I am often confronted with fed-up business owners saying how they’ve spent thousands of dollars on yellow page ads with nothing to show for it. Contrary to what many may think (seeing that I am in digital marketing), I do still recommend certain print advertising depending on your business type but it’s 2013 and the ‘yellow pages’ way of advertising is simply no longer cutting it for most. I’m not bashing the yellow pages and traditional means of small business advertising but want to highlight other avenues that harness the power of the web to leverage your marketing efforts that are often far more cost effective. I’ve put together this quick list of basic digital marketing essentials to help jump start your small business – all while keeping cost in mind.
- Consult, Analyze and Take Action: What I mean by this is do a bit of research, consult with a professional, read up and execute. Decide what kind of budget you’re working with and choose your digital marketing strategy accordingly.
- Get a Website: Many business owners who’re without a website have no idea the amount of potential business they’re missing. I’ve had clients literally spike in their profits in relatively short periods of time from setting up a Website and throwing in some SEO, virtually changing their marketing model thereafter. If hiring someone to build a site for you is out of the budget then you may want to consider a DIY builder. These site builders provide those with little or no web design experience a drag-n-drop approach to build a website all for practically nothing or a nominal fee (in most cases). Some of these builder utilities include Wix, Google Sites, Squarespace, Weebly, Jimdo and Yola (among the many out there). Some of them even incorporate a mobile version and e-commerce options. Those are just some of them so do some research on Google, read customer experiences/feedback and see what builder is best for you.
- Claim your Local Directories (free): There are directories out there that act like ‘micro-sites’ even if you don’t have a main website. They list your business name, address, contact info etc. – the biggies are Google, Yahoo and Bing. These help your business show up throughout the web and essentially play two roles: (1) Claiming and verifying your information plays a role in SEO … and (2) It’s another place on the web that someone can come across to find your business. Think of these as virtual yellow page listings, be sure to fill up each listing with as much info as possible and verify each listing when you’re done (verification is usually done via a phone call or PIN being mailed to you).
- Get a Facebook Page (free): There are other social media platforms out there but (in my opinion) Facebook is still the staple for small businesses. You may be asking ‘why’ and it boils down to the numbers, the sheer volume of people that use it (and are aware of it) are astronomical. Visit Facebook for Business to get started and check out my helpful tutorial tips here. Whatever social media platform you choose be sure to stick to it and avoid setting it up then letting it go stale.
- Go Mobile: If your site isn’t already equipped with a mobile version or isn’t responsive in design then you may want to consider setting up your site so it’s mobile friendly. After all, the numbers don’t lie and being mobile friendly is becoming more and more a necessity rather than an option. Consider using dudamobile – it’s a pretty simple approach at getting your site built, again – all for a pretty low price.
- Get going on SEO (free): Search Engine Optimization is the practice of altering your website and making certain tactical changes (on your site and off your site) to help better rank your site when people are searching for a business like yours. An all too often complaint I hear is that a client had a site built but has done zero SEO and is puzzled why they haven’t received one phone call from their site. SEO really is a must if you have a site (and are trying to generate business from it), after all what good is a site if nobody can find it?! Check out my prior posts here and here about how to optimize your site so you can start showing up in the rankings! Note, SEO can be tedious and require a great deal of time so be sure to be patient.
- Paid Advertising: Want to jump right to the top of the rankings? Set aside a monthly budget for Google Adwords paid advertising. Essentially, these ad-words ads put your site at the very top of certain keyword searches and you pay per click (ads show up in other places besides search engine searches too!). I know some of you may be thinking that it will add up fast but you can set a limited budget so that once the budget is fulfilled the ad stops running. If setup properly, Adwords can play an integral role in generating business for you.
- Take the Risk and Follow Through: Ok, so you’ve decided on your approach. Now, you need to follow through AND maintain. It’s a common flaw in marketing to start a campaign and then let it dwindle off. It will be a waste of time and your money if you do not follow through. Have an open mind, test out a few different things and see what works.
Make note that the above tips can be taken a la carte – for instance you can hold off on the site and really push your social media efforts to start. Don’t limit yourself to following just these tips either, there are plenty of digital marketing techniques out there – these are just my ‘top priority’ tips for those with little or no digital marketing. Nonetheless, following these steps will certainly jump-start your business getting found on the web and the more you’re found on the web, the more your phone can start ringing, good luck!
As always, please comment below – any feedback is greatly appreciated!