If you keep up, even minimally, with Internet marketing trends, you know that just about everyone is telling you that you need content marketing and social
media to augment your traditional SEO link-building efforts.
But if you’ve actually ventured into content marketing or social media, you know that both practices are time consuming, expensive — or both.
If you’re a small business owner on a small business budget, how can you achieve the rankings you need without draining your finite amount of time and money?
Get yourself some allies, says Matt Ackerson, founder of PetoVera, a creative process development firm. Unify some of your online marketing strategies with those of businesses with target audiences similar to yours.
Ackerson, who wrote about alliance marketing in the Feb. 14 issue of Forbes, sells software built around the concept, but you could implement his ideas on your own.
Kinship is Key
Basically you reach agreements with like-minded, but non-competing companies to help market each other online.
This could mean re-tweeting another company’s Twitter post, exchanging guest blogs or piggybacking each other’s social media efforts.
How would it work?
1.Identify your allies
First, you have to find businesses whose client base is similar to yours but not so closely related that helping the other business could hurt your own. If you own a pizza company, you wouldn’t want to choose another pizza company as an ally unless the pizzeria were in a different city. But, if you were a dentist with a general services practice, you might want to share online marketing with an orthodontist because you have similar, but non-competing interests.
A good example of helpful allies would be Geoff Lee, a mortgage broker in Vancouver, and www.myrealestatesearch.ca – which sell homes in the Greater Vancouver area. They share a similar client base — people who want to buy homes in Vancouver — but they don’t directly compete with each other. Lee could gain mortgage clients from Clarke but wouldn’t lose any to him.
It might also make sense for Clarke to become allies with Realtors in nearby cities such as Seattle, WA or Victoria, BC. Or to exchange guest posts with a real estate marketing company that specializes in SEO. And Lee might find it helpful to forge alliances with mortgage brokers in other parts of Canada or in cities near the U.S. border.
2. Create a shared space
If you have just one or two allies, you can probably organize your online marketing efforts through email.
But as your list of allies expands, you will need a better space. Anderson suggests creating a Facebook or Google+plus account for this purpose.
Any common online space is fine, but be certain that you limit it to allies only. If members of your marketing alliance group use the Facebook page to recruit fans or advertise services, these efforts would negate the purpose of the account.
Use it only to post links of your own and pick up links from others, to make requests for content or suggest marketing strategies to people in your alliance.
3. Give more than you get
If you want the alliance to work, be generous. Share more links than you post. Actively invite others to guest post on your blog. Prove yourself the group leader in generosity.
Why? Because, if you gain a reputation for sharing, your voice will be heard when you call on others to share more.
Your viewpoint will also hold greater sway if it proves prudent to kick someone out of your alliance. Why would you want to force someone out of your marketing group? If a member of your group is habitually lazy (or stingy) about sharing links or seldom accepts a request for a guest post, that person is a leech, not an ally.
Win the Internet Marketing War
The world of Internet marketing changed dramatically when Google deemed that relevance and quality counted more than link baits.
It can be tough, scary and expensive to forge the post-Panda marketing terrain on your own. Forming marketing alliances may give you the cost-effective edge you need to stay ahead of Google and your competitors.