Compelling content: (web site, blog, YouTube, social media and so on) Helpful, how-to’s, interesting, cool, viral (worth sharing), top ten lists.  Be educational, both with basic helpful tips and in how your business works.  See to see some helpful content Crutchfield provides to customers.  Whole Foods Market ( is an excellent example of what an awesome blog looks like. Most experts recommend using the url or as the address to your blog, but, if you are just starting out with a blog it’s okay to use a free one like or BlogSpot.  Whatever platform you are using, blogs, Youtube, social media; do not push out a sales message, it’s more about being informative and helpful.  I've repeated this several times, it's so you will remember.  Nothing wrong with promoting the business, but that’s secondary to sharing.  If you ever have trouble coming up with content ideas, pick a buyer segment that you are presenting to.  For example, a cell phone repair and retailer might write the top ten iphone tech tweaks for an advanced user and helpful hints for a beginner.  When you start a blog or make videos, it’s about demonstrating thought leadership, illustrating that you know what you’re doing.  The results of an active web presence is a lot of content, a better search ranking, and some new customers.  It’s also good to refer someone to a blog post or video you made about something that is a common issue, “Oh, I made a video on how to set up your email with the iphone, here’s the link.”  All of the content you put out also helps target ideal customers.  Remember, everyone is not your ideal customer.  You should build an ideal customer profile like the FBI does with serial killers.  It sounds a bit crazy, but you really should understand who your ideal customer is.  John Jantsch talks a lot about this topic in The Referral Engine
Social Media Contests:  Contests or sweepstakes? With sweepstakes, a name is randomly chosen, while contests involve some sort of competition or challenge for a prize.  Social media is natural for contests since it’s basically an instrument of interaction.  You have an attentive audience once you’ve built up a fan base.  Get a bunch of people to “Like” your Facebook and be an active contributor/updater to avoid launching a contest to a dormant audience.  Some quick tips:  Make an Event page on Facebook, put a promo page on your site, blog, mention the contest in your weekly e-mail newsletter, Twitter it and alert your in store customers of the contest to help promote. It’s always best to try and keep the contests simple. Contests can range from an ongoing trivia or puzzle based contest where answers could be found on your blog or web site or just be general industry related knowledge or a one time challenge where people have to submit a photo or video related to your product or service and the best one is chosen by the fans (more interaction). The prize should be linked to your business, a sampling of your products or services. 
Guerrilla Marketing: Offbeat tactics geared to generate buzz and are a lot of fun.  From walking around town, handing out free samples of your Italian restaurant’s meatballs, to leaving a sidewalk spray chalk trail leading to your business.  Sidewalk spray chalk; a washable spray paint, that when joined with a stencil, can deliver a message displayed in high-foot-traffic areas. Possible uses: roads, sidewalks, parking lots, side of buildings or even in sand and snow.  Some ideas for the message: arrows pointing to your business or leaving a trail, a memorable rhyme or simple marketing message advertising your biz.

Another example: do something a bit outrageous, but simple: watch some of the vid below: too many colons.  That is pretty cool.  An iphone is glued to the pavement!  Now that is definitely different and gets people to stop.  You could even make your own video, documenting your guerrilla marketing and develop a viral aspect and put it your Facebook, site, blog, YouTube.  This is particularly risky, considering someone could easily trip over the glued phone.  I would recommend a less risky alternative, like gluing the phone to a counter, wall or ceiling.  Just an example to get you thinking about some guerrilla tactics your business could try out.
Referral Engine: Get people to refer your business.  First, by caring; providing great customer service and that extra bit of effort, because you genuinely want to help people, creates authenticity or trustworthiness.  People remember and will openly refer remarkable, honest businesses. Going through the motions benefits no one.  I’m looking at you, boring hostess at Olive Garden. Rally the troops, everyone in the business has to be in on the plan, Olive Garden manager. (I’m just using OG as an example, I haven’t witnessed any underperforming staff).  Remember this: a friend’s recommendation carries much more credibility than any advertisement or TV commercial. 

Word of mouth is the most powerful of all the marketing tools, that’s why referral is so important. Plus, the result of a implementing a notable business is you have in turn tuned your business to run at optimal levels of performance.  When this happens “a prospect is presold by a happy customer, the process of making a deal and deciding on a price is a pretty short one”- Referral Engine by John Jantsch

Second, it’s okay to express to customers you welcome referrals. In fact, you should build a system of processes into your business.  This is actually a good litmus test in confirming whether or not the products/services that a business provides is worth recommending.  Why?  Because if the business owner does not have the faith to do so then why would anyone else.  Make some changes if necessary.

We'll elaborate on referral techniques in a later post, because there is so much a business can do to generate referrals.   
Practically free marketing tactics your small business should start doing, like now.  Hey, sit back down, you haven’t read any of the tips yet.  These are the quickest, dirtiest, most dangerous and downright cheapest marketing tactics money can (or can’t, depending on how you look at it) buy.  You must read this unabridged version of the Internet (click here) to completely comprehend the tips I explain below.  It’s requisite.  Or you can know nothing about marketing at all and do just fine.  Read at your own risk.  Enjoy at your anxiousness.  But really, the concepts outlined here take little more than an investment of your own time. Can’t beat that.
  • Permission Marketing (E-mail): Ask each customer for his or her e-mail to build a list for an e-mail marketing campaign. Do not to sell the list to Nigerian spammers. Send a periodic newsletter with offers, coupons, news or helpful hints, but try to be more educational than anything. Newsletters could also just include a recycled blog post from the week. If you keep track of your customers with a simple database (Excel is excellent for this), detailing what services they utilize, frequency of use, what purchases they’ve made, or models they own, et cetera, then it’s possible to cater certain messages and offers to a specific segments of customers.
There are six more small business marketing tactics we are going to share in the series . This is just number one. Stay tuned.

Lick the screen when your commercial comes on TV, chew on that advertisement in the paper, gnaw on one of your Facebook fans…or don’t do any of those things, especially the biting, because that’s not what I’m talking about and you’re not a teething toddler.  One of the most important aspects of marketing is measuring and tuning.  In much the same way that a chef tastes as she cooks, you should be making sure your marketing is appetizing.  Sample the quality of the output and adjust accordingly.  Chef Gordon Ramsay, of Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, has to tell most of the ham-fisted chefs on his show to taste the food they are preparing.  He usually admonishes, “Are you so [expletive deleted] arrogant that you can’t taste your [expletive deleted] food?!”  It doesn’t matter how good you think your marketing is or what fancy agency or expert you have in charge; if they aren’t measuring and fine-tuning then they aren’t doing their job.  Even the best chefs taste their food; it’s compulsory.  And sometimes all it needs is a dash of salt, but sometimes that can make a world of difference.  Marketing is a chronic, always present, habitual process because it must be monitored and modified.  No chef is above tasting, no marketer above monitoring/measuring or modifying.

The Web, in fact, greatly simplifies the measurement and monitoring process in some ways.  For example, Facebook, Google AdWords, YouTube, your Web site (which should have monitoring tools) all provide enough insights to determine if what you’re doing is working or not, if anything else.    

Google AdWords
most likely provides some of the most detailed metrics one will care to scour over.  CTR (click through rate), CPC, (cost per click), and CPM (cost per thousand) all help you decide if what you are doing is effective, and are just a few of the many bits of data, details and measurements available to those operating an AdWords campaign.  The great thing about AdWords is that you can distinguish in essentially real-time if any modifications behaved in a positive manner.  A quick check of the CTR and you’ll be able to tell if that dash of salt did what it was supposed to do. 

Cheers to tasty marketing!

On a related note, David Meerman Scott, new marketing guru, author, blogger and speaker had a rant about ROI, at one point explicating, “What’s the ROI of putting on your pants in the morning?” Needless to say, it’s worth a listen. Click here to hear it.  I feel ROI has contracted a daunting reputation in its frequent, excessive usage, and I didn’t bother mentioning it in my post on purpose.  One reason being; online efforts, especially social media, have intangible benefits unseen in metric-riddled dashboard read outs.  Blogs, a powerful social media presence and so on are developed over time. Remember, you’re effectively developing a friendship with people online.  It can’t be bought and it will not be acquired overnight, or even in a month for that matter.