If you’re a small business, it’s likely that you are limited on time, finances, resources, some technical know-how, or a combination of any one of these.
You’re probably not going to have the budget of a major corporation either if you’re a new startup. The good news is that you don’t need as much as you may think to get your business noticed, to find the right customers, and to start reeling in the cash.
You may not always be able to afford every shiny new object that you want, but granted that you want to survive well beyond the six-month life span of many small businesses, then you should be marketing yourself.
In fact, you cannot afford not to market yourself, especially online.
The “build it and they will come” methodology is ancient history in the small business marketing world. Now is the time to think “build it and I will go to them.” More established businesses, as you know, have the advantage of larger budgets, but with these small business marketing ideas you will have the strategic upper hand. Not to mention these are all essentially free!
1. Get a Website, Will You?
If you have not already, get your business online (GYBO). Seriously, that’s what Google says, having partnered up with Intuit and Homestead to produce the GYBO initiative. For up to a year, you can create a simple website, get your own domain name for it, and customize it to your liking—all for free!
Of course, there will be a cost once your year-long trial period is over, but it will be worth it and you will have well over six months to grow your business and your customer base.
People are going to be searching for you online no matter what you do. You’re going to need more than a Facebook page or a space on Yelp to give potential customers a way to contact you. A website is the number one way to house your brand.
2. Love Your Email List
What do you do once you have your website all set up? Do you A) Sit and wait? B) Obsess about the design or tech issues you’re having with it? Or do you C) set up the bare basics including your social media icons and an email newsletter opt-in?
If you answered B…well, that happens. (We feel for you.)
Having an email newsletter may be inapplicable to some business models, but undeniably it is the holy grail of internet marketing.
You may not be able to physically reach out and interact with each one of your customers or potential customers, but you will want to get as close as possible. Email allows you to do that in the most direct fashion.
Think about it: people can visit your website, they can follow you on social media, they can share your content until they’re blue in face, and they can just as easily forget about you and never come back.
You’re not the kind of business owner who let’s that happen are you? Will you really leave your money out in the open like that?
No, that’s not you at all. You’re reading this and that means that you know the importance of staying on the up and up of effective marketing strategies.
Mailchimp, aWeber, and Constant Contact are all email marketing software programs that you can use to make your life even easier; and Mailchimp is $FREE.99
3. Blog, Blog, Blog, and Blog Some More
Blogging is not only for tech-savvy grandma hobbyists and crafty stay-at-home moms anymore. Blogging is the next best tool that will allow you to get in front of your ideal audience—and hopefully soon-to-be customers—and this is because it updates your website with regular content people are searching for.
Note: This gives your website bonus points in the search engines.
Of course, it is going to take a bit of search engine optimization know-how to make your blog posts rank well with Google. If you can understand and embrace the whole concept of having a blog to begin with, then you have already done about 85% of the work.
Creating a blog for your business and website is not an overnight task. It most certainly isn’t something that you can twiddle your thumbs or cross your fingers about either. You will have to be deliberate about planning the content for it.
A good rule of practice is to schedule out time for writing your blog. If you don’t have time for it, there are always content management services you can seek out. For a set fee, writers can do the work for you while giving you more time to focus on your business.
The most important thing, in the end, is that you do make blogging a priority.
4. Be Social
Social media is that yummy stocking stuffer from the internet marketing gods.
It’s not the end-all-be-all, though. Just as it will for blogging and maintaining an email newsletter, it is going to take an investment of time and energy to keep up with social media.
One of the biggest struggles that many small business owners have with social media is not managing it but rather managing the overwhelm that comes with it.
The more that you follow others, the more that you have to keep up with. The more people who follow you, the more pressure there is on you to keep with them as well. You’re in oncoming traffic headed towards you from both directions.
(Okay, so don’t look at it as oncoming traffic because that just sounds scary.)
If you can learn know how to make social media work for you, then you will have a very helpful ally on your side.
What other internet marketing techniques have improved your business? Is there anything you currently struggle with? Share your comments below, and if this article was helpful then share it with your friends!