Using Social Networking to Promote Your Affiliate Marketing Programs and Online Home Based Business

Social networking has become a main means of online communication for many people. There are several websites that have been designed for this purpose and they are heavily trafficked by computer users all around the world. They also provide business owners a great means for promoting their online home based businesses.

There are many advantages to using social networking when promoting any product or service. Affiliate Internet marketing programs are no exception.

One major advantage of using social networking to advertise and promote products and services is that it allows you to target a specific audience. If you have social networking pages set up on several websites, chances are the people who are on your sites as friends or fans have a direct interest in your business or at the very least, the industry in which you work. This means they are interested in what you have to offer and go to your social networking sites to read your blogs, learn about new specials or keep up with the latest news.

You can also use social networking websites as a means of communication with your customers. Since you will probably be promoting products directly from these sites or using them to promote your online home based business as a whole, your customers will be able to leave feedback. They can do this in a number of ways. One is through standard E-mail by using the utility on the networking sites designed for this purpose. Another is by posting comments to your blog posts or on your site where allowed. Non matter how they do it, you will be able to keep up with what your customers are saying and thinking and will know exactly what they want and need.

Social networking has become a main means of promoting products because of its popularity. This is why affiliate Internet marketing programs could really benefit from its use.

Social networking websites also enable you to add friends or fans on a regular basis. You may choose to seek them out yourself but will also find several who find you because of recommendations from other friends or just through conducting a search. No matter how they find you, they are an important part of your direct customer base. Social networking allows you to communicate with those specifically interested in your products as well as enabling you to find new customers both quickly and easily. You will also have the option of direct communication with your customers, a feature that will add that personal touch to the online aspect of your business.

There are many strategies to making money on the internet, but nothing makes sense unless you are guided properly. With the proper guidance you can build a following of hot and hungry customers begging you for more information about your products or services.

Mid-Size Manufacturing Firms Need Better Marketing

If you’re a small to mid-size manufacturing or services firm which sells to other businesses (meaning, you’re a “business-to-business marketer”), you probably need to pay more attention to marketing and advertising because a lot has changed over the last several years.

Before we explain what has changed, let’s first define “marketing” in the business-to-business world.

Marketing defined
Many business owners think that “marketing” means “advertising”. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Advertising is easy to define: you put an ad in your industry’s trade magazines or in a journal or a directory or the yellow pages; maybe you do some direct mail; you get a booth at the trade show; maybe you try some banner ads online; you send stuff to customers. Audience plus an ad equals advertising.

You might also see your website as “advertising” but actually it’s not, because your site is not “targeted” to anyone; it’s just out there.

So, what is marketing?

Well, marketing does include advertising, but your advertising is only one ingredient of marketing – kind of like tomatoes being just one ingredient of a great pasta sauce.

Or, compare marketing and advertising to a football team: the quarterback may be the most visible (advertising) but the other players, both offense and defense, combine to make a winning team. And they work together, as they are trained and coached to do.

So, marketing is a mix of ingredients that helps you develop and sell your brand and your products, retain customers and build market share.

Look at it this way: if your team members such as management, engineering and product development, sales, customer service, parts and service, all work independently (which is very common in small and mid-size manufacturing firms), they do so as team members with no captain (marketing) – and then your brand and market share and lead generation all suffer because of it.

In other words, marketing is the discipline that brings it all together. In fact, in the strictest sense, marketing is a discipline.

The marketing expert
Successful business-to-business marketers, large and small, employ a marketing manager who ensures that sales, advertising, management, customer service and after-sales service are all on the same page in terms of their integrated marketing plan.

However, many firms can’t afford a full-time marketing manager. This is where a marketing-advertising agency comes into play, or at least, a consultant who can help you develop a marketing / advertising / communications plan.

More later on hiring marketing talent… but now, back to “what has changed in the business-to-business marketing and advertising field” over the past several years. Well, a lot, with one factor leading the way: the Internet.

The Internet has changed the way we do business, period. And by “we”, we mean both sellers and buyers.

Buyers get their information differently then they did several years ago; a shift from trade journals and directories to online searches and opt ins and recommendations from their peers over social media networks.

And sellers have changed the way they market their products; from cold calls and telemarketing and direct mail to websites that are “optimized” for the search engines (SEO), combined with online pay per click advertising, online press and publicity, helpful “how to” white papers available for download, and a whole lot more.

New tools, methods
And the Internet has spawned dozens of methods and tools to help business-to-business marketers market their products faster and better – and at far lower cost – than “traditional” methods such as trade advertising, standard press releases and direct mail.

Not only are these new tools less costly; they also make marketing more measurable.

For example, e-mail marketing, which can be a significant tool for a new product launch, a customer retention plan and for ongoing customer relations and brand building, is not only low cost but comes with real-time analytics that allow you to see how your e-news or e-mail efforts are performing.

Website analytics, many of which are free, allow you to instantly analyze not only how many visitors come to your site (both new and returning visitors), but what they are most interested in, how they navigate, how long they spend on various pages, even what page they left your site from.

And getting your press release out to an audience of thousands or tens or thousands of prospects will cost you about the same as a new toner cartridge.

Web “optimization” (or SEO) is often ignored by marketers yet it’s a reality that must be part of your marketing plan. And optimizing your site does not have to cost an arm and a leg; you may not need a new (and costly) design – it may be that just need to refresh your content and make sure it’s aligned with what the search engines are doing with their ever-changing algorithms.

The plan is critical
First, you need a plan; a sound marketing plan that defines your business and branding and market share objectives, the strategies that will help you achieve those objectives, and the tactics that spell out how you will implement your strategies. And you need a budget. The tactical plan, if done right, will help you arrive at your budget.

Hire an expert to do this; someone who is knowledgeable on today’s business-to-business landscape. And make sure that you get buy-in from management, sales, customer service and other team members so you’re all on the same page.

If you sell through dealers, agents or distributors, include them in your planning and in the plan itself. Link to them and drive sales leads to them.

Make sure that you define what sets you apart; your USP, or unique selling proposition (sometimes called your value proposition) so your prospects know what makes you different.

Ensure that your whole team delivers the same message. Messaging – and living up to the “brand promise” – is a very important part of marketing.

You may need to re-visit your brand identity as part of your branding or re-branding strategy, but do this only if necessary, as it can be costly and time consuming.

The marketing action plan: a very wise investment
Then, put your plan into action. A sound marketing plan based on careful market analyses, with a tactical roadmap and timeframes and a budget, will be one of the best investments you can make in your company.

These tactics – which are the specific marketing to-do’s such as press, publicity, online banner ads or pay-per-click ads, e-mail marketing or e-news, customer retention, search engine optimization, dealer support, maybe social media, must be managed by people who have the expertise and the time to get you the traction you need.

So maybe it’s an internal person, or a marketing agency, or a combination.

The marketing-media budget
Well, this is always an “it depends” topic. The important thing, again, is the marketing plan: it tells you what you have to accomplish – so you have your homework laid out.

A solid plan will define the tactics (tasks) you need to employ to meet your strategies, and if you use something called the task budgeting method, then those tactics each have a cost, so there’s your initial budget outline. You can always adjust the intensity or frequency of the tasks if you need to adjust the budget, but stick to the plan: your objectives, strategies and tactics.

Some medium-size firms use a percentage of revenue as a guideline for their sales-marketing-advertising budget; it usually runs between.5% and 3.0% of sales depending on the size of the company. So a firm with $10 million in sales should budget, say, 2%, or $200,000, and a firm with $100 million may budget.5%, or $500,000. Note that this budget is not just for “advertising” but for the whole marketing mix, including various media, production, website work and fees paid to your agency or consultant.

However, the objectives-to-tactics budgeting approach is always more realistic than a percentage of sales since it’s based on your competitive situation, your branding goals, and quite probably the fact that you need to get caught up on many of the important marketing tasks that you have been neglecting.

Next steps
Hire someone who knows business-to-business marketing inside and out, including today’s emerging, e-based tactics. Get consensus on the (written) marketing-media plan. Set a budget and stick to it. Implement your plan aggressively and quickly. And measure your results so you can track progress over time and determine your ROI from your marketing spending.

Direct Sales Trends in 2011 and Beyond

As we move into 2011, the professions of direct sales and marketing are changing profoundly. The CEO of Huthwaite and author of Spin Selling, Neil Rackham, recently said that sales and marketing will rise significantly in importance in the coming years.

Why? What appears to be a significant downturn in the economy is actually much more. The US economy has changed forever in a few critical ways. First, companies can no longer grow simply by buying smaller companies with cheap, widely available debt.

Second, companies can no longer rely on a superior position they may have held against a few domestic competitors. Competitors are coming from anywhere and everywhere and many of these competitors have significant labor cost advantages. These two issues will force companies to grow more organically and get better at differentiating themselves from competitors. Which departments would you look to in order to accomplish these two things? That’s right, sales and marketing.

I would argue that the most important aspects of selling have not changed. It is still critical to target potential customers that will be a good fit, to leverage each sale with a high level executive in the target company, to work with all key influential contacts, to ask probing questions, to find sources of pain, and to map your solution in terms of each customer’s needs. That said, many things in sales are shifting rapidly.

First, there is a rise in the number of independent contractor salespeople, or agents, who are much tougher to find and manage. The advantage of utilizing agents, of course, is that your costs are variable and unproductive salespeople do not tax your resources. The lesson: experiment with direct hires, contractors, and resellers to optimize your sales channels.

Second, selling tactics have changed. If you look at the hospital market, for example, savvy medical device companies are negotiating long-term contracts with hospital administration while at the same time selling clinically to surgeons and nurses. The lesson: think about all the ways you can penetrate a target company and learn from other, more progressive industries.

Third, technology companies continue to try and revolutionize sales although the results appear to be mixed at best. These companies build lots of functionality into CRM programs to appease customers but salespeople are moderately compliant in utilizing these programs. The lesson: pick a simple CRM that supports your process and doesn’t burn a lot of selling time.

In summary, sales and marketing are becoming much more important to companies. Smart managers should become more versed in how to adapt to the changing landscape while staying close to the key fundamentals that have always helped organizations grow.

Sanjit Singh




About the Author: Sanjit Singh is the CEO and Founder of SalesThink, an executive leadership and sales coaching company, and President of USS Logistics, a transportation company. Sanjit draws from his 18 years of award-winning sales performance in the software, medical device, and transportation industries to drive sales teams to reach a higher level of achievement. He has helmed a number of successful sales teams and is considered a turnaround expert for poorly performing sales teams.

Why You Need an Automated Attraction Marketing System

An Automation Attraction Marketing system is an absolute necessity for today’s marketer. This is true whether you market online or not. Indeed there are systems that can be employed offline, such as direct mail, flyer distribution, and phone strategies where you can outsource the actual work. By outsourcing these and other lead generation activities, your time can be freed up deal directly with qualified prospects who find and contact you instead of the other way around.

So instead of spending precious time looking for prospective customers, you can spend your time with the people who are looking for you. But the focus of this article will be on online methods and strategies. The goal of both strategies are the same, to create leverage so that your marketing system is working 24/7, whether you are or not.

Nowadays it just makes perfect sense to leverage the power of the internet to expose your product or service to the masses. But thanks to spam filters, pop-up blockers, and manual screening processes, getting your message to your target audience can be difficult at times. But what if you can get the people you are looking for to come to you? That is where the automated attraction marketing systems comes in.

An automated attraction marketing system on the internet can simultaneously do the following for you and your business:

* Generate Leads
* Personally brand you as an expert
* Create cash flow to fund your business
* Make recruiting and selling easy as pie
* And more.

Each of these activities work together to support each other, and in some cases make the other possible. They all share a common purpose, and that is to get the prospect to know, like, and ultimately trust you. This is important because people only do business with people that they know, like, and trust. So let’s look at each of these activities, beginning with lead generation.

There are many ways that a system can generate leads. One of the more popular ways is to offer valuable free information to your prospect, or targeted audience rather, in exchange for their name, email address, and phone number. This information is usually entered into lead capture or ‘squeeze’ pages. The sole purpose of these pages is to capture that contact information, so that you can market to these people over a period of time, while building a relationship with them by means of an autoresponder. Your autoresponder should contain a series of follow-up letters related to your niche, assuming that your prospects are interested in your niche as well. This series of letters will go a long ways toward creating rapport and branding you as an expert.

The series of letters from your autoresponder should provide value to your prospects and brand you as an authority figure. These letters can be in the form of internet marketing training, product evaluation or training, personal development, etc. This is a good way to showcase your knowledge of your niche and position you as an expert on the subject. Your autoresponder can also offer to solve a problem your prospect is having or address a need by way of an inexpensive product or training. This is an excellent way to progressively build more trust and create cash flow to fund your business.

This way of creating cash flow is also known as a funded proposal. You can then use these funds to pay for your tools, systems, and more marketing and advertising. The products are usually affiliate programs, where you have an affiliate relationship with the product vendor. The commissions on the sale of these affiliate programs are usually between 20% and 50%. Some attraction marketing systems come with a ready package of affiliate programs all related to the niche at hand. This situation will produce multiple streams of income for you, over and above what you make with your primary opportunity.

Indeed, since most prospects will never join your primary opportunity anyway, this a way you can get money from these people even if they say no to your opportunity.

But if they appreciate the value and training you are providing them, and they are satisfied with the affiliate programs that you recommend to handle their problems, then recruiting them into your primary opportunity is now a whole lot easier. Because by this time, you have a relationship. They see you as an authority figure or an expert in the niche. Your advice is trusted. So when you suggest that they follow you or work directly with you, they will be much more likely to do so. There is also a good possibly that they will refer their friends and acquaintances to you as well.

An automated attraction marketing system will do all of these things for you automatically, leaving you free to focus on other things. Like talking to people who have already expressed an interest in your product or opportunity. That’s a lot better than trying to convince complete strangers that they need what you have to offer, whether they need it or not.

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