10 Tips For Small Business Marketing From InfusionCon

When Goldman Sachs invested in Arizona-based Infusionsoft last year, they were actually investing in small business as the economic engine of the future. Infusionsoft, one of the largest of the many small business marketing companies, grows its own business by creating a community of its customers, and encouraging them to help each other grow.

Small businesses often face a conundrum: they know they need to do more marketing to attract more customers, but since they don't have much in the way of resources, they pretty much have to do it themselves. And they don't have time, don't know how, and can't outsource it.

Infusionsoft solves that problem with its slogan "Automation Means Domination" and an army of experts who help each other learn how to create marketing programs that work. At this year's InfusionCon, I sat in on the Ultimate Marketer Contest finals and listened to the finalists talk about what worked for them. The three finalists in the contest had all tripled the size of their businesses in the past year. And believe me, they weren't in typical gazelle businesses: they were a company that helps churches raise money, an orthodontics practice, and a team sports apparel company. They're the kinds of companies that go from $200,000 in revenue to $2 million in a year using common marketing strategies, good software, and guidance.

Here were ten big takeaways from the Ultimate Marketer Finalists:

1.Don't grow away from your customers. As you grow, you may find you are interacting with customers less. That's bad.

2. Automation trumps determination. You can't stay in touch without help; marketing automation creates a foundation of stability as the business grows and allows you to keep close to customers.

3. Create a webinar that will help your target customers do something important.

4. Use broadcast email to invite them and others to the webinar.

5. Learn what the perfect customer life cycle is for your business. Examine how long it takes to make a sale after you generate a lead.

6. Attract traffic to your web site using social media, but don't try to do it all. Use one tool well--either Facebook, or Twitter, or LinkedIn. Don't try to maintain too many profiles.

7.Build a list of email addresses. Test several different landing pages to see which attracts the most email addresses.

8. Build campaigns based around your email addresses, and offer free information. Convert this to sales by offering a free trial.

9. Send handwritten thank you notes to new customers.

10. Turn your customers into affiliate marketers and/or advocates.

I was amazed at how much these small businesses were able to do with a little guidance and a good software package. Those who are willing to invest some time in automating their marketing will undoubtedly see a return on their investment.

[Image: Flickr user Massimiliano Giani]

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3 Comments

  • JMac

    All great points, but I love the emphasis on not trying to "do it all" with social media. It should be productive and manageable, not counterproductive because we're trying to wear too many hats.

    Also love the Lifecycle Marketing point. It's so important to think through the ideal customer experience and simply articulate "what do I want them to do?" Such a powerful question that shapes "how" you interact and call to act with your customers.

  • bmfarr

    Awesome takeaways from Infusioncon this year for any small business looking to up their game in marketing automation.

  • Mark Evans

    Re: #2, automation trumps determination -- it applies not just to email, which this was mainly about, but to other online marketing channels.  One example that is widely used is Google AdWords.  It is a great channel that can produce lots of leads or customers, at a good ROI.

    BUT, you have to manage it.  And it is NOT the most friendly interface.  You might try Addion, at www.addion.com, which is in free beta.  It integrates with AdWords and more, and provides immediate insight that answers the most important question: how is my campaign doing?!?  Then it guides you on what needs improvement, and tells you how to fix it (or does it automatically for some things).

    If you are managing on your own, make sure you at least dig into keyword and ad copy performance, and adjust bids and ad copy variants to stop under-performers from bleeding away profits.  Good luck!