Online marketing small business companies is a highly lucrative opportunity – for the web designers, web hosts and internet marketers. They can capitalize on new entrants, frighten them with technological talk, press them into substantial monthly payments and more often than not – drive their online marketing small business efforts into the ground.
That’s the scary thing about the internet – everyone will take your money. Entering the online world is so risky; because it’s technology that you simply don’t have experience with. Internet marketers know what they have to do to captivate people like you and win your businesses custom.
There are two ways to go about marketing your small business online – actively and passively.
The latter comprises of simply sticking up a website with a little bit of information about you, your company, your product and some contact information. You may list yourself in a few directories but it isn’t something that is going to open up the web to you and make you millions.
Using a website actively to market, acquire leads and generate business is a much more effective way of using the internet. You can automate systems, make them run around-the-clock and potentially deal with a lot more business without all that much extra expensive.
However, actively marketing your website requires traffic – a lot of traffic. But just like in the offline world, you need targeted traffic. Ideally…
There are two functions an ‘active’ website has for online marketing small business.
o Prospects find you – not you find your prospects
The internet is an increasingly social place and people naturally gravitate towards the big discussions (no one likes talking to nobody right?). The nature of search has flipped the way marketing works in favour of you. You can compete at Google with the large companies for people who are actively looking for your services. You need to find yourself at the front of discussions and at the front of the search engines.
o Creates a dynamic conversational platform
Having established yourself as a key conversation leader, you need to carry this conversation over onto your web ‘platform’. This need not necessarily be a website – you could use a blog, Facebook page or even tools like Twitter. The key is the maintain more control over the conversation and work with your (now) audience to offer solutions to their problems.
Marketing is no longer pushing what you’ve got into “their faces.” Individuals are finding you and presenting needs for solutions. It’s much more like everyday conversation.
o Your platform must “give” before it “gets”
The best online marketers will engineer their websites to give away their best information and products to users to gain their trust and relationships. People will naturally reciprocate any kind of positive gesture – they will listen to you – and be far less defensive to the prospect of ‘being sold to’.
Two important points here: I’m not suggesting you should use the internet as a freebie platform, or that you should engineer relationships merely to break the defensive sales barrier prospects have. Offer helpful advice, engage in conversation and keep on giving.
Present your product not as a sales pitch, but as a genuinely helpful tool and solution to their dire needs and problems. Ignoring the cheesiness – it should make their lives better, and also strengthen your relationship with them. If they like what you’ve suggested or offered them before, chances are they’ll be more receptive to what else you have to offer.
This process is called ‘PREselling’.
“Okay, so how do I do it?”
We’ve talked about the theory of online marketing small business firms; so now discussing the detail.
Blogging is a much talked-about system for establishing conversation on the internet, but the big question is how to “get noticed” in a world where everyone is blogging. When I first started a few small scale blogs I couldn’t get their momentum going enough to make it worthwhile.
Blogs eat time, and aren’t such great tools for marketing specifically as building relationships. You will constantly be treading the ‘content wheel’ as your subscribers demand more and more quality demand. Can you afford this whilst running a small business?
Perhaps you could look to use Facebook or Twitter or some other online service – but the nature of such services leaves the traffic and ‘discussion’ primarily outside of your control. It’s more like 21st century lead generation – that drives traffic to YOUR platform.