When I look at all the free marketing opportunities available to small or solo businesses today I’m thrilled. When I opened my first business 21 years ago none of them existed. Marketing was much more difficult and costly. Instead, now by simply working consistently and daily on the marketing ideas below you can create a steady flow of leads and clients.
1) Social Networking: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter
Everyone is using these hugely popular social networking sites, but not always effectively. Here is a basic social networking process to increase the results you get.
1. Complete your business focused profiles at Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Don’t include intimate personal information.
2. Join Facebook and LinkedIn Groups where you can connect with your target market. Search using your most important keywords and only join groups with lots of members.
3. Make getting new “friends” a regular task. Ask members of these groups to become a friend or contact.
4. Link your blog and Twitter feed to your Facebook and LinkedIn profile pages so that each time you tweet or post the profile pages are automatically updated.
5. LinkedIn-answer questions that relate to your area of expertise
2) Industry specific online groups
There are many online networking groups that are focused on a specific industry, profession or interest. Yahoo, Google and Meetup (for local groups) all have thousands of groups in every imaginable category to choose from. Join a group if the members are your target market or the members have clients in your target market. Some of these groups are local but many have a broader reach.
Participate by posting e-mails to the group that offer valuable information or comments so members get to know you. Then after a while you can offer them your products and services and they’ll be willing to take a look.
Better yet, start your own Yahoo or Google Group and invite people to join. It’s free. Send invitation e-mails. Ask clients to invite people similar to them. You can even develop membership requirements that make people feel like they’ve been specially chosen to join an exclusive group. Then keep the group lively by posting questions that illicit a response from members. With these groups you get a unique group e-mail address and anyone who joins the group can post to the whole group.
Don’t even think about having a small business website without a blog. It’s rare that a blog wouldn’t benefit a business. Your blog should be:
* Hosted on your website. WordPress and Typepad are the two best blogging platforms that can easily be installed and integrated into your website by your web designer.
* Using popular keyword phrases that people are searching for in your niche and use them in the title of your blog posts so you can rank for those terms in the search engines
* Updated regularly with simple tips, articles, insights or info, reviews of other blogs, books or products or interviews you conduct with people you respect and would like to know. How flattering to be interviewed for someone’s blog and what a great way to connect with someone influential you’d like to meet.
* Listed on all your marketing materials and e-mails
* Have your RSS blog feed connected to LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, plus any other social media you use to get the word out each time you post.
* E-mail your subscribers when you post and encourage people to subscribe to your blog feed.
* Feedburner, Friendfeed, Technorati. These are just a few of the places your blog should be listed. Feedburner allows you to put a “subscribe to my blog” link on your blog.
Blogging is a powerful way to offer valuable help to your prospects and clients and to interact with them since they can leave comments. Popular blogs often get more traffic than websites and the trend is growing.
Squidoo was created by world renowned business marketing guru Seth Godin and is its own marketing machine. The search engines love Squidoo because it’s full of fresh content.
On Squidoo you set up something called a “lens” which is similar to a profile. You can set up a new lens for each article you write and want to publish. You can also create or join groups on Squidoo. A good strategy is to do some keyword research to discover what people are searching for in your niche or industry and then name your lens or group using that keyword. Squidoo pages often show up when people do a Google search, which could definitely get you traffic. Don’t underestimate Squidoo. It’s powerful if you explore all of its functionality.
5) Article directories
Publishing articles like this one to article directories is still one of the most powerful ways to generate traffic and leads. Your articles can get picked up by publishers of online and offline publications and you’ll get complete credit. Plus people can simply search for articles on a topic and find yours. My favorite article directories are IdeaMarketers and EzineArticles — both dot com.
6) Press releases
There are literally hundreds of websites that accept free press releases for inclusion in their online publications or directories. Every newsworthy occurrence in your business warrants a press release-some examples would be a new website, new corporate client, upcoming event, new product or service or new employee.
It’s quite easy to buy a Flip camera, take your articles and turn them into simple tips videos that you can post on YouTube and other video sites. Again, tagging the video with popular keywords will help drive traffic to your video. Include your domain name on the last slide so people know where to find you.
All of these methods done CONSISTENTLY will drive a ton of traffic to your website at no cost. Once they’re there turn them into a lead by asking them to optin to your mailing list. Then begin showing them why they should hire you.