With the explosion of digital communication over the past decade, the media by which small businesses can market themselves is enormous. Print media is still very popular, of course, like newspaper advertisements, signs, or brochures. But digital media offers never-ending potential and creativity.
In the old days, the only electronic marketing tools available were television and radio. Now we have the Internet, e-mail, voicemail, text messaging, podcasts, infomercials, not to mention other lead generation solutions available — the list keeps growing. Consider all the different ways you can beef up business for your company and which methods would be most feasible to you.
Having a website is a premium way to market your business. With new software and bandwidth offers from internet service providers, websites can be an inexpensive, yet very effective marketing tool.
Not only does a website make it easier for customers to search for your services, it is the most detailed representation of your business. The Internet is the perfect place to advertise, inform, and interact with your customers.
You can even set up a storefront so that your customers can order your product directly online from anywhere in the world. In fact, it is almost unthinkable for any business, large or small, to not have a website.
You may not feel that you are ready for an entire website. If you are only selling ink cartridges, for example, you might not have enough content to add to a website. Or maybe you just don’t have the time or resources to maintain a site. You can still market your product through the Internet.
For very small fees, you can have your business placed on online directories, which still come up on search engine results lists. The directory listing would be simple, containing your company’s name, address, and telephone number. Usually, there is no place for catchy phrases in a directory listing, so you would do well with a very creative and descriptive name for your business.
Whether or not you have your own website, you can advertise your business on other websites through banner ads. This involves placing your company logo, business name, and catch phrase in the white space of someone else’s site.
Visitors to that site see your ad, and if they are interested, they click the banner and move to your site or to an online directory. The fee for advertising this way is very small, either a few cents per click or a set amount per month.
Using e-mail to market your business is something that must be approached carefully. Unwanted e-mails to mass numbers of people are considered spam and can have a counter-effect. Marketing e-mails must be invited by the recipient. Otherwise, you risk irritating a potential customer.
But there are a number of simple ways to get that invitation. First, you can have an option on your website, if you have one, that allows the visitor to check a box if they want to receive regular updates about your product.
Or you can sign up for an affiliate program with another website, one that asks, in their registration process, if the customer would like to hear about “other great offers.”
Launching a marketing campaign while customers are on hold is not a new concept. But it is a perfect use of hold time that may otherwise be wasted. When your callers must be placed on hold, play a digital recording that highlights your products and reminds customers of your unique competitive edge.
Marketing your services through television and radio ads might be a little extreme for your small business. But don’t rule it out until you’ve considered the options. Large network television commercials are very costly, money you probably will not get back from your small scale sales. Even radio advertising can be expensive unless you are at least a mid-sized business.
On a smaller scale, local cable TV stations are a far less expensive medium. You would have to research the viewing audience, but if a station caters to small businesses or specialized businesses, this would be a great place to promote yourself. Local radio stations can also be beneficial.
During morning talk shows, you can purchase a full-blown ad or a simple marketing blurb read by the host. University radio stations are especially keen to sell ad blurbs as they typically need the filler, not to mention the extra income.
Podcasts have become very popular over the past few years. Podcasts are digitally recorded, specialized radio shows. Currently, there are very few podcast programs that integrate advertisements—this is one of the features that makes the podcast so desirable—but keep an eye out for those that do.
Nearly all electronic media started out with no commercials until the marketing income became too tempting (Cable TV once used ‘no commercials’ as their unique competitive edge. Now look at it!). In the modern digital world, marketing potentials are enormous. Small business owners who do not take advantage of what the computer age has to offer are literally selling themselves short.
The main objective of any small business should be to meet the needs of the customers. Digital marketing provides instant gratification, which is the greatest need of consumers today.