When you’re just starting out or expanding your online marketing efforts, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. It may seem like your only options are huge, costly campaigns, or nothing.
In reality, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to effectively market your small business and you don’t need a big marketing campaign or a crew of people to advertise your company – all you need is time and a little bit of creativity.
A critical stage of crafting and implementing a strategy is to set a goal for your company. Ask yourself what you need – more customers? An online community with current customers? To reach out to a new demographic? Once you figure out what your overall goal is, you can focus your strategy and your energies.
With your goal in mind, here are some online marketing tips for small businesses.
1. Creating Content for Your Website
One of the best ways to market your company’s website is to create – and keep creating – relevant content. Look at what your website has now and consider what it offers to your customers. Is the content unique and useful? When did you last update your website’s content? Is the content that is there even worth reading?
There are several ways to create great new content that costs little or nothing to you. You can create (and regularly update!) a blog, create tutorials for topics relevant to your business, or provide daily or weekly tips for your customers. Providing your customers with useful information relevant to what you are selling shows how useful you can be and demonstrates your knowledge and expertise. Plus, it can intrigue and draw in potential new customers. Regularly updated content is also great for Search Engine Optimization.
2. Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a great tool for free market research. With Analytics, you get access to all kinds of data, including where your website visitors came from, how long they visited your website, and what they did while they were there. With all this information, you can optimize your site and quickly see what is and what is not working for you.
3. Create and Maintain an Online Presence
When looking for a new vendor or service, most people today will conduct their search online. The importance of having a strong and positive online presence cannot be understated. Having a positive online presence will increase your brand awareness, allow you to reach a larger audience, and rank higher in search engine results.
Creating a positive online presence involves actively updating your website’s content, participating in social media, and for local retail establishments, providing content for sites such as Yelp and CitySquares. At the very least, you should monitor your presence in all of these venues.
3(a). Social Media
Social media is so important that I added a subsection. Social media is a very powerful tool for businesses of all sizes. I recommend that you determine which social media sites are most frequented by your customers and integrate them into your marketing strategy. At the very least, you should monitor what the public is saying about your company. For example, if you are a local retail business, you should have a (free!) Yelp account and monitor your reviews.
4. Community Outreach and Teaching
For professional services – community outreach and teaching are great ways for generating leads and demonstrating your expertise in a field. A webinar will reach a potentially wider audience, and a live seminar gives you valuable face time with people who are interested in what you are offering. If you’re short on time, you can even post free advice in online forums, so you can show your ability to directly (and correctly!) respond to concerns faced by potential clients.
Looking at this from a different angle, community outreach is a great way to reach a wider audience and promote your brand identity. You can offer free seminars, host an event, or volunteer in your field. Volunteering your time will endear you to the public and those you helped, in addition to exposing you to the community and to others in your field. It’s great for networking and for advertising.
5. Enter Business Awards Competitions
Although many people may not know of them, there are tons of business awards out there waiting for you to win them. Winning has obvious benefits of some free publicity, a boost in credibility, and a great addition to your website’s front page. Even if you don’t win, many of these awards host events for networking with other professionals in your area. In large cities like Chicago, there are lots of business awards opportunities. But even if you’re not in a large metropolitan area, there are still opportunities out there, such as the Better Business Bureau Torch Awards. Check out some of the local awards in your area – most are free or cheap to enter.
We can help you develop and implement a marketing strategy tailored for your business and your goals! Contact us and find out what we can do for you. Your initial consultation is free of charge!