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Growing your business: Take the road less traveled

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If you've been listening to marketing experts, you probably have some core pieces of your advertising plan in order by now - an interactive website, a Facebook page and Twitter account, SEO strategies and more.

 

Those are all essential features to have to keep shoppers coming back. They're also imperative if you hope to increase your customer base going forward.

 

At the same time, there's a good chance your competitors have developed their websites, are using social media and have devised SEO strategies, too.

 

As everyone becomes accustomed to these "best practices," it will be harder for consumers to tell companies apart. That means you're going to have to use some innovative techniques to leave the competition in the dust.

 

The road less traveled

Robert Frost's poem "The Road Not Taken" ends with his three most famous lines:

 

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

 

I'm not going out on a limb by saying his poem was referring to marketers, but the message is still a good one. In an online marketplace that is more fast-paced, more competitive and makes it increasingly difficult to stand out, taking the road less traveled can indeed make all the difference.

 

By no means am I advising you to pay less attention to social media, your website, SEO and all the other key components you've built up in recent months. But if you want to experience even greater growth, you should take advantage of some under-the-radar strategies.

 

Here are a few:

 

- LinkedIn: The importance of social media has probably been rammed down your throat by now, particularly Facebook, Twitter and the rapidly emerging Pinterest. LinkedIn has received far less attention, but not because of a lack of effectiveness.

 

After Facebook, businesses have achieved the most social media success using LinkedIn. And because it's not as frequented as other social networking sites (namely Facebook and Twitter), it offers you a chance to separate yourself from the pack.

 

Use LinkedIn recommendations to connect with relevant customers and clients, to conduct targeted marketing campaigns - whatever. Just use it.

 

- Targeted messaging: Targeted marketing strategies are very effective.

 

Online shoppers have essentially programmed themselves to tune out most advertisements. Nearly 70 percent of consumers actually like ads that cater to their specific interests.

 

There are plenty of affordable, yet effective, targeted marketing tools out there. Some of them, such as the new Twitter app, can spread your message to people outside your customer base. With targeted marketing you have a wonderful chance to get ahead of your competitors, especially since consumers view these ads in an overwhelmingly positive manner.

 

- SEO ... with a twist: Search engine optimization is something that's been talked about ad nauseam. And it's certainly a strategy the majority of your competitors have implemented.

 

Let's go back to Frost's message for a second: Take the road less traveled. This can also apply to SEO.

 

Remember, search engine optimization is all about getting your website to show up ahead of your competition's. If you incorporate generic terms and phrases into your strategies, chances are your competitors are using them too. If you can, use keywords and phrases that are slightly different.

 

If you're struggling to achieve the business growth you want, look to Robert Frost for motivation. By taking the road less traveled - or, in this case, the marketing channel - you will be more likely to separate yourself from the competition.