Imagine a time, in the not so distant past, where the ways to promote a business included printed fliers, advertisements in magazines and broadcast media or word of mouth.
It was a difficult and expensive way to tell the world about your business. Now, spreading the word has gone into overdrive thanks to the internet.
It’s now possible to pass a simple message about a business online to multiple people quickly and easy. In the long run, a business will have to spend on marketing campaigns to get the word out, but startups can take advantage of free avenues online to promote a business.
Get Listed on Google My Business Listing and other Directories
It is now possible to post information about a business on local listing platforms, with the most popular being Google My Business Listing. There are many listing sites that have become popular with the growth of the online community. Facebook and Apple Maps are some of the biggest listing sites out there.
Other Listing platforms include Foursquare, Bing, Yelp and Hubspot among others. It is important for your listing to have the proper business name, correct location (a Map is a great bonus), company description, website link and any multimedia that can give searchers a deeper insight into the business. Keeping company information up to date for visitors is what keeps clientele coming back and referring the business to others.
Get an SEO-Friendly Website Up and Running
Nowadays, a business sans website is considered ‘fishy’. Therefore, it is important to have a detailed and eye-catching website that gives visitors and clients a clear picture of the business. To get more people viewing the site, make it SEO-friendly to allow it to appear among top searches for businesses of the same niche. When creating a website, ensure it is accessible on multiple platforms (mobile, desktop and tablet). It should also have a seamless user experience to avoid potential clients from skipping your website. Finally, avoid having duplicate and obsolete content on the website. This means there is a constant need to update the site to keep it appealing and have more traffic over time.
Make Social Media Your Friend
Social media has become any business’s best friend. This is because these platforms are a ready client base, if used adequately. To begin with, create social media pages for your business on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest. Make sure that the pages are regularly updated to keep visitors abreast on progress and changes. Social media is affordable and sometimes free which means costs when starting up a business down to a bare minimum.
Make Use of Multimedia Sites to Take Your Advertising To the Next Level
They say a picture is worth a 1,000 words – imagine how much multimedia speaks for a business! Aside from social media pages for the business, have a YouTube channel with relevant information about the business. One can start with an intro video to the business that shows the setup, the team and overall goals of the business. An additional tool to have is a Flickr account that allows a business to have pictures related to the business all in one place.
Submit Listing to Search Engines
Submitting a business listing to online search engines is free and takes only a few minutes. Simply use the webmaster tools for popular search engines such as Google, Yahoo! and Bing. You don’t have to pay to get into any of the major search engines’ free/organic listings. Google, for example, indexes your web pages automatically, as do most other search engines.
Take Advantage of Free Email Marketing
Another way to promote a business online is by making use of free email marketing platforms like Mailchimp. These allow a business to send out thousands of emails monthly to thousands of potential customers – so the potential for getting your message out there is limited only by your skills at writing good copy.
It’s important to note that the set up of an email marketing account takes time to create. There’s a client list to compile and branding to apply, so patience is key. Also ensure there are clear calls to action (CTAs) and contact options, otherwise you will lose customer acquisition opportunities.
Connect with Online Business Community Forums
Every startup business that wishes to be successful needs to connect with other like-minded entities. Online business community forums are the best place to start. These forums have discussion boards broken down into every relevant topic, giving your business a chance to advertise a product or service and offer advice to its members.
Well-known platforms such as Yahoo!’s OnStartups, YoungEntrepreneur and EConnect by Entrepreneur have hundreds of thousands of business people willing to share useful tips and advice. Consider also looking for local forums that offer discussions relevant to your business and locality.
Aside from advertising or finding business advice, a startup can use event sites such as 10Times or EventBrite to share information on events such as launch dates, conferences, forums, online events, and more. These sites segment their audiences and are a great way to showcase your business profile quickly and easily.
Online Business Promotion Etiquette
- Keep your business information up-to-date – This means letting people know of a change of address or business category or even merging with another business. Keep your clientele up to speed on your business moves.
- Avoid over-promotion – When sending out emails or posts, ensure that they are regular but not too frequent. Too many posts or emails from the same business can put off a customer or visitor and give them an excuse to unsubscribe.
- Avoid using negative language against a competitor – There is a piece of the business pie out here for everyone, so focus on building your own business and avoid tarnishing a competitor’s business. It paints your business in a bad light.
- Respond and Deliver – When queries or complaints are forwarded to a business, quick turnaround time is vital. In addition, delivering a quality product or service in the record but realistic time is worth the effort in terms of customer satisfaction and advocacy – after all, referrals are the best and cheapest source of new business leads.