There are a million and one ways you can choose to promote your business. Long since have you just had to ask yourself “online or offline?” You are looking for ways to gain exposure for your product/service, whilst not breaking the bank. Even more important, for ever dollar spent/hour worked, you need techniques that are not only going to push traffic, but quality, relevant, and ideally, buying traffic.
Before diving in, there are three fundamental things you need to appreciate about these 5 lean marketing techniques.
- They do not depend on Google. If your business depends on Google; you are doing it wrong.
- Where possible, I am interested in the long game. These very obvious techniques will continue to refer traffic well into the future.
- They aren’t going to make you broke.
Finally, these techniques are not new. You already know about them, but swept them under the rug for more grandeur methods. Unfortunately/fortunately, depending on how you look at it, many of these more glamorous methods have been recently retired by Google, or have become so expensive you execute that they are no longer within your reach. And so we get back to the basics…
One: Guest Blog Outreach
Business owners LOVE to talk about their businesses – so writing a blog post about it should be a walk in the park for you. Don’t specifically write about you and your business, but instead an element of your product/service – something you are especially qualified to speak of. For example, a client of ours has created her own line of hand crafted, leather purses. Since her brand is relatively unknown, we had her begin to write about what she knew: Leather and fashion.
I asked her not to write for one blog specifically, but stay general enough (in topic) that the post would be suitable for multiple, related blogs. You will get turned down for guest blogging spots, so don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Most importantly, to write something EPIC, as we will be leveraging this content to drive engaged readers to her ecommerce site.
As the content is completed we will:
- Put together a lengthy list of blogs we’d like to be published on. You don’t have all the time in the world to write content, so you need to make it count. Does the blog have regular comments? Social activity? Consistent posts? RSS subscribers? Etc.
- Spend less time pitching by just sending them the polished article, coupled with a small write up about yourself and why you want your content belongs on their blog. Keep it brief. If you know html, save the blog owner some time, and add any formatting you need, INCLUDING your contextual link. Don’t even ask for a link, just put one in there.
- If it gets posted, be sure to make it known, and help promote the post. You’ll earn brownie points with the blow owner (traffic for them) and more exposure for yourself.
And if you aren’t convinced, spend some time reading into how Buffer, in the early days, built their subscribership.
In coming weeks we will elaborate a great deal on this process.
Two: Blog Commenting
Blog commenting has received such a nasty wrap, and it is no wonder given the kind of crap that we all see. Despite this, there still is much value to be gained – well beyond just rankings. In fact, for nearly every blog comment I leave, I almost always see traffic coming from it. If I am leaving my thoughtful comments on relevant blogs, that traffic could very well be worth a great deal to me over time.
At first, it will probably feel like a big waste of time and truth be told it was only a few months ago that I too felt the same. Or perhaps more accurately, I believed there were far more important things we could be doing with our time. Until I noticed something. Before I begun I always wondered, why do other bloggers whom I speak to regularly not share my material? Not comment on my blogs? Blog owners/writers love comments, and will remember the folks who post on their blogs, and those that don’t. It is VERY much a game of you scratch my back, and I will scratch yours. Assuming your content isn’t sh*t of course!
This realization, coupled with a brilliant post by Darrin Demchuk convinced me, blog commenting is very valuable. You will do well to follow his steps.
Three: Forum Posting
I found my first audience, and first profitable market on forums. Let me tell you, find the right forum, and you will find gold. I know several people who have done 5 figure months, just because they found their audience on a forum, and knew how to sell to them. Heck, for some of them, their product wasn’t even very good.
Now I am not suggesting you go to a forum, and start spamming with your services. It has been my experience that similar to social media, you will want to build some clout first. Another case of give and take. Spend some time engaging with the community. Get to know the other members, and provide as much value to every thread/conversation as you possibly can. Make it a daily thing – once in the morning, and again at the end of the day.
- Spend some time watching what other people post. Read the forum rules. You don’t want to get caught out down the road after you’ve invested a ton of time into the forum.
- Help people when you can. If you don’t know the answers, go searching for them. Forum users will take note of this, and you will earn good karma.
- After you’ve spent some time building good will, provide free information related to something you do. For example, I might write a DIY post on Google+ Local. No strings, just free information. You want to showcase your expertise, but also your good nature to share and be helpful. People may not purchase your service/product right away, but you will be “that guy” whom they will always refer to.
It took a little over a year, but on the forum I belong to, I became that guy. Some months I spend a horrendous amount of time helping people for free. Rarely though, is there a month where it doesn’t pay in spades. Food for thought.
Four: Running Your Own Blog
Quite possibly the most unprofitable (for hour spent) tool I use to promote myself and my business. Only once have I ever been able to measure a conversion to an article I had written. Maybe that will change with time – the blogs that I own are after all fairly young. So why do I continue to do it then? What is in it for me? For you?
No one wants to return to your site over and over again to read about your business, and your office dog – even if he does cool tricks. Give them a reason to come back. Remind them, “Hi, I am still around, and so is our dog.”
Don’t know what to write about? Check out the great content creation resources on the SerpIQ blog.
The best advice I can possibly give you about a blog is:
- Be consistent. If that means you only post once per week, then that’s fine. Just don’t have massive gaps all over the place.
- Write the best damn articles possible. Don’t try and cram it into a single day – pick at it all week.
- Don’t give up too easily. Blogs can take a very long time to gain traction. I usually tell people to give it 6 months to a year.
Among other things, blogs are a fantastic way to showcase your expertise. You want to be the resource. If you can do this, the traffic will follow.
Five: Question & Answer Sites
Did you know that some question & answer sites like Quora generate 2 million plus visitors daily? If you are looking for a great way to build your brand, and generate new traffic, this is a stellar option. Let’s assume you are an analytics start-up You might search all questions related to web analytics, and answer a few each day, occasionally linking back to content of your own. Maybe you find a bunch of the same questions – you write a blog post and drop a link. Alternatively, if there is a topic you have written a ton of content on already, create a board. The list is as big as your imagination.
There are lots of these sites. Some notable ones are:
- Ask MetaFilter
- Yahoo Answers
If you have a hard time figuring out which one is best suited as a traffic source for your business, check out this helpful Infographic on Wired.
Do you have any must-know tips that I may have missed? Please share them with us below :)