Small Business Marketing Consultant: Are They Really Worth It?

The debate continues on whether hiring a small business marketing consultant is a worthy investment, especially for small businesses who have limited resources to begin with. However, businesses of all sizes and from different industries can largely benefit from these professional services that make it worthy of looking into. You may be proficient at the specific area of business that you are offering your customers, but not all business owners are equipped with the marketing skills to ensure that they can get their marketing message to the intended audience.

The concept of marketing is deceivingly simple. There are several methods that you can use to market your products or services to your target customers. However, there are also several variables that can prevent the message from reaching its intended audience. Expert consultants will be able to identify what factors can lead to more success and what are not working efficiently. Generally speaking, a consulting agency can help you develop marketing strategies for small business. However, there are more benefits that await you.

The main reason why you should invest on professional consulting for your business is to bring in a new dimension of thinking. With an impartial view from a business marketing expert, you will be able to see the larger picture to devise more effective marketing solutions. The internal politics and management needs within a company can hinder one’s ability to devise an effective strategy. With an outside view, they can recommend marketing strategies for small business that is designed to meet your goals based on their experience and expertise.

Another practical benefit that you can enjoy with a consultant is the cost-efficiency. You only pay for services that you get. Also, you have control over the level of consulting services that they provide. You can therefore expect maximum efficiency and productivity with the number of hours that you pay them for consulting services. In fact, it is very practical since you can put your consultant on hold whenever business is slow and hire them again as needed.

You can also task your consultant to handle your entire marketing department. Any business owner is aware that there is a lot going on with running a business. Thus, marketing is often neglected or not done as efficiently as if you had someone who can look over marketing strategies for small business. With a business consultant, it is now possible because you can leverage their professional expertise to devise a marketing approach suited for various situations.

Ideally, you should hire a consultant when a situation comes up in your business organization that requires for a marketing job outside of the existing marketing duties in your business. These situations include any or a combination of the following: introducing new product, newly formed business, launching a product line, setting up new distribution channels, or troubleshooting business marketing schemes.

The above-mentioned benefits to hiring a small business marketing consultant is just a general glimpse into the services offered. The best feature about a consulting service is that it is highly flexible; thus, you can make use of this service regardless of the size, scope, and type of business you are in.

Why Affiliate Marketing Is the Best Way to Start an Online Business

If you’ve educated yourself enough with the information available to us via the internet, then you should have realized by now that your pursuit of a career in the corporate ladder is futile at best. Basically, the idea is to start as an intern, then a regular employee, then move up to a supervisory and/or managerial position and finally up to the executive levels of the corporate business that you’re in. Personally, I have nothing against this kind of aspiration as I too once dreamt of such things myself; however, the toll it takes to get to EXACTLY where you want to be could at least take 30 years; 20 if you’re exceptionally good at it.

The problem is we all can’t be exceptional and aside from the fierce competition in play, you’ll also have to face the insurmountable amount of bureaucracy, racism, favoritism, gender inequalities and other negative things in order to literally move up the ladder. The trade-off is not an ideal payoff even from an optimistically assessed standpoint. Therefore I would advocate that you start your own business and the cheapest way to do it is by building an affiliate marketing blog or website.

Defining Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is an easy income-generating business method where you take the role of the promoter and help the manufacturers and sellers connect with the end consumers. It should be clear that whether you take a passive or active role in this business, you are by no means the originator or creator of the products/services you promote. But you will get a small portion of the sales as compensation nevertheless. It’s basically a 3-way relationship between you, the seller and the customer.

What Affiliate Marketing is NOT

If you get an unsolicited email inviting you to join an affiliate network and it’s asking for an upfront payment, then you definitely have to scrutinize them and find out whether or not they’re scam or legit. Go to the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and find out about the company, if you can’t find any, then go to affiliate marketing forums and discussion boards. They would know a lot about these scam sites as news spreads fast in social media and forums. Another thing to look for is if these people are selling you unrelated products or something that you will never be able to use, like the $350 “Secrets to Affiliate Marketing Success” book or some other catchy titles; although a few are genuine but they don’t charge you that high.

The truth is you can learn basic affiliate marketing from top ranking websites and blogs. In fact, they can teach you more useful information than all those specialized books and DVDs that other people are selling. Becoming an affiliate is free when you sign up to affiliate marketing programs and the only thing that will really cost you money is web hosting, which is around $70 – $100 a year for your affiliate marketing blog. A few other expenses may include a unique website/blog logo (optional), your electric bill; hire a blog writer (optional because you can write the blogs yourself) and probably paid advertising to promote your website or blog (optional).

Types of Affiliate Marketing

What’s interesting about affiliate marketing is that you can earn commissions in more ways than most people think. Allow me to explain the 3 different types of affiliate marketing and how you can earn through them.

1. Unattached Affiliate Marketing – This type of affiliate marketing will not require too much work from you, you don’t even have to setup an affiliate marketing blog like those for Amazon Affiliate Programs. This is more like a PPC marketing (pay-per-click) where you just show affiliate ads on sites that allow this kind of marketing and then get a commission for each click through that web users make on the ads.

2. Related Affiliate Marketing – This type of marketing is where you are required to have some level of involvement and this is where you create an affiliate marketing blog or website and always show affiliate links on almost all of your website/blog pages. You also earn a commission for each time a web user clicks through the affiliate links.

3. Involved Affiliate Marketing – This kind of marketing may require you to actually use the products/services before you write a review about them and you should be able to write a more comprehensive and honest reviews.

You can choose from these 3 types of affiliate marketing methods, but most affiliate marketing programs uses the Type 2 affiliate marketing, which has some level of involvement and online presence from your end.

Putting the Cogs and Wheels Together

Now that you have an idea of what affiliate marketing is all about and what its common pitfalls are, you are ready to start your journey to financial freedom and a wealthy lifestyle! Affiliate marketing is just like any other type of business and you’ll have to plan a strategy months or even years ahead before you begin, so I will give you the basic strategy of how to become an affiliate marketer, signing up for affiliate programs, setting up your affiliate marketing blog and all the other important details about it.

Steps to become an affiliate marketer:

1. Decide what niche topic you want to use for your blog or website. It’s better to write reviews or general information about products/services that you’re passionate about, because you will write better articles for them compared to those that you don’t like. For instance, if you’re mad about crochet or kids bicycles, then that is the niche you should pick for your blog! Affiliate programs have a huge inventory of items for sale and they do include crochets and bicycles for a fact. If you’re more of the business-minded individual and you think you can write just about on anything, then by all means pick the niche that’s most profitable among the lot.

2. Create your website and purchase a cheap but reliable web hosting. You don’t need a web designer to build a website or a blog. You can use WordPress, Weebly, Web.com, Blogger, eHost and others to do that. Using their user-friendly “click & drag” features you can create your blog/website in 5 – 10 minutes!

3. Learn basic SEO and use it on your blog or website. Search engine optimization or SEO is a very good marketing strategy to allow your website to be known throughout the entire internet or at least the majority of it. If your website is easier to find in search engines, then it is more convenient for people to visit it, and more visitors means more money for you.

4. Learn social media marketing to extend your presence online. In reality social media marketing or SMM is also a part of the grand scheme of SEO and without it, your SEO campaign would not be as successful as you’d expect it to be. There are literally billions of people hanging around the web on a daily basis and much of them are in social media sites. It would be a logical choice to get visitors there for your website and increase your income potential.

5. Learn about paid advertising and consider it deeply on whether you need to use it or not. Paid ads help because they target the right kind of people who are already looking for products that you promote. Meaning there is a good chance that they will buy. Wouldn’t you want them to buy products through your affiliate links? I would!

6. Start filling up your website with content. In case you plan to write boring and unimpressive blogs and articles, then I’d advise you to no longer continue in your pursuit of creating an affiliate marketing blog, because I promise you people will not want to read your blogs or visit your site. Write articles that will impress you first. This will let you know whether or not people will want to read about what you have to say. If you can find an extremely critical person to judge your writing, then that would be better as it will help you greatly improve on your writing style. Reader engagement is absolute in affiliate marketing. It will determine your income capacity, so do your best in writing content for your site above all else.

How you earn in affiliate marketing:

• The manufacturer/seller signs a partnership deal with the affiliate network or program and in turn, when you sign up with the affiliate network as an affiliate, the partner affiliate network will give you a small percentage share on every item you helped sold.

• You’ll need to embed or display affiliate links on your website or affiliate marketing blog about the products you’re promoting. The purpose of these links is to guide your blog readers to the seller’s webpage (which is usually in the affiliate network’s site) so that they can make purchases of the items they like.

• The percentage commission on each sale range from 1% – 10% (some give more than 10% but rarely) and this is how you generate income. For example, a web user happens by your blog about coffee machines and he/she read your blog review or informative article. The reader was impressed by your blog and decided to click on the affiliate link, then make a purchase of 1 coffee machine worth $350. If the affiliate network allowed 7% of that amount to be your commission, therefore your income for that sale alone will be $24.50.

• You may notice that $24.50 is a small amount and not enough to convince you to become an affiliate; however, if you were able to bring 10,000 visitors to your blog in the span of 30 days and about 4,382 people bought coffee machines for themselves, then your income for that particular month should be $107,359! If you’re able to bring as much visitors to your website on a regular basis, then you can bet that your monthly income should be around these numbers. Now you can appreciate the value that SEO and SMM can do for your affiliate marketing business.

How Much can you Make?

The straight answer to this question is… there is NO LIMIT to how much you can earn. The website called Pickmyshaver.com around October or November 2013 and then 8 months later its regular monthly income became $8,446! If it had continued as is it would earn over $50,000 a month by now, except that it was purchased in Flippa by an anonymous buyer for $60,100 around June 2014. That’s just 1 website and I’m pretty sure on your best day you can manage 2 – 3 sites for affiliate marketing.

At this point I will let you use your imagination as to how much you can earn; or is it how hard you desire to earn. It’s entirely up to you. I am confident that this article should help you get started in creating your own affiliate marketing blog and earn not just money, but your freedom from the everyday worries of life. Once you start earning over $8,000 a month, then you can buy more time to spend it with the people that matters to you most – your family. I wish you all the best and don’t forget to drop a comment below and tell me how affiliate marketing has changed your life like it has changed mine.

Four Steps to an Effective Small Business Marketing Strategy

You know you have a great product or service. You have the best sales personal to help your customers make an educated buying decision. You have the best customer support set up to help your customers with any questions they have after the sale, but what are you doing to market your product or service. Nothing really happens in your business to make money before you set up and implement your small business marketing strategy.

Small Business Marketing Tip Number one

The first part of your marketing strategy should be to know your customer. Take time to think about why someone would want your product or service. You need to know what motivates your potential customers so that you can position your product or service correctly.

Small Business Marketing Tip Number Two

The second part to your small business marketing strategy is to stay consistent in your message and communication. You’re current customers and repeat customers are the most valuable customers that you have. They have already done business with you and you have had the chance to develop a relationship with them. Make sure to stay in contact with them and let them know you appreciate their business and also let them know when you have specials or new products they may like. Some tools you could use in your small business marketing strategy to stay in contact are email, text messaging, mailers, social networking messages and posts, updates on a blog or your website and so many more. Make sure you are gathering contact information from your customers and make them feel important because they are.

Small Business Marketing Tip Number Three

The third part of your business marketing strategy should be to use the media as much as possible and make some noise about your product or service. Get your business covered in as many news, radio, Internet publications as you can to establish yourself as an expert or an authority. News stations and local print media are constantly looking for good stories to be part of and talk about. Make sure that you present your business to them with the audience in mind on not necessarily to promote your business. The sneaky part of your small business marketing strategy is to let them get the word out by delivering a real cool story they can report on.

Small Business Marketing Tip Number Four

The fourth part of your marketing strategy is to make sure that your customers can find you. In the fast paced work we live in today people are using technology more and more to make their buying decisions. This includes the whole buying cycle from research to purchase for products and searching on mobile devises for local businesses. Statistically one-third of mobile searches are with local intent meaning people want to purchase now. This means that if your business does not show up their mobile device either through search or local listings, they are probably going to do business with your competition.

Your marketing strategy should be all about developing a relationship with your customer’s, this is starts with your message and should continue long after the sale. With all of the options technology offers getting news customers and staying in contact with them has become very cost-effective, so make sure to plan out your small business marketing strategy.