Having An Online Presence
Once upon a time it was possible to start a business and become successful without the help of the Internet. Those days are long gone as we enter the age of online marketing, visibility and credibility as a way to build a prosperous business with a future. This is now the new ‘normal’ and those who understand the importance of having an online presence will be far more likely to prosper.
Crystal wrote to me to ask for help with her newly launched interior design business. She began offering her services to clients during the summer of 2013 and wants to know if she must spend money on a website and get involved with social media to grow her business as quickly as possible. The answer is yes, as an online presence is absolutely necessary if you are going to compete in your industry alongside people who ‘get it’ when it comes to online marketing and sales.
This doesn’t have to be expensive, as long as you know what to do and how to do it, which I will explain in detail here. And, coupled with more traditional marketing and offline methods can almost guarantee that you will have the very best chance of success.
First, have someone set up a WordPress site for you, using a domain for your business. This may be your actual business name, your name, or a name that includes your industry and location, such as interiordesignsantaclarita.com or santaclaritainteriordesign.com. Both of these domains were available as of this writing, which just goes to show that you will be ahead of much of your competition if you follow what I am sharing here.
Next, start creating content on your topic in the form of written materials, audio recordings, and short (under five minutes is optimal) videos that you can share with your prospects and current clients and customers, as well as with family and friends. Many businesses, such as Crystal’s interior design company lend themselves well to this, while others take a little more creativity to build interest.
Add your content to your new website as blog posts, to article directories such as http://SubmitMoreArticles.com, social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest), within your email newsletter, and in a short report you can make available on Amazon. Start an Internet radio show on Blog Talk Radio and add your ‘show’ (it can be five minute segments if you wish) to iTunes as a podcast. Start a channel on YouTube using your company’s name and upload your videos there on a regular basis.
Be sure to add an optin box to the upper right-hand corner of your website, using a service such as Aweber (http://ConnieLoves.me/Aweber gets you started for just one dollar) to stay in regular contact with your prospects and clients.
Now it’s time to tell the world what you are doing through press releases, live appearances, and traditional print advertising. I use a service called WebWire (http://WebWire.com) to send press releases inexpensively – about twenty-five dollars each as of this writing – and they will be distributed far and wide to help you get the word out about what you do and how you can help others by doing it.
Have fun with live appearances by offering to speak at local meetings such as Rotary, the Chamber of Commerce, and any trade shows that are appropriate to your business. Have a one page flyer and a business card ready to give out, and be sure to collect the names and email addresses of those who show interest in your business.
And do not forget about traditional advertising and marketing. The publications you reguarly is the first place to start. It is my belief that the people who are serious about doing business locally will always begin with a local publication to connect with people who can do what they need done.
Educate all of the members of your business team about the importance of having a website and creating relevant content. Work on increasing your online presence and your business will thrive and prosper in 2014 and beyond.