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A 6 Step Marketing Plan to Get Your Small Business Ahead of the Competition

Your plan this year is to get your business off the ground. You might have had some small wins in 2014, but you need to take the business to the next level. Here are six ways to do that.

Get Good At Writing

2015 is the year of content marketing. But, really, every year is the year of content marketing. Content marketing has been going on since before the Internet. Every customer wants information about your product or service before they buy. It’s your job to give it to them.

But, there’s an awful trend going on right now in the content marketing industry where sub-par media specialists are outsourcing content creation to people from third-word countries or to writers that have little or no experience. Result? You end up with crappy content that’s advertised as “great content.”

Now, to be fair “great content” is kind of subjective - kind of. There are lots of things that make content great. For example, Brian Dean from Backlinko, has an excellent series on creating good content. His methods involve finding a great piece of content that’s already ranking well, creating a better version of that content, and then remarketing it.

A lot of business owners won’t do this because:

1. They’re lazy or;

2. They don’t have the chops to write great content or;

3. They don’t know how to do research.

Of these reasons, #1 is very common. A lot of businesses want the easy way out. They want to get great rankings without a lot of work. Not going to happen.

Try this. Go to aHrefs.com and type in your top competitor’s website. Now, comb through all of the backlinks pointing to their site. If they’re ranking highly in Google or any other search engine, what you’ll notice is that they have some really great backlinks pointing to the content.

To get those links, they had to create something truly amazing. In fact, you can click through to see the pages that have the most links. You’ll notice that every one of them is probably a high-value page. That’s what you need to do. You need to create high-value posts and pages. If you don’t know how to write, now is the time to start practicing. The best content will almost certainly come from your fingertips.

Manage Your Reputation

If you don’t manage your reputation online, someone else will and you might not like the results. Fortunately, reputation management isn’t all that difficult. You’ll most likely need to spend time sending out press releases to the media.

But, if you’ve never done this before, it can be quite daunting. Press release submission usually fails because the release doesn’t contain language that a journalist might find interesting. DIY press release sites are everywhere, promising you media exposure, SEO benefits, and lots and lots of backlinks.

Guess what? Most of these services aren’t worth your time. Why not? Because their goal is to sell you as many press releases as possible, not necessarily to help you get discovered on the web, bring you traffic, or make you a success.

A few services, like eReleases, are boutique shops that do this. But, these kinds of operations are few and far between.

A well thought out and prepared press release, however, can do more for your reputation than all the linkbuilding and advertising in the world. Sending out a release every month or two will help build your brand and keep bad news at bay.

Get Good At Outreach

This small business marketing agency specializes in SEO and outreach. And, you’ll need a firm like this to help you if you want to make it in 2015 and beyond. Why? Because content marketing, in fact all marketing, is becoming inbound marketing.

More and more, people are realizing the huge benefit of building brand assets and housing them on their own company website. But, if you want people to take notice of those assets, you’ll need to reach out to influential bloggers and journalists and get them to link back to you. This is what outreach is all about.

Build Your Email List

This is almost starting to sound like a real business, isn’t it? An email list is where the magic happens. If you’re not building a list, you’re not running a business - not a sustainable one anyway. Email list building lets you take advantage of time. You can gather up the names of potential customers and “drip” on them periodically, eventually earning their business.

And, once they’re on your list, you can up-sell and cross-sell them.

Offer Simple Online Shopping Interfaces

Simple interfaces, like those you typically see on large brand websites like Amazon, Google, and Apple.com, are definitely the way to go. The simpler you can make it for people to buy, the better.

Have a Good Followup System

Have a good followup system, a lead capture and management system, so that you can upsell people or gain repeat business. This is where a lot of businesses drop the ball. Don’t be one of them.