8 Small Business Marketing Resolutions For 2008

If you're a small business entrepreneur with Internet marketing as a 2008 focus, hopefully the mantra Work smarter, not harder tops your list of New Year's Resolutions. If you haven't yet given any thought to how you'll grow your business next year, here's our fiercely strategic take on increasing your productivity, exposure, and income.

1. More Power Networking
Join at least two power networking groups membered by people who're either in a position to hire or contract your services, or connect you with other heavy-hitters you wish to know. Liberally introduce yourself and become the Queen or King of Business Card Exchange. But always show interest in what others are doing before hard-sell pitching your own services. Listen more. Establish the relationship first. As interest in what you're doing increases, follow-up to introduce your variety of marketing tools.

2. Narrow Your Marketing Niche
Grow your online presence -- strategically, where it counts. Social networking online is all the rage, and with good reason. Many people are writing business on the Internet, and you can do the same. Spend your precious time online working thoughtfully and diligently, establishing connections with those who may hire your services or prove beneficial as strategic partners (online and offline). Once you've identified the best audiences to promote your services... Think: Media impressions. Think: Links within relevant forums, blogs and news groups so others will venture to explore your site.

3. Create New Opportunities Offline
Many Internet entrepreneurs are so busy beating the cyberbushes, they neglect to extend their services in the real world. Prioritize cultivating business in your own backyard, too. If, for example, you're a marketing consultant rooted in cyberspace, don't neglect opportunities to pitch the many hometown businesses and entrepreneurs near your home or office. For example, spend a few afternoons going from store to store in your community, speaking with business owners and merchants, learning face-to-face what their marketing challenges are and explaining how you can help.

4. Regularly post press releases online
This is a big one, folks -- and it doesn't have to cost you a fortune. Each time you win a new contract or serve as someone's business solution, write and distribute your press release about it. At least once a month, disseminate news through at least 10 free press release distribution sites. Whenever you think of an exciting, new service angle catering to your market, send out a press release. Whether you're announcing a new value package, a contest awarding free services, or venturing into a new product or merchandise line, ensure the news gets out via as many outlets as you can.

5. Make your every business offer more irresistible
Yes: Give it away! Always throw in an extra service; give a deeper discount; or willingly share your knowledge with others. Doing so not only creates loyalty and repeat customers, it stimulates terrific word-of-mouth endorsements about doing business with you. It's about increasing your value proposition. Everyone wants more for their money. If you're not willing to give more, make a little less on a job, you'll soon find fewer people hiring you.

6. Stimulate referrals by offering valued rewards
When someone sends new business your way, it's important to thank them if you want them to continue doing this. Even the smallest bit of acknowledgment can help you on the back end. Take a moment to send a branded gift bearing your company insignia; an Amazon gift certificate; a plant and thank you card; or even a spotlight and link on your website. Whatever you choose to do, operate in the spirit of giving back and returning the favor. Otherwise, your one-sided ways may render you an ungrateful user.

7. Woo repeat customers for incremental sales
Once your contract ends or the sale is completed, don't lose touch. If you read an informative article that a past client might derive value from, take a few minutes to email it. If your former client sells something someone you know might value, put them in contact with each other. If you have a newsletter (and we all should), ensure old clients are on your mailing list -- and give them a call-out sometimes. Do this by writing a profile of their business or featuring their nice testimonial about your services or products. And always, always, show them link love.

8. Don't have enough time to do all of the above?
Hire a virtual assistant, public relations consultant, sales marketing freelancer, or any other expert to get it done for you. Time is money, and yours is quite valuable. If you're operating a small business or busy producing your creative product or content, you need to stay focused on frying bigger fish. So pay someone else to do what feels to you like the proverbial "stamp licking" while you invest more time out in your marketplace networking and developing big opportunities.

If you found this 2008 Small Business Marketing Resolutions list of value, I hope you'll sign-up to get the next post in the series. Up next: Recommended Resources for each of the above!

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