Are you a small business owner with an even smaller budget? You probably know that you need to advertise, but you are worried about the costs of doing so, right? Luckily, online marketing is not as expensive as you might think – in some cases, it is actually even free.
Don’t think for a second that you need a slick marketing team or an over-the-top website to get the job done. Here are some strategies to start making a name for yourself online without emptying out your bank account that you can put into practice starting today.
Make Social Media Work For You
You probably signed up for Facebook or Twitter when you opened your business, but have you really taken advantage of all they have to offer in the marketing department? One of the reasons that social media is so popular with the masses is the fact that it’s free, so use this to your advantage. Take the time to sit down and make your Facebook page amazing, full of useful information, great promotions, and as many connections as possible. Do the same with Twitter, putting out frequent unique and helpful tweets.
Remember that social media was designed as a way to build bridges and make connections, so you need to stay on top of it. Your Facebook page should be a place where your customers want to come and see what is new, and if you don’t update it more than twice a year, it will quickly become irrelevant. Also, take the time to interact with people who post on your site in a meaningful way, because this type of personal connection can really mean a lot.
Blog It Out
Contrary to what you may have heard, blogs are not dead. If you have a good one, it can really help to build your web traffic. Your blog is a great place for content marketing, where you or someone who works for you can write articles that pertain to your industry. Great articles get re-posted or shared by your customers, and this in turn may send new customers your way.
Don’t make the mistake of treating your blog as a glorified billboard, because people who read it will not appreciate shameless promotions. They can get this kind of information from your home page. For instance, if you are an air conditioner sales company, you can advertise how great your products are all day on your main site, but your blog should feature content such as “How to Save on Cooling Costs Over the Summer” that can help your audience make their lives better. Good content is valuable, helpful, and can increase your earning potential if you do it right.
Search Engine Optimization
OK, OK – SEO is complicated, yes, but it can also really give you a leg up on your competition by raising your ratings within the search engines. There are a lot of great tools that you can use to research popular keywords and other SEO methods to build your rankings within Google and the like.
You can also do a lot of simple things to tweak your website to make it more search engine-friendly. You may love your fancy Flash intro, but did you know that without modification, Google cannot even “see” what is contained within it? If Google can’t see you, they can’t find you, and neither can your potential customers. Seek out some simple SEO strategies and use them.
YouTube videos have been popular for quite a while now, and they are free and easy to make with a little practice. Why not use this medium to give your customers a great video of something related to your business? Depending on your industry, YouTube videos can be a great way to get a leg up on the competition. Some of the most successful real estate agencies publish video tours of homes so their customers can really get a feel for the layout.
Car dealerships also have a lot to gain from using videos for advertisements. People are busy, and they appreciate it when they can save a trip to a business and preview inventory or other things they may want to purchase. You can also use YouTube for how-to videos related to your industry; if you run a nursery, for instance, you might post a video on how to plant and care for a certain variety of plant. The possibilities are endless.
Borrow the Success of Others
Have you ever run across a so-called “guest blogger” online? Guest blogging – both with you being the guest blogger or someone else blogging on your site – are a great way to use the success of your colleagues to draw attention your way. If you enlist the services of a well-known, popular expert who runs a highly successful blog of his own to write for your site, then his regular followers will want to jump over to your blog to read his work and will hopefully end up looking around at your stuff when they’re finished.
Likewise, if you can get a guest blogging gig on a highly read website, then you will have a built-in audience who may like what they read and come visit your site in the future. This is a great “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” kind of deal, and it really works.
Create an E-Book
Publishing is no longer beyond the reach of the everyday writer, thanks to the new E-publishing sites that are popping up everywhere. You can create an E-book on a topic that is related to your industry, advertise it on your website and Amazon, and then either offer it for free or for a fee.
Both paid and free E-books are good for business, because if you create a useful, quality product, you will put yourself in demand. People are always looking for new information that they can use, and in this situation, you are your own best advertisement. Good E-books can also help to establish you as an authority within your industry.
Form a Partnership
One other way to utilize the internet for affordable marketing is by finding another company that you can partner with, recommending each other’s services for your mutual benefit. If you have another company recommending your products or services, people may be more likely to take this recommendation seriously because it does not come directly from your company.
These type of informal partnerships can make life easier for your customers, because it saves them the hassle of tracking down the services they need. By way of example, a customer buying outdoor furniture from one company will appreciate a good recommendation for a landscape designer. Join forces, and use the internet to build each other up.
Even if you have a shoestring budget and can’t afford the services of a marketing professional, you can still use the internet to market your company on your own. Gone are the days when only the tech savvy crowd could create internet content. All you need is a little knowhow, some incentive, a bit of creativity, and the ability to see things through to get your internet marketing up and running.
So what are you waiting for? Jump into the internet marketing game with both feet. Your online success depends upon it.