I belong to several L.A.-area networking groups, and I present regularly about how to best market your businesses to prospects and clients. This month, I gave a talk entitled “15 things you should be doing to market your business.” Here’s the video of that presentation. Text of tips below the fold.

Hi, I’m Eric Oxenberg, and my company is Coincident Ideas. Today, I thought I’d give you all an introduction to what I do by showing you how to market yourselves more effectively. I’m going to talk about fifteen ways you can increase exposure to your business and bring in more clients.

I’ve learned that these tips are effective, don’t take a lot of time, and are pretty easy if you take them one step at a time. Of course, if you’re not inclined to do DIY marketing, I’m available to help you!

So, why do I know anything about effective marketing? Well, let me tell you briefly how I got into this business.

It started with Mad Men

First of all, do any of you know the TV show “Mad Men?” If you remember the character Don Draper, that was my father. Big expense accounts, martini lunches, cigarettes and Lincoln Town Cars, I grew up with all that.

After I came to Los Angeles around thirty years ago I, went back to school to learn design and photography. I did art production for local newspapers and printers, and at an agency in Torrance, I produced a lot of direct mail campaigns for finance and healthcare companies. In the early ‘90s, I started doing creative work for big ad agencies such as Ogilvy & Mather and Team One Advertising, for clients like Toyota, Microsoft and IBM. When the world wide web came about, I decided to learn HTML and move into online work to stay ahead of the industry. I had an opportunity to help develop the very first car web site in the world, so I worked on Lexus.com.

Since then, I’ve had my own marketing company, helping large and small companies in the L.A. area. With that kind of background, I know that marketing is just as important for all of you, right here, as it is for the big guys.

So, are we ready to talk about marketing and building your audience? Okay, let’s go. These first tips are the easy ones, the no-brainers that everyone should be doing without thinking.

The Basics

  • Number one: refresh your web site. Post new content, rewrite what you have now, add pictures, whatever it takes to stay up-to-date. Then you should resubmit your site to Google, Yahoo and the other search engines for search.
  • Go to trade shows, bring business cards and flyers, and meet speakers and promoters as well as other attendees. This will help you introduce yourself to leaders in your field, and establish you as an important resource for the community.
  • Offer introductory deals or promotions to new customers, whether it’s a discount, a free consultation, or just a gift certificate. Promotions get lots of attention, and whether you’re established or just starting out, people love a good deal.
  • Get your current clients to help promote you, with reviews on Yelp, Angie’s List, Google, wherever you’d be listed. Believe it or not, more customer find businesses through review sites today than any other way. You might as well take advantage of that!
  • Get the email address of everyone who contacts you professionally, and ask them, right then and there, if they’d mind your sending them messages occasionally. This one’s really important; if you don’t have a good mailing list, you won’t be able to do tip number nine, just ahead!

Okay, the next few take a little more work, but they’ll produce results in under six months, so go for it.

More advanced techniques

  • Make followup calls to keep in touch with prospects one day every week, and once a month for older contacts. You get 80% of your business from contacts you already know, so keep in touch with them.
  • Give people who refer business to you a finder’s fee or commission. Thank them with something material, no matter how small it is. Even with networking groups like TEAM, it’s a good idea to reward your business partners with a gift card, something personal, or for a big referral, a commission. In my business, it’s common to give a referrer ten percent of your expected earnings for a year from a new client as a thank-you.
  • Write a 1-2 page information sheet, or flyer explaining the benefits customers get from hiring you, and why they should call now. Use these as leave-behinds after a consultation, at trade events or for mailing to prospects that request more information. Plus, you can email a digital version to anyone who asks.
  • Send email campaigns to your list every month, if not more often, that highlight one aspect of your business and ask recipients to contact you. If you don’t keep in touch with your clients, they’ll forget about you. Talking to them regularly is the best way to stay fresh in their minds for when they need your service.
  • Write brief press releases every month and send them to local publishers and online listings. This could be an entire topic by itself, but nowadays, you can easily do your own PR by thinking of interesting aspects of your business and communicating those topics to local editors and writers.

These last five ideas are more complex and can cost more money, but long-term, they can help grow your business by expanding your reach beyond what you can do for free.

Long-term goals

  • Consider buying small advertisements in places like the Argonaut, Santa Monica Mirror, Beverly Hills Courier, Daily News, or wherever your market lives. Print advertising actually works, and not just for real estate agents and retail businesses. Advertising your services in appropriate publications can bring awareness that you wouldn’t get otherwise.
  • Learn how to use social media and begin posting weekly, if not more often. Facebook is great for friends and existing clients, Twitter is perfect for quick blasts and short-term promotions, and image sites like Pinterest or Instagram are great for showcasing products or completed projects.
  • Consider budgeting for targeted search terms on Google and Yahoo. Paid search can be expensive, but it can also push your business to the top of search engine results as paid listings. If you do this, you need to ensure that your web site is also ready with information to convert visitors into buyers.
  • Consider hiring a talented designer to create a new logo or corporate identity for your business. If you look more polished, you’ll get a lot more respect, and you can charge more for your products or services, and sell to larger clients.
  • Consider a high-end redesign of your web site, with all the bells and whistles, so visitors learn about your industry, get a feel for your brand and become comfortable with your products or services.

Conclusion

I’d like to give you all one last piece of advice: if you, or someone you know, has a web site that’s really old, and you think it sucks, you’re probably right. It does. Please, have them call me. I’m Eric Oxenberg, and my company is Coincident Ideas. Thank you.

Copyright ©2016 Coincident Ideas, LLC. All rights reserved.

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