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Top 10 Ways to Use Blogging in Real Estate: #1 Use Blogging as a Farming/Niche Tool

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photo courtesy of stuckincustoms


A blog can be a great way to dominate your real estate farm (or niche) … if done correctly. In fact, if you are newer to blogging, I recommend creating a niche blog to start … and ease your way into more prolific blogging as you feel more comfortable. Here is post #1 in the “Top 10 Ways to Use Blogging in Real Estate” series:

How to Use Blogging as a Farming Tool

This post goes hand in hand nicely with another post I recently wrote: How to Dominate Your Geographic Niche in under $83 a Month, but will go more in depth on how to utilize the blog element.

  1. Create a blog specifically for your niche. You could make it a facet of your current blog (if you already have one), but I recommend creating a wholly different one. Why? Well, when people go to/find your new niche blog, it will show that you are the real expert in that area and not just “one of many” area that you service. Also, you can link to and from your current website(s) and/or blog(s) to your new niche blog – helping (even just a little bit) the SEO of all of your sites.
  2. Get an appropriate domain for your new name. The smaller the niche, the better names you can get. Start by just pointing the name to your new site, but eventually spend the few bucks to replace the [area].wordpress.com with your new and special domain name in the address bar. Some ideas for domain names could be:
    • [area]realestate.com
    • livingin[area]
    • [area]homes
    • [area]life
    • homesin[area]
    • …etc.
  3. Set up a custom IDX search for your niche/farm. Whomever you use as an IDX provider (WolfNet, 1ParkPlace, dsSearchAgent, etc. …) can help you build a custom search for your niche. Take that search and spam your site with that link. Yes. I said “spam” … But, it is okay, because it is your site. See, I want that “search for homes” available the minute someone decides they may want to search for homes. Call me weird (and trust me, I know that most of you do anyway…) but giving consumers what they want, when they want it just seems like a darn good idea.
    Where should you put this IDX search?

    • As a page on the top/side of the blog
    • As a link on the sidebar
    • At the end of each post
    • Inside each post whenever appropriate
  4. Post niche-specific posts 2x-4x a month. See? I am not asking you to quit your day job to maintain a blog. I am just suggesting that you replace a fraction of your pointlessly-surfing-the-internet-in-the-middle-of-the-night with productive niche blogging. Some ideas on what to write about include, but are not limited to:
    • Market reports (active, pending, sold and DOM data)
    • Neighborhood events (garage sales, BBQ’s …) (example)
    • HOA guidelines and meeting minutes
    • Happenings immediately surrounding the area (parades, new schools, etc…) (example)
    • Local business information. – You could showcase home based businesses in your niche.
    • Featured homes for sale (preferably with the Listing Agent’s permission … which most will happily give if you preface it with, “May I feature your fine listing on the [area] website?”) (example)
  5. Advertise and promote your niche blog. Don’t be a secret agent niche blogger. Promote this blog in all the marketing materials that you send out to your blog … and even in your other marketing materials.
    • Physically TELL people about it when you are talking to the people in youe niche. This would be a good argument for making sure you get a remember-able domain name.
    • When you have a listing in the neighborhood add the new niche blog site to your sign riders and/or your flyers.
    • Make a custom business card that you send out to your niche area.
    • Add links to this niche blog on your other websites and blogs, and link to it whenever your write something about that area in your other blogs (if you have one).

This is just ONE way to use blogging in real estate. But, in my opinion, it is a relatively easy way to incorporate blogging into your business plan, and a great place to start.

If this is something that you are already doing, I would LOVE to hear how YOU are using a blog as a farm/niche tool.

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43 Comments

43 Comments

  1. Danilo Bogdanovic

    June 15, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    Awesome tips and advice. Just to add to your point about finding a niche…if you don’t know what your “niche” is, ask yourself this, “What am I most experienced in and passionate about?”

    For example, if you work mostly with first time home buyers, focus on things/resources that first time home buyers want and could use. If you focus mainly on condos, go with that. If you know your luxury home market like the back of your hand, run with that.

    Take Candy Lynn who loves horses and focuses on horse properties. Her blog is focused on that and she’s the go-to-source for horse properties in her area.

    Or take Jay Seville who mostly sells condos in Arlington and knows them like no one else. His blog is focused on condos and what’s going on in the condo world. He’s the go-to-source for information on condo real estate in Arlington.

    In addition, if you go with something you know well and are passionate about, that will resonate in your posts and you will have a community before you know it. Plus you’ll have an easier time finding things to write about.

  2. mariana

    June 15, 2008 at 5:01 pm

    danilo – Thank you! Those are excellent examples. Will you please provide links to them?

  3. Susan

    June 15, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    Thanks Mariana, some great ideas. Also, thanks for the link to setting up the worldpress, that I need to learn.

  4. Jim Gatos

    June 15, 2008 at 5:26 pm

    Wow..

    That;s great. I’m assimilating all this..

    Very smart advice…

    Jim

  5. Paula Henry

    June 15, 2008 at 5:44 pm

    Mariana –

    Another excellent post! You say spam your site – and I agree! Back when I started blogging and had absolutely no idea what I was doing (am still learning) I posted about the communities and neighborhoods in Avon Indiana.

    Every post on AR, and there must be at least 50, has a link to my IDX solution, with the term, Search all Avon Homes for sale or ” Search homes for sale in (community name)” with the anchor text ” Avon Indiana Real Estate” or “Avon Indiana Homes” or Avon Indiana neighborhoods”.

    For several months now, a direct link to my IDX (wolfnet) has been #4 in Google for Avon Indiana Real Estate. It works! It took about six months to accomplish.

    I can see this being very powerful for individual communities. Thanks for all the great links. I am starting a new community blog and appreciate the tutorial.

  6. mariana

    June 15, 2008 at 6:10 pm

    jim – I hope you find this series useful for you and your blog.

    paula – That is very cool! I love to hear stories like that!

  7. Danilo Bogdanovic

    June 15, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    Mariana,

    Sorry I didn’t initially put the links up. Here you go:

    Candy’s blog – https://www.valleyofvirginiarealestate.com/blogs/candy_lynn/default.aspx

    Jay’s blog – https://www.justnewlistings.com/

  8. Faina Sechzer

    June 15, 2008 at 9:17 pm

    Great, specific and practical advice. My new blog (in addition to AR) is only 6 weeks, but as soon as it gets some traction I would like to set a community blog site as well.

  9. Brad Coy

    June 16, 2008 at 1:36 am

    @mizzle … been meaning to try and catch you on twitter to say thank a bunch for all the GREAT articles you’ve been posting. Much obliged! 🙂

  10. Bobby Carroll

    June 16, 2008 at 5:49 am

    Mariana – Excellent post. I would take issue with one really small point of yours. Posting featured listings just to have the listing in a post is a missed opportunity. Why not add a featured listing in your post in this manner. Say you have a market report for your niche (or in this case a “farm community”) and you post the market report. Why not refer to a “featured listing” you have in that community that serves as an excellent example of the homes buyers would find there with typical features, architecture, amenities and price point in your niche market report using your featured listing as a “Poster Child” for the area.

    If you still desire to post featured listing advertisements, ask yourself these questions. How many site visitors reading your post at that moment will be in the market for a home with the desired characteristics of your featured listing? How many reading your post at that exact moment will be in the market for a home in that price point and with those exact desired features in that particular neighborhood? I could go on and on. I’m all for target marketing and post on its virtues often. If the post is nothing more than a “featured listing advertisement”, it’s probably targeting too small of an audience. To me, (IMHO) there are better ways to use your posts then to simply use it for a featured listing advertisement.

  11. Mariana Wagner

    June 16, 2008 at 6:48 am

    Danilo – Awesome! I figure the more great examples we can put together, the better!

    Fiana – Good luck with your blog! This whole series is designed to be very step-by-step.

    Brad – Thanks!!

  12. Mariana Wagner

    June 16, 2008 at 6:49 am

    Susan – There are a few really good WP how-to sites out there. That one just looked the most comprehensive.

  13. Holly White

    June 16, 2008 at 7:58 am

    I have been so concentrated on using my website to capture buyers that I had left alot on the table when it comes to sellers. This is a fantastic way to get more listings!!!

    Be sure and include condo developments as well. They can be as much like a neighborhood as single family living. And farming them might be even easier on the feet!

    We had only been blogging about neighborhoods and condo developments within the main site, but generating neighborhood specific sites and linking them back to the main site is much more targeted and marketable. This type of marketing will truly make us experts in our neighborhoods and condo developments.

  14. Jim Gatos

    June 16, 2008 at 10:48 am

    Hello,

    Well.. want to ask you to look at my new free site (why I went free is in my latest post on that site) and ask you if jimgatos.wordpress.com is okay or should it be something else? Now is the best time for me to know because I don’t want to copy and paste a LOT of posts..

    Thanks for any help you can give
    Jim

  15. Ken Smith in Chicago

    June 16, 2008 at 10:50 am

    To help increase exposure I think that you should stay away from domains with real estate or homes in them. Naturally you want to showcase what you do, but people do not share links with their friends and family of commercial sites nearly as often as non commercial sites. If you can find the correct balance between selling yourself and providing community information this can be powerful.

  16. Jim Gatos

    June 16, 2008 at 11:05 am

    The reasons I went from a paid hosting account to a free WordPress account will be on my site hopefully by tonight; I have an emergency to take care of now. Let me say I wasn’t looking to save money; I even tried Typepad for a couple of hours yesterday. They have just online support and even though they have multiple blogs the way they do domains is not to my liking. God I wish they had a tech support number..

  17. Ken Smith

    June 16, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    Jim I would stay away from Anything.NotMyBrand.com as your blog. This isn’t easy to tell someone about and people will not pass it along. You used YourName.wordpress which if you are attempting at a hyper local blog is the wrong approach. It doesn’t make me instantly know what you are talking about on the blog.

  18. Mariana Wagner

    June 16, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    Holly – Good luck! The condo ideas is excellent…

    Jim – For now, I think that is a fine domain name. But I would change it to a non .wordpress.com as soon as you can. It costs about $10 for a domain name and $10 to make that new domain name be the address.

    Ken – I definitely agree with the non-.wordpress.com domain, but we are talking baby steps … First, people need to get the blog set up, and then tweak it to make it more personal/professional.

    I do, however, disagree with the no-real-estate-in-the-title. I want people to know they can go there a.) for all the real estate info on their area, and then b.) other area information. I guess it has to do with your overall intent. I am a real estate agent first, and a community reporter second.

  19. Bob

    June 16, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    Mariana, Ken has valid points about the non-wp domain and not having real estate in the domain.

    This is business – do it right the first time. Baby steps are for babies, not someone running a business.

    I do, however, disagree with the no-real-estate-in-the-title. I want people to know they can go there a.) for all the real estate info on their area, and then b.) other area information.

    They are only going to go there if they can find it. get it ranked in the top 3 spots and the domain name doesn’t matter.

  20. Jay Thompson

    June 16, 2008 at 4:44 pm

    They are only going to go there if they can find it. get it ranked in the top 3 spots and the domain name doesn’t matter.

    That’s true. But, branding is important. And the right domain name can, in and of itself, become a brand. If it’s easy for people to remember, and if they can associate it with what you do, that can become a very powerful wrench in the toolbox.

    I wouldn’t trade “Phoenix Real Estate Guy” for anything. (well, not anything, but it would take a LOT for me to give it up.)

  21. Mariana Wagner

    June 16, 2008 at 8:25 pm

    Bob – I agree … to a point … (but like Jay said) if you are doing more than just SEO then the name does matter. I want something memorable and relevant.

    Jay – Thank you.

  22. Jim Gatos

    June 16, 2008 at 8:37 pm

    Mariana, I already have the blog forwarding to worcestercountyrealestateblog.com and worcesterrealestateblog.com.. Sorry I did not say that before…

    I made a post of my own “blogging” dilemma and here is the link. If anyone would like to read and comment I’d appreciate it. I also tried to make it humorous…

    Here it is..

    https://jimgatos.wordpress.com/2008/06/16/new-blog-new-location-new-look-and-style/

  23. Ken Smith

    June 16, 2008 at 10:25 pm

    Mariana I have no interest in being a reporter for all local content, but I want people to be willing to share the domain with as many people as possible. This requires a semi stealth approach with a lot of non real estate local content. You can have a link to your Home Search in very prominent locations and link to your main website when it makes sense, but remember that web users are becoming more sophisticated. If they smell a sales pitch website they will not add you to their RSS feeder, they will not pass along the address to friends and family, and they will not return.

    You have one opportunity to make a first impression and if you just want to be “another real estate site” then label it as such with the URL. If you want to be a source of information about the community and build some real relationships then you need to move past keyword stuffed domains.

    These hyper local blogs are just an online form of networking. It isn’t about shoving your real estate card down everyones throats, it’s about building long term relationships. You can become the authority about your neighborhood, but only if you can get the people to keep wanting to hear what you have to say.

    IMO the best marketing is marketing that sells without the person realizing they are being sold.

  24. Ken Smith

    June 16, 2008 at 10:33 pm

    @ Jim – No matter what issues you had with the hosted version you have just taken a step backwards IMO. If you are comfortable with that then you might as well just blog on Active Rain or REW and call it a day. Personally I would rather pay someone a few bucks to take care of any upgrade issues and have my own domain, but to each their own. Also nothing says you must upgrade each time WP decides to put out an “upgrade”.

  25. Jim Gatos

    June 16, 2008 at 10:48 pm

    Activerain? I don’t think so.. I signed up with them a looonnnggg time ago and then I canceled my membership. Not my cup of tea.

    I am trying Typepad again. I see Theresa Boardman and a couple of others using it. Expensive but seems to be a “business blog”.. Sent Theresa an email but haven’t heard back. Hopefully this time I’ll get Typepad working the way I want to.. Something’s amiss..

    Thanks
    Jim

  26. Jay Thompson

    June 16, 2008 at 11:03 pm

    Jim – Ask Jim Cronin at the Real Estate Tomato about using Typepad. He’s said several times he wishes he’d gone with WordPress.

    Self-hosted WordPress is used by hundreds of thousands of blogs every day. You should be able to get help with any problems you have (give me a call, I’ll give it a shot)

    I agree with Ken 100%, there is no need to upgrade WP with every revision. They are usually very minor updates that will have no impact on how you run your blog. (there are also new plugins available for easier upgrading).

    Forwarding domains is rarely a good option for optimal SEO. You’ve got a huge head start on WP, lets just get your WP issue fixed and then you can move on!

  27. Bob

    June 16, 2008 at 11:07 pm

    I understand the branding issues as well as the SEO. IMO, and based on my experience, branding for an agent real estate web site is over-rated. I developed SanDiegoHomes.com. I owned pretty much whatever serps I wanted since Google came on the scene. I got a USPTO trademark on the primary registry. After getting an offer i couldn’t refuse, I sold it a year ago. It was one of the top 100 domain sales worldwide. I picked up another far less memorable domain and within 3 months I had most of my rankings and traffic back. The traffic from “branding” that generates business in the real estate space is negligible.

    With blogs, branding may help with some traffic, but you can get same or better ROI with anything as long as you have search engine exposure.

  28. Jim Gatos

    June 16, 2008 at 11:11 pm

    Jay..
    I read Jim’s blog and I remember him saying that. I have 14 days to try Typepad out…I was a self hosted blog for a long while, I’ll just try it out like that for now.. See what happens..

    Thanks
    Jim

  29. Jim Duncan

    June 17, 2008 at 5:52 am

    Jim –

    Check out Benn’s awesome tutorial on how to do a WordPress post; one of the best things about WP has been the community that is willing (and able) to help.

  30. Jim Gatos

    June 17, 2008 at 6:25 am

    Agreed and thank you. However, over the weekend I made a long list of “distractions to good blogging…” LOL..
    One of them that kept hitting me in the face was :fixing blog code” and so on and so forth.. It will be interesting to see what I decide but I have the 14 day trial and I’ll use as much of it as I deem okay.. Won’t hurt…

  31. Mariana Wagner

    June 17, 2008 at 8:13 am

    Ken – I completely respect what you are saying and agree. Ultimately, it is a balance that each agent must find for themselves, and how they approach their business. My GreenhavenRealEstate.net site is WAY more popular in my area than my LivingInGreenhaven.com site … and I advertise them exactly the same way.

    Jim – THANK you for the link to Benn’s tutorial. 🙂

  32. mariana

    June 17, 2008 at 9:01 am

    I recently combined both my greenhaven sites … making my image more cohesive & making everything easier.

  33. Jim Gatos

    June 17, 2008 at 9:19 am

    Update on my dilemna … Typepad makes it very hard to have a multilple author blog and for the cost, I am looking into WordPress again, externallly hosted. If I can find a multi site host with good service and at least two blogs I will get that. Under $10 a month..

  34. Ken Smith

    June 17, 2008 at 10:53 am

    Jim try 1and1.com, know people that use them for multiple blogs.

    Mariana there is never just one way to do something. As long as it’s working for you then keep going with it.

  35. Jim Duncan

    June 17, 2008 at 11:39 am

    Jim – I use Bluehost.com and, despite my occasional complaints, they do fairly right by me. And – AG uses them as well – how could they be wrong? 🙂

  36. Jim Gatos

    June 17, 2008 at 11:52 am

    Hello,

    I can’t stand Bluehost, especially their CEO or whatever he is, Matt Heaton. I had a couple of heated exchanges and he NEVER offered to help me, all he did was try to blow me off and his attitude towards customers is VERY bad. I just signed up with HostRocket. If I can’t easily use two blogs on HostRocket, I am NOT going to simply go back to the WordPress.com free sites (with paid upgrades).. I cannot become “Mr. PropellerHead…). This is becoming so time consuming it’s ridiculous. Also, I see BlueRoof.wordpress.com using the free WordPress version and I see others too. Just because the basic version is free doesn’t necessarily mean a step down.

  37. Benn Rosales

    June 17, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    Hey, we all have unique experiences with various businesses, I say go where you want, but I do suggest looking to WordPress.org for suggestions on preferred vendors. The reason this is so important is because these vendors will have updates prepared for upcoming releases of WordPress as well as upgrades to necessary to the mySQL database in most cases.

    I have an alternative hosting company I use for other projects that is so far behind in updates that they have nearly obsoleted themselves in the use of WordPress or any other blogging platform.

    We have a pretty good relationship with bluehost, but as a flatfee hosting company, they offer a lot for very little.

  38. Jim Gatos

    June 17, 2008 at 9:45 pm

    Thank you to all,, I changed hosting providers and I’m definately happier at this point. Now with HostTRocket.
    Over the next day or so I will create my brand new blog plus a specialty blog. I want to come up with a better name than worcestercountyrealestateblog.com. Too long and even I get confused in spelling that one LOL..

    You’re all a bunch of true professionals.. I really appreciate all your help,
    Jim

  39. Holli Boyd

    July 15, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    Mariana – just want to say thanks for this article and the many others you and the genius’s add to the forum – just got a request for a cma and when i asked how she heard about me she wrote:

    “The website was found by accident, I was searching for something else – (the breeder that we bought our basset hound from who lives in Averill Park), but I also happen to be looking to sell my house so I took a look at the website and was impressed.”

    It works!!

  40. Hernando County Real Estate

    July 15, 2008 at 8:17 pm

    I have set up a community site for a subdivison in Hernando County Florida. The site has what is active on the market and what has sold in the past. This is the main page the neighborhood uses to find out whats available.

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Business Marketing

What we can learn & apply about branding from trendy startups

(MARKETING) What are the branding secrets of these new trendy startups and how can they be applied to your large enterprises?

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A set of wine from Craft Hugo, showing off pleasing branding in labels.

Think of your favorite brand. Is it the product they offer or the branding that you love? Exactly – brand ethos reigns supreme, especially with those trendy, aesthetically-pleasing startups (I never thought Glossier had good makeup, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t visit their website once or twice a month).

So let’s break it down.

Co-founder of Red Antler – a company that assists startups in creating successful branding – Emily Heyward believes in a few branding truths.

Firstly, you have to make sure not to market your brand as a single product or experience. Doing so, she says, will pigeonhole you and thus truncate your ability to expand and offer new products and services (she gives MailChimp, known almost exclusively for email marketing, as an example).

What Heyward does say to do is instead market an idea. For example, the brand Casper (one of Antler’s clients) markets itself as a sleep company instead of a mattress company. By doing this, they kept the door open to eventually offer other products, like pillows and bedding.

Heyward states that this “power of focus” is a way to survive – with countless other startups offering the same product or service, you have to position your company as offering something beyond the product. Provide a problem your customer didn’t know they had and offer an innovative solution through your product.

Ever used Slack, the app-based messenger? There were other messengers out there, so focus of Slack’s branding is that regular messaging is boring and that their app makes it more fun. And customers eat it up.

How can this logic apply to mid-to-large enterprises? How can you focus on one specific thing?

Again, placing emphasis on brand over products is essential – what is it about what you offer that makes your customers’ lives better? It’s more cerebral than material. You’re selling a better life.

Another thing to remember is that customers are intrigued by the idea of new experiences, even if the product or service being offered is itself not new. Try not to use dated language that’s colored by a customers’ preexisting feelings. Instead, find an exciting alternative – chat solutions are desperately trying move away from the word “chat”, which can bring to mind an annoying, tedious process, even though that is in fact what they offer.

Broadening the idea of focused brand ethos to a large company can be difficult. By following these tips and tricks from startups, your company can develop a successful brand ethos that extends beyond your best product or service.

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Business Marketing

7 low-budget marketing ideas for small businesses to grow their reach

(MARKETING) Marketing ideas are often expensive or ultra time consuming, but let’s talk about some proven tactics that won’t break the bank.

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Man leaning against wall on phone representing marketing.

The following marketing ideas are provided to you buy Threadsy:

No matter the size of your business, marketing matters! It’s important for small and big businesses alike to attract new customers, establish brand awareness, and to create buzz around products and services. But we know that not every business owner has tons of funds to devote to their marketing strategy. The good news? There are some highly effective marketing tactics that are also budget-friendly!

Here are seven low-budget marketing strategies for small business owners and side hustlers to grow their reach:

1. Sponsor Local Events

One of the best ways to get to know potential customers? Actually meet and talk to them! When you sponsor local events, you can be on-site to help people put a face with your business’s name. Sponsoring events is also a fantastic way to offer branded merchandise that can help you get your name and your logo out there.

Besides branded materials like signs, banners, or fliers, think about offering some fun items like wine bags to give away to attendees. Goody bags also make fantastic take-home options for local events. A branded canvas tote can be repurposed as an environmentally-friendly grocery bag, lunch bag for work, or a carry-all accessory for conventions and tradeshows. Print your logo on the outside and fill your goody bags with customized items like water bottles, notebooks, pens, and towels.

2. Let Your Colors Fly

Make some cool t-shirts featuring your logo! Wear them to the sponsored events mentioned above, out in the community, or anywhere you may encounter potential customers and can strike up a conversation. You can also offer t-shirts at a discount in-store or online, and turn your loyal customers into advertisers.

Quick tip: Purchase wholesale shirts to reduce manufacturing costs.

3. Social Media

If you’re not already leveraging social media to promote your business, it’s time to start! Think your customers aren’t using social networks? While certain demographics use various platforms more than others, according to fundera, 74% of consumers rely on social media to guide purchasing decisions. Plus, 96% of small businesses say they use social media in their marketing strategy.

So use your social media channels to level the playing field. To maximize your time and effort, determine where your audience members spend their time. Which platforms are they using? If you have a dedicated social media strategist on staff, they can perform audience research to tailor your approach to your existing and potential customers. If you’re running your own social strategy, spend some time digging into the demographics to determine which platforms make the most sense for your brand. From there, you’ll need to decide on the types of content you want to post, how to interact with your customers online, and create a social media calendar to plan your strategy.

4. Host a Giveaway

Once you’ve got your social media strategy up and running, why not host an online giveaway/sweepstakes to build some buzz, boost engagement, and attract followers? Pick a social media platform where you already engage with your customers. You’ll want to offer an item as the prize. This can be anything from a free product, a discount on an expensive product or service, or inexpensive swag like hats to help you promote your brand.

Once you’ve chosen the prize(s), decide on the terms for your giveaway. For example, an Instagram sweepstakes might look like this:

  • Create posts about the giveaway and explain the rules (multiple stories and 1 or 2 posts depending on the length of the contest)
  • These posts should specify the terms, for example:
    – In order to enter, potential winners must follow you
    – Encourage your followers to tag other people who may be interested. Each “tag” gets them another entry into the contest
    – You can also specify that contest applicants must share your post on their own profile
  • Once the contest has ended, pick a winner. Tag them in a post and story announcing what they’ve won and ask them to also share these posts to their own profile

Quick tip: You can also offer smaller or less-expensive items as consolation prizes. People love free swag and it’s an easy way to get your name out there!

5. Referral Discounts

Offering friends and family discounts on your products or services can help you establish loyalty and promote exclusivity. Offer discount codes or create a refer-a-friend program. You can also offer small incentives for customers who share about your brand on social media. Referral discounts are a great marketing strategy whether you use them in-store, online, or both.

6. Create or Update Your Blog

If you already have a website, you can put it to use to help build brand awareness and attract high-funnel customers. Blogging is a low-cost way to generate organic traffic (website visitors via Google or other search engines). If you don’t already have a blog, there are a number of free and inexpensive blog platforms you can use including Wix and WordPress.

You’ll want to write about topics that are related to your product or service and are of interest to your customers. For example, if you offer graphic design, you might want to create content about how to find an effective graphic designer online, or which projects you can do with an online platform like Canva vs. more complex projects where you should hire a professional designer.

Your website and blog are also great places to post “about us” content to offer website visitors an opportunity to learn more about you, your business, and your mission and values.

7. Update Your Google My Business Profile

Google My Business (GMB) is a free tool that allows you to share important information about your business like your address, hours of operation, and contact information. When your listing is optimized with this information, it’s displayed in Google Search and will also appear in Google Maps, which can help you attract local customers.

To get started, you need to create a GMB profile and verify your business information. This is a relatively simple but important step to ensure customers are able to find your business or service online. Make sure to keep your listing updated if you change any information like your website URL, address, or hours.

The takeaway:

When creating your marketing strategy, remember to stay true to your brand. Not every tactic will be the most effective for every business. Choose the tactics that make sense for your brand or product offering. Another way to prioritize is to consider the perceived impact and effort of each marketing strategy. Use the strategies that require the lowest effort but will potentially drive the highest return.

Once you have those in place, decide which of the other strategies make sense for your customers and your business goals. Also, make sure to keep track of all of your marketing expenditures and the sales from these tactics so you can assess which ones were successful and which ones you may need to re-evaluate or alter.

Remember, when it comes to marketing, it’s an ever-evolving system. Trust the process and try to have some fun with your marketing strategy!

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Business Marketing

No-reply emails don’t help customers, they’ve run their course

(MARKETING) No-reply emails may serve a company well, but the customers can become frustrated with the loss of a quick and easy way to get help.

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no-reply mail boxes

Let me tell you a modern-day horror story.

You finally decide to purchase the item that’s been sitting in your cart all week, but when you receive your confirmation email you realize there’s a mistake on the order. Maybe you ordered the wrong size item, maybe your old address is listed as the shipping location, or maybe you just have buyer’s remorse. Either way, you’ve got to contact customer service.

Your next mission is to find contact information or a support line where you can get the issue resolved. You scroll to the bottom of the email and look around for a place to contact the company, but all you find is some copyright junk and an unsubscribe option. Tempting, but it won’t solve your problem. Your last hope is to reply to the confirmation email, so you hit that trusty reply arrow and…nothing. It’s a no-reply email. Cue the high-pitched screams.

Customers should not have to sort through your website and emails with a microscope to find contact information or a customer service line. With high customer expectations and fierce ecommerce competition, business owners can’t afford to use no-reply emails anymore.

Intended or not, no-reply emails send your customer the message that you really don’t want to hear from them. In an age when you can DM major airlines on Twitter and expect a response, this is just not going to fly anymore.

Fixing this issue doesn’t need to be a huge burden on your company. A simple solution is to create a persona for your email marketing or customer service emails, it could be member of your team or even a company mascot. Rather than using noreply@company.com you can use john@company.com and make that email a place where your email list can respond to questions and communicate concerns. Remember, the whole point of email marketing is to create a conversation with your customers.

Another great strategy for avoiding a million customer service emails where you don’t want them? Include customer service contact info in your emails. Place a thoughtful message near the bottom of your template letting people know where they can go if they’re having an issue with the product or service. This simple change will save you, your customers, and your team so much time in the long-run.

Your goal as a business owner is to build a trusting relationship between you and your customers, so leave the no reply emails behind. They’re annoying and they might even get you marked as spam.

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