Terez: Hi, Don. Welcome to Freelance Writing Mamas! Our goal at this blog is to help small business owners succeed. When I visited your sites www.stringtunes.com and http://donrathjr.com, I was impressed by not only what you do, but also how you present yourself.
Don: Thank you!
Terez: I think all small business owners will agree that we are constantly trying to get new customers as well as retain old ones. Thus, marketing comes into play. Before we get into the meat of the interview, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Don: Well, let’s see. I consider myself to be first and foremost a good son, brother, father and grandfather as family is of most importance to me. After that I am a composer of original, easy listening and soothing music focused primarily on the strings and small group ensembles. I have written and produced three, currently available CD’s titled; Heart Strings, Dawn of a New Day and Colors of Cello. I am also the President and CEO of a music publishing company called StringTunes.
What I discovered as a composer was that I also needed to be a “real” businessperson when it came to selling my skills as a composer and getting that music into the marketplace. So, I had to learn a lot about marketing and sales as well as packaging of my products for the marketplace. My efforts have consistently (for the past four years) provided a substantial amount of visitors to my websites over the years. People from over 45 countries of the world come to visit me monthly and that is really cool!
Terez: What forms of marketing do you utilize, and how long has it taken you to master them?
Don: The second part of that question is that I think a person never really learns to master marketing, as the marketplace is always changing, consequently so must marketing and sales methods change in stride. I think you get good at it but the real masters are working for major large corporations, or they cost way too much for me to involve myself with them. I learn as much as I can about many types of marketing and try each of them out to learn what works for me.
I use Google Analytics to track how my marketing efforts affect traffic and sales to my sites. I find that nowadays social media marketing is very important in one’s arsenal of marketing tools. I’m on somewhere between 40 or 50 different sites. I find that because we all live in one world and our clients are basically accessible everywhere in the world, that social media opens the door for gaining new business and new contacts from almost anywhere. Even locally, social media is a great avenue of finding new business. Secondly, social media is about people and so is business. Without others buying our products we might as well close our doors. Social media is a way to find people interested in your products or services however it is not the only or exclusive way of doing so.
Beyond that there are many tools: conventional advertising, attending industry conventions for meeting new clients and for expanding existing relationships. I also like to do specific press releases targeted into my niche markets. The results of doing this have been incredible.
To narrow this a bit, I think it is vitally important to have a well laid out website which includes placing contact forms on my website so potential clients can contact me at their convenience. I place them throughout the site. Backing this up is another vital tool for gaining customers, using e-mail marketing. Also, it is necessary to make sure there are “calls to action” to get them to contact me, for signing up to my newsletter or to buy my products.
Here is a short list of other marketing ideas I think everyone should consider when searching for a niche market and for identifying potential clients/buyers. I don’t use these necessarily all of the time. It’s really just a mix of things I’ve used over time that produced good results for me.
1. Article marketing is important to gain backlinks to your website. It’s a great way to gain a lot more exposure too.
2. Always be professional, classy and tactful in all of your communications.
3. Spend time on forums that are related to your business. Forums draw a lot of people searching for answers. If you can contribute valuable advice, answers or new information, some of your contribution will result in gaining new traffic to your website and for gaining new clients and hence new business.
4. Do good old fashion street work, such as join local clubs, associations, your local chamber of commerce and other professional networking groups related to your business. Network all of the time.
5. People get so wrapped up into the Internet that they forget about the basics, business cards, letterheads, envelopes, brochures and other printed materials as handouts. Make sure they are all uniform and designed in toto as a “brand.”
6. Get your name on Internet registries and in business directories (even the yellow pages in your local community phonebook) at sites related to your business. DMOV is an important one for Internet based sites.
7. When it comes to blogging, I swear by it! Just make sure you provide great content! This will help to establish you as the professional and knowledgeable person you are.
8. Use paid advertising strategically. Target it into your niche markets. Google Adwords is frequently used, and it appears to help many. This program offers you a place to put your ads on other web sites related to your business. You must pay for this service.
9. Some people swear by using affiliate marketing as a means of driving traffic to a website. You might want to consider this avenue of marketing to improve traffic on your own site.
Terez: That is quite a list! Is there a particular form of marketing that has proved particularly successful to you, one that you perhaps thought would be a dud?
Don: I was totally surprised by the results when using a press release. I knew it would reach to many people but I never knew it could do so quite as fast as it does. I placed a press release on PRWeb. It cost me $300.00 because I chose to utilize some of their additional services. In less than 30 days I had over 150,000 responses and orders for my products. This was both a surprise and it was a welcomed result. Your press release copy is vitally important as it must be well written and strategically targeted to your markets. I have also used mi2n when I do not have much money and need press release promotion.
Terez: Congratulations on your success with press releases. Look for Part 2 of Don’s interview on Wednesday.
More information about Don Rath Jr.: He is the President and CEO of StringTunes a privately owned music publishing company. He is also a prolific music composer writing for the stringed instruments and small group ensembles. His websites are http://www.stringtunes.com and http://donrathjr.com.