You’ve always dreamed about owning your own business, and now that dream has become a reality. However, starting a company is only the first step. Once it’s up and running, you need to build it. You need to reach new customers or clients, and keep doing so to grow your audience.
Promoting a business can be incredibly challenging. It’s complicated by the fact that, while you probably have some familiarity with marketing methods, you’re not a professional marketer. You’re a small business owner.
What tools do you need? What marketing strategies offer the best return on your investment of time and money? How do you reach more than your existing customers?
Not promoting your business isn’t an option. Going that way only leads to failure. However, you need to know what options offer the most traction. Increasingly, that means turning to online marketing methods. In this guide, we’ll walk you through some of the must-have products and services to help you build a thriving business.
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- 16 Ways to Promote a New Business
- Build an Email Database
- Publish a Press Release or Two
- Get Blogging
- Guest Post with Others
- Use Social Media
- Invest in Video Marketing
- Get Listed
- Claim Your Google My Business Page
- Facebook Ads
- PPC Ads
- Invest in a CRM
- Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
- Local Search Marketing
- Content Marketing
- Email Marketing
- Start Building Your Business
16 Ways to Promote a New Business
Small businesses need marketing but often face cash flow issues. They lack the deep pockets of bigger, more established companies. Often, that means relying on methods like word of mouth rather than investing in more powerful, direct ways of reaching potential customers.
Thankfully, the digital revolution has created some powerful yet cost-effective ways to get the word out about your business. In fact, some of the best online marketing methods are free. Below, we’ll talk about a few of the most important ones.
Build an Email Database
Your website is more than just a digital business card or flyer. It’s the hub where all of your digital marketing efforts come together. The point of all your online activities should be to drive traffic here, but what do you do with visitors when they arrive? You want them to make a purchase, sign up for services, or call you, but there’s more you can (and should) do.
On the homepage (and throughout the site), add calls to action that invite your visitors to sign up for a newsletter or subscribe for updates. An opt-in form allows users to give you their email addresses, which you can then put into a database for future use. You can now reach those people right where they live, bypassing many of the hurdles involved with digital marketing.
Publish a Press Release or Two
A big part of online marketing is building groundswell around your efforts. A press release or two could be just the thing. Press releases can be published through several online portals (not all are free, though) and then shared by others, including industry movers and shakers, news outlets, and more.
A single press release can reach thousands or even tens of thousands of people. When properly written and formatted, they’re powerful tools that drive traffic where you want it, while informing prospective customers about what you do and why they should consider your business. Plus, if you’re handy with a keyboard and have a flair for words, you can write the release yourself and save a little money.
Blogging is the original form of social media, and even though it’s been around for so long, it’s still a powerful way to market your business. It’s easy to link a blog to your website, and then use it to give your business a personal face. What should you blog about? The sky’s the limit here!
You can blog about your industry, new technologies, new developments, answer questions your readers/customers ask, and so much more. You can (and should) also include social sharing buttons so your readers can easily share those posts with their family and friends. It’s also important to allow comments so that your readers can ask questions or give you feedback.
Guest Post with Others
While blogging on your own site is critical, it’s also important to guest post. This involves writing an article and then finding another website willing to share it with their audience. In most cases, the other website will be owned by someone in a related business so that there’s some overlap between your audiences.
Use Social Media
The days when a small business owner could ignore social media are long gone. Today, your customers expect to find your business on sites like Facebook and Instagram. Facebook has become a go-to platform for customers looking for information about a company or seeking a way to contact a business.
Create your profile and fill in all the relevant details. If you have a brick-and-mortar business, make sure to include things like your physical address, too. Once that’s done, start posting. However, avoid focusing entirely on outright marketing. You need to share content that your audience will find relevant and interesting, even humorous. It doesn’t always need to be a branded ad for your products or services.
Invest in Video Marketing
Video marketing is incredibly powerful – video is the single most popular type of content sought out online. It can also be free. A smartphone and an idea are really all you need to get started.
Create videos around your products or services, around answers to common customer questions, and around more. Then upload them to YouTube and Facebook. You might be surprised at just how much traffic your videos get without you paying a single dime.
One of the ways that you reach your potential customers online is through organic searches. The more relevant websites featuring your business’s information, the more likely your business will appear in organic search results. Local business listing sites are a great way to boost your chances.
These sites are a lot like digital white pages, and you’ll likely find several serving your area. They range from sites that list all the local businesses in a particular city or town to sites dedicated to specific business types (landscaping or beauty salons, for instance). Simply add your business name, information, and a blurb about the business, and you’re all set.
Claim Your Google My Business Page
Finally, make sure to claim your Google My Business (GMB) page. This is a free listing offered by Google, and it helps ensure that you feature prominently in local search results for your area. Here, you’ll need to include your business’s name, address, phone number, hours of operation, and a brief description of the business.
Your GMB page can also offer additional traction in the way of promotional posts, customer reviews, photos of your business or products, and more. With an accurate address, your business will also appear on local maps, giving customers directions to the location.
As you can see, there are plenty of free ways to build your business through online marketing. However, there are other methods available that come at a cost. Although they have a price tag, they need to be part of your marketing arsenal.
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is a critical factor in online visibility. It’s one of the first steps any digital marketer will recommend for building traction with a small business. Optimizing your website requires taking a complex series of steps that involve a broad range of factors, including:
- Adding relevant keywords and keyword phrases to your body text
- Optimizing meta tags and descriptions
- Optimizing images
- Optimizing image alt tags
- Optimizing page names and URLs
- Optimizing your site menu
These are just a few of the factors involved. You can probably do some SEO work on your own, but to find success, you’ll most likely need to pay a professional.
Facebook marketing is vital to small business success today. But you need to go beyond organic posts. Facebook Ads is a powerful tool that allows you to reach specific audience segments with marketing messages that resonate with them. You can conduct A/B testing, use images, video, and text, and segment your audience as much as you like here. Facebook Ads can also be surprisingly affordable when used correctly.
Like Facebook Ads, PPC ads allow you to target your audience directly. Google AdWords is probably the best-known platform, but there are others out there that offer a lot of value. PPC ads can be invaluable while you’re waiting for organic traffic to build, or even when you’re running specific promotions.
However, they can get costly if you don’t use the right strategy when setting up your keyword bids. Instead of targeting the most commonly used keywords, look for less used words and phrases that are still relevant (and still used by your customers). It’s also important to do your due diligence when it comes to A/B testing to ensure your ads perform as well as possible.
Invest in a CRM
With those out of the way, we need to discuss what strategy you’ll follow. In a nutshell, this is just a way of bringing all those tools together and ensuring that they’re working on your behalf. Several online marketing strategies should be part of your overall plan, and we’ll discuss each, as well as their constituent parts, below.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
Search engine marketing is actually a combination of several different tactics. You’ve got on-page SEO for your website, off-page SEO to focus on link building, and PPC ads, as well as other aspects to consider. SEM is perhaps the single most important strategy for small businesses to implement to rank well in the search engine result pages (SERPs). It’s often called search engine optimization, but SEM is about so much more than just optimizing your website for Google and Bing.
Local Search Marketing
For small businesses with a physical location, local search marketing is a vital strategy. Claiming your Google My Business page is the first (and arguably most important) step, but there are others. Make sure that your website includes your address, phone number, hours of operation, and other location-relevant information. Include location-relevant details like city names in your page content and blog posts, too. Make sure you include information about customer service also, to help your customers learn more about what you offer.
Content marketing is an important strategy that helps you connect with your audience, offer value, and then draw them back to your website or a specific landing page. In fact, content marketing is a vast area, including blogging, social media content creation, and guest posting. It also touches on things like offering freebies and lead magnets as incentives to get visitors to sign up for your newsletter (think free reports, white papers, and eBooks), and so much more. Content marketing can be free, but doing it right is time-consuming and requires a lot of expertise, so most business owners find it better to outsource.
Email marketing might be an old online marketing method, but it retains its power. That’s particularly true if you’ve been able to build a relationship with a potential customer through social media marketing or content marketing. Email marketing allows you to get your message right to a potential customer’s inbox, bypassing the noise of social media and search engines. You can provide informative content, answer questions, alert them to sales and promotions, and much more. Plus, with the number of tools available, email marketing can be surprisingly affordable, or even free.
Start Building Your Business
As you can see, there are lots of ways to promote a new business online. You don’t need to be a digital marketer for many of these – they’re simple, free, solutions that help you build an audience. However, some options are better left to the professionals, as missteps could harm your company.
For instance, duplicate content on your website might get you blacklisted by Google. The wrong mix of promotional content to informative content on Facebook could cost you audience members. The wrong on and off-page SEO steps could decrease visibility rather than amplifying it.
Be smart with your digital marketing efforts. Know what you can do yourself, and then find a trusted partner to handle the rest.