Not that long ago, your options were limited when you wanted to get the word out about your business to potential customers. You could open your wallet wide and buy radio, television, newspaper or magazine advertising, or you could pay an ad agency or marketing firm a lot of money to spread the news about your products and services. Either way, results weren’t guaranteed.
Even after millions upon millions of people worldwide gained access to the ever-expanding Internet, many businessmen chose not to use the tools that were available to them, instead outsourcing that work to marketing professionals.
That is no longer the case. Though some jobs should remain the domain of the pros, business owners or their employees can now handle many marketing tasks once thought to be too complicated, too high-tech and too time-consuming.
Building Your Website
At one time, a business’ website was virtually its only presence on the Internet, and a site could be built and maintained only by someone who knew how to write code. Today, a wide range of companies provide free services to individuals and businesses who want to build their own site. The tools are offered at no charge for two main reasons:
- They can sell advertising on their sites because a large number of people will visit in search of free site-building tools;
- The basic tools are free, but these companies will have the opportunity to sell you shopping carts, credit card services and other add-ons.
If you are interested in building your own site, here are a few places you should visit. They all have their strengths and weaknesses, so do some research before you decide which is best for you.
Other Ways to Market Your Business
There’s more to marketing your business online than building a website. You or a member of your staff can handle any or all of the following options. However, if you find that you can’t spare the time or if you’re just not motivated to handle your social media marketing duties on a regular basis, it might be a good idea to outsource the work to a company that specializes in making your social media efforts successful.
- Facebook – If you are looking for new customers, how can you ignore a social media tool used by more than half a billion people? You can use Facebook to share news about your company, post photos and drive traffic to your website.
- Twitter – According to Statistic Brain (www.statisticbrain.com), at the beginning of 2014, there were 645,750,000 registered Twitter users, with 135,000 new users signing up every day. You can use Twitter to share news about your company.
- Blog – Blogging is free (unless you want your own domain name), and it will probably make you a better writer and thinker. It’s also an excellent way to promote your products and services. It’s always best to blog regularly, constantly providing new content for your readers.
- YouTube – Using YouTube, you can disseminate videos about your business. For instance, you can produce a tutorial that explains how to use your products or how to solve common problems related to your industry.
If you decide not to build your own website and you determine that neither you nor anyone on your staff is capable of handling your social media, you have options besides ad agencies and marketing firms. Remember that your website probably will present your potential customers with their first impression of your business. You don’t want them to see sloppy, unprofessional design work, and you don’t want them reading copy riddled with typos and grammatical errors.
Here are some places to look to find a freelance Web designer or a graphic artist to help you create a logo. Make sure you see samples of their work, and, if possible, check references with companies that have done business with them before.
If you are looking for a freelance writer or editor to make certain the copy on your website or your blog is well-written and grammatically perfect, visit these websites and others.
And, of course, you can always find some good leads on Craigslist.
If you have money to burn, you can spend a lot of it hiring people to handle all your online marketing needs. Most businesses are not in that situation, however. The key is to strike a perfect balance – handling part of the job yourself and outsourcing the rest to talented professionals.
Jason Moreau holds a CISCO certification, is MCSE certified and is a Six Sigma Green Belt. He is the Vice-President of Information Technology for Amsterdam Printing (www.amsterdamprinting.com), one of the nation’s largest providers of promotional products for businesses large and small. Jason has over 20 years of Information Technology experience and is known for his thought leadership. He regularly contributes to the Small Business Know-How blog.