It was not so long ago that, for small businesses especially, marketing was a bit of a toss up, and an expensive one at that. For starters, your options were few –business owners could choose from major media outlets like TV, radio, newspapers and magazines, as well as a few more obscure choices like billboards, direct mail, bus benches, and so on. And of course there was always the Chamber of Commerce mixer.
The problem with all of these things is two-fold:
- First, as indicated, there is no guarantee that your campaign will work. Your ad in the magazine for instance could end up on page 5, or on page 123.
- Secondly, your choicewas often an expensive one. A drive-time radio ad for instance can easily cost in excess of $500 a minute, and given that repetition is required, that is no small undertaking.
So, among many other reasons, that is why the Internet has improved the lives of small business owners.
Simply put, eMarketing is the process of using digital tools to market your business online. It is essentially the same idea as traditional marketing – getting your name out there in order to increase brand awareness and boost sales – but makes it much easier and far more affordable.
How is eMarketing better? Let us count the ways:
1. It has a far greater reach: Back in the day, if you were to run an ad in your local newspaper, it would only be seen by people in your immediate area, but Internet marketing, simply by virtue of the medium, truly will have a global reach.
2. It’s immediate: Previously, you would have to wait weeks to see if your TV campaign would bear fruit. Today, if you were to run a pay-per-click ad (PPC, see below), you would know in less than a day how that ad is working. Or, if you post something on your company Facebook page that resonates, you will know immediately.
3. You get feedback: Old marketing: Hand out 100 business cards at a mixer, cross your fingers, hope the phone will ring. New marketing: Post a poll on your website or ask a question on Twitter and get immediate feedback.
4. It is less expensive: Maybe best of all, it costs you far less to market online. Creating a great website, using LinkedIn to find prospects, optimizing your website – they all take time, yes, but very little money.
So yes, eMarketing is a vast improvement in the world of small business marketing. Given that, let’s take a look at the options you have in your eMarketing toolbox:
Your website: The first and best option is your website. It is where people go to check you out and you simply must have, not just a good one, but a great one. On your site you can sell products, have a blog, post a video, offer an e-newsletter – there are so many ways to engage with your audience.
The good news is that creating that great site is easier than ever, fast, and very affordable. Check out options like Web.com.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO): SEO is the process of making your site attractive to search engines. The beauty of this is that, once accomplished, your site can be found whenever people search for terms that fit your business. Yes, essentially it is free advertising.
Social media: Small businesses are often encouraged these days to engage in social media marketing for a very good reason: It is where the eyeballs are. If your customers and potential customers are there, then you need to be there too.
Pay-per-click: The beauty of PPC is that you only pay for an ad once someone sees it and likes it and clicks on it. It is incredibly targeted, and cost-effective.
Online ads: While banner ads have justifiably gotten a bad rap, there are still plenty of effective ways to advertise your business online.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg. In an upcoming article I will share some powerful ways to market your business online. Stay tuned!
About Steve Strauss
Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.
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