Have You Defined Your Target Market?

Image by jronaldlee
Image by jronaldlee

Do you find yourself saying any of the following statements?

“I want to sell to everybody.”

“Everybody can benefit from my product/service.”

“I want to cast a wide net – everyone should know about us.”

If so, I want to give you a high five for your enthusiasm – but I also want you to read the rest of this article so you understand why your marketing consultant looks really uncomfortable when you say any of the above.

The world would be a wonderful place if everyone was the perfect candidate for your product or service. But the truth of the matter is, we’re all different. We all have different wants, needs, tolerances, and preferences. We’re all drawn to different things and we’re all trying to solve different problems. Which is why when you try to sell to everyone, you end up wasting a lot of time, energy, and money on people that are never going to spend money on you.

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5 Tips for Using Paid Search to Increase Traffic to Your Small Business Website

When you’re starting an online business, it can take a while before people start finding your website. With paid search advertising – also known as Pay Per Click or PPC – you can place an ad for your website directly on a search engine page, right alongside the regular search listings, where people are already searching for a topic related to your business.

Google AdWords PPC Advertising

Here’s a brief overview of how paid search advertising typically works:

  1. You bid on keywords that your customers would typically search for
  2. Your ads are placed on the results page when people search for your keywords
  3. You only pay when someone clicks your ad and visits your website

Paid search can be very effective, but it’s also easy to get carried away and spend too much on ads that just aren’t getting sales for you.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

1.    Don’t invest money that you’re not willing to lose
PPC is like making a high-risk investment – you have to put money in before you can get anything back, and you can’t always predict what your returns will be.

2.    Determine a budget
On most paid search campaigns you can limit the amount of money you want to spend over a certain period of time. For example, if you only want to spend $10/day, the search engine will stop showing your ads once you’ve reached your limit.

3.    Research your keywords
The magic to any good paid search campaign is in the keywords. You need to know what people are (and aren’t) searching for when they’re trying to find a business like yours. Also, start with a small number of very specific keywords and then grow it from there. For example, “Toyota brake calipers” would be much better than just “car parts”.

4.    Watch your numbers
After you’ve set everything in motion, make sure to keep monitoring your campaigns for effectiveness. See how your keywords perform – do people really search for what you think they do? And, if they visit your site after searching those keywords, do they buy? How much are you spending? If you spend more, will it mean more sales?

5.    What works on one search engine may not work on another
Different types of people use different search engines, so what worked well on one might not work quite as effectively on another.

There is definitely a lot to consider when it comes to paid search advertising, but the pay-off can be well worth it.

Looking for more information about PPC? Check out this series of articles from PPC Hero – a great resource for paid search advertisers: Rookie or Veteran – PPC Basics Every Advertiser Should Know and Use

5 Ways for Your Small Business to Capitalize on a Major, Greek God-Sized Event

olympicsWith the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games and 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa just around the corner, there’s no better time to look at how to capitalize on a major event for your small business website. Events that give you the chance to access the entire world from on your doorstep don’t happen every day. Here are 5 tips to leverage that momentum.

Be Creatively Audacious

Take a hint from Lululemon Atheletica, whose clothing line for a “Cool Sporting Event That Takes Place Between 2009 & 2011” has stolen thunder from actual Vancouver Olympic clothing sponsor HBC. The language behind their marketing manages to dance just within trademark laws, while capitalizing on the Olympic craze AND simultaneously thumbing their nose at the organizers. The resulting uproar has led the clothing line to selling out multiple times before the Games even begin.

Another example is from the animal rights group PETA, who last week launched a spoof of the Olympic trading pin. Their “OlympicShame” pin draws attention to the killing of baby seals, with a shockingly graphic take on the Olympic logo.

Take a chance and go for broke, even if you have to ruffle a few feathers.

Be Targeted

As always in marketing your business, know who your audience is. Don’t be intimidated with the thought that “everyone” is coming to town. For example, the Olympic Games attract hundreds of international world-caliber athletes, thousands of worldwide media, tens of thousands of tourists, and billions of TV viewers. This does not include the millions of blog readers who will be searching for Olympic content daily. Your customer base likely doesn’t change – it is only amplified.

Don’t get overwhelmed – stay focused on the demographic that makes sales.

Be Aggressive

It’s not enough to be open for business during a major event: you have to pursue your customers like prey. Your competitors are trying to distinguish themselves and if your business is outside a high-traffic area, you may be in for a slow period. Give your customers a reason to find you – for example, a promotional offer your customers can’t ignore. Be proactive and build buzz before the event begins: start talking to your audience ahead of time through social media channels (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, blogs).

A great idea in a crowd is not enough: keep on the attack to build momentum.

Be In Position

Be ready for any opportunity that comes your way. For example, have a persuasive call to action on your home page, as well as your communications materials. You never know who is reading your site. On the same notion, spotting and leveraging celebrities is a huge yet informal way to boost your business. For example, many Vancouver restaurants and stores offer free products or special shopping hours to attract film stars. In exchange all they ask for is a photo for their wall – an easy, informal and affordable exchange that provides an invaluable amount of promotional value. There’s no reason you can’t do the same with your business.

Stay alert for low hanging fruit.

Be Inspired

NIKE said it best in the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta with the catchphrase: “You don’t win silver, you lose gold.” At the time, the company was not an Olympic sponsor: this controversial yet extremely successful play was an example of ambush marketing. It was panned by the IOC, but following the Games, many thought NIKE was an official sponsor. In 2005 the IOC decided it couldn’t beat them and NIKE became a sponsor.

Find the people in your industry who are the most successful and learn from them leading up to your event. Ask the question: how can you apply their strategy to your own marketing efforts?

There’s no need to re-invent the wheel, and no shame in learning from the best.

Good luck and we wish your business every success in your pursuit of gold this year!