Did the entire first decade of the 21st century pass without your company getting serious about online marketing? Well, you’re not alone … and it’s not too late.
Despite all the buzz about web wonderfulness and social networking, a majority of U.S. small businesses (54%) still don’t have a web site. That’s an improvement from the 65% that lacked a web site in 2007, says a new survey by Discover Business.
“Over the last three years we’ve seen a steady increase in the number of entrepreneurs who are going online to promote and grow their businesses, but the web has yet to become a must-have tool for everyone,” says Ryan Scully, director of Discover Business.
If your organization doesn’t have an online strategy to speak of—no web site or a skimpy one, no social-media strategy, no e-mail list, no e-newsletter—you can still catch up.
Best-selling author and marketing expert Seth Godin recommends venturing forward with these strategies:
Use a free web site-creating tool, such as weebly.com or yola.com, to build a page about your company. “Nothing fancy,” says Godin, “but list your locations, your people (with addresses) and make it clear you want to hear from people.”
Start sending an e-newsletter to customers, using MadMimi.com or MailChimp.com. With Mail Chimp, for example, you can send up to 3,000 e-mails a month to 500 recipients at no cost. It also offers free guides on e-mail marketing.
Start an e-newsletter for your vendors. Why? Godin touts it as a way to provide updates on what you’re doing and selling, and what internal problems vendors may be able to help you solve.
Add the company president’s e-mail address to every invoice and piece of communication, asking people to write to you with comments or questions.
Post a whiteboard in the break room. Use it to share updates about how many people subscribe to the e-newsletter, how many people visit the web site, how long it takes customer service to answer an e-mail and how often your brand names are showing up on Twitter every day.
Start reading about online marketing and create a book club that discusses one great online media book every couple of months.
Godin suggests that small business owners not fret about getting it perfect the first time.
He says, “The problem is no longer budget. The problem is no longer access to tools. The problem is the will to get good at it.”
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