Local Businesses are certainly familiar with traditional marketing options like radio, billboards, newspaper and other print, TV, etc… But how much do they know about marketing their business online? I think not too much but then again online marketing is relatively new. What does online marketing mean to a local business? How would your business define online marketing? What does online marketing mean? I suspect most would say that it simply means advertising on the Internet. But where on the Internet? The local newspaper website? Ebay? Craigslist? The local chamber of commerce website? Google? Facebook? Advertise on Facebook? Isn’t Facebook for non business purposes? There are many questions but also many opportunities.
Over the past several months I have been researching and testing various methods of online marketing. I suggest that you think of online marketing as the general category that includes 2 sub categories. The first is paid online marketing and the second is free online marketing.
Paid online marketing consists mainly of having a banner advertisement displayed on another website and pay per click advertising campaigns through google, yahoo, msn, facebook, etc… Placing Ads in online newspapers and other paid sites are among the options for paid online marketing as well.
Free online marketing can be achieved by having your website or business listing show up in search results when someone is searching for your company, product, or service. It can also be achieved by using free classifieds sites like Craigslist and oodle. You can post your business information on many free listing sites like Google places, yahoo local, and MSN local sites. See the link below for more places to add your business-> How to get your business on search engines. You don’t need a website to do some online marketing but a website is highly recommended.
Social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, etc… can all be used to market your business locally. Marketing on many of these sites can consist of both paid and free marketing. Whether you are using their paid advertising options or just posting your business information, there is a huge point to make about marketing on these social networking sites. Do not try to sell your product or service on social networking sites. This is not the place to do a hard sell or really any kind of selling. People are not on social networks looking to buy things. So how can a business benefit by having a presence on these social networking sites? Here’s what you can do. Work on networking and building relationships. This will help your business build it’s brand and trust among the people who see your business on the network thereby making it more well known and trusted. Samir Kabani has recently written a book, The Zen of Social Media Marketing, that explains this all important point very well.
Is it worth it to go through the work of having a presence on these social networking sites? It depends on your business. Some businesses are better suited for some social networking sites better than others. But I believe that if you are selling most any product or service there is a social networking site that can definitely benefit you. One more extremely important point about placing your business on a social networking site is that you cannot just enter your business information and forget it. To get the benefit of having your business on a social networking site you must engage with people on that network. Look for groups that are related to your line of business. Look for discussions and people who may have questions or problems that you can help them with. You may be thinking that you do not have time to sit and help people for free. But this is the value that you will be providing that will build relationships, your reputation, and potential customers your business. Is doing a good job and helping people a waste of time for your business? Not if doing so gives your business a good reputation and helps spread the word about it. That’s social internet marketing at it’s best!