Can Articles Work For Niche Marketing?

In today’s marketing environment, writing articles has become more and more popular. This is mainly because search engines have changed the way they rank websites and have begun to place more emphasis on good article content or put another way, search engines have become better at filtering out promotional pitches, advertising, commercial content and blatant self-praise within articles.

Now, one very good way you could take advantage of the method that search engines now employ is to write articles. By writing articles that contain good-quality content, the search engines will reward you by ranking your website over the Internet. But before I go any further, I need to describe what niche marketing is. Niche marketing is the method of marketing directly to a small group of people, a niche, rather than advertising to the mass, a big number, a large number. So if you were a seller of sport and equipment, a particular small individual niche would be swimming goggles perhaps. So your niche would be the swimming goggle niche.

So how can you take advantage of the way search engines operate today? Well, provided you have a Web presence ie you have a website and you have a good-quality product that you wish to sell to your clients, you can entice potential clients to your website by creating small niche articles. Now, your article in the example I’ve just posed would be of interest only to people looking for swimming goggles. So perhaps you would write in detail about how your swimming goggles would fit a swimmer quite snuggly and how your swimming goggles would improve their vision underwater.

So the key to writing articles for your specific niche market and gaining very good and high web presence is to write good-quality articles directed at your niche market. Find loads of useful information about your niche product, show the reader that you are an expert in your niche and that you know what you are talking about. Then entice your reader to want to learn more about what you have to offer and what other information you have on your product. Entice the reader to click on your link, which takes them directly to your website. Learn this skill, and you will immediately have the know-how of directing good-quality traffic to your niche website. In today’s market, writing well-written articles is paramount. Write your articles, submit them to good article directories and watch your traffic grow.

Small Business Internet Marketing – “It Ain’t Easy”

Small business owners have the difficult challenge of not only managing their day to day operations to ensure their customers are satisfied, but also deciding how to best market and advertise their company to attract new customers. Before the Internet arrived, the choices were primarily limited to print media such as yellow pages, newspapers or local magazines. Perhaps we all yearn for a simpler time, but you can throw that notion out the window in our 24/7 new media tsunami.

Local businesses need to be highly efficient with their time and money to be successful in today’s challenging economic environment. Larger companies may have the luxury of hiring an advertising agency or employ full time marketing staff that are tasked with implementing a cost effective marketing plan. The typical local business does not have this option and often times the founder or owner is solely responsible for the marketing direction of the company. Owners face the daunting task of navigating through a constant barrage of marketing advice, new services and fancy jargon and trying to determine what makes sense for their company and budget.

All too often, local business owners end up trying out a variety of marketing services that are sold to them by companies using aggressive sales tactics. The local business owner may try out a service for a few months and if they do not see immediate results, they can become frustrated and stop using the service. When the next marketing company comes along touting their service is different and special, the small business owner may decide to try them for a while and the cycle continues.

This “hit or miss” mindset is not a winning formula for the small business owner, as effective Internet marketing plans encompass a few basic areas and can take time to yield results. Many marketing companies that sell services to local business owners typically focus on a specific marketing expertise or service (such as Pay Per Click, SEO, Email software, Directory, Leads, etc,) and either do not offer a full service option or such an option is too far out of reach of their budget.

As a result, it can be extremely difficult for a small business owner to make informed decisions and attempting to research all of this on their own would be too time consuming. A balanced marketing plan that includes a website that converts browsers to potential customers, a steady stream of targeted traffic to your website and web listings around the web and a methodology to consistently communicate and cultivate your existing customers and prospects. It should be easy, but the problem is the tools you need to pull this off are scattered around the web.

The one thing that every business owner should do, even if you do not have a website, is take control of your local business listings on Google, Yahoo, Bing and other directories and review websites. Local Business listings on the Internet can generate traffic and attract new customers. Business owners can claim and manage their listings on most major sites at no cost. Recent estimates suggest that only around 10% of local business owners have claimed their business listings on Google, so there is a significant opportunity for local business owners that are willing to invest a hour or so of their time.

There are four categories of websites that local businesses can get free traffic from:

  • Search Engines: Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.
  • Local Internet Directories: Yellowpages.com, Superpages.com, Citysearch.com
  • Review Sites: Directories that have developed a reputation among users to be a good source of consumer reviews. Yelp, Citysearch, InsiderPages, etc.
  • Niche Directories: Websites that are authoritative resources for your particular industry

What exactly is a Local Business Listing or “LBL”?

The LBL is a listing that contains the basic information about a business. Information can include the business name, address, telephone number, business category and other information. All of the above mentioned sites are really just big online directories, databases full of business information. The LBL, simply defined, is your business page or listing within these big directories. Local business owners may not realize that their business is probably already listed in some of these directories,especially if the business was formed more than a year ago. These sites collect information from a variety of sources and information can find its way into these sites.

How do Local Business Search Results work?

All of these sites operate in a similar manner. A user types in a few keyword for a particular location or city and clicks search. The site will display a page listing the results of the businesses that “best” match the search request. Then a user will review the results and may decide to click on one to view additional information. This will take the user to a page dedicated to the specific business.

Business owners can increase the number of times their business is discovered by web searchers by claiming their business listings. There are also many simple things that can be added and edited in the LBL that can dramatically help increase the ranking of the listing for various search terms. The bottom line is these listings can help create a steady stream of potential customers for your business and is quickly becoming a primary source for potential customers to check to see if your business is reputable.

It’s a good idea to have a say in how they are judging your business!

How Great Market Research Increases Sales!

Increasingly, “Location, Location, Location” is being replaced by “Customer, Customer, Customer.”

This doesn’t come as a surprise to any savvy business person: What you know about your customers will help you serve them better and encourage them to spread the word about the value of your products and services.

However, how you go about learning as much as possible about current and potential customers is the true key to sustained success, especially as small businesses find themselves vying with national brands locating here or marketing via the web.

Sure, you can learn a lot through face-to-face discussions. Nevertheless, in 2008, some of the same detailed market analysis tools used by the biggest companies in the world are accessible to you.

Whether your business is in retail, restaurant, banking, insurance, financial services, or other businesses that services homeowners; you have a need to know your customer’s buying habits and lifestyles. Why? It helps drive sale of the products and services in your business.

Understanding which customers are most likely to purchase your products and services helps you target potential buyers more cost-effectively. Furthermore, by knowing where these customers live, you can make location-based decisions on your stores, restaurants, and branch locations.

When you shop, does the sales clerk ask for your zip code or telephone number? Do you use loyalty cards, store credit cards, charge cards? If so, these techniques provide the data necessary to develop customer profiles.

Businesses increasingly are utilizing location-based technology, demographic studies, traffic patterns, sales, homeowner location, and other data to describe customer lifestyles and buying habits (psychographics), identify ideal store locations, determine high and low volume product categories, locate their competition, estimate potential sales volume, and track average daily traffic volume. The same opportunities are available to the smallest business, due to continuous technology advances.

The use of decision support tools directly assists larger companies to understand their current location dynamics and markets that lead to their success, and identify where else these dynamics exist to support additional growth strategies.

It is not by chance that Home Depot, Chili’s Restaurants, Ben & Jerry’s, Wal-Mart, Pier One, Outback Steakhouse and other national brands are locating in your communities. Their decisions to build a store, hire and train staff, purchase inventory, and advertise in specific ways using these decision-support tools substantially reduces the associated investment risks.

They know who their best customers are; where they live; what the sales potential is from each customer; and which locations can maximize their investment. Increasingly, “Location, Location, Location” is being replaced by “Customer, Customer, Customer.”

Different businesses develop different concepts. A good location for one retailer may not be the same for another. Why? Location value is determined by the customers in that trade area. Customer concentrations drive the location decision!

Market researchers have established lifestyle segmentation systems that encompass up to 72 clusters or divisions based on life stage, demographics, income, purchasing habits and other unique characteristics of residents in specific neighborhoods.

Neighborhoods and households are labeled. These clusters and divisions are critical, since they are statistically likely to act in similar, predictable ways. Most stores service several predominant clusters or divisions. Researchers have categorized the over 111 million households in the U.S. into these segmentation systems.

What is your business concept’s “trade area?” You need to know how much time a typical customer is willing to spend to drive to your business. “Drive time” is often a product of the cost of the good or service. Consumers will drive further to purchase a bedroom set than they would to buy groceries. Today, location-based technology can cost-effectively produce a polygon-shaped map of your “drive time trade area.”

Once you know your dominant customer segments and your model trade area, you can graphically plot the major and minor clusters within each. Then, you can augment this with:

Daily traffic counts by your site location,
Competitor location(s),
Trade area product demand,
Total households in the trade area, and
Total population and other demographic data.
You also can determine whether an additional location for your store in the trade area would cannibalize (steal sales from) your existing location.

Data to help you market and advertise cost effectively

Want to market and advertise to the households in this trade area?

Consider a marketing message that “fits” the lifestyles and buying habits of your predominant segment profiles – using print, radio, television, or direct mail. Today, you can target direct mail only to specific households that are most likely to purchase your products and services, saving money on wasted eyes bought in a mass media campaign.

Second-home owners, for example, purchase much differently than full-time residents.

Want to determine if a potential, new location will be successful?

Develop a customer profile model, a model of your successful trade area, and an analysis of alternative sites to determine if these sites have the critical factors (profitability analysis, penetration and product performance, competitor location, cannibalization analysis) necessary for a successful location.

Want to know if your existing product and service mix is maximizing your current locations?

Analyze consumer-spending estimates for your trade area’s demand for specific products and services in 20 major categories and hundreds of individual items. These categories and items are indexed to national averages for each segment cluster or division and can help you understand why certain products and services are disappearing from the shelves and why other products are gathering too much dust.

How do you start this analysis?

If you are not yet collecting customer-specific information (street address is the ideal), start collecting it.
Analyze your sales and inventory data, as well as total cost of goods sold, to determine high and low sales categories.
Locate where your competition is.
Consider utilizing location, segmentation, and market analysis to increase your competitive edge.
Remember, technology advances have made this process very affordable for the small, local, or regional service business. You can compete effectively with the chains.