Small Business Product Promotion
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07/14/2012 - Ecommerce 

Small Business Product Promotion

Marketing for small businesses can appear to be a daunting & expensive task to those who have not done it before. But actually if you follow our recommendations, you can easily raise interest in any product/service, with little to no money.

As an example, a family member posted the below question on Facebook, with regards to how to get the word out about new versions & changes of their software.  I will be using this as the basis of my recommendations below.  Please note that the same techniques & underlying ideas recommended, can be applied to promotion of just about any type of product or service.

Here is the question asked:

How do marketers get the word out for software developed in many small releases? There is no big bang "See What's New in Version 4.0!" Instead, it's incrementally added and improved features over time. The product will be very different 6 months from now (13 releases later), then when a potential customer browses today. Anyone know how marketers make those folks pick up 6 months later and take a second look without the big bang announcement of a new version?

Small Business marketing parallels many of the ideas of website SEO (Search Engine Optimization).  To spread the word about new products/services or incremental changes to it, start with the same ideas as SEO [search engine optimization] & then add basic marketing & social media techniques.

Here are some ideas on how to accomplish the above:

  • Make sure your online sales/marketing material (i.e. web pages) and printable sales/marketing material (i.e. PDFs) are kept current.
    (This means updating the contact info & sales pitch, if necessary.  Keep images, screenshots, FAQs, support info, documentation, tech specs, feature lists & other related material current.)
  • If there are online demos, walk throughs, videos or slide shows, to make sure they reflect & promote the new features/changes applied.
  • Add an in app ability, which automatically notifies users when a new new version or feature becomes available.
  • Perform an email blitz, to notify existing clients & people who expressed interest in the given product/service about the new features & changes.
    (Remember to include the necessary opt-outs & don't do anything spammy.  Putting this in form of a recurring newsletter is always a good idea.)
  • Maintain a blog or newsletter, to offer free information about whatever the product/service relates to.  You could throw in small blurbs about your app & how your app's new features/changes are better then your competitors.
    (The free info will attract people to your site/blog/newsletter & you gain credibility as being an authority in that particular area.  This would make people more inclined to read about & try your product/service.)
  • Offer an RSS feed to make it easier for people to receive notifications & updates about your products/services.
    (If you are blogging, you likely have this ability already.  If not, there are many free RSS feed services out there.)
  • Create a Facebook Page for your company or product/service.  Post updates there, whenever new features/changes are released.
    (If you have an RSS feed, you can use the RSS Graffiti app in Facebook to automatically populate your Facebook page with new content from your RSS feed.)
  • Add a page or section to your website, which documents when new features & changes were applied.
    (Use dates &/or version numbers, to indicate when a given feature/change was applied for easier cross referencing.  Make sure the most recent entries automatically show up on your site's main page.  This will show people you actively enhance & maintain your product/service.)
  • Put out a press releases whenever you release a major version or reach a major milestone.
    (There are sites dedicated to publishing such things online & in various periodicals.  Also try and see if you can post your press release on sites/blogs/forums which directly relate to your product/service.  And you should also put the press releases on your website as well.)
  • Submit your product/service for 3rd party independent review; such as to major sites or blogs of which directly relate to whatever your product/service does.
    (Perform this whenever a major release or milestone is reached.  This will help decimate word about your updated product/service & drive more traffic to your website.  Using affiliate links may be useful here, so the site/blog makes some money if a sales lead comes from them & the customer buys the product/service from you.  The reviewer may also be more willing to give you a nicer review, if they know they can make some easy extra money from the referrals.)
  • For pay sites/software, consider offering a free trial to new users.
    (Make sure the new users goes through a registration process, so that you can use that info in your email blitz.)
  • If your product/service has different usage levels (i.e. free, basic & premium), allow users to temporally try out more advanced features/abilities.
    (This is important if your new features/changes only apply to higher level usage of your product/service.  This gives lower level users a reason to care about what you are promoting & perhaps upgrade what they have, if they like the new features/changes.)
  • Promote your newly updated product/service in your email message's footer/signature section.
    (Be sure to include a URL back to that product/service's web page.  Since we all send a lot of email, this is an easy way to promote your product/service.)
  • Put your products/services documentation, FAQ & related support information online.
    (Make sure its publicly accessible, so that people can easily find it.  This provides more ways for people to easily find your product & others will stumble across it when performing web searches.)
  • Put product/service's feature requests & bug fix reports online.
    (Make sure its publicly accessible, so that people can easily find it.  You should post updates there, as each feature request or bug fix is addressed or completed.  This will give even more ways for people to find your product/service & others will stumble across it while performing web searches.)
  • Promote your newly updated product/service in your account's footer/signature section, when you participate in forums & newsgroups. (Be sure to include a URL back to that product/service's web page)
  • Actively participate in like minded social media sites, forums & newsgroups, by helping others & answering their questions/issues.
    (As you post replies, you get yourself known & more people will turn to you for recommendations & advise.  This will in turn raise interest in your products/services.  This goes hand-in-hand with the email/forum/newsgroups signature ideas stated earlier).

Not all of the ideas & recommendations supplied above will be a perfect match for every type of product or service.  But some methods as you can see automatically fulfill another (such as using a blog, which populates the RSS feed, which then populates the Facebook Page); which means working in 1 place gets the content decimated in multiple other places automatically.  Yet, other recommendations (such as requiring registration & offering free trials) can be used to fulfill other needs (such be the source of contact data needed for an email blitz or newsletter).  With a little creativity, it is possible to expand upon these methods in a much larger ways.

As you should be able to see, the fundamental ideas behind this show you how you can disseminate information about your products/services in many small ways, all over the place, and they all funnel back to your website.  This will effectively promote your products/services, while letting  people know about the new features/changes you are now offering.  The efficiency of this marketing method increases & the effects become more prominent, the longer you stick with it.

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