When was the last time you tried to get new customers for your business? What did you do, advertise? How did that work out?
I’m guessing that since you are reading this, you are ready to find a way to increase your leads and customers by doing a bit of online marketing. By now you realize that advertising doesn’t always work out the way you expected, and you have to pay for it whether you get results or not!
A while ago, I was in the same position, having blown a wad of dough on ads, and watching my business go down the tubes. I didn’t have any money left for hiring professionals, and believed that it was time to take things into my own hands. After all, I’m an entrepreneur and had mastered skills to create three successful businesses. How hard could Internet marketing be?
Well, I was about to find out, the hard way, how much I didn’t know. I had developed marketing and advertising skills over twenty-seven years of running professional services businesses and stores, but they were inadequate for what I wanted to do online.
I considered myself a fairly advanced Internet user, but as an Internet marketer, I was a rank novice. I ended up wasting months floundering around on MySpace and social sites, and got absolutely nowhere. I thought that I had a good website, but even though I could tell that people were going to it, I got no business from it.
When I stood back from this and examined what I was doing, I realized two things: I didn’t have a clue what I was doing wrong, and I didn’t know what was wrong with my web site! Yuck!
Well, it’s been a long road since then. I got an education in how to market businesses online, and have turned the results dramatically. Along the way, I learned some of the complexities of website design and lead generation, and also determined a few very simple steps that anyone can do to promote their businesses online.
Here are three free ones:
1. Write press releases about anything newsworthy pertaining to your business or industry, and post them online to a free directory. One I use is 24-7pressrelease.com. The releases can be as simple as describing new merchandise, announcing a new employee, or describing how you are at the forefront of an industry trend. Online press releases often show up in searches for YEARS after they are posted, and using them puts you in control of your company’s image.
2. Writing articles is another good way to get lasting publicity. There are many article directories to post them on, for free. One of the larger directories is EzineArticles.com. Different from press releases, the articles are not about news or events, but can be reviews of products, “how-to” tips, or anything of interest to your potential customers. Like press releases, these articles will often show up in searches for you, your business, or your industry.
3. Make videos and post them for free on YouTube and many other video hosting sites. Get in front of the camera and talk for a few minutes about anything of interest to your potential customers. Make a series of related videos. For example, if you’re a Real Estate Agent, talk about neighborhoods, condos, housing styles, etc. These don’t have to be slick to be effective. The whole idea is for people to get to know and like you.
In all of your marketing, include a link to your website, and a call to action. For example, a simple one is “Go to my web site and get more info on XYZ.”
If you want to get leads, you need some way to collect the information. Don’t rely on people going to your web site, picking up the phone and contacting you. Your web site needs to be constructed to capture lead information (name, email, phone, etc.) The simplest way to do that is by getting an email service (called an auto responder) and adding a lead capture form to the site.
You can offer a free report, or a consultation, newsletter or something in return for opting-in. This establishes a relationship, and gives you something to reference when you contact the lead. For example, if you gave a free report on seagulls, you could start a phone conversation or your follow-up email with “Did you find that seagull report interesting?”
Without getting technical about lead capture forms and auto responders, all you need to know is that’s an easy thing for you to do yourself or have your web designer add it for you. There are many auto responder services out there, and you’re probably getting emails from businesses using them right now. One popular service is Constant Contact.
Whichever one you choose will provide the capture form and some basic installation instructions for you.
What I have listed here is the basics of an internet marketing campaign. If you post one press release, one article and one video every week, you will achieve publicity which would cost you thousands of dollars if you paid an agency.
These very steps have been proven to work for many different types of businesses. Of course, your marketing will be most effective if you get some additional instruction on how to structure your presentations and fine-tune your marketing, but the important thing is to actually start doing it.