Having worked with a large number of small business owners, one common mistake I see over and over again is the obscene amounts of money they throw away on advertising. Many of them believe the more money they spend, the more business it will bring.
WRONG!!! WRONG!!! WRONG!!!
The main reason traditional marketing doesn't work is the small business owner doesn't really know much about marketing, and relies on the salesman of the marketing media to tell them what they need. The problem is they use the "trust me" method which is: "Give me your money, I'll run your ad and trust me; the leads/money will come rolling in". But they seldom do.
So what's a new entrepreneur to do?
It's simple!!! Write articles.
Writing articles is an excellent way for you to get free publicity. Getting an article published is free and some publications even pay for your contributions. The publicity you receive by having your article published in a newspaper, magazine or website can be worth thousands of dollars in equivalent advertising space. Well written articles yield better results than advertisements and earn you respect from customers, who see you as an expert in your field.
So what exactly is an article???
An article is a short piece of information that aims to educate and inform people about something, which they may be interested in. They are usually between 500 and 3,500 words long and guess what....... you are reading one right now. That's right, I have written this article because of my passion to share the idea that expensive advertising is probably not the best way to market yourself and get more business.
By writing and distributing these articles you are sharing information, which displays your expertise and gains you trust and credibility. No amount of advertising can gain you either trust or credibility.
So let's look at this concept of writing and distributing articles as a form of free publicity.
The best articles are 'tips' or expert pieces. People are looking for guidance and will purchase from experts who show them how to solve their problems.
Structuring Your Article
Your article should include the following elements:
(a) The Headline
This should be attention grabbing and use power words and phrases, such as "How to ..." "10 Ways that ...", "Do you want to ...?"
(b) Lead Paragraph
The first couple of sentences tell your readers why they should read the whole article. Show them the benefits they will gain, or the pain that they will avoid, by reading the article.
(c) Body Copy
This is where you inform the reader how to do something that will enrich their business or personal lives. Use short sentences and provide step-by-step directions that they can easily follow.
At the end you want to summarise the topics you've covered and briefly review the main points. Since you have helped your readers they will most likely want to know more. This is your chance to make your sell by making them an offer with a 'call to action' such as 'mention this article and receive a 10% discount off orders placed before June 30th.".
(e) Resource Box
A resource box provides the reader with information on your company and includes the following information:
- Your name
- Company name
- Contact information
- Website details
- How to order your product, etc
Journalist, marketer and public relations specialist Madisen Harper has three top tips for clients writing their own articles:
1. What are the questions you hear most often from customers? Write an article to address these queries. Remember to provide valuable information; articles that sound like one big ad for your company rarely get published.
2. Write with the 'st' factor in mind. Tell readers about the latest, greatest, first, most, newest, quickest, best etc. Publications want fresh, new information, so where possible show them the 'st' factor with the 'latest technique', 'newest technology' or '10 best solutions for...'.
3. Edit, edit and edit again. As a professional writer, Belinda constantly re-writes and re-works her words. Ask someone to read your article and they'll often spot errors you miss because they're reading from a new perspective. If you want to double-check that your sentences make sense - read your article, sentence-by-sentence, from the bottom up. You'll be amazed what you pick up when you're not caught up in the flow of the story.
Topics to Target
There are thousands of problems people need solved, so the number of solution-focused topics is endless. If you're stuck, here are some ideas to get you started.:
Flower Care Tips, Choosing Anniversary Flowers, Best Way To Buy Your Wedding Flowers, Choosing Centrepiece Flowers For Your Dinner Party, How to Press Fresh Flowers, How to Pick Perfect Flowers According to Occasions, etc.
Baby Related Products/Services
How To Settle Your Baby, Baby Shower Themes & Games, How to Baby Proof Your Home, Baby Sleep Routine, Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep All Night, Age Appropriate Toys, Gifts for 1/2/3/4 Year Olds, 20 Fun Silly Games to Play, etc.
Tips For Getting The Best Home Loan, 10 Tips For Financing Your Business, Tips To Save You Money, Choosing Accounting Software, Bookkeeping Basics, How To Save Money On Bookkeeping, Setting Up Budgets, etc.
Hair Care and Treatment, Hair Loss Prevention, Hair Drying Mistakes, Celebrity Hair Styles, What Hairstyle to Choose For Your Lifestyle, New Hair Trends, etc.
How To Make Restaurant Quality Coffee At Home, 10 Ways to Attract New Customers to Your Restaurant, Restaurant Décor Ideas, 5 Secret Recipes, 7 Publicity Tips for Restaurants, Choosing Restaurant Equipment, Making Healthy Food Choices when Dining In a Restaurant, etc.
How To Stay in Touch With Your Customers, How To Build Good Client Relationship, 7 Tips For Creating Customer Loyalty, Common Customer Service Mistakes, How To Get Back Lost Clients, Looking After Your Customer Service Staff, etc.
If writing an article seems too daunting, you can hire a ghostwriter to do this for you - generally at a very reasonable price.
Once your article is written you will need to submit it to various publications on-line and in printed publications. For a listing of Australian printed publications, including the editor's details, you may wish to buy "The Australian Writer's Marketplace", available from most bookshops.
If you don't have a lot of time to submit your articles manually, you may wish to consider using article submission services by companies such as:
Submit Your Article or The Phantom Writers.
For a small fee they will submit your article to thousands of on-line publications, also known as ezines.
Remember, article writing is far more powerful than any advertising you will do. It will prove to your customers you know your business and best of all, it won't cost you a cent! So don't be afraid to try it ... what have you got to lose?
Copyright (c) 2009 Ivana Katz