Online marketing is a great way to grow your business without spending a lot of money on advertising. In fact, I would recommend a comprehensive online marketing strategy as a first line of offense (in addition to personal networking and sales) for any small business seeking to grow.
Many small business owners aren’t sure where to begin. But the process is basic. Your goal should be to go fishing in the large pool of prospects (the Internet) and place them in a smaller pool (your database of contacts and leads). To accomplish this, you need to lure them with valuable information. Then, in order to hook them and reel them in, you must provide some means for them to voluntarily provide their contact information.
You must provide valuable information that attracts the interest of prospective clients. The key is to regularly produce good content and make sure it filters through multiple channels.
- Blog. You should have a blog on your business website. Make a plan for consistent blogging. One entry per day is good, but you could start with less (maybe 2-3 per week). Each blog entry should be less about the company and more about solving common problems. Tag each entry with good keywords.
- Sync Up. Sync your blog RSS with your LinkedIn, Twitter, and/or Facebook accounts. There are tools like Ping.fm, TwitterFeed and Hootsuite that can help with this process.
- Update your Status. Make a plan for regular status updates on social networks. With Hootsuite, you can schedule these updates and manage them all from one dashboard.
- Grow Your Connections. Make a plan for growing your connections on common social networks.
- Multimedia. Another marketing angle is video, podcasts or other media. A good approach is to make multiple short (e.g. 2 min) videos that address common issues that customers face. Post on YouTube. Make sure each video is appropriately tagged and linked back to your website.
This is what allows you to capture contacts from the Internet and turn them into prospects. Remember, you can’t force a fish to take a bite! Your best contacts are the ones who voluntarily fill out an opt-in form. They are giving you permission to market to them!
One of best ways to accomplish this is to offer a free product which requires them to sign up in order to download. The individual fills out a contact form and authorizes you to add them to your mailing list. Once they sign up, an autoresponder sends them an email with the link to the free download.
Reeling Them In
In order to convert leads into sales, you shouldn’t seem too eager. A good rule of thumb is 75%-25%. Give helpful information and freebies 75% of the time. Spend 25% of the time giving your sales pitch.
- Grow your Database of Contacts. Your contact list is an extremely valuable asset. Try to grow it as large as possible, but grow it organically without spamming every random person that you get a business card from. Send regular email updates using a nice html template. MailChimp, Constant Contact and AWeber work well. You may also choose to use a CRM, many of which can handle mass email campaigns.
- Feed your Prospects. One email per week is good. An easy way to do this is to set up an RSS to Mail campaign. Set it up once, then blog. Your contacts receive all the new entries in their inbox once a week.
- Spice it up. Make sure you continue to give your prospects special offers, freebies, classes/workshops, etc.
Go Where the Fish Are
- Find Partners. A key factor in search engine optimization is the number of sites that link to yours. So, find some friends and get them to link back to your site.
- Hit the Forums. Pick a few web forums or sites that your customers are likely to visit. Spend some time each week writing comments and make sure each comment includes a link back to your site.
This may sound like a lot of work, and it is. But doing these things consistently will pay off.
If you need assistance with online marketing, Professional Business Services can help with all or any portion. Feel free to contact us any time!