If only marketing your business online was as easy as taking a broken vehicle to a mechanic.
“Fix it,” you’d say.
“Alrighty, then,” the mechanic would respond. A couple hours later, you’d walk out with an oiled-up online presence that runs like a dream.
Unfortunately, when our online marketing efforts are broken, there’s no quick fix.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer variety of tactics available, such as social media and search engine marketing. It’s even easier to load our plates with too much or set unrealistic expectations for our efforts.
It’s enough to leave you wondering, “Can I ever make this work?”
Yes, you can. But you need to get back to basics, first. Here’s how to make online marketing work for your small business:
Define your online marketing goals
Ever feel like you’re drowning in social media, posting links and comments to business profiles without a clue about your audience or why you’re doing it in the first place?
You’re not alone.
“Most of us jump into online marketing without a clear picture of what we want to achieve there,” says entrepreneur Nando Journeyman.
And that’s why your efforts can feel so fruitless. Without goals, you’re without a plan. How can you take the right steps for your small business if you don’t know where you’re going?
You can’t. You need goals.
Goals help you maximize your time and make online marketing work by providing the framework of a strategy.
Instead of jumping onboard with every new social media and search engine optimization trend, you’ll work with the tools that align with your goals. Productivity yields results.
Start with Journeyman’s “7 Primary Goals of Online Marketing” to understand what the web can offer your small business:
- Enhance branding and awareness
- Protect reputation
- Extend public relations
- Build community or loyalty
- Extend customer services
- Facilitate research and development
- Drive sales or leads
Choose two or three, and give your online marketing specialist a call. You’ve got plans to activate!
Avoid the hype
We all love an overnight success story, and the online marketing world is full of them. There’s always a new social media campaign going viral and attracting millions of dollars in sales, or another computer whiz kid developing a mobile app and selling it to Facebook for billions in cash and stock.
And there’s always the lure of “the next big thing”, as online marketing expert Lee Odden says, which can cripple a small business web strategy by stretching its resources too thin.
So please, for the sake of your budget and self-esteem, avoid the hype. Read marketing reports through a critical lens.
Those multi-million-dollar social media successes are usually backed by corporate brands with glamorous budgets. And those mobile app moguls are rare, like shark attacks.
It’s great to seek out strategy inspiration, but useless to constantly compare your small business’ success by the stories that make the headlines.
Here’s the exception: If “the next big thing” in traffic conversions or search engine marketing looks too good to pass up, do your research first. Assess every solution by its ability to help you achieve your online marketing goals, and the time and money you are prepared to invest to make it work.
Build a business blog
Internet marketing gives us options. So many options. An overwhelming number of options.
Amidst the chaos, there is the business blog: a mainstay for achieving your goals.
Because as Odden notes, “the answer for better online marketing starts with content.”
Yes, content. Information both created and collected for your audience and search engines.
“Search engines favor high value content in the search rankings,” Odden explains, and “social media sites favor sharable, linkable content.” A blog is a powerful, flexible tool for extending your reach to both.
Social media expert Kristi Hines agrees. A business blog can benefit your customers, your search engine rankings, and your company’s reputation.
And “no matter what your industry, chances are there is something you can write about and share with an online audience.” This is an online marketing approach that can work for just about any business.
See more valuable ways to benefit from a business blog:
With goals, clarity, and a business blog, you’re ready to make online marketing work for your small business.
Want to hit the ground running? Click here for more tips and advice for getting your business blog started!
Hines, Kristi. “Why Ever Business Should Have A Blog.” 16 January 2013. Maximizesocialbusiness.com
Journeyman, Nando. “The 7 Primary Goals of Online Marketing.” 3 April 2013. Creativejourneyman.com
Odden, Lee. “7 Ways Small Businesses Can Integrate SEO, Social Media & Content Marketing.” 24 June 2013. Toprankblog.com