Marketing can appear a very daunting prospect – especially for entrepreneurs and SMEs who have no resident marketing skills. In addition there’s the cost to consider; marketing plans appear to need significant sums of money behind them – something that isn’t always possible for smaller businesses. However, there are ways and means through which you can launch your own campaigns without too much technical expertise and without a bucket of cash.
Before you go anywhere near the Internet, you need to ask yourself a number of questions:
Who are the types of people you are marketing to?
Where does your target demographic live?
How do you communicate your message, so that it ends up in front of them?
Getting in with the Community
Once you’ve answered these questions, it’s worth taking some time to work out what your long-term and short-term goals are for your business. As you do so, you may find that certain strategies reveal themselves, perhaps based around who your demographic is and where they live.
If you are planning to start locally, then you might want to consider launching some events that are designed to raise awareness of your brand. You might consider things like fund-raising events, entering charity events or even holding giveaways in the town centre. Whatever you do, be sure to inform the local press and radio. You can also contact your local newspaper and offer them some copy that focuses on your business. Papers are always looking for articles, especially if they highlight something that’s changing within the community.
In addition, don’t discount ideas because they’re frivolous; often the most attention-grabbing strategies are those that involve a healthy dose of humor.
For further-reaching strategies, it’s worth looking at the benefits offered by social networking sites. Sites such as Facebook and Twitter offer a broad reach, but require a bit more attention. Whether you set up a Facebook page for your business or open a Twitter account, the key is to try and establish a relationship with your potential customers – one that isn’t based around hard-sell. For example, if you Tweet, then eight of ten of those short messages should be aimed at generating an interesting point of view, rather than being advertisements; it’s called ‘social’ interaction for a reason.
On the Blog
Building a website isn’t difficult and they don’t have to have bells and whistles. Companies such as WordPress offer cheap and easy-to-use templates that are well within the capabilities of even the most confirmed technophobe. Apart from stating what your product or service is, the most important part of your site is the blog. Through blogging, you can express opinions, comment and establish yourself as an expert in your field.
However, be sure to link your blogs to your social media accounts. The point of a blog is to generate interest in your points of view and, as a result, drive traffic to your website. If you don’t, your website will be as redundant as keeping an attractive car in a garage; it’ll look great, but no one will see it.
Author: Carlo Pandian is a keen observer of the start-up world and writes about marketing, business software such as Intuit accounting and productivity. He has previously spoken for the members of the Centre of Excellence for Women’s Entrepreneurship on how to promote small business online.