How to Market Your Business On-Line
by Kevin Nunley
"I'm at a loss on how we can properly market our business on the Net," Karen explained. "We've established an impressive marketing presence in print media and I don't want our home page to look shabby or sit there with no response."
Karen's words sound familiar to many entrepreneurs. By now just about everyone knows that a website alone will not draw many visitors. Your on-line presence must be promoted tirelessly. Free classifieds are everywhere. They also take hours each day to place.
Posting to newsgroups can be profitable, but it's important to know the group. Willy-nilly posting of commercial messages can get you into trouble fast with the on-line community.
The same goes for broadcasting hoards of unsolicited email messages. Rather than finding lots of interested prospects, you may well find your mailbox jammed with hateful replies and a suspension notice from your provider.
What's a busy small business person with limited resources to do? Thankfully, there are several very effective on-line marketing methods that are relatively easy and quick. Here are three of my favorites, all well regarded by people who do lots of on-line marketing.
Include your URL in all the printed and broadcast advertising you do. Don't just add your website address in tiny print at the bottom, as some businesses do. Spread it across the page so it can't be missed. Tell the reader or listener WHY they should check out your on-line presence. Give them a benefit for finding your page. Supply them with helpful information or a discount that they can't find out about any other way. Hand out a one-sheet about your website. Include your URL on your telephone hold message.
Use the public's current interest in exploring the Net. Whereas many people won't read your brochure or analyze your newspaper ad, many will enthusiastically click through your web site. Use the opportunity to expose more people to lots of details about your company, services, and products.
Build an Email List of Your Customers.
While a great many people hate unsolicited email, it's perfectly OK to send email notices about your products or services to people who have shown an interest in your company or bought from you in the past.
Recently, when I called a self-publisher to order a book, he asked me my email address along with my credit card information. At first I thought he might want it just for notification of delivery purposes. But a week later I started receiving his email newsletter providing me with helpful tips and information on his latest publications. I find the newsletter helpful and am more likely to remember him and buy from him in the future.
Email newsletters are very simple affairs. Simply write a letter to your customers providing them with helpful tips. Include information on your products and services.
Remember that letters are still regarded as personal forms of communication. Make your newsletter's tone conversational, friendly, and informal.
Electronic mail is the marketing tool of the very near future. We haven't gotten all the bugs sorted out of it and many people do get irritated at receiving mail they aren't interested in. BUT, email is cheap, conserves natural resources, and doesn't pollute the environment. That's a combination of strengths that will ultimately overcome all challenges in a very, very big way.
Finally, write articles for one or more of the thousands of new on-line publications. The Net is about information. People come to their computers to learn something. Use what you know about your business to be the expert that many people are looking for.
It doesn't matter what your area of expertise is--baseball, auto repair, tax law, growing beautiful flowers--there are hundreds of thousands of potential customers on-line interested in learning more.
"But I'm no writer!" I hear you exclaim. You don't have to be. As veteran on-line freelance writer Gary Christensen says, "Look at it as writing a page of instructions." If you can write a page of instructions on how to do something, you can be a published expert.
If you still don't feel comfortable putting your wisdom down on paper, call your local college English or Journalism department and ask for a capable student to "ghost" write it for you. Take a cue from the many celebrities and famous business executives who write books with the help of a professional author.
Before you get discouraged over the difficulty of getting the word out about your business on-line, consider adding these three marketing options to your promotional arsenal. There are more than a few entrepreneurs doing very well by using nothing more than one or two of these smart and efficient techniques.
Kevin Nunley provides marketing advice and copy writing for businesses and organizations. Read all his money-saving marketing tips at DrNunley.com. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-249-9519.