Everyday you’re rushing to make sure everything is ready and all parts of your business are taken care of. You speak with your vendors, your employees, call your leads and take care of your customers.If this sounds like your typical day as a small business owner, continue reading because we’re going to give you ten great resources to help you come up with ideas for your marketing.
If you work at a small business and marketing is not your main role, but you signed up for it, this is also for you. Knowing where to look for ideas for marketing will help you spend more time doing and less time searching for inspiration.
We already wrote about the power of Google Alerts in our Small Business Marketing Checklist post, but in case you missed it this is a great free resource for small business marketing. Login to your Google account and create an alert for your industry keyword plus your location. For example if you are a caterer in Chicago, type: “Catering Chicago” as your search query. You can also type in the name of your competitors or some big player in your industry. If you’re business is about cleaning offices or homes, you might want to type: “Maid Pros”. Set it up to receive notifications once a day, this way you will always have an email waiting for you in your inbox to give you some idea of what is happening in your industry.
One of our favorite resources for SMBs is Anita Campbell’s blog. There is a wealth of resources for small business marketing there. Remember to look for inspiration, but offer your own point of view on a subject that is being discussed, link back to it and tell the world why you agree or disagree with them. If you navigate to the marketing and sales tab, you will find infographics and articles that will help you refresh your idea and perspective on subjects that matter to you and to many other business owners.
If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, create one now! LinkedIn offers a way for you to connect with others in your industry as well as potential customers. One of LinkedIn most powerful tools are the Groups. Search for Groups that bring together people from your industry or your location. This will help you get in the conversation and find what people that matter to you are talking about. It will also give you an opportunity to participate and offer your opinion. Another way to use the groups, and this especially important for businesses that sell to other business, is to search for groups where your potential customers are talking. This is a great pool where you can find leads and the way to connect with them is by adding value and offering great content that will show them you are a thought leader and you have something valuable to say that interests them. If you are blogging, linking back to your blog from LinkedIn is a great tactic to get more awareness and traffic to your site.
Quora is on of the most popular Q & A sites. It provides a platform for people to ask questions and for everyone else to answer and comment. Create your profile and start by reading what others are talking about. You can also follow people that are relevant for your industry and just like Google Alerts, this will notify you via email when there is something interesting for you to read. Once your comfortable with the system, it’s time to start adding your point view. Search for questions where you feel you can contribute and go ahead and offer your take on an issue. Remember this is a public forum, so make sure to keep your answers respectful and only say things you would say in public.
Let’s face it, many people have decided they don’t want to go to live events and they feel they can do everything by sitting in front of a computer screen. However, live networking events are still on of the most effective ways to find ideas and meet people, including partners and prospects. Meetup.com offers a great platform to search for local events happening in your location. Most of these are free and they usually have a friendly and passionate membership that is always willing to meet newcomers, educate them and make them part of the group. For example, ThriveHive sponsors a Meetup here in cambridge, the Small Business Marketing for Non-Marketers here in Cambridge, MA. Look for local meetups that will help you meet others in your industry and you will find these events to be a huge driver of growth for your business.
Believe it or not, Harvard has a huge database of business cases that you can purchase for a few dollars each. These downloadable pdfs are usually extremely detailed and can be an amazing source of information for any industry. You can use them to learn more about your space or to come up with some ideas to share with your audience. They usually present a story of a company that is going through some problems and they show how they approached the issues. The appendixes usually include very deep information about the industry, the company’s financials as well as their business model. It might not seem intuitive but trust us, after you read your first case, you will see exactly how these can be extremely helpful in coming up with ideas and learning by example.
If you’re looking for other blogs that are talking about small businesses and the challenges associated. Our friends at WordStream put together an amazing list of SMB blogs that you check out. It includes blogs like: Small Biz Survival and DuctTapeMarketing two great resources that we read all the time.
SEOMoz is amazing and their blog offers tons of great advice around your Search Engine Optimization. They are always ahead of the curve when it comes to optimizing your site for search engines so pay close attention to what they have to say. A great example of this is their recent post on using Census data for local SEO. If you’re interested in Local SEO make sure to download our free Local SEO Guide.
Now that you have some great ideas for your posts, you will need some images to add visual content to engage with your readers. Flickr is a great resources and if you use their advanced search you can select to search for images that you can use on your own posts. Click on the checkbox that says: “Only search within Creative Commons-licensed content” and then select your image. Usually they require you to give credit to the photographer, so simply add a link back to Flickr at the bottom of your post or newsletter (like the one at the end of this article). This way you don’t have to pay for stock photos and you can continue to create great content without worrying about infringing the licenses on images.
Simply go to Google and type the name of someone who has already captivated a large audience. It can be a blogger who is always talking about your industry or maybe someone who is famous and close to your location. It might be a professor from a local institution or maybe even another business owner. Once you have decided who that person is, go ahead and send them a direct message. This can be done via email, twitter or through a contact form on their website. Remember to be very clear in why your contacting them, first offer some praise by saying why you think they are great. Then tell them about yourself and close with a quick and easy to answer question: “I’m writing a blog post on our industry and I was wondering if you could spare 5 minutes on the phone to tell me more about your experience? Would you be available next week on…”. Once you have them on the phone, you can either get a quote from them or maybe even schedule a full interview which you can use for your own blog. Remember to offer them a link back so that both of you benefit.
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ccacnorthlib/