Improve Sales of your Small Business with Free Publicity

Most small business owners do not pay sufficient attention to public and community relations. As a result they miss out on the great opportunity to improve sales and build business brand value at low cost. Instead they are focused on marketing and advertising that cost substantial amount of money. While there are number of differences between marketing and public relations, in the simplest form, marketing can be viewed as “in your face” way of putting your business in front of customers; while publicity is a more subtle approach that doesn’t cost much and can bring equally compelling results.
Why is it important to focus your efforts on publicity in addition to traditional marketing?
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How can You Get Past Customers Back

In spite of all your efforts to hold onto existing customers you are bound to lose some of them over time. There are variety of reasons they leave. Some are under your control; while others are not. Some customers leave because they received bad service. Others become tired of same products they are getting. Still others leave because you have not been in front of them through marketing.
While you will not be able keep every single customer all the time what you can do is try to bring those customers who have left some time ago. Depending on their reasons for leaving; this may be somewhat easier to do than trying to acquire the customers who have never tried your products.
So what can you do to make this happen? Below we have highlighted several techniques you can use.
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How to Ask Customers to do Marketing of your Business

Most small business owners are at a disadvantage compared to their large competitors when it comes to marketing. After all, small businesses do not have the marketing muscle and budget of the large companies. They have to find innovative ways to do marketing and advertising that is not expensive yet is equally, if not more, effective.
Many small business owners get intimated by this challenge and think that there is no way they can succeed against Goliath in marketing. We believe that is not true. In our earlier post on 5 fundamental rules of marketing we argued that good marketing strategy does not have to cost much. We also showed how you can improve your sales in a low-cost fashion through community involvement. There is another aspect of low cost marketing that is not utilized well by small business owners. That involves seeking help from your existing customers to do the marketing for you.
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Checklist to Understand Marketing Benefits of Franchise

In the post about benefits of buying a franchise versus independent business we argued that one of the primary benefits provided by franchise is better marketing at a lower cost. By leveraging their size and expertise a franchise can create better brand and improve sales for all franchisees. Subway positioned itself as the Diet Sandwich Shop in the minds of all Americans by running the “Jared” campaign for number of years.
However, not all franchises do such a good job of marketing. A number of them waste their and franchisees’ money by spending on frivolous, useless marketing activities. That’s why it is important to understand the value provided by franchise in terms of marketing and compare it against the investment you have to make as a franchisee – in other words the return on your marketing spend.
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How to Improve Sales with Community Involvement

Many small business owners focus all their marketing effort on advertising and promotions. As we mentioned in this post on 5 Fundamental Rules of Marketing; marketing is much more than just advertising and many times costs very little to do. One of the great marketing opportunities overlooked by small business owners is getting involved with the local community.
Community involvement establishes long-lasting relationship with your customers that will keep your business on top of their mind for a long time. A typical advertising, in contrast, only has a single transaction relationship where the customer will think of your business as a result of advertising flyer or coupon for a short time.
There are several avenues you can explore to get involved with the local community.
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Do You Understand Why Customers Buy Your Products?

Guest Contributor Chris Blanton is a former serial entrepreneur and business
advisor. He is currently editor of Ingenious Business Guide, a collection of proven practical techniques to ignite business growth and profitability. He can be reached by email and tweets under the handle @cmblanton. His guests posts appear here each Sunday.

One of the most important questions business owners should be able to answer is why their customers are buying their product or services. You have to determine what benefit your customers pay for. You can employ a skilled marketing consultant to guide you in this exercise. But if you’re determined to go it alone, you can get great mileage performing a thought experiment to uncover the true benefit your client realizes buying from you.
Our consumer culture so artfully manipulates us that we are often unaware of our own motivation. For instance, examine the process of buying a new car. Why does someone buy a new car? What wants or needs does it satisfy?
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5 Questions to Ask Before Spending Money on Advertising

Many small business owners remain dissatisfied with the return they are getting on their advertising spend. They continue to spend money on advertising month after month just because everyone else is doing it. When asked about what they are getting in return they remain as confused as everyone else.
We think the reasons small business owners are not happy with the return on their advertising spend is they don’t understand how to go about asking the right questions before putting their money down. They should pay attention to few fundamental principles of advertising before sending their next check to the advertising company.
Below we have distilled those principles in the form of questions that every small business owner must ask BEFORE placing an advertisement. By answering these questions and taking appropriate actions you can get the maximum return on your advertising spend.
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Internet Advertising – A Must for Small Business

In our previous post we argued that if you are not using Internet and Social Media for marketing you are wasting lot of advertising money. Not only that; but you are also missing an opportunity to reach large number of customers who are increasingly on the Internet. The central tenet in selecting an advertising platform is that you should advertise where your customers are and these days your customers are spending more and more time on the Internet as opposed to traditional platforms such as television and newspaper.
Advertising on the Internet can take many different forms. They are suitable different businesses and budgets. You should look at all the possibilities and select the ones that fit your style, budget, capability and customer preference.
Below we have identified several avenues for Internet advertising along with their characteristics and trade-offs they present.
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How to Select the Right Advertising Platform

Advertising is the rope that pulls customers in to your small business and keeps them coming. Many small businesses spend as much as 6-8% on advertising either through franchise marketing fund or on their own. In spite of spending so much money on advertising many business owners are dissatisfied with the return they are getting on their advertising spend.
One of the reasons small business owners fail to get appropriate return on their advertising spend is they do not choose the right platform to advertise their products. The choices are numerous when it comes to advertising. They range from traditional media such as newspaper and television to newer forms such as Internet and social media. Each of these platforms serves specific purpose. The key to getting good return on your advertising is to understand your goals and choose the platform that fits those goals.
Below we have highlighted the purpose served by these platforms and the type of advertising they are suitable for.
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How to Choose Best Coupon Strategy for Small Business

For most small businesses coupons is a fact of life. In this difficult economic environment, when consumers are strapped for money and are watching their purse strings carefully, it is more important than ever to use coupons to entice customers to come to your business. Not all small businesses are created equal when it comes to coupons. Some businesses such as pizza use them extensively; while others are not so heavy users.
While it is important and imperative to use the coupons to improve your sales or at least hold to the customers you already have; you also have to have a good plan in place to use them effectively. To a novice it may seem that coupons serve only one purpose – to attract customers to your business. However, judicious use of coupons can not only improve your sales; but also help your business achieve other important goals.
Below we have identified different situations in which coupons can help achieve the results you are looking for.
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