Almost every small business owner these days is trying to figure out how to leverage the internet to grow their business.
Whether it’s trying to figure out how to get a high quality website launched, or trying to figure out how to use social media for building their brand, small businesses these days are feeling the pressure of getting this ‘online marketing’ thing figured out.
The truth is, the majority of small business owners struggle to figure out where to even begin when it comes to leveragin the web for growing their business. And unfortunately, with the lack of knowledge ultimately supressing their ambition, most small business owners simply continue to take no action
So what happens is either…
a) they do nothing, which leaves them in this pertual cycle of ‘knowing they should be doing something, but don’t know how to get started, and so they continue to do nothing…’ or
b) they turn to pay per click marketing such as Google Adwords, or Facebook marketing, to drive traffic and exposure to their business.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a strong advocate for paid online marketing because when used properly, it can definitely help you build your audience and produce new customers. But what I don’t like is the fact that small business owners are sometimes forced to turn to paid online marketing because they simply don’t know what else to do.
That’s why I’m writing this article, to hopefully help you get started with online marketing for your small business – and to do either without having to spend a dime, or do it at a very nominal cost. Online marketing for your small business doesn’t have to be expensive whatsoever. If you think about – you can purchase a domain name for around $10 per year, hosting for just a few dollars a month, you can launch all of your social media profiles absolutely free of cost – so that would be just about all you need to get your small business online and active.
One of the biggest factors in business owners not taking action online is because that don’t feel compelled enough to put in the time and effort to build their online presence.
So why focus on building your own online audience for your small business?
First, I believe that eventually every small business owner is going to be forced to figure out how to build their online presence in some form or fashion. Because this is already where the majority of their customers are, I can’t imagine a small or local business not building, at some level, an online presence for the business.
This is why I believe business owners should work to build their own audience in the form of their own email lists, their own website, their own social media profiles, etc… that way your business is not forced to succumb to the wiles of algorithms and platform changes.
It’s always more beneficial when you build your own audience on your own small business website, rather than relying solely on paid marketing platforms. Because when you pay for advertising online, you are relying 100% on someone else’s platform where you have absolutely no control on the changes they can implement. Versus building your own platform where you have complete control and ownership of the platform.
At the end of the day, the web is the most effective platform to grow your business in today’s environment.
And I want to give you some actionable tips that you can implement today to help you get up and running with your online marketing efforts. Taking even a small step today will help you and your small business build momentum that will carry you to the next level.
But the questions I hear most often from small business owners are:
a) how do I get started leveraging the web for my small business?
b) even if I know “how”, when will I find time to do it?
First, let me be brutally honest with you – it’s not easy to get started. In order for your small business to effectively leverage the web, it’s going to take a time comment and investment of resources (energy, planning, perhaps even some money… but not very much, as I pointed out previously) to make it happen.
However, you should be encourage to know that nearly all of your competitors are feeling the exact same way. This means, if you were to invest just a small portion of your time in doing some online marketing or brand building on the web, you’ll more than likely see substantial results sooner rather than later. Again, this is because virtually none of your competitors are investing any time and effort into the web. So I’m going to say that it’s a wide open opportunity for you to step in and start dominating your niche – even if you are a small local business.
The fact is, everyone today is connected on the web, especially on their mobile devices. So that means your small business needs to get active and come alive on the web. Ultimately, the #1 reason you need to launch some form of online marketing and online brand building for your business is because this is where your customers are!
So now that we know, as a small business owner, we have this great opportunity on the web, what are some actionable steps we take today to get started with online marketing?
Here are 3 tips to hel p you get started with online marketing for your small business.
I’m going to frame these tips around the subject of SEO and content marketing for small business. SEO because of the importance of Google search to your business, and content marketing because content becomes the vehicle that allows your business to connect with a growing audience of fans, prospects, and customers.
3 SEO & Content Marketing Tips For Small Business
#1: Start a blog for your business.
There’s absolutely no reason why you, as a small business owner, cannot start a blog. Even if it’s as simple as starting with a free blog on WordPress, Weebly, or Blogger – starting a blog today is as easy as creating a new profile on Facebook.
When you have a blog for your small business, you’ll be able to start producing content about topics surrounding your products and services, or your areas of expertise. These are the topics where you are already a subject matter expert, so producing content in the form of tips, tools, and tactics, around these topics should come relatively easy to you.
Even if you don’t “write” the content, you can produce content in other ways such as videos on YouTube, or slide shows on SlideShare. You can even do something as simple as snapping some pictures and adding a paragraph to these pictures. The point here is to get started doing something, no matter how small of a scale it may be. Once you have even just a little bit of content to work with, you can start creating your blog posts and then distribute them through multiple social media platforms such as Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.
The more content you produce on your blog where you are sharing valuable tips, tools, and tactics about your products and services, the more people you’ll attract to your content who are genuinely interested in what you are saying. So long as your content is not all about how great your business is and you are genuinely producing content with the purporse of providing value, over time you’ll be amazed at the amount of traffic you get, and the quality of people that make up your audience.
The consistency of content production over time will help your business build trust with your visitors and brand authority for your small business. And as you know, even in the offline world, trust and authority in a business is what brings in new and repeat customers.
2) Create content that answers your customer’s questions.
Now that you have a blog for your business, the question is “what in the world do I write about?”
Well, you are in luck because I’ve created a strategy that I call the “Start With 10!” method that will help you get started producing amazing content on your small business blog that will help you build a growing audience of raving fans!
The “Start With 10!” method goes like this:
- Write out 10 questions that your customers or prospects always ask you about your business, products, or services. This should be easy enough for you to do since you are the small business owner who’s living and breathing in your operation everyday and interacting with both current customers and prospective clients. So take some time, fire up a Google Doc, and just write out the first 10 questions that people ask you about your products and services. If after you get started you find yourself going way beyond 10, then that’s great! Don’t stop writing out the questions… just keep going. But the idea here is to get things started, so “Start With 10!”.
- Now that you have 10 questions written out, go ahead and answer these questions with an informative paragraph or two. I understand that some questions may require a lot more than one or two paragraphs, but again that’s ok. Just start writing it out all. The more the better. But I say start with one or two paragraphs because I want you to just get started. You’ll find, more than likely, that after you get started, more questions and answers will start flowing pretty easily. Again, this is a great thing and just keep writing them out.
- Now, each of your questions is going to become the title to a new blog post. Let’s say you wrote out 10 questions, and you now have a paragraph or two of content that answers and addresses these questions. You are going to use the question itself as the title to your blog post, and then add the paragraph or two as the content to your blog post. See how easy that is?
- Post one new question and answer post to your small business blog each day. So if you wrote out your 10 questions and answers, you now have 10 days worth of content to produce in your new small business blog. I can just about guarantee you that if you follow this method for 10 consecutive days, you’ll already be amazed at the amount of traffic your site is generating. All of this traffic is the audience your small business is connecting with. And if you genuinely wrote out questions that your customers ask on a regular basis, and answer these questions with great content and informative responses, you’ll then start building authority and trust with your audience. My friends, I can assure you this is what will keep your audience coming back for you, reaching out to you to inquire about your business, and it’s what will keep your growing on a consistent basis.
There’s a lot more to step #2, posting to your small business blog, that we can get into. Topics such as SEO and meta data optimization, video integration and Schema language, etc… that will help your blog posts reach more people. But I’ll save those topics for another post. The point here is to give you some simple steps to help you just get started and moving forward with your small business blog. These tips are designed to get your blog up and running for your small business, and help you to start building momentum that will carry far into the future.
3) Build your audience through email subscribers.
One of the most important assets you can own as a small business is an email list of subscribers – people who have freely given your their name and email address because they want to receive more information from you.
Building your email list can be achieved in a lot of different ways. One of the easiest ways I’ve found is with MailChimp because a) it’s very easy to get started, and b) it’s free up to something like 1,000 email subscribers.
In a future post I’ll create videos on how to get started building your email list with MailChimp. But for now, the idea here to use an email list building platform, even if it’s not MailChimp – and there are a lot out there to chose from – to start capturing email subscribers.
Once you start building your email list, you can then email your subscribers everytime you publish a new blog post. This is basically guaranteed traffic to your new blog posts. And I’d be willing to wager that if you use the “Start With 10!” method, your email list will already be growing before you have finished your 10th blog post. And again, everytime you publish a new blog post, you can send an email to your subscribers letting them know there’s a new post available for them to read.
I hope these tips will help you get started with your own small business blog.
If you haven’t already, get subscribed to our blog so you don’t miss any of the future posts that we share that will give you more tips, tools, and tactics to leveraging the web for your small business.
So what about you? Have you started a blog for your small business yet? If so, what are tips, tools, and tactics you are using that are working?
Let us know in the comments.