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A level playing field in the cut throat world of business is a figment of the imagination. You will undoubtedly need to carve a place out for yourself, or the corporate dogs are going to swallow your small business whole. Don’t worry, this doesn’t need to be as gruesome as a Tarantino film, there is a light at the end of the tunnel – this light is called online marketing, and its usefulness is entirely dependent on the marketing campaign that you are able to build and its sustainability in the face of some tough competition.
Get your online marketing campaign on target and you will be able to compete against the very best in your niche, regardless of company size. If your campaign is off target, you end up back where you started. Don’t let this discourage you – rework your campaign, retweak, and go for it again. The beauty of marketing your business online is, even if you fail, you can get up, dust yourself off, and get started again.
There are plenty of ways that you, as a small business owner, can market your business online – you just need to pick marketing avenues that are best suited to achieve your objectives.
Let’s take a look at some of the best ways of marketing your small business, methods that will put you in the spotlight and guarantee a ROI.
More and more small business owners are using social media as a part of their marketing efforts. Marketing your business on social media helps you reach out to a wide target audience and engage them on a one-on-one level.
You don’t need to be a social media expert to become socially saavy with respect to your small business and your clientele.. Take for the example the case of Facebook, a social media platform that dominates the marketing consciousness of plenty of small business owners.
Here’s what you need to do to use Facebook as a marketing tool; create a Facebook page for your business; send people to this page (market the page), keep posting regular updates, and engage with your fans and followers. Simple isn’t it? While it may not be as cut and dry as it seems, it’s also not rocket science.
What you are trying to do is leverage the far reaching social connections of Facebook to market your business. You need to make your Facebook page a lively, fun experience. If you can do this you’ve won half the battle already.
A twitter profile for your business works along the same lines; you need to keep making regular tweets about your business or your industry, or anything that can help you engage with your target audience.
Blogging/Guest Blogging – Become an Expert
This is again something that plenty of small business owners are getting into. Blogging allows you to talk about your business’s domain and not necessarily about your business and its services. For example, if you are offering website development services – a blog post allows you to talk about this service in general; you can offer your target audience more information about how to go about choosing such services, or even give them a low down on any new development in this particular domain and how it’s going to affect them, etc.
By integrating a blog into your small business website, you are trying to open a new and more personal channel of communication with your audience. Here, you are not a business owner, but somebody who wants to give them useful information about your niche. If you go about it in the right manner, and make a conscious effort to choose the right topics to blog about and offer info that acts as a problem solver, very soon you will be looked upon as an expert in your field.
This ‘expertise’ has enormous marketing potential. Why would anybody search high and low for a web development services provider, when their favorite expert, the one whose blog they follow, offers such a service?
Guest blogging is yet another way your online marketing efforts will get a boost. By getting your post published on authoritative sites, you are improving your online profile and building quality backlinks to your website.
All in all, blogging acts like a subtle marketing tool. It markets your business, but without being brazen about it.
As a small business owner, you think it’s your advertising budget that keeps getting you down, You look at the way your bigger competitors are capturing the mind space of target audiences with those big banner ads, TV ads and a whole lot of other big budget advertising, and you feel you just can’t beat them at their own game.
But wait… you have something called YouTube videos and video marketing that can help work some magic on your audience. Get your videos up and about on YouTube. The video could be about anything; a short and sweet ‘How-To Talk’, a video explaining the features of your product, or a video talking about a new technological breakthrough, etc.
Videos interest, engage, and give your business more credibility. These are big takeaways in themselves, but they do something else as well. They also allow you to develop quality backlinks. A well optimized video that’s up on YouTube is a great way of improving your SEO. You can get link backs to your own site from your embedded YouTube videos.
This requires a bit of code tweaking, you can get more information on it here.
Videos help you bring a much needed dynamism to your online marketing campaign that fits within a limited budget.
This isn’t something new, and has often been at the receiving end of criticism for being ineffective. But here’s the thing, if email marketing was so ineffective, then why is it still one of the most commonly used ways of online marketing? There must be something to it.
Make email marketing a part of your larger online marketing campaign. Create an email opt-in list on your website or blog, and start sending regular emails to this list. Remember to send something useful in your emails, say a newsletter, a free code or coupon, a link to your YouTube video, or something else.
There is a difference between your emails ending up in the SPAM folder of your target customers and being thought of as SPAM. If you deliver zero value through your emails, your emails will be regarded as nothing but SPAM. So, spend some time on them, and make them useful. Go through this article that has some amazing tips on what to offer to make your email marketing a success.
Local Business Listings
You might want your small business to have a global footprint, but you need to think local. Customers are increasingly putting their trust in local service providers; a logical thing to do. A person living in New York, who is looking for a web development service provider, will prefer working with somebody who operates out of New York.
So, as a small business you must focus on local business listings. This is where people will go to find more about you and your service offerings. Make sure that you have entered accurate information in these listings and have given links to your website and contact numbers.
Additionally, Yelp offers great business listing, but you need to think beyond it – and I am talking about free listings here. It makes sense to be on each and every free business listing, so be there on Yahoo! Local, don’t forget Google Local Business Center and of course YellowPages.com is also important. Here is an article that offers you information about numerous listing directories that you can use.
Getting your site up on these local directory listing is also an essential part of local SEO, and will help your website rank locally.
Can’t escape this even if you wanted to; so get those Title Tags on your site optimized, focus on the load speed of your pages, get your site structure in order, and do everything and anything else that comes under the purview of onsite optimization.
Something else that you shouldn’t forget is content. Yes, those words that you write and those images that you use must be engaging enough to hold the user’s attention. This is the kind of content that is shared and you can get backlinks to; more importantly it’s only such content that can lead to a better conversion ratio for your site.
While developing an SEO campaign, ensure that you don’t make use of any strategy that leaves a bad footprint. Follow SEO guidelines and focus on building a quality and enduring backlinks profile. SEO is a part and parcel of any successful online marketing strategy, so use it well.
Small business owners can take heart from the fact that marketing their business online won’t have them reaching out deep into their pockets. Also, the whole process of internet marketing is more agile than its traditional counterparts, and you can re-strategize and re-work, and re-size your campaign quickly.
As you get started on your online marketing efforts, you will be able to fine tune your campaign, update it and modify it, the way you see fit. As you market, you will continue to learn. Online marketing has been of immense benefit to small business owners, and I am sure, you will experience its profitable results as well. All the Best!