5 Free and Fast Sale-Boosting Activities

If you are like most small business owners, you are working harder than ever to find and secure new business in today’s uncertain economy. It can be tough to exceed customer expectations, conduct marketing and PR efforts, pay bills, and keep things running smoothly on a tight budget.

With this in mind, here are five tips to help boost sales without spending any additional funds.

1. Call your top five media venues.

By getting the media to talk about your business, you can build awareness fast without buying advertising or hiring a publicist. Plus, this type of third-party credibility cannot be purchased.

To make it easy, choose the top five media venues where you would most like to be quoted. And if you’ve never done public relations before, you may want to start at the local level.

“Nurture your existing customers and focus your limited marketing budget and time on public relations activities rather than advertising,” says Retha Queenan, proprietor of AA Lingerie, a growing business that offers bras and lingerie for small-busted women worldwide. “Start with your local media, and when pitching your angle, consider what might be newsworthy rather than attempting blatant advertising.”

Once you have your list, take the time to conduct the appropriate research. Who are the appropriate media members to contact, and why will they be interested in what you have to say? Create a unique story idea that ties into a news item, industry trend or event. Practice your pitch and then call the appropriate reporter or producer.

Press members like to hear directly from entrepreneurs who are passionate about what they do and can act as a resource for future stories. Because of this, you may be surprised to discover that your one phone call results in a feature story catering to your target market. This can lead to other news stories, more media coverage and new business.

2. Review Your Copy.

If you really want to increase sales, try to review and test your print and online copy on a regular basis. This way, you can change messaging, specific words, photos, labels, graphic elements, and more to accommodate customer needs and maximize sales.

For example, do your first-time site visitors know if they are in the right place and what they are supposed to do? Make it easy for them. Reduce website loading times to a minimum and lead them through the buying process.

Create a specific landing page for each product, use action verbs and write about the unique benefits you have to offer. It also helps to reduce the number of clicks necessary to make a purchase.

After all, you just have seconds to impress new site visitors. It is well worth your time to make copy changes frequently so these potential buyers become valued customers. For help with your testing efforts, take a look at Google Analytics, AWeber, WordPress, and the site review at www.doteduguru.com.

3. Add SEO.

For new customers to find your business easily, it’s smart to optimize your site for search engines like Google, Yahoo!, MSN, and others. “A good organic search position depends on thousands of factors; some we know about, most are part of the search engine’s algorithmic secret sauce,” says Heather Lloyd-Martin, President and CEO of SuccessWorks Search Marketing, www.searchenginewriting.com, and the blog www.seocopywriting.com.

According to Lloyd-Martin, site architecture, hyperlinks and content are the three things that heavily influence how a site ranks on search engines. “Having a site that the search engines can access and navigate allows them to find and index your content, which is another crucial part of the rankings puzzle. Hyperlinks are another way that the search engines gauge relevancy. If you have good content on your site, other quality sites are more apt to link to you.”

To begin your SEO efforts at no cost, register for a free trial version of a keyword service like www.KeywordDiscovery.com or www.WordTracker.com. Search for the words you think your customers will use to find your products and services. Then, incorporate these words into your copy. And don’t worry about repeating the keywords numerous times. Just provide valuable data about the benefits you have to offer and use the words wisely.

This is a good start, but according to Lloyd-Martin, SEO is complex. And it’s important to work with an expert to review your site, map out a strategy and provide training. “Although the up-front costs seem expensive, it will more than pay for itself in a streamlined, profitable SEO and PPC campaign.”

Lloyd-Martin also recommends that site owners upload one or more new content pages every month. These may include a FAQ page to answer prospects’questions, daily how-to tips appealing to your target audience, a blog, case studies, and white papers. “Content allows you to give your prospects and customers the information they want, exactly when they want it,” says Lloyd-Martin. “Plus, every page of new content you upload has the potential to gain top, search-engine positions.”

4. Reach Out to Your Audience.
How frequently do you communicate with your current clients and potential customers, affiliates, investors, and other key audience members?

To boost sales, try to increase communications to a daily basis. And you can do this without being annoying. Simply provide valuable information via newsletters, blogs, e-mails, white papers, articles, eReports, and more.

“Our most cost-effective marketing tool is e-mail newsletters to opted-in existing customers notifying them of new arrivals and discounted stock,” says Queenan.

On your newsletter/e-mail registration page, let visitors know exactly what they’ll be receiving when they sign up. Then, provide it. For example, you may include quick tips and industry information at the top of your newsletter and then provide a brief advertisement for an exclusive offer or limited-time discount at the bottom. And when you send out your newsletter, keep the same format. This way, your customers will expect to see the ad at the end of the newsletter each time.

In the same way, try to send out regular e-mails to your customers and write blog entries with a personal touch. Let them know about business activities, new products and services and industry trends. Also, give them the opportunity to get involved via online surveys, forums, contests, Q & A sections, and more. By providing valuable information and one-to-one communications, you’ll help build word-of-mouth and learn more about your buying audience.

5. Network.
One of the best ways to reach new customers is to partner with a larger, recognized organization that complements your products and services. By combining efforts and creating joint promotions and sales packages, you’ll instantly increase your audience and cut efforts in half. Plus, you’ll be able to provide your customers with valuable new offers and information.

“As a small business, connecting with large organizations is a great way to make the most of your limited resources,” says O. Jane Kober, Product Marketing Manager. “Big companies have a wealth of subject-matter experts to network with, can lend credibility to joint marketing and PR activities, and may provide access to a broader audience.”

If you are just starting your networking efforts, find out where you can meet the appropriate influential leaders and businesspeople to help your business grow. Speak at pertinent events, attend tradeshows, hand out business cards, and tell everyone you meet about your business. Also, be ready to provide specific benefits for each potential partner or affiliate and a great offer that is difficult to refuse.

Figure out “what’s in it for them” and plan carefully before making contact and giving your pitch. Spell out the specifics of your partnership in advance, and create a legal contract if necessary. This way, you’ll maximize the benefits of your arrangement and minimize risk.

“And remember, you have something to offer a large business as well – whether it’s a niche product space/customer base or the speed and agility to get things done,” says Kober.

Extra Effort Equals More Sales.

Today, many businesses are working with small budgets to obtain new customers. But instead of complaining about economic conditions, now is the time to take action.

It doesn’t cost money to contact the media, optimize copy for maximum results, regularly communicate with customers, and network with people who can help you succeed. It just takes extra time and effort. And that additional push is going to help your business sail through the tough times and surpass the competition.

Do you need help with your marketing, SEO and public relations strategy? Please write to me here or at www.rembrandtwrites.com. I’m here to help!

(This article was posted on www.PinkMagazineOnline.com.)

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