If anyone here is in advertising or marketing... kill yourself!
Not my words but the words of the comedian Bill Melvin Hicks, who am I to argue with the great man?! I was lucky enough to go to the world premiere of American, The Bill Hicks Story at the London Film Festival (last year) and with it now on national release it got me thinking about how you should advertise your business in todays market.
Once you've finished reading this post do check out the video which clarifies what Bill Hicks joked about! One thing that is obvious is that in years gone by advertisers would sell their soul to get you to purchase a product, nowadays they've wised up to the fact a big budget doesn't guarantee a good return.
So how should you market your business whilst avoiding the pitfalls of those advertisers Mr Hicks despised?
Here are 5 ways to advertise your business in 2010, the ethical way.
Use your present and past customers to prove just how good your business or product is. Gather testimonials or reviews from those who have found your services or products of high quality and display them on your website and within your advertising. It's so easy to gather feedback that if a business isn't displaying any, it makes us think twice.
“One of the criteria we use to filter information is credibility, or believability.” (Wathen, 2002)
Give your business instant credibility by showing pictures of customers using your product or show a video of a happy customer extolling the virtues of your business.
Social Media Marketing
Joining in directly with the discussion people are having about businesses or products in your niche is one of the best ways to invite customers to experience your business. Everyone enjoys speaking with people who are passionate about their business or product, use your or your employees knowledge to great effect and get instant results, no waiting around to see if a magazine advert converts into sales, view your website stats or check your inbox.
Using tools such as Twitter you can talk to your customers in real time, answer their questions, allay their fears, provide comparisons and above all put a personality/persona to your brand that an advert just can't do.
"Social Media Marketing isn't really marketing, it's joining in the conversation, a monologue is boring and a big turn off, talk to and promote other people and your brand will enjoy good word of mouth promotion."
To read more about other social sites to promote your business check out Social Media Optimization: Optimize Your Social Media Marketing
Blogging is a powerful tool in your armoury to attract new people to your website and drive sales. What better way to highlight new additions to your product line or list of services than in a blog on your website.
Blogging is also a great way to provide useful advice for your customers and become a trusted source of information in your field.
Blogging is your own BOGOF (Buy One Get One Free), it's information that could sway a first time visitor to your site into a potential customer but also fresh content for the search engines. You're quenching the relentless thirst of a search engine spider for data to crawl, similar to that of a Scotsman's thirst for Iron-Bru!
Yes if you didn't know it already, search engines love blogs, the blog homepage being a page that is continuously updated with quality content (hopefully) that people return and link to over and over again.
If you think that continuously quoting a few lines from someone else's blog and linking to it or jotting down a few lines about your latest expo is quality content then you're mistaken. Give insight, compare and contrast, share your knowledge, provide evidence and back up your posts with facts.
This is where you can get to the heart of peoples concerns and queries about a product or service. You'll find many forums out there full of people needing answers to basic and advanced questions and who better to give instant responses but you?!
Reminder - hijacking forums with links to your site isn't good enough and earns you a bad rep. People go on to forums to have their questions answered, if you've taken the time to log on, why not show off your expertise with answers or advice that will get you remembered for the right reasons.
Yahoo Answers and Linked In Answers are just two of the best sites to answer peoples questions directly and get noticed. Build up a reputation on these sites for accurate quality answers and your brand will gain directing traffic to your website.
It just goes to show how an ethical approach is by far the best way to market your business in 2010!
Go and see the film, you won't be disappointed! You can catch Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo interview of the directors, which gives some great insight, can you believe they don't have an American distributor for the movie yet!