Internet marketing is the way of the future, and the present.
In a world where the average American spends 23 hours a week online, any business, big or small, that takes a pass on the internet is going to lag behind competitors. And that average includes the demographics too old to work e-mail. That figure is likely to be higher for your target market. Creating a website, equipping and updating hardware and software, and pursuing a coherent online marketing strategy can seem like an unrealistic proposition for small businesses, but there are available solutions to make these things easier.
Creating a Quality Company Website
Building a website can be a bit intimidating for many people, but it really doesn’t need to be. If you don’t know how to do it, hire a millennial to do it for you. You can get a starving, desperate graphic design student to make you a high quality website by offering a summer internship or any wage that beats food service. In the competitive field of graphic design, they will be quite happy to add that to their portfolio.
This will be the heart of your online marketing strategy. Go ahead and include a company blog, where you can accept relevant guest posts and engage with your customers.
You will want to make sure to properly optimize for search engines. Chances are, your student intern owns a blog and knows how to handle that end as well. If not, Google is your friend.
Keeping your Fixed Costs Down
In a small business, marketing needs to be as cost effective and simple as possible. This is where cloud providers can really help you. Cloud computing allows you to take care of your infrastructure needs by paying a fee to a professional cloud company. This way you can avoid hiring an IT guy, and avoid the whole compatibility headaches that constantly lead to expensive new hardware and software upgrades.
What I’m talking about is managed hosting. This basically means that can use your regular old desktop computer, laptop, or any other device that can get on the internet, and access their regularly updated, high quality servers, on which they run their regularly updated, high quality software, so that you don’t have to think about or purchase any of that.
Marketing your Stuff
You can use the money you save to hire someone with a marketing degree to handle your content. That part is somewhat optional, because online marketing is one of those skills that is very thoroughly explored and debated on the internet, so you might be able to save money with an underpaid, but well-spoken graduate with a degree in English. The key is that they acquire a very thorough understanding of your business, and especially of your customers, and how they use your product.
Online marketing can take many forms, but one of the cheapest effective methods is content marketing. This focuses on creating extremely useful, high quality content on your website and on your blog that promotes activities that your product is used for. You need to create associations between your brand and those activities. You can invite relevant bloggers to share their own work on your website, or guest post on other blogs.
What you do there, instead of trying to sell your product directly, is offer your expertise in the niche to build up the authority of your brand among your consumer base. This builds confidence among customers and raises brand awareness.
There is a wealth of other online marketing ideas and innovations available on marketing blogs so go ahead and jump in.
-Benjamin TaylorMike Licht, NotionsCapital.com via photopin cc