Searching for things on the Internet is as simple as it gets. You can be really specific and find exactly what you’re looking for, or you can be somewhat vague and probably still find what you’re looking for.
On the other hand, being found on the Internet can be quite a bit more difficult. How do you ensure that somebody will use just the right order and formation of words to find you in the vast online world?
Everyone’s thinking it, I’m just saying it: marketing.
And I know what else you’re thinking: ugh.
Most entrepreneurs hate marketing. They want to jump right into the action and get their ideas going. They don’t want to worry about people finding their business or service.
But marketing is important if you want to get noticed. You can’t just create a website and then expect people to flock to it. You have to show them the way. In other words, marketing is a way of putting yourself out there and proving to people that they should pay attention.
I’ll also add that having an online presence to begin with helps quite a bit. It doesn’t have to be a website. It could be your social media pages or YouTube channel. But if it is a website, you’ll want to have some of the necessaries in place, such as good SEO structure, analytics, and Google friendly content. And by the way, we can help you out with the website building!
At any rate, in case you aren’t both entrepreneur and marketer extraordinaire, or if you just need some help getting started, here’s a list of 10 easy and simple ways to market your business online.
1. Start a Blog
This may be one of the most obvious ways, but it’s one that takes time and dedication. An effective blog is one that you are posting to every day and making sure that all its i’s and t’s are dotted and crossed. You want to be certain that your audience is getting the best value from your blog. You’re sharing your knowledge with them, and once they see what they can do with that knowledge, they’ll keep coming back for more. It will take time to build up a following, but once you do, your blog will be an invaluable tool for your business.
And on that note, as a little gift from me to you, here are some ideas to try on for your first blog post:
- A how-to post
- Tell your origin story
- An opinion post about a certain aspect of your industry
- An FAQ
- Review a product or service related to your industry
Oh, and here’s another tip. When just starting out, you may want to host your blog on a blogging platform. This will help increase your exposure in the early days. Once you gather a bit of a following, you can move your blog to your own website.
Here at HTR, aside from crafting beautiful websites, we also offer a blogging service to help you out, in case blogging isn’t your forte. Or if you just don’t have the time but want a steady stream of blog posts to feature on your site. We are here to help!
2. Contribute to Industry-Specific Forums
This is an appropriate transition from blog posting, don’t you think? Basically, we’re going from writing your own blog, to contributing to somebody else’s. In a way. Joining forums and chatting with others who are in the same industry and may have the same goals as you is a great way to market your business.
Don’t just drop in, spam some links, and then book it. That’s a sure way to get yourself kicked off the forums (and probably make others less likely to check out your business). You should be having genuine conversations, asking and answering questions, and generally contributing to the community. Build your relationships first, then, when the context allows for it, you can mention your business and offer up a link.
One last thing; the same rules of posting generally go for forums as for your own blog. The more often you’re there, the more people you meet and the more potential for customers and clients.
3. Connect on LinkedIn
Similar to joining forums, LinkedIn can give you a chance to connect with like-minded people and get your business out there. And the same rules apply here: contribute, converse, add value, don’t spam.
LinkedIn also has groups you can join to talk with people that you aren’t connected to. It’s a good way to meet new people and even be able to add them to your network at some point.
Aside from chatting and actively promoting your business, having a LinkedIn profile is simply helpful in allowing others to see what you do and the services you offer. Having some background will make people more likely to want to work with you.
4. Press Releases
Press releases are a bit like a blog in the sense that they won’t get you immediate coverage or attention. However, a well-written press release can help with SEO and allow you to get important information about your company out into the community.
And hey, you never know which news outlets might pick it up. Go ahead and shoot off a press release whenever you have some updates about your business.
There are many websites you can utilize to send out your press releases. A few free and easy-to-use ones are Issuewire, OpenPr, ClickPress, and Market Press Release. Check them out and take some time to write something up. Every little bit helps when it comes to marketing and getting the word out.
5. Utilize Social Media
Bet you wondered when I was going to get around to this one, didn’t you?
Whether we like it or not, social media has become a very significant part of the modern world of business. If your company or service is not on social media, you are missing out on the chance to reach a huge market.
Social media marketing can be a big undertaking all on its own. It takes a lot of work, but the payoff is well worth it. And the platforms are pretty versatile when it comes to advertising and promoting your business.
The easiest way to start is just to post about your venture on one of the many sites; eg. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. And you could leave it at that, but that’s not going to get you anywhere fast.
You need to embrace the hashtag. Master the stories feature. Squeeze as much charisma as you can into 140 characters.
A big part of organically growing your following and exposure on social media is going to come down to strategy and word of mouth, as it were. You might also want to think about reaching out to influencers to partner with. That could give you a significant boost in the early stages.
Don’t be afraid to ask friends and family to help out, too. They can share your posts on their own pages to get the word out to even more people.
You’ll most likely want to move on to paid ads eventually, which is a good idea. But free is always the best way to start.
I realize that YouTube is considered a social media platform, but I thought it deserved its own segment as it’s a bit different from the ones mentioned above.
If you’re thinking, “this isn’t for me, I don’t want to be in front of a camera,” then feel free to move on. However, keep in mind that, if it’s applicable, you can always screen record your work instead of showing your face.
That being said, don’t be discouraged if your business or service does not require some sort of tutorial! There are many other video ideas out there.
The most obvious of these is a vlog. Vlogging is a great way to document your business journey, especially if you are just starting out. It’s an opportunity to invite people to grow and learn with you as you get your company underway.
A couple other ideas to think about are unboxing videos, reviews, and educational videos. All relevant to your industry, of course.
7. Branded Email Signature
This segment is going to be short and sweet. Creating a branded email signature is one of the simplest and most passive ways to market your business.
By placing links or company accolades in your email signature, you are promoting your business to anyone you’re in contact with on a regular basis. You can also include any social media links in your signature. You’re doing almost no work and getting a decent chance of exposure; can’t get much easier than that!
You might try adding a short tagline or catchphrase about your company as well. Something that will catch your correspondent’s eye and peak their interest.
8. Offer a Free Product or Service
There are a few different ways you could go about this. You can have some sort of sale on your website, you can host a giveaway on social media, or you can team up with a similar company to co-sponsor a giveaway contest.
Of course, the latter will take a bit of extra work as you’ll have to find a company willing to partner with you. But you’ll be rewarded with a new ally and potential new business in the end.
As for the first two options, depending on what type of business you have you can hold a contest where people can win a product you are selling, or perhaps a free timed consultation.
Whatever the offer may be, you’ll find that most people are much more willing to give something a try if they can get a “free sample” first. Then, after you’ve reeled them in with your charm (and your awesome product or service), they’ll be happy to pay for something they know is good and worth their money.
This one I left for the end of the list because it’s something you’ll have to wait on until you’ve had a significant number of customers.
Nonetheless, it is an unequivocal asset when it comes to marketing your business.
You’ll probably have to ask for the majority of your reviews. A polite and gentle prompt should do the trick.
Reviews can be on a dedicated section of your website or on sites like Google and Yelp. These latter two will generally help you get more exposure because they are trusted by users and reviews are also a major ranking factor when it comes to search results.
Something else you can do is occasionally post particularly good reviews on your social media pages. By this time you may have built up a significant following and seeing positive reviews about your business will strengthen that following even more, as well as bring in new clients.
10. Network Network Network
Well folks, here we are at the end of our list. And if you didn’t see this one coming, then I honestly have to ask where your head has been this whole time.
Seriously, though. This may be one of, if not the, most important tools on this list.
You can really network anywhere at any time, but you’ve got to be intentional about it if you want it to get you anywhere. Attending industry conferences, either online or offline, is a great opportunity for networking. You meet loads of people, which means loads of chances for business. It also helps increase your presence in your community.
Something important to remember about conferences and networking is follow up. If you meet someone new at a conference or event, shoot them a quick email within the next couple days saying how it was nice to meet them and that you would be glad of the chance to work with them.
But don’t be pushy about it. Maybe hit on a common struggle or interest you had. Anything can spark the fire, just remember that tact is key.
Don’t forget that you can also network with friends, family, and your local community. You don’t have to be at an event to talk to people about your company. Take advantage of every opportunity.
If you’ve made it to the end of this list I applaud you, and I sincerely hope that at least one of these tips will help you get started on your marketing journey.
Spending a bit of money on your marketing campaigns will definitely help you go farther, but we all need somewhere to start, right?
So, get out there and use those smarts of yours to market the heck out of your business.