Businesses, especially small businesses, continue to fight the pressures of improving their bottom line. This means they don't have a blank checkbook to spend on marketing. Enter guerrilla marketing: Getting the word out about a business without investing in traditional or Yellow Pages advertising is the challenge at hand. Using time, energy, knowledge, information and especially imagination will be the best practice of the most successful marketers.
So what will guerrilla marketers be doing in 2007? Emphasizing PR, positioning, communication of benefits, networking and more. Take a look:
Though we'll discuss globalization later, most small businesses market locally because they tend to do business within their community, suburb or city--typically staying within about a 50- to 100-mile radius. If this sounds like your business, you don't need to invest in marketing that reaches beyond your local audience, like search engines that reach the whole world. The desired goal is to isolate your search engine listings and related online advertising dollars in an area where you do want to do business.
To learn more about targeting your search engine advertising dollars to your local audience, start with the list of local search engines at LocalSearchGuide.org.
Never before has the online community had such an opportunity to reach its audience offline. On top of that, the spammers and hackers haven't yet found a way to infiltrate podcasting. (They probably will, but not like they've done with e-mail.)
Podcasts, like any information you put out, should be of interest and value to your target market. What do they need to help their businesses or their personal lives? What solutions do you have that they would like to hear more about? These are the things people find interesting in podcasts. A once-a-month delivery promoted through all your other marketing channels will give a real synergistic boost to your marketing.
There are 100 times more blogs than there were three years ago, according Sifry's Alerts' August post on the State of the Blogosphere. At first, it was only the most tech-savvy businesses that had blogs. Now blogging is on the increase with all types of businesses because it's a cost-effective way to create marketing buzz and communities of support.
Blogging is like having a conversation with your target market. It also provides an interactive forum for your target market to talk back to you. And a blog done in conjunction with your website gives you one more way to reach your prospects.
The best part is, many blog programs allow you to set everything up yourself with little or no technical know-how. If you're not sure you'll be able to support a blog on your own, contribute to someone else's. This'll help you gain exposure and position you as an expert in your field.
Ad dollars are continuing to shift to the internet and will continue to do so as new opportunities such as video open up. Online ad spending increases have been driven by the growing ability to measure campaigns effectively and a relatively high ROI. As a result, for many businesses, the question isn't whether to advertise online or even where or when, but rather how to stretch every dollar spent.
For the everyday entrepreneur and guerrilla marketer, this translates into a focused pay-per-click campaign on Yahoo! or Google AdWords. You can focus on a particular target market searching particular keywords and test your campaign instantly, all for fewer dollars than the old mass-market banner ads and certainly for a lot less than the cost of print ads.
Expanding to Global Markets
Borders are being removed in the business world because international labor rates and talent levels make location irrelevant on the internet. No longer is going global just for large corporations; Sally's e-commerce bead shop that's operating from a home office can now do business in as many countries as have internet access.
For the aggressive entrepreneur, marketing globally is done mostly online. Using pay-per-click campaigns, a focused opt-in e-mail campaign or other traffic-generation techniques, a local entrepreneur can easily reach a global market.
The internet has also greatly reduced language barriers. A lot of e-commerce is done in English, so there's not necessarily a huge need to translate. However, translated websites do open up new opportunities.
Expanding to global markets can be done with your e-commerce website or as an affiliate of the many thousands of retail portals available online, like Amazon.com and eBay.
No longer are awareness ads or even branding ads generating enough results to justify their use. Today's consumers want to know what's in it for them. They want a deal, a discount or something special. These all have implications for increased direct marketing. In addition, with all the technology available to us for managing databases, target markets can be more tightly defined, segregated, sorted, compiled and marketed to, providing a higher return to those employing direct marketing.
For today's entrepreneur, direct marketing can start with a simple postcard campaign to 1,000 prospects. Doing this frequently will generate interest and awareness in your products and services and motivate prospects to buy from you. Learn more about direct marketing at our "Direct Mail and Coupons" page.
Al Lautenslager is an award-winning marketing and PR consultant and direct-mail promotion specialist. He's also the principle of Market For Profits, a Chicago-based marketing consulting firm. His two latest books, Guerrilla Marketing in 30 Days and The Ultimate Guide to Direct Marketing are available at www.entrepreneurpress.com.