If you are looking to draw more traffic to your website, organic searches are an outstanding way to do that. While chances are great that pay-per-click ads also will be a part of any truly effective marketing strategy, organic searches are an excellent tool that allows small businesses to generate qualified leads.

As a small business owner it can be difficult to know exactly how to increase organic traffic—especially when so many other businesses (with similar product offerings) are trying to do the same thing. In light of this fact, here are some important reminders small businesses should keep in mind when trying to increase organic traffic:

  1. Don’t try to be something you’re not. Many small businesses that sell to a specific target market try to water down their overall message to try to appeal to a greater number of people. This is almost always a mistake. Why? You often end up alienating the very customers and prospects who are really interested in what you have to sell. Therefore, it is always best to cater to your specific audience.
  2. People understand that they get what they pay for. If you offer the best product or service, people will be willing to pay for it. It’s that simple. Sure, there will always be those consumers who are only interested in a low price but those individuals almost never remain loyal to any business or brand. Most people are very aware that you get what you pay for and may actually be put off if your price is too low.
  3. Focus on community building. Connect and engage with customers and prospects on social media. Make sure your content always connects, educates and inspires. People may be initially attracted to your product or service because of a promotional offer, for example, but customer loyalty comes about through building long-term relationships. That is why it is important that you foster these types of relationships.

Organic marketing is not always easy and it does takes time. However, if done correctly it can have a tremendously positive effect on your bottom line. In the end, organic marketing is about building something of value that goes beyond just what you are selling. And once you create that value you can be sure that customers will keep coming back for more.

No business exists in a vacuum. If you aren’t aware of what your competition is doing at any given time it could spell big trouble for your bottom line.

While this is probably not the first time you’ve heard this advice, it can be difficult to follow. After all, running a business takes a lot of time and energy. Further, even if you really want to keep tabs on the competition, it can be difficult to know exactly how to do that.

If you are wondering how exactly to track what your competition is doing so that you can stay one step ahead of them, we have some simple tips to help you out.

  1. Jump on their website. What are your competitors selling, how much are they selling it for and is it something that you should sell but don’t? Are your competitors offering discounts and promotions that seem to be working especially well? How does their landing page look? Is it easy to navigate? A competitor’s website is a treasure trove of information.
  2. Do a keyword search. Who is coming up when you perform a search with words your customers and prospects are likely to use when looking for you. If your competitors show up on the first page of search results but you don’t then it’s time to up your SEO game.
  3. Follow them on social media. If your competition has a large following you can better understand why that it is when you peruse their social media sites. It also will help you to get a glimpse of how they interact with customers and prospects.
  4. Make a purchase. Wonder what the customer experience is like for a customer of another brand? Become a customer and you’ll get the answer. Along those same lines, give their customer service line a call. Find out how they handle questions or complaints to discover if you could be doing things better.
  5. Attend tradeshows. Visit competitors’ booths and see what they have to say and how they are presenting that information to prospects. Tradeshows also are often the place where new initiatives are launched so you can get those details first hand.

Keeping a close eye on the competition will help you understand how your competitors are able to succeed. It also will give you some ideas on how you can better promote your products and services and interact with customers and prospects.

Are you selling a product or marketing your business? Did you know there is a difference? If you aren’t sure what you are-or should be-doing, you aren’t alone.

Running a business take a lot of time and energy. Getting the name out about your product or services may seem like something that you shouldn’t have to spend a lot of time on. After all, if you have a great product or service and outstanding customer service, people should flock to you, correct? At most, you should only have to run a few radio ads or send out some emails to get the attention of would-be customers.

The truth is, you need to sell and market your business. Think of it like this: When you sell something you talk about benefits. For example, if you sell home siding, you talk about how great that siding is-durable, energy efficient, etc. To market your siding you tell the consumer how much better their life will be when they buy your siding. They won’t have to worry about maintenance and their house will be more comfortable because siding it cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.

But how do you know what prospective customers believe will make their lives easier? How do you know what to say to convince them that durable siding is something they can’t live without? The answer is simple. You listen to them. Sometimes what customers tell you won’t make sense, sometimes it won’t seem practical, but they know what they want so they are always right.

While selling is pretty straightforward, marketing involves measuring results. If your marketing campaign is working, you are gaining more customers and your current customers are buying more (although it is important to remember that even the most effective marketing efforts will take time). The key is to gage the performance of your marketing campaign over time. How much interest did it generate? That is the most important factor.

Finally, if your marketing efforts are paying off in the form of new customers, be sure and reward those customers. Satisfied customers are always your best salespeople. A lot of has changed in the world of marketing but when it comes to selling, nothing works better than word-of-mouth advertising.

Much is made about the importance of identifying a qualified lead. Equally important, however, is deciding whether a lead is a dead-end.
If you want to meet your sales quota, it is important that you spend time on leads that are likely to make a purchase. Unfortunately, many leads that have no intention of buying can suck up a lot of your time. That’s because these leads talk a lot about buying without having any intention of doing so.

In order to identify leads that are all talk but no action, we’ve come up with nine surefire ways to pinpoint leads that are likely nothing but time-wasters. And once you identify them, you will be free to concentrate on leads with real potential.

  1. Conduct background checks. Find out exactly who the lead is and if they fit into your target audience. If they don’t fit your criteria, go no further.
  2. Find out what their problem is. Ask the lead what problem your company can solve. If there isn’t one, you can bet there won’t be a sale, either.
  3. Ask about their budget. If your product or service costs more than their budget allows, it’s time to move along.
  4. Discover what they think your company can do for them. If a lead has an unrealistic view of what you can do for them, things aren’t going to work out.
  5. Ask about the competition. Serious leads are likely getting a variety of bids or checking out different companies. If you are the only one they have approached this is a red flag.
  6. Identify the decision maker. If you are not talking to a decision maker ask if you can, if the answer is no, there’s no point in pursing this lead.
  7. Get an address. If a lead is located outside your service area it’s time to move along.
  8. Check their level of engagement. If a lead is really interested in your company or service, they likely would have visited your website or connected with you on social media. If they haven’t, you can bet that they aren’t that into you.
  9. Consider how easy they are to follow up with. If you can’t get in touch with a lead after the initial contact (despite a few good attempts), it is probably best to move on. If they were really interested, they wouldn’t be avoiding you.

While you don’t want to discount a lead that may convert into a sale, neither do you want to waste your time on a dead-end lead. While being too picky may seem like a bad thing, being specific about what types of leads to pursue will pay off in the long run.

Many businesses are using content marketing to promote their business online. This is no surprise given the many ways these businesses can use content marketing to leverage their brand. From allowing a business to be seen as thought leader in their industry to capturing leads to building brand loyalty, content marketing is the name of the game.

Unfortunately, your business is not the only one that knows this. As a result, your target audience is relentlessly being bombarded with online messages. So how is a business to stand out? What follows are three strategies to help you get noticed and stand out from the crowd.

1. Know your audience. You must do more than just create content. Make no mistake, posting content that doesn’t connect with your target audience is as pointless as not posting any content at all. Think of it this way: Is your content entertaining? Great. But is it entertaining to your specific target audience? It better be or it won’t do a thing for your business. Does your content tell stories that your target audience wants to hear? Does it solve the problems your target audience is experiencing? If the answer to these questions is no, then your content is nothing but clutter your target audience will tune out. What’s worse, your target audience will come to see your business as a nuisance they want to avoid.

2. Think in terms of maximum engagement. Is your content merely consumed by your target audience? If so, it’s not doing its job. Your content must be easily shared but it needs to go a step further. It must be likely to be shared. You can include a million share buttons but if your content is not viewed as something that inspires readers to bring to the attention of others, that content has a very limited shelf-life (never a good thing in the world of content marketing ). You also must make sure your content does not exist in a silo. Repurpose your content so it fits different platforms. This includes everything from blogs to social media to email marketing. Your content’s reach should be far and wide.

3. Beware of content overload. It goes without saying that quality trumps quantity. However, your content needs to be more than just high quality. It must be something your target audience not just wants to read but feels that they have to read. This type of remarkable content not only breaks through the clutter, it is something your readers anxiously wait for because it is that significant and helpful.

Content marketing has proven itself invaluable to businesses competing for attention online. As a result, the stakes are higher than ever to break through the noise that surrounds it.