Small Business Owners on a Budget

Marketing Tips for Small Business Owners on a Budget

If you own a small business, you may be facing some difficult marketing decisions. Financing is often tight and ideas are often scarce. Not every small business owner can afford to hire a marketing consultant, so here are a few practical marketing tips for a small business owner on a tight budget.

Have a Marketing Budget

Think about the scope of your business and about what you hope to accomplish through your marketing campaign. With this in mind, calculate the percentage of your budget that you plan to devote to marketing. Some experts recommend a level of about 10% of your revenue, but this can vary based on your individual situation and goals.

Stick to Your Plan

When you’re setting up the budget at the beginning of the year, remember to plan out how you’re going to use it. If you just stash the money somewhere and spend it haphazardly on marketing expenses as they come up, you’ll never know how long the year’s money is going to last. Try to be intentional about where you’re spending it by looking ahead and predicting how much you’ll need when. Be flexible when you need to, but try your best to stick with the plan.

Invest in a Good Website

Some small businesses figure that they can get away with just having the basics online or (worse yet) with not having a website at all, due to their local customer base and narrow range of interest. However, these days when new customers are looking for your business, the first place they may go is Google, and their online findings will be all they have to consider. If your business does not appear online, many potential customers will not even consider you. Try to make the first impression that a customer will have of you via your website a good one. Contact PowerSites today to get your small business a website, and make sure that you have the basics needed to have an established online presence.

Email Marketing

TV ads (and, by the same token, billboards) can be prohibitively expensive. Try to cut down on the need for a TV spot by capitalizing on free advertising methods like email marketing and word-of-mouth. Send out newsletters through email. This can be even more cost-effective than a printed newsletter and, even better, you can have your customers forward it to their friends for free.

Social Media

You definitely don’t want to miss out on the benefits of social media. Every small business should at least have a Facebook page and Yelp page. Post regularly to attract new customers, and keep your current customer base engaged. Thank them by offering them specials and exclusive discounts. Social media really is the online equivalent of “word-of-mouth” referrals. If someone likes your business, they will probably post about it on their Facebook, tweet about it on Twitter, or leave a review on Yelp. However, if someone does not like your business, they will most definitely be telling everyone on social media about it. However, if handled and addressed properly, negative reviews are a great opportunity to show that your small business excels in customer service.

8 Ways to Improve Your Email Marketing Campaigns

8 Ways to Improve your Email Marketing Campaigns

8 Ways to Improve Your Email Marketing CampaignsBesides getting started, the most difficult thing about an email marketing campaign is “the call to action” or getting the reader to do something like click through to your website, order your product or sign up for your newsletter.

Following are eight tips, brought to you by PowerSites, to help you create stirring calls to action that the elusive customer or client will find irresistible.

  • Compelling Subject Line

    A compelling subject line should be direct and to the point. It has to appeal to the customer, let them know what’s in it for them, and stand out in their inbox.  A compelling subject line might be something as follows: “8 Ways to Increase Online Sales.” A poorly crafted subject line may read: “Using SEO to Maximize an Online Cross-Platform Marketing Campaign.”

    The first subject line is brief, and does not promise more than you can deliver; the second is too long, has too much jargon that many might not be familiar with, and is likely doomed to be overlooked or deleted.

    Offer discounts, a free product, or a familiar brand name ad you will see your response rates soar. Experian Marketing Services conducted a study and found that using either “your” and “you” has gained favor with email marketing and the use of these two words has increased nearly 4 percent.

  • Have a Sense of Urgency

    Use words such as Now! Or Today! If the reader catches the sense of urgency, they will click on your message and read it, knowing that the offer is only available for a limited time.

  • Question the Reader

    In order to conquer the reader and snatch their attention, try asking a question. Questions are an effective motivator to get the reader to take action as long as they are relevant, compelling, and personal.

  • Pilot the Subject Line

    Test a variety of subject lines to see which one generate the most click-throughs (response to call to action). You can do a small sampling of twenty emails for each subject line you create.

  • Follow these Eight Tips to Improve Your Email Marketing Campaigns

    Use Caution with Images

    It is true that images add to most messaging, but make sure that you do not use too many images or even a single image if it influences the time it takes your email to load. More than a few seconds and your reader is likely to move on. If you do use images, be sure to include “Alt Text” for the image, in the event that the email browser does not immediately display the images when the email is being viewed.

  • Keep Email Frequency in Check

    An occasional and relevant email has a great chance of being read but if you start to flood the recipient’s inbox with similar messages, you are destined for their “black list.” Every email you send will wind up in the spam or trash folder without the recipient ever seeing it.

  • Offer Value

    Your email should be 80 percent information and 20 percent sales. This means that the responsibility is yours to provide fresh and engaging information. Attention spans are short on the Internet and your email will be discarded if the information is not relevant to the reader. Avoid generic news; instead of talking about how business has been affected by the recession talk about how your reader’s industry has been impacted instead.

  • Quality is Key

    Sending out 1,000 emails that are not high quality will not improve your chances of having it read. Group your recipients by categories and then tailor the message for that category alone. Quantity for an email marketing campaign is irrelevant; it is quality that brings results.

Social Media Monday: How to Use Facebook to Gain Email Subscribers

For this installment of our Social Media Monday series, PowerSites is providing you with some tips on using Facebook to grow your email list.

Facebook is regarded as something brand new and different in marketing, but the truth is that it’s really just one more way to ask for permission, and one of the most effective means we have of doing so. These seven tips will help you to make the most of Facebook as a way to enhance, improve and reach out with your email marketing campaign:

A Permanent Home for Email Content

A lot of people read through an email once and then delete it. By using Facebook as a permanent home for email content, you have a place where people can rediscover the old pieces they liked, and new users can check out examples of what they’ll be getting.

Your email service provider probably has some great Facebook apps that you can put to work for you. Check it out and see if they have anything that makes it easier for people to sign up through your Facebook page, and automatically integrate into your email database. You never know until you take a look at what they have for you to use.

Improve Your “About” Page

Improve and optimize your 150 word “about” description so that readers really know what it is that you’re all about. A lot of people click here first before reading more than one or two of your posts and updates, so this will be a tremendous help in winning over new readers.

Create Updates About Your Newsletter

Make sure to give your readers an update where they can use the comments as a thread to discuss the newest newsletter. When you send out a newsletter, create a post about it on your Facebook page, and pose a question that will engage your followers. It’s a good idea to figure out when most of your followers are online so that you can update them then and make sure that you’re reaching them while they’re actually up and about.

Promote Posts

Promoting posts isn’t always helpful, but at times it can earn you a lot of new readers. Promoting a post costs a little money but reaches out to a wider audience. This means more people, including people that may not already ‘Like’ your page, will be seeing what you’re sharing. Make sure that you’re promoting something special, not just another update, but a story that really resonates, and will catch the attention of someone scrolling through their News Feed.

Make it Better

Finally, make your email marketing content, and your Facebook content, better. Your content may even be good enough, but it can always be better, and every time you make it better, you stand a chance at gaining new followers. Don’t rest on your laurels. Improve your content so that when you share it with a wider audience. It actually matters.

Remember that Facebook is not magic, it’s just one more tool that you can use to grow your subscriber base and social media reach. When used appropriately, the results are endless.

Small Business Tips: Marketing Strategy for the Holidays

The Holiday Season is in full-swing, and for small business owners, that means a potential increase in revenue. While the boost may come organically, just because of the sheer timing and necessity of the Holidays, it’s still very important to engage in Holiday promotions and marketing strategy to get the most out of the Holiday rush. Here are just some of the top marketing tips and strategies small business owners should be implementing for the Holiday season.

Optimize and Update Your Website

Updating your website with relevant keywords and content should be at the very top of your Holiday to-do list. Use keywords that are relevant to what product or service your business offers. Use relevant “Holiday” keywords like “gifts, free shipping, holidays, Christmas, New Years, sale, limited time, special offer”, etc. If your site has a blog, blog about your Holiday specials, or holiday-themed topics. Update store hours on your website and phone prompt, if they’re different for the Holiday season. If you don’t already have a website, now is definitely the time to get one. If you need help getting a website, contact our PowerSites team and they can help you launch your online presence.
Use these marketing tips for the holiday season

Holiday Coupons

Coupons are a great way to generate buzz and interest about your business. Holidays are a great time to promote coupons, good for both service and product-centered small businesses. You should use all channels of advertising to promote you coupons. Promote your coupons online via your website, email marketing and social media channels, and also through traditional print advertising in your local classifieds or with fliers and postcards. Just be sure to run a promotion that doesn’t hurt your bottom line.

Email Marketing and Social Media

Like mentioned before, it’s important to use all marketing channels to your advantage. Not only for promoting your coupons, but for staying engaged with your customer base. Whether you have special holiday promotions or not, it’s important to stay connected with your customers. If you have an existing customer email list, send out an email to the list wishing everyone a happy holidays and new year. If you already have a Facebook Business page, Twitter Account, Yelp, or Google + Page, post a status update to your social media accounts wishing everyone a happy holidays. You may not have a promotion to advertise, but you’ll show up in their inbox and news feed, and if they weren’t thinking about your business before, you’re now on their mind, which may prompt them to visit your store or website. Effective email campaigns can have a big impact on getting customers into your store and purchasing.

Search Engine Marketing

Geo-targeting and hyper-local advertising will be key during the Holiday season. The Holidays creep up on everyone, and most people leave their gift-buying to the last minute, which means they’re on a time crunch and will shop locally to get what they need. It’s important to have an SEM campaign running prior and during the holidays, so you will rank higher in the search results. If you’re not sure where to even start with search engine marketing, contact our PowerClicks team to help you get started.

What are some other Holiday marketing strategies that have worked for you?

Marked Down Marketing: Promoting Your Business Without Hurting Your Bottom Line

We’ve heard it all before: “You’ve got to spend money to make money.” With a bit of planning, research and ingenuity, however, that saying no longer has to apply to promoting your small business. If your business necessitates an emphasis on hyper local marketing, you’ll also need to employ quite a bit of creativity, but that just makes things all the more fun. Utilize these simple tips to market your business for little or no cost and then use the earned income to fund more ambitious marketing ventures. Lining up these strategies with a large event such as an open house or a large sale will make an even bigger bang.

Participate in Community Events

Most community events are free or low cost. Be aware that sincerity about local positive endeavors is a crucial prerequisite to successful networking and marketing. If you really want to permeate your local radius, keep the goals and purposes of community events in mind when you distribute your business cards and artfully promote your business. You are a key representative of your company and should conduct yourself as such.

Take Advantage of Free Advertisement

Promote Your Business Without Hurting Your Bottom LinePositive word of mouth is one of the most economical forms of advertisement available. Standing out from the crowd, providing a quality service or product, and having outstanding customer service are all things that any business owner striving for success should be doing. Coincidentally, if these things are well accomplished, most customers will find it difficult not to at least give your company a passing mention to an interested friend or acquaintance.

Develop an Online Presence

A professional website is highly recommended for any business and it is nothing you should skimp on. If you don’t already have a website, and aren’t sure where to start, it’s best to pay and have one created for you. PowerSites can help you get started with your online presence.

After launching your website, it’s important to start blogging, explore the internet for other blogs that relate to your business and utilize the available audience. Do this by making relative contributions to the conversation and unobtrusively providing links to your blog. Many businesses also use social media networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter in similar ways. In the event that time or creative writing skills are an issue, consider outsourcing these tasks by hiring a freelance copywriter or content writer.

Implement a Customer Followup Strategy

Email marketing is a great way to promote your business at a low cost. Don’t be a nuisance, but when customers frequent your business, have a contact sheet available or signup form on your website, so that your customers have the option of registering and receiving important news and discounts. Be responsible with their contact information. Avoid flooding their inboxes with spam, but thank them for their business, inquire about their satisfaction with your product or service, and provide a convenient discount for the next time they return.

How Can Small Businesses Improve Communication with their Customers?

We are always looking for ways to improve our relationship with our customers. We believe that effective communication is the key to successful partnerships. For years we have been committed to delivering numerous services to small businesses in a big way.

Businesses lose customers due to a number of reasons. Most of these reasons can be improved upon. However, miscommunication is the biggest problem and also the most common.

Here are a few Small Business Tips to get Started:

Hire Customer Representatives or an Answering Service

Small Business Tips: Hire Customer RepresentativesWhen customers buy a product or purchase a service they want to know that there is a live person they can talk to when they have a question. Some companies are getting so technical. It is to the point that customers call in to address a concern, or to ask a question only to find them selves talking to an automated machine, rather than a real life person.

There are some questions that machines cannot answer. Small business owners lose customers when they cannot compete with larger companies. Larger companies are able to hire more employees. Smaller companies may not always have the budget to accommodate hiring additional employees, but there are other ways to still provide quality customer service.

One solution is to setup and create an account for your business on social media sites. Let customers know about the new services and products online, and that they can contact and communicate with your company through these social media pages. Another solution is to hire an answering service that can relay important messages 24 hours per day.

Have Customers Complete a Survey

Surveys are a great way to get feedback from your customers. They let the customers know that their opinions and thoughts are important to your business and it’s future. They can complete an online or paper survey depending on the nature of the business. If it is an online business they may prefer an online survey. Physical businesses can produce a paper version survey. Some businesses choose to add an incentive along with their surveys to make it more enticing, and increase repeat business. Your incentive can be a contest/raffle, where a survey is an entry to win a gift card to your business or 25% off their next bill.

Make sure the survey asks the tough questions that businesses may not want answered. Such as are you satisfied with the level of service you are receiving? Is this your first visit? Will you come here again? If yes explain what features or services they enjoyed? If no, ask why and ask them to suggest and expand on ways to improve the problem.

Small Business Tips: Follow-up with a Phone Call

Follow Up With a Telephone Call or an Email

Staying in touch with customers is important. There may be too many to call but an email can reach thousands of customers in a matter of minutes. Let them know what is going on and invite them to come by or visit the site. Offer them special promotions or discounts that make them feel exclusive and appreciated.

Send out Greeting Cards and Birthday cards

Make it a point to send customers Christmas and Birthday cards. Customers feel better when they know they are more than a number. Plus this is a great promotional tool to use to win back customers who have gone astray. It’s up to you how you choose to send the message. You can send a postcard by mail if you want to add that extra personal touch, or you can save on postage and send them an e-card, which is just as good.

Small Business Tips

Rebuilding the communication gap with customers is not easy but it can be done.

  • Stay focused.
  • Devise a plan and stick to it.
  • Do not be afraid to try new communication techniques.
  • Identify and define the target audience
  • Find ways to keep them coming back.

Any small business can succeed when they put their customer needs first.

Tips for Launching a Successful Email Campaign

Email marketing can be a successful endeavor for your company, putting your business in the spotlight to attract new clientele. However, there are do’s and don’ts to email campaigns that are worth learning in order to achieve your objectives. Developing a first-rate email marketing strategy is key to getting the outcome you desire. The following provides some email marketing tips that can help get your campaign off the ground and generate positive, long lasting results.

Ask Before SendingTips for a Successful Email Campaign

Before bombarding unsuspecting individuals with your emails, get their consent. If you think launching a massive email campaign that targets “everybody and anybody” will garner positive feedback, think again. Unsolicited mails are generally deleted without even being given a glance. By getting a recipient’s consent, you open the door to attract their interest in what you have to offer.

Remember to Link

By scattering links throughout your mails, you can draw more people to your website where they can get a better picture of your wares. Your links should clearly stand out in the text and be accompanied by decisive calls of action to get positive results.

Downplay Images

Including images in emails wastes time and space as most people don’t bother to see them. Well designed HTML messages are more effective in getting your message across. Mobile phone email readers use text versions only; therefore, attach a text version along with your HTML to capitalize on both fronts.

Use Clear-Cut Text

Keep your text concise and to the point to maintain reader attention. Key points can be highlighted in bold or different colors to stand out. You can include small business tips in your text along with any other information you feel pertinent to your subscribers. The content of your mails can make or break the effectiveness of your marketing campaign, so make sure it works for you.

Schedule Your Emails

Send your missives on a regular schedule so subscribers look forward to receiving them at specific times. According to, the most opportune times to send mails to businesses are after 9:30 am and 1:30 pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. The best timings for consumer mailings are evenings between 5 and 8 pm on the same days. Weekends are also good times when people are home relaxing.

Enhance Deliverability

Encourage subscribers to add your email address to their contact list to ensure they receive your missives safely. By using the same “from” name for all your missives, subscribers will recognize them right away and be more inclined to look them over. Avoid tactics using all caps or exclamation marks to draw attention to your message as these can trigger junk mail alerts and deviate your missive to the junk mail folder.

Email campaigns offer great potential for increasing business prospects and clients. By taking advantage of these tips and others, you can greatly benefit from all this marketing technique has to offer.