July 25, 2008
I’m not sure whether or not to pay attention to all the negative news reports about the state of the economy. For the most part, I’ve discovered that virtual businesses don’t quite suffer the same economic highs and lows in the same way as the rest of the country (or the world). However, in the life span of every business, there is a “recession”, or a point in which there’s a downturn or a decline of income. Typically, this recession period is short and cyclical, which puts the service business owner on an income roller coaster at times, especially if the business owner hasn’t developed multiple streams of income.
In a downturn, what’s the first thing to go? The marketing budget. Suddenly any and all marketing activity is canceled or suspended because of a fear of spending money when less money is coming in. If you don’t continue to marketing your business, even in times of recession, how will people continue to find out about you? A recession, or a slow period, is the perfect time to ramp up your marketing efforts. Why? Because you’ll stand out in a sea of businesses who’ve given in to their recession fears and reigned in all marketing efforts. Consequently, your marketing efforts will be that much more effective.
Here are 7 inexpensive strategies you can use to jumpstart your Internet marketing even when business is slow and you’ve got more time than money:
1. Comment on blogs. Use Google Blog Search or Technorati to locate higher traffic blogs that your target market might read. Use a blog feed reader, like Bloglines, to receive regular updates on these blogs. Make it a part of your daily habit to read the updates each day and post thoughtful, relevant comments on those posts (not just “Hey, great post”) where you have something to add. Adding your email signature file and your call to action is a no-no when commenting on blogs, so instead, use the name field of the blog comment form to your advantage. Instead of just entering your name, enter a quick nickname for yourself as well, such as Jane Smith Sales Diva or Holly Johns Marketing Maven. Compel those readers who have learned from your posts to check out your website.
2. Submit articles. If you’re not busy working with clients, get busy creating content. Writing and submitting articles to major article directories will drive traffic to your site, establish you as an expert in your target market’s eyes, and give you content to repurpose into information products. Tips-based articles, like this one, are the easiest to create, the easiest to repurpose, and are the easiest for the Internet surfer to digest.
3. Host teleseminars. With the vast availability of free bridgeline services, it’s quite easy to hold a teleseminar. You can use one of your tips articles as your starting point, put together a description, list the teleseminar in various places online, and record your class. You’ve engaged your audience by delivering valuable content to them (part of the like, know and trust process), have added subscribers to your list, and have a complete info product that you can sell or make available to your website visitors.
4. Embrace social networking. No longer do you have to get dressed in your business suit, jockey for a parking spot, and pay a fee to attend networking events. Online social networking, like on Facebook and Twitter, can now be done from the comfort of your home office, with comparable results to attending a face-to-face networking event. Determine where your target market hangs out in the social networking arena, and create accounts with those services. Complete your profile and start making friends and connections. Ask, questions, provide answers, be helpful, and build your business.
5. Speak before groups. Have you created your signature speech or teleseminar that you can present whenever you’re asked to speak to a group? If not, there’s no time like the present to create one. Research groups that contain your target market both in your geographic area and online. Contact the meeting hosts and offer to speak to that group and provide the host with your signature speech descriptions. Make it as simple as possible for them to invite you to be the speaker. Once you’ve landed the gig, strategize your best call to action for the group — do you want participants to sign up for your email list, purchase a product, or book a consultation?
6. Seek out strategic alliances. Brainstorm a list of business colleagues with whom you’d like to create some type of alliance. Make a phone call or send an email to set up a get acquainted (or reacquainted) meeting and explore the options of what each of you can offer to the other’s business. Perhaps you can offer to interview your colleague and invite your list, or maybe you’ll think of a project you can work on together. In slow times, who you know becomes more important than what you know, so make the most of your down time and create some strategic alliances.
7. Start a podcast or create a video. With the download of free recording software, like Audacity, or purchasing an inexpensive video camera like the Sony Flip, you can create an audio podcast or a video quickly an inexpensively from your home office, and list it in various podcast directories, like iTunes, or in video hosting sites like YouTube. If you’re not sure what to talk about in your video or podcast, take a look at your articles and read one of those for your audience. Don’t forgot to include your call to action for your listeners/viewers.
A recession doesn’t have to mean gloom and doom for the savvy business owner. Take advantage of this slower time and ramp up your Internet marketing efforts by using strategies that won’t break the bank. You’ll become better known, have content ready for information products, and become the “top of mind” expert in your industry.
Online Business Manager and Online Business Coach Donna Gunter helps independent service professionals learn how to automate their businesses, leverage their expertise on the Internet, and get more clients online. To claim your FREE gift, TurboCharge Your Online Marketing Toolkit, visit her site at OnlineBizU.com . Ask Donna an Internet Marketing question at AskDonnaGunter.com