Economic times are tough, marketing budgets are tight and cash flow is unpredictable. Regardless of the economic situation, your clients still expect you to find them and communicate with them on a regular basis. Using the following strategies are a great low-cost, low-risk way to attract and retain clients without spending a lot of money. All it takes is discipline to create a system and protected time on a regular basis to implement and maintain the following strategies.
1. Web sites are now part of the cost of doing business. Create a basic brochure-ware site that communicates your core expertise and controls user experience. Segment by size, industry or service to make sure that your visitors are finding exactly what they want. Then, make sure to set up a custom data collection form that gives prospects an easy way to pre-qualify themselves before contacting you, and make sure it links up to an online database for your html newsletter system.
2. Online marketing collateral is the next evolution in marketing. Save money on printing and post your brochure in online PDF form for (free) downloading. Create a (low-cost) electronic template in Word that matches your brand and allows for customization. Add datasheets that relate to your different services and case studies per industry, and you've just completed your online marketing collateral system.
3. Analytics are a great tool to measure traffic to your site. Google has a (free) tool that you can download and link up to your site called Google Analytics. Look at them regularly to determine the top five reasons prospects come to your site and add content based on that.
4. SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is just a fancy name for the (free) non-paid links that come up in Google or Yahoo. Analyze your competition to see where they are ranked compare to you. Perform a search of the top 10 keywords that best describe your business and/or service. Then, create a chart of how your competition compares to you on a per keyword ranking, optimize one page per keyword on your Web site and use that word at least three times or more. Don't forget to put it in your meta tag for the page as well.
5. LinkedIn is a (free) online social networking site designed specifically for business professionals to communicate and do business with one another. To get the most out of the site, create your complete profile and add all of your contacts. Answer questions within industry sections and post questions to your contact database, then leverage contacts to connect you to prospects and develop strategic relationships.
6. Blogging or Weblogs are online mini Web sites that provide a (free) way to attract prospects, post content and position yourself as an expert within a category. It's also another great way to drive traffic to your Web site. Create your own blog on wordpress.com, jot down topics over the week that spark your interest and create a folder to archive interesting articles to reference. Then, schedule one hour a week to write a well-crafted article on that topic and reference it within the other blogs, LinkedIn and your html newsletter.
7. Twitter is just a mini-blog. Following the right people and getting followed is the key to success. The key is good content. Use Twitter to talk about the cool projects you are working on, and use it to promote your blog or newsletter every time you post new content.
8. Html newsletters are another great (low-cost) way to stay connected with your clients and referral sources and integrate into your overall retention strategy. Promote yourself as an expert in your field by posting case studies and linking to articles and trends within your industry, and use your newsletter as a tool to promote your strategic partners as well. Measure traffic and click-throughs via your online management system to determine who is reading your newsletter and what content is most important to them.
In order for your tactics to produce fantastic results, just remember two rules:
1. Content is king. The more valuable the information, the more traffic you will drive to your various online platforms.
2. Slow and steady wins the race. Keep a regular schedule that works for you, once a month or every week, and maintain it to position yourself as a credible, reliable resource.
Hill is president and owner of Incitrio, a boutique branding agency located in Sorrento Valley.