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Free marketing that increases exposure, credibility, social networth, SEO, sales

Back to the Basics
Back to the Basics
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What if I told you there was a way to get better marketing literature, vast increases in company exposure, credibility, trust, increased search engine traffic, increased rankings, increased social media net-worth, new high-quality lead acquisition, increases in SEO in-bound links, increased business relationships, earn money in direct sales now and for years to come without doing anything, increased website traffic, and an easy way to multiply all of those efforts almost effortlessly? Oh, and did I mention it's FREE! Does this sound like an infomercial? Well, it's not. It's called Article Marketing and it won't cost you a penny to get started.

Here's the concept: You write up informative and interesting articles that address the needs, wants, and concerns of your customers. You publish these articles (for free) in article directories or on your own blog or website. Seem simple? It is.

Top 9 Reasons why you should add Articles to your Marketing Arsenal today:

1. Better Marketing Literature
Simply put, the time and effort put into writing a good article (researching, organizing, working through ideas, formatting, tweaking) can double up towards putting together your company's marketing literature. Writing a good article involves trying to think about all of the different angles/aspects involved in a particular topic and organizing it to not only deliver the key point of each specific area but also to provide a good summary of the topic as a whole. Just like writing a good business plan or marketing plan helps you focus on all of the important stuff, writing articles helps you look at your products and services in a different, more-focused way.

2. Gain Additional Company Exposure
Writing an article and publishing it in any of the freely available online article databases is a good way to advertise yourself for free to people who are searching for, and interested in, learning more about your specific topics. You can you present your ideas and your company in a clear and even somewhat-more-personal way than traditional advertising can. This allows you to not only be more publicly available and present to the general consumer, but also more personal.

3. Gain Increased Credibility via Search Engine Optimization
The phone book is practically dead. People search for solutions to their problems and for companies/services/products on the internet. Google's results are determined by search engine optimization, or SEO for short. In the most basic of terms, this can be described in 2 ways. The first is relevance. The more specific and relevant your words on the internet are (to the terms searched for) the more likely Google will return your information as being the closest thing to the searched query. So specificity is rule numero uno. The second is reliability. The more relevant and reliable content you have on the world wide web, the better the chance Google will trust you over your competitors. Providing specific content via articles that are published on high-reliability article websites will help you rank well for those keywords in search engines. Additionally, on a consumer-visibility level, you also instantly separate yourself from all of the competition that's only available on their website. It's like they don't get out much. :)

4. Build Trust With Your Customers
As a serendipitous benefit of increased exposure and credibility you are also more likely to build trust with your customers by presenting your ideas in a more personal, informative-provider context rather than the typical marketing-sales-customer context. With information available at our fingertips, social media is becoming the norm. People are making decisions based on more personal connections and feedback, such as forums. You can use articles to let your customer base know that you're in business to help them—not just to sell them.

And perhaps some of your competition (the smart ones who at least realize that UNDERSTANDING is of extreme importance) may SAY that they are in it for their customers. But where they may be SAYING it, you can actually DO it. By providing content that actually does help them, without asking for anything in return, you build trust with them. By not only having their interests in mind, but communicating on a regular basis that this is the case, your customers are much more likely to buy from you come purchase-decision time.

5. Gain Social Media Net-Worth
The key to good social marketing is providing good content to your readers and subscribers. Articles written by your company that discuss and address the problems of your customers are perfect material to share via social media! Put up links to your entire article and/or take snippets out of your articles to use to spread posts throughout the day. A lot of what I see in social media is baby-bird food. Think about it…if all you ever have to say is just information regurgitated from some other source, then who really is the expert here? Sooner or later, your followers are just going to leave you and go get their information directly from the source. By providing content, that you create, with your own personal touch, you let your readers know that YOU understand their problems. Honestly, if you don't, then you really have no business being in business in the first place.

6. Gain Excellent Lead Acquisition
If your articles are readily and earnestly enjoyed by your followers then you are much more likely to be chosen as the supplier when they are ready to buy. If you constantly provide good content and they choose to follow you via social media platforms then you have actually created an excellent model for lead acquisition. You now how have your customers, that have a specific need or want that you can provide a solution for, interested in what you have to say and easily accessible. You can now put out specials and promotions, events, etc. and should be able to expect a very high conversion. They know who you are now, so they care what you have to say. There's a quote that I first heard by Stephen Covey that goes "They won't care how much you know, until they know how much you care." It applies in the business world as much as it does in interpersonal relationships. In addition, you've now accumulated these leads without any financial investment and as far as leads go, they can't get any more solid.

7. Double Your Efforts Easily using Affiliates and Partners
If your articles provide content that relates to consumers of not only your services but another company's services then you can use this to build partnering relationships with other businesses. You can mention their services or products, and link to their articles/website/social media and then they can do the same with you. By doing this you give each other increased credibility, awareness, SEO, etc. This is this decades (internet) way of saying "Hey, I've got a buddy I can recommend that can handle that for you!" If you find one partner you can basically double your efforts (long term) with very minimal effort!

Because they are basically an extension of you, I do recommend that you look into any partnerships with scrutiny before forming them. You don't want one company's bad business etiquette to negatively affect your reputation with your customers. But with that said, it is a great way to help another business and yourself at the same time. By sticking together small businesses gain greater strength in numbers through alliances. For instance, I routinely add links to my client's websites, etc. in articles and in various marketing to help them out. I only accept high-quality clients that I can stand behind, and when my client's do well then I feel like I'm doing well. As an example, one client of mine provides virtual accounting for restaurants and other businesses so I recommend her by providing a link to her website to help my readers, many of whom are business owners, to find her should they be in the market for a new accounting firm.

8. Earn Money Using Affiliate Marketing
In addition to affiliates or partners being used as a form of recommendation you can also use affiliate marketing for direct sales and income. Many companies offer affiliate arrangements where they will offer you a commission on sales generated from links or banners on your website, article, or blogs. For instance, in a few of my articles I mention using this invoicing service. This company pays me a generous referral bonus for any lead I send that decides to sign up with them. Now, I have used their invoicing service for several years now and I am very happy with it so I would gladly recommend it anyways. The referral bonus is really just a bonus for my effort. :) I offer referral bonuses to clients or colleagues that refer me as well. I'm not talking about doing link farms here. I only work with people of high integrity that only recommend companies of high quality, that would recommend me anyways. I offer the bonus just as a way of saying "Thanks!"

In last weeks article, Lessons learned from 'Kitchen Nightmares': Passive businesses fail I mention several books that I have personally read and referred back to over the years. I highly recommend all of these books, and I wouldn't dare recommend anything that I didn't fully believe to make a quick buck. But, as a smart marketing professional I asked myself "How can I not only make it easier to help others to find and buy these books but also make money from it?" By participating in Amazon's affiliate program I'm able to link directing to the book on their website and earn commission on any sales that come off traffic that I send. That's a win-win in my book. ;)

9. Earn Money from Advertisers
If you post your articles on your own website or blog (which I do recommend) then you can get paid advertisers of your own to put their banners on it or by using an affiliate service like Google AdSense. If you have the high visitor traffic to justify it I recommend getting your own advertisers that way you can control everything yourself like setting your own prices and choosing which specific advertisers you want to allow. This way you can select only companies whom you actually recommend that compliment your services. With AdSense you could end up sponsoring companies that are actually competing against you, and you won't make nearly as much. Another easier option that's somewhere in the middle is banner marketing using an affiliate service like Commission Junction.

When you're determining where to post your articles; for SEO, lead-conversion, and social media integration purposes, I don't recommend using blogger or wordpress.com. For optimal SEO and social media integration purposes you're much better off having your own web site hosted with wordpress blog software actually installed on your own host server. This is something most hosting companies can do for you. If you have a custom website then have your web designer install it. If you want a new custom website, or a redesign, this is something I can do for you. It's important to realize that when you host your articles on your own website you're driving traffic to your own website and boosting your own websites search engine rankings.

If you don't have a website, don't want one, and are just looking for a quick solution I recommend applying to be a writer for an article submission engine(s). With the good ones, you will need to prove that you are very knowledgeable and qualified to write about the topic. To develop a better and more reliable reader-base you're better off picking one high-ranking site and sticking with it. Many of the better ones will actually pay you per page views if you agree to update the content regularly. You're not likely to make a killing, but in jest of all of the other benefits, certainly a little cash bonus a few times a year doesn't hurt. Personally, I recommend Examiner.com and yes, they do offer cash payouts. (And yes, I get a referral bonus if you click that link and decide to become a writer) ;)

Putting Article Marketing and Social Media into the Context of an Overall Marketing Program
With all of the reasons listed above it's hard to argue that article marketing isn't an excellent tool every business should have in their marketing arsenal. After reading this article, and several of my others in fact, you might wonder why I haven't mentioned traditional advertising as much as the new emerging marketing methods. Is this because I don't believe in it? The answer is definitely no. The fact of the matter is that traditional advertising is already well established. I plan on covering specific ways to be strategic utilizing traditional advertising in future articles (so subscribe to be notified up top!) but I wanted to open your eyes to the new emerging (and super cheap) ways small businesses can market their business socially first.

It's foolish for the small business owner looking for advice on how to advertise their company to skip up the internet savvy and social media methods because they are new or unfamiliar. There is a reason all of the big companies are getting into social media. It's the same reason the small businesses should do it—because this is the future of marketing. The affordability, quick and easy access to instant information and answers makes it extremely prolific. That doesn't mean we're going to abandon traditional advertising—far from the contrary. What it means is that integrating social media is becoming a must. Traditional advertising will be used to bring broad awareness of your company while driving people to then further connect with them via social media.

Traditional advertising won't be needed to explain the basics anymore like it used to because the easily-explainable questions can be answered on websites, blogs, and other forms of cheap marketing. The good news is that traditional advertising campaigns will be forced to become better and they will need to drive home the most important key points with specific, focused, and well-crafted communication that hits home with the viewer. This is what the best advertisements already do. This, is what I do best. So, build up your company base with article marketing and social media marketing now and when your company is ready I'll help you take your print ad campaigns (and your company) to the next level.

To our success,
Brian S. Holmes

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