Online Marketing for Small Business: Promotion and Placement 101
Any small business owner knows that marketing is an important aspect of building the business. The core of a successful marketing strategy is to clearly build and communicate a unique value, different from your competitors.
After settling on a strategy that shows why you're different (and better!), the next task is to promote the company into identified market segments. This type of promotion can cost enormous amounts of money with little incremental benefit. But a smart small business can actually gain significant interest by using appropriate promotion tools.
Consider the major available tools for promotion:
Basic signage: Business cards, a sign for your office, and simple marketing literature
Outdoor advertising: Billboards at various locations
Media: Commercials in various media (magazines, TV, radio, newspaper)
Directories: Yellow Pages, chamber of commerce, or internet directories.
Internet search: Content and advertising
Networking: Physical (Chamber) and Internet (facebook, linkedin, etc)
For small businesses, the most effective methods for promotion or placements are:
Basic signage: Although mobile devices are developing apps to communicate some of this information, a small investment in basic signage is well worthwhile.
Internet search: Because most consumer research begins on the internet, making sure your business show up on internet search engines is critical. Spending advertising dollars on search engines can provide some short term results, but a far more effective strategy is to build interesting content connected to your product and why it's unique.
Internet networking: Gaining clients through networks builds the trust which will encourage a potential client to engage with your small business. In this context, business networks such as Linkedin can be very useful.
Internet Directories: Listing your business on the appropriate internet directories helps to build a broader presence, and provides other ways for search engines to discover your business. Typically, advertising investments in platforms such as YP.com do not make sense, because these limited search engines are generally not as effective as global search engines such as Google or Bing.
When executed correctly, the four marketing techniques listed above can be incredibly effective, and can cost you as little as $50/month. As for other promotion tools:
Media and outdoor promotion can be helpful in building general branding, but can also be very expensive. Unless you are willing to spend large amounts of money, the benefit is limited.
- Physical tools, like the Yellow Pages phonebook or chamber of commerce networking events, have limited value and are generally not very efficient.