions.

Repeat Customers

As you grow your business, you will want to have a steady client base. These are repeat customers who use your services time and time again. Having repeat customers will give you a steadier income. Plus, if you have a steady stream of customers coming to you, you will be able to spend less on your paid marketing efforts. Here are some tips on how you can create repeat customers:

· Provide excellent customer service, as well as timely and efficient work · Have a "customer appreciation" sales and offer a discount on your services

Referrals

Your customers know other business owners that need your services. Ask your customers for referrals. This is a great way to expand your market. You may want to set up a referral system, where you give your customer a small credit toward your services for each new customer they refer.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to your marketing plan, there is no "one best way" to market your business. To achieve the best results, try to combine online and offline techniques. · Think of your marketing plan as a marketing buffet. You will want to try a little of this and a little of that. Perhaps you will hang up flyers around town as well as teaming up with someone on a joint venture. · Track your marketing efforts; this will keep you from wasting time and money on methods that do not work for you. · Don't be afraid to get creative and try new things

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