When the Internet was new and online business owners were jumping on the ship right and left, there was often the feeling that all a business owner needed to do to have a business was put up a web site, add a product or two, and the sales would begin to flow.
Yes, I’ll remind you once again of that worn out phrase that everyone else quotes to describe this erroneous thinking: “If you build it, they will come.” The line is from the movie “Field of Dreams.”
Online business owners now understand that phrase is a lie – at least pertaining to Internet business.
I did a little experiment myself that proved the point to me in very real terms.
Two years ago I set up a little web site with it’s own domain name, some content, keywords, etc.
I asked visitors to register at the web site (for free) to get my newsletter with lots of great benefits.
I even offered a bonus worth a legitimate $300 merely for signing up and there were no other strings attached.
I spent the better part of one Saturday announcing my site at all the free submission spots I could find.
I set up the contact email to forward to my personal inbox so that I could easily track when I had a new member join.
I waited, and waited, and and nothing.
The site is still up and running, the sign up process still works great, but no one has found me and joined yet. I do get a lot of spam messages to the site which was certainly expected.
I am convinced that online business doesn’t just happen.
Every online business needs to be marketed every day of the year.
Great products, new innovations, and technical superiority mean nothing if visitors can’t find you.
Here are six very basic ways you can market your business every day of the year that will help to keep you in front of your potential market:
1. Post to news groups, forums, and blog comments in your niche.
Yes, you have to be careful that you don’t spam by being obviously self-serving. But most of these communication mediums allow you to conclude a post with your name and company URL.
Take advantage of that opportunity to show others that you are an expert in the niche – and at the same time you can let them know how to find you.
The more often you post, the less likely you are to be accused of spamming.
2. Write articles in your niche and post them to as many publication sources as you can find.
Again, you’ll want to include your name and contact information (in what’s generally referred to as a “resource box”) at the end of the article.
This practice allows you to share your knowledge (labeling you as an expert in the niche), have links pointing back to your web site, it gives you increased chances of being found in the search engines, and it brands you as one who is willing to help others in your field.
3. Promote your brand on all your communications. Include your logo, slogan, and business contact information on every business card, invoice, email, business letter, memo, and bill you pay.
You’d be surprised how embedding this information into your every business operation you execute will eventually begin to pay dividends.
I have a friend that had some cheap return address labels printed up that carried his online business name, logo, www location, etc.
He would place these on every letter or bill that left his house.
He told me he was always getting visitors to his web site that commented they had first noticed his business from one of those labels they had seen somewhere.[ As an aside, this same friend had some business cards made up that carried his online business information as well as a free offer for an information product just for the asking at his web site. He would tack cards on the bulletin board in grocery stores, leave them at restaurant counters, and even place them as bookmarks in brand new books at the bookstore (in books related to his niche subject). ]
4. Build an email list of both prospects and customers.
Keep them separate which means you move folks from the prospect list to the customer list when they make a purchase or register at your site for membership.
The list is for your use, but guard it closely and never give anyone else access to it.
Keep in regular and consistent email contact (as with a newsletter) with your clients.
Treat them as friends and give them benefits even if they don’t buy. Make them feel like individuals, not faceless email addresses.
5. Take advantage of free marketing opportunities.
I can’t explain all the ways you do this because every niche and industry will offer its own set of opportunities.
Maybe it’s a story in the local newspaper or an interview on the radio. Maybe it’s a bumper sticker with your URL and slogan.
Maybe it’s sponsorship of a local event or service you render as a business person in the community.
There are many, many creative ways to put your business in front of potential customers.
6. Utilize press releases whenever there is a story to tell. This strategy is really ignored by most small businesses. They think they have nothing newsworthy or of interest to share.
Let the press know about milestones in your business, unique and helpful new products you come up with, or trends in your industry that affect consumers.
Editors are always on the lookout for human interest and consumer benefit type news. Give it to them!
There are a lot of other ways to market your business on a daily basis.
You must always assume that every single paying customer has to be found, by you, and invited to participate with you for his own benefit.
To your online business success,