As someone who makes a living building online businesses, I have a strong bias towards online marketing. It’s the best channel to promote your business, but of course it’s not the only channel.
So rather than vomit up the same old spiel about social media, search engine optimisation, Google Adwords and various other online marketing channels, I want to give you some practical ideas on how to get noticed with very little budget and some nifty innovation that is cross-channel and leverages your online marketing.
And guess what? Everything I’m preaching here I’ve done, so ask me questions, make suggestions and let’s share some online marketing ideas.
1. Give people a reason to re-connect with you
Networking is a great opportunity to meet new people, make friends and talk about your business. If you actively network (that is, actually attend events, participate and connect with people), it works. Trust me.
Next time you go to a networking event, arrive prepared with an offer. It might be as simple as having a special message on the back of your business card saying, “Since we exchanged business cards, we’re practically friends. To become friends with benefits visit my website and get 20% off your next widget purchase”.
This is the best way to get people to visit your website after an event, remember you, and ultimately create an opportunity. Try it – and then head back here and let us all know how you get on!
2. Shake things up a little
Social media, Adwords, search engine optimisation (SEO) – everyone’s doing it. I’m not saying you shouldn’t use these marketing tools, but I challenge you to market your business differently.
A few years ago everyone started learning how to rank their website on Google and the early adopters who’d once outranked everyone else and made all the money (yep, I made a small fortune) had to move on and look for other ways to market their businesses.
Sure SEO was (and still is) very important, but one of the most successful techniques I’ve ever used was allowing customers of a directory I owned to create their own promotional pages for a small fee.
This was some of the best marketing I’ve ever done. When the business owners promoted their respective pages, the links returned to my site, increasing my search engine ranking. And they paid me for the privilege.
Set yourself the goal of staying ahead of your competitors. How can you be smarter? How can you be different? What can you do that everyone else isn’t doing?
3. Create, share and be rewarded
We have a tool on our website that analyses other people’s websites and gives them advice on how to improve their content and search engine optimisation. It went gangbusters when we launched it and is still used on a daily basis. It’s useful, it’s free and it got us an amazing amount of enquires, many of whom are now customers.
It’s also been a fantastic talking point and conversation starter. I’ve repeated the line “You should try my website analyser, it’s free and will give you the answers you’ve been looking for” on the phone, at networking events, and even on weekends, and it has been a huge drawcard, bringing many people to our website.
What tool can you create and share that helps your customers? Think of something you can contribute to your customers that will get noticed, get shared, and bring you the reward you deserve.
4. Ask for referrals online
Let’s face it: whatever business you run, referrals win hands down.
Whether you’ve been in business a few years or a few weeks, referrals are your best weapon. Harnessing and encouraging referrals is a no brainer for anyone serious about marketing, and your online marketing can help you get more of them.
Consider creating a referral program so existing customers get a discount when they refer prospects to you. And make sure your site enables people to easily refer you to their friends and share your great content and tools with their networks.
In my opinion, the most effective marketing is marketing that compliments other channels. Online marketing is great, but it should be just one aspect of your marketing strategy, and these days that’s easy to forget.
Please feel free to share your own online marketing ideas, and praise or criticise mine!