The internet offers business owners low-cost and even free opportunities to get the word out about a business. This is equally true for an online craft store and a locally based brick-and-mortar store that sells sports memorabilia. The web has leveled the playing field for small and midsized businesses somewhat because of the low cost marketing channels available. Creating an online presence and buzz will serve the business well in its hometown or across the country. Today, I will talk about some simple and basic things that anyone can do to enhance a business presence online. In later posts I will expand on these ideas and offer examples for specific business types.
Research should be the first order of business. Get information on the potential market for a business by searching newsgroups and forums in the niche. Know which companies are the prime competitors and which are complementary to the business. Take some cues from similar businesses about things they are doing right, network with complementary businesses so that an easy back and forth referral marketing effort is possible.
Build a Home
Create an online “home” for the business. In most cases, this will be a business website, but it need not be a pricey and expensive model with flash elements. Today’s do-it-yourself websites require no programming or HTML experience to build, and can be up and running in an evening. This is where all online marketing will point, and it can be an ecommerce site or a simple blog. All businesses need an online site of some type—customers fully expect it for any business.
Finding forums, blogs, and newsgroups related to a business is a good tactic, as long as the business owner understands networking and the soft sell. While getting to know others in the niche, they will also be demonstrating knowledge, and adding the business URL to every post. These sites are all free to join and participate, but can bring big returns. When valuable information exchanges, people will click-through to look at the business site. Mega-social sites like Facebook and Twitter should become a part of the daily marketing plan.
Google Places shows searchers where a business is located and what it does—IF the business owner has claimed its place and added all this information. Many online yellow pages sites offer completely free listings, so there is no reason not to be listed. A searcher looking for a bookstore within their area cannot miss these listings served up first by Google.
With an online home prepared, the business can add its URL to all marketing pieces. Business cards, invoices, branded bags, even promotional pens and employee uniforms should be “branded.” Better yet, the business should have a cool logo that suits it well and gives consumers an idea what it is about. Inexpensive design work is offered daily on sites like fiverr.com, where simple logos can be commissioned for just five bucks! The logo addition will help customers recall the business and it helps with name recognition.
About the Author: Andrew Yeung is president of CompAndSave, a leading online provider of premium printer ink cartridges, including remanufactured and compatible printer ink cartridges. With deals every month and a 1-year guarantee of quality, CompandSave provides an easy way for people and businesses to purchase printer ink and accessories.
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