Internet Marketing 101: Online Marketing for Small Business

Introduction

You own a small business. Do you need a website? An Internet presence can be a necessity or a resource-draining boondoggle, depending on your business and your target audience. You shouldn’t build or maintain a website simply because “everyone else has one.” However, even if you own a one-person services company and get all the business you can handle through word of mouth, you can still create an online presence with a minimum of time and expense.

If and when you do develop a business website, you’ll need to make some kind of investment in Internet-based marketing. Consumers increasingly and overwhelmingly use the Internet to research and buy goods and services. This means the competition is robust, and if your site doesn’t announce its presence it will simply sit and gather (virtual) dust in some computer’s memory.

If you’ve convinced yourself that you need to enter the web marketing arena, the following report provides a fundamental primer on the most widely used tactics for both paid and free Internet advertising. Just remember that each of the topics introduced here is complex enough that there are entire books written about them, so if something appeals to you do some additional research before jumping in.

Before You Start

There are two main questions you must ask yourself before starting any marketing efforts, whether on- or offline: “Who is my audience?” and “What are my objectives?”

Audience

The audience for most business marketing activities is obviously past, present, and future customers. However, as in traditional advertising and marketing, it helps to narrow down who you are trying to reach, segmenting your market by age, geography, gender, interests, occupation. Certain methods of Internet marketing, such as pay-per-click ads, allow you to target your customers based on this type of segmentation.

Objectives

We can assume that the overall objective of most marketing is to sell products and/or services, but you may have additional objectives for online marketing. These related objectives will hopefully end up driving increased sales, but they can be more subtle than simply asking customers to buy right now. For example, your online marketing plan might include goals such as these:

  • Support and increase visibility of your company’s brand.
  • Improve search engine rankings.
  • Offer reference information related to your business sector.
  • Increase number of registered users or newsletter subscribers.
  • Drive traffic to your company website.

After defining your audience and marketing goals, you can begin to formulate an Internet marketing strategy and tactics. When getting into online marketing, it is important that you maintain brand consistency. Build on the reputation that you have already established. Your on-line presence should mirror that of your “brick and mortar” presence. Use the same logo and tagline so that people will understand that you are the same company. Having an online presence is a way to build on what you have already accomplished.

In the remainder of this report we’ll look at the most common ways you can use the Internet to deliver your message and start increasing your sales.

Table of Contents

websites

E-Mail

Newsletters

Other Announcements

Search Engine Marketing and Display Advertising

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Pay-per-Click (PPC)

Display Advertising

Social Media and Networking

Decide: Who, What, Where, When, and Why?

YouTube, Facebook, Pinterest, Etc.

Twitter

Blogs

Forums & Discussion Groups

Article Placement / E-Zines

Other Internet Marketing Outlets

Wikipedia

Directories

websites

We won’t get into the vast topic of how to build and manage a website, but if you aim to use the techniques described below, it is nearly essential to have one. Most of your marketing efforts will have a “call to action” that involves your audience visiting your website to research products or services, find contact information, sign up for a newsletter, or place an online order. Whatever you are asking people to do in your online promotions, make sure the website allows them to easily complete that task. One other vital component of any business website is an analytics program (Google offers a fairly robust application free of charge), so you can track how well your marketing efforts are working and calculate the return on your advertising investment (ROI).

How can you develop an online presence at little or no cost? There are several companies that offer free site building tools and hosting services. If you go this route, select a company that has a proven track record, so your hard work isn’t wasted when the company goes out of business or suspends the service. A couple of reliable options are Google Sites and Yola. If you have any money in your budget at all, you should probably just spend the less than $100 per year it takes to buy a personalized domain name (for example, “mybusiness.com”) and a Web hosting service. Another potential option, depending on your business and marketing goals, is to create a free blog (see below for more details). The most popular free blogging services as of this writing are WordPress and Blogger.

E-Mail Newsletters

E-mail newsletters provide one of the most highly performing avenues for marketing. You can collect customer e-mail addresses by asking visitors that come to your website to subscribe, by requesting e-mail addresses from anyone who visits your physical location, or by purchasing an e-mail list. To generate a higher rate of readership, make sure the audience is narrowly targeted and has some vested interest in your product. By sending out your newsletter on a regular schedule (weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc.) you can counteract the transient and temporary nature of Internet users by continually reminding them of your company’s existence. Affordable services like Constant Contact can be used to manage mailing lists, statistics, and opt-in/out functions.

Caveat: Sending commercial e-mail messages to people who have not agreed to receive your mailings can result in severe fines and penalties from the federal government per terms of the CAN-SPAM Act.

Newsletter content should appeal to your defined audiences, with industry- or product-related news and events, company-specific news and events, practical reference information, and interesting statistical and demographic information. The newsletter copy should publicize links to appropriate pages within your website.

You will need to maintain one or more separate lists for the purpose of sending targeted messages to particular audiences (see Other Announcements below). You might combine all your lists to send a monthly newsletter, and send other bulletins to past or potential customers as appropriate.

Other Announcements

Other announcements are e-mailings that can consist of press releases, coupons, special notices, or anything you want to communicate specifically to members of one or more e-mail lists.

Search Engine Marketing, Pay-per-Click and Display Advertising

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search engine optimization means constructing a website that is easily crawled by search engine spiders, and it encompasses a variety of techniques designed to improve your site’s (or page’s) ranking in the search engine results page. The goal is for your site to be found by searchers who are looking for sites related to a certain keyword or phrase, for example “little red wagon” if you are in the business of selling toy wagons. SEO can be divided into on-page activities (e.g., amount of content, metadata, links, programming methods and structural issues) and off-page activities (most importantly, obtaining links from other websites to your site).

Pay-per-Click (PPC)

Pay-per-click advertising refers to text ads displayed on search engine results pages (versus “organic” results achieved by SEO) and other sites, usually in the margins. In the case of Google AdWords and Microsoft’s adCenter, you can open an account and specify the keyword(s) that, when searched for, will generate an ad that links to your website. You pay only when a searcher clicks an ad and is directed to your site. In the example below, the key phrase is “little red wagon,” and pay-per-click ads are located at top (in yellow) and in the right-hand column (subtitled “Sponsored Links”). The first organic listing is “Little Red Wagon Foundation.”

A few of the benefits of PPC advertising are that you know exactly how many people view your ads, how many of those viewers click through to your website, and (if you are using a site analytics tool) what they do once they reach your site. You can also start and stop running ads at a moment’s notice, experiment with any number of ads you like, and fund your campaign with as little as $10 to start.

Display Advertising

Display advertising, also called banner advertising, means purchasing ad space on another website and placing a text and/or graphic ad with a link to your site. This technique is generally more complex and expensive than pay-per-click, but can be very powerful if the right message is shown to a tightly focused audience. To achieve optimal click-through rate (CTR), advertise on websites where you assume your target audience is visiting, rather than a general interest website. Most marketers don’t purchase ad space directly from another website, but use a banner ad network to automatically place ads on appropriate websites. A couple of the biggest names in display ad serving are DoubleClick and BurstMedia.

Social Media and Networking

Social networking is the latest buzz in the modern marketing arsenal. If you have any doubt about its impact, especially on the under-40 population, read this list. Small businesses with limited resources should weigh their time spent and the potential benefits carefully, however. It can also be difficult to measure the return on your investment for some of these tactics.

The general principle of “marketing” on social networking outlets is that people who have similar interests will virtually congregate around Web content that discusses that interest. They may be interested in product information in the form of reviews or personal opinion, but hard sale approaches are mostly discouraged and unproductive. Your goal is to become a trusted advisor-which usually means revealing your identity and at least some part of your personality. If that premise makes you uncomfortable, you might still find social networking sites valuable for market research purposes. Find out what people are buying and why, then use that information to help shape your other marketing activities.

The following section describes the more popular social media outlets and sites, but keep your eyes open for new virtual spaces where you might get more attention by getting in on the ground floor.

YouTube, Facebook, Etc.

YouTube allows you to post videos on your own “channel,” a distinct Web page that can be customized and allows for posting links back to your own website. A major positive aspect of this venue is that the number of views is posted and viewers can submit comments, so you know whether your videos are popular and why.

Facebook is considered the model for modern social networking sites. Facebook allows you (individual, corporate, non-profit, etc.) to create a page, attract “likes” and reviews, communicate with followers by posting status updates, photos and videos, and so on.

Although the previously named sites are the most popular in terms of visitors, there are a couple of business-oriented networking sites that may be more useful for making business connections. LinkedIn helps you develop a network of clients, service providers, and subject experts; find business opportunities and partners; post job openings; and more. More detailed advice on best practices for using LinkedIn can be found in many online articles and blogs.

Twitter

Think of Twitter as a mini-blog (see below) that allows you to broadcast messages of 140 characters or less. The messages appear to your “followers” on their phones or computers, as well as on Twitter.com. The biggest challenges are to gain a useful number of followers and to think of something engaging to write to them. If you are a speaker, writer, or performer Twitter can be used to let your fans know what you’re doing and when. If you have a retail store you might let your followers know that you’re offering a discounted item or running a special sale. You should post a Twitter sign-up link on your website, and within your signature line in outgoing e-mail messages. You can also gain followers by following people who work in or comment on your industry, as some Twitter users will follow those who follow them.

Blogs

The word blog originally came from the term “Web log.” There’s no real standard for what a blog is, but most commonly authors use them to comment on (and link to) other online news items, websites, or other Internet content. For the most part, direct selling on a blog is frowned upon and is probably a recipe for driving away potential readers. What do you write about, then? Well, if you run an Internet marketing firm you write about trends in Web marketing, what the search engines are up to, tips for do-it-yourselfers, or what you thought of the latest Hollywood blockbuster. Seriously, read some blogs and you will find all sorts of personal opinion mixed in with professional advice and commentary. The goal of your blog, however, should most likely be to establish yourself as an expert and trusted advisor in your chosen field.

You might also pursue getting your products, services, or website mentioned in related blogs by other industry experts. When a high-visibility blogger mentions a website on his or her blog, the site is exposed to a potential audience of new viewers. Often, blog postings are simply press releases that are picked up by sites that discuss topics related to a particular product or industry. More opportunities (and traffic) in this arena can be realized by developing relationships with individual bloggers.

Additional Tips:

  • Post an article that was written by someone else, just be sure to provide a link to the original article and give credit to the person wrote it. You can then give your commentary on the topic of the article or find a way to relate the information to local trends or challenges.
  • Ask colleagues to be “guest bloggers” by writing articles for you to post, again giving them credit and adding their byline and a link to their website. Using links is a good way to drive additional traffic to their sites so it’s a good trade-off for both parties.
  • Nick Francesco of AskNick.com said, “A blog gets people’s attention and Twitter keeps it.” Consider using these two outlets together.

Forums & Discussion Groups

A forum (also known as discussion group, message board or bulletin board) is a component of a website where users can ask questions, offer advice, or share experiences with others about a certain topic or topics. Nearly every hobby on earth has a number of popular forums wherein members offer their thoughts and feelings on all aspects of their favorite pastime. Contributing a comment (with a link to your website) in discussion groups related to your products or services can create a small surge or spike in traffic, but usually has little long-lasting effect. To maximize effectiveness, target forums on high-traffic sites that have 1,000+ users, and reply to topics with larger numbers of views (relative to other posted topics).

You can easily build your own bulletin board/forum component on your site with free or low-cost software. User forums have the potential to greatly increase the “stickiness” of a site, given a critical mass of traffic required to generate new discussions and keep participants interested in returning. You can start by “seeding” topics on your own, but there won’t be any results until traffic is directed to the forums. The conundrum for small businesses may be the time required to moderate a forum once it becomes successful. One solution is to seek out a volunteer moderator who exhibits a keen interest in your field. A sample of a baseball trading card forum is shown in the screen shot below.

Article Placement / E-Zines

Another avenue for generating incoming links and traffic to your site is the free article market. Article submission (or e-zine) websites allow you to publish articles on a variety of topics. Examples include EzineArticles and ArticleCity.com.

Depending on terms of use, these articles may be used as content on other websites, or collected on the site where submitted. The main objective of most article contributors is to increase their search engine rankings with the placement of backlinks on other reputable sites. Providing reliable and accurate reference information is secondary, and the traffic potential from article readers is questionable.

Obtaining links from article submission sites isn’t likely to improve your site’s search engine rankings much. However, existing content from a print newsletter or other written material can be re-purposed with a relatively small time investment. Be aware that creating articles from your website’s content verbatim may cause search engines to penalize your site, as the search engines take a dim view of text that is republished multiple times (“duplicate content” in search engine optimization terms). Submitting articles to sites with the most traffic will give your site the best chance to be discovered by new readers.

Caveat: Once an article is submitted, you have little or no control over who uses your content and for what purpose, depending on the copyright policies of the site on which the article is posted.

Other Internet Marketing Outlets

Wikipedia

Wikipedia is, essentially, an online encyclopedia. The unique aspect of Wikipedia is that users generate the content, though content must be approved by volunteer editors. Traffic will grow if and when others link to the entry. If you add content, your time commitment will be relatively minor, and the benefits might include improved search engine ranking and a slight increase in traffic to your site. As with other forms of Internet communication, a Wikipedia entry that is essentially a commercial for a product, service, or company will not be viewed positively and is unlikely to be approved by editors.

Directories

Online directories allow Internet users to browse through categories of topics to find websites related to a certain subject. There are directories for businesses, blogs, websites in general, and more. Many directories are free, and some only list you if you pay. The mother of free directories is the Open Directory Project, and by all accounts the best paid directory for business is the Yahoo! Directory ($299 annually). Be aware that you might wait a long time for some of the free directories to list your site, as they may rely on volunteer screeners. Directories not only allow consumers to find you in their listings, they also help get your site indexed in the major search engines. If you submit your site to a directory, make sure to read the submission guidelines and follow them exactly.

The Life, Times and Clothes of Vivienne Westwood

Vivienne Westwood is today famous around the world as one of the most cutting edge and out there designers of our time and is credited with bringing many subcultures in the world into the mainstream and integrating the design elements from all these subcultures into her fashion collections much to the acclaim of fashion critics and the general public as well.

She is most often credited and quite rightly so with being the person or the fashion designer who has almost single handedly bought the punk and new wave subcultures and their unique design elements and styles into the world of main stream fashion.

Vivienne Westwood has now been putting fashion collections on the ramps of fashion weeks for nearly thirty years as this year will be the thirteenth anniversary of the first time that she showed a fashion collection to the world. In 1981 she showed her first collection in a catwalk show and the theme that she chose for the collection was pirates. In the following years which include the rest of the nineteen eighties and the beginning of the consequent decade, she released fashion collections one after another to ever increasing applause and appreciation from the fashion world and she calls those years the pagan years.

During this period Vivienne Westwood took her inspiration from everything from punks to ragamuffins and even what she calls in a phrase that she covered herself, Tatler girls. She has received a lot of recognition for her services to the world of British fashion in particular and the fashion world in general as well. Not only has Westwood won the designer of the year award many times, she has also received some of the highest honors awarded by the country of England and has been awarded an Order of the British Empire for her services to fashion as far back as nineteen ninety two. A few years later in recognition of her continuing services and ever cutting edge styles and fashion collections, the OBE was changed to an even higher honor a DBE in the year two thousand and six.

Today her clothes are sold around the world as well as in three exclusive shops in London as well as one in Leeds and one in Milan in Italy. The best place to look at her is fantastic creations though is still online at a reputable online retailer that will always have the latest pieces available at the best prices.

Things to Look for When Choosing a Motorcycle Repair School

A passion for motorcycles is a basic requirement for being a successful motorcycle mechanic. In fact, most motorcycle mechanics started their career simply as a hobby. They were motorcycle lovers who were toying with their bikes to make them run more smoothly until they realized that they could earn money doing something they enjoy. Some of them work in repair shops equipped with their own personal experience in motorcycle repair while others further their knowledge and skills by enrolling in a motorcycle repair school. Being a motorcycle mechanic is meticulous work and it can be tough knowing that a rider’s life depends very much on one’s skills.

When equipment breaks down, a mechanic is responsible for diagnosing the source, nature, and extent of the problem. A highly skilled mechanic is able to diagnose mechanical, electrical, and fuel problems and to troubleshoot quickly. To be able to quickly and accurately diagnose problems is a mark of an expert mechanic and this is also an exhibition of their great problem solving ability, as well as their comprehensive knowledge on how the equipment operates.

A mechanic’s job also includes minor tuning or replacement of a single part of the motorcycle. They may also be asked to perform complete engine overhaul, although this job could take many hours as they need to take down the engine and replace defective valves, bearings pistons, and other interior parts. Those who are highly skilled utilize specialized machineries and the most advanced computerized equipment to adjust and tune motorcycles, especially those that are used for racing.

To qualify for a trainee mechanic position, some employers prefer applicants with a high school diploma or the equivalent, but there are also some who accept those with less education as long as they exhibit satisfactory reading, writing, and math abilities. However, due to the growing complexity of motorcycles, those with a diploma or a certificate from a formal training program in motorcycle repair have more employment opportunities. This is why enrolling in a trade school or institute to be a certified motorcycle mechanic could be a wise decision.

Would-be motorcycle technicians can either opt for a technician diploma or an associate degree in applied science or mechanics. By attending a trade school, a student will receive the needed job training and basic credentials to be a motorcycle mechanic. After completing this program, he will be certified as a trained technician in this field.

Meanwhile, the associate degree is designed for mechanics to earn the educational qualifications that match the needs of their profession. The program can be completed within one or two years. Courses taught in an associate degree include math, basic management, human relations, infrastructure and resources, and hands-on experiences such as disassembling, assembling and overhauling of motorcycle equipment. Online courses are available for those who can’t manage to attend an on-campus program.

Because there are many schools that offer motorcycle repair classes, it is important that prospective students choose a school that can develop their full potential and ensure their success in the field. There are many qualities that mark a good training facility.

First and foremost, a good motorcycle repair school should provide their students plenty of hands-on training. When students use their own hands repairing motorcycles, they learn a lot easier. Next to hands-on training, students should also ensure that the motorcycle school offers the most advanced repair classes. It is essential that students get trained on fixing modern motorcycle engines.

Essential core classes should include motorcycle suspension systems, four stroke engines, two stroke engines, brake systems, motorcycle electrical systems, fundamentals of electricity, and motorcycle fuel systems. The school should also have highly qualified instructors. The best motorcycle repair instructors are those with many years of experience in the field. Students should ensure that they attend a motorcycle school with excellent instructors.

Finally, a motorcycle repair school should provide help to their graduates to get a job in the field. This will ensure students that they will not only be trained properly, but that they will also have a good start in their career.

The Art of Branding Yourself

Lately I've been hearing a lot about the idea of ​​branding yourself. I found an article from Investor's Business Daily that talks about the Art of Branding Yourself in Business.

The author, Gary Stern uses David Bach, the author of books like Smart Women Finish Rich and Automatic Millionaire, to illustrate the idea of ​​branding yourself.

Bach did not set out to be the Wells Fargo Investment guru. As a CPA he wanted to teach financial seminaries to women, mainly widows and divorceses. Thus he wrote Smart Women Finish Rich, because his passion was teaching people about money.

Bach says "I wanted to bring my message to millions of people, change their lives by making complicated issues simple and get people to take action. make an impact. "

David Bach had the ability to teach people about money. This is where he felt he could add value to his clients. This was his brand.

Stern quotes Rick Haskins (Author of "Brand Yourself") that "Since Corporate America has exploited many people, attaching a name and a face to a brand is becomg more important."

This is so true is not it? People have no idea who to trust anymore. By branding yourself as an expert and as someone who has truly had their clients best interests at heart, you will become trustworthy in their eyes.

So how does this relate to you and your MLM business?

Here's a fact. For the most part people have a preconceived awareness of what an MLM or direct sales business is. Their mom was in Avon or had a cousin in Amway or something. So if your prospect has seen these people do it, and fail, then what do you have to offer them?

This is where most people begin to start selling their business opportunity. "We're debt free," or "We're ground floor" etc.

In your prospect's mind, he's saying "Who gives? How are you going to help me succeed?"

See, where most people start selling their business opportunity, this is where you should start selling yourself, selling your brand.

"I can help you because …"

"I have your solution …"

This is what Bach did for his clients. He welcomed on his knowledge and showed that he was out to help his client. Bach had their best interest at heart.

The best way to start your brand is by becoming an expert about your business opportunity and your products. Why? Because knowing this will allow your prospect to trust you and, most important, follow you.

Here's the list of strategies that Stern says has worked for Bach:

1. Tap your passion: Identify your own passions and purpose in life.

2. Become skilled at generating publicity: This is getting your name out there. You can easily do this with Google AdWords or using Internet Marketing strategies, like Magnetic Sponsoring.

3. Keep it Simple: Stick to the basics by only focusing on what your client / prospect wants and what they need to do in order to get what they want.

4. Evolve the Brand: Start with a niche then begin to expand into other niches. When you become in expert in say home care, then become an expert in nutrition and service those type of clients.

5. Create Multiple Revenue Streams: What is meant here is create multiple revenue streams to your business. You can do this with affiliate programs. Or you can market your own information product like an ebook or brochure about your business opportunity.

6. Secure Sponsors: Again this refers to affiliate programs such as Magnetic Sponsoring. You can use Dillard's information product as tool to help grow your business and get clients.

7. Know your target audience: This is critical. Your target prospect is not your uncle who's plopped in front of the TV right now. Look for people who are looking for your products or your business opportunity.

These strategies are just a thumbnail sketch of what you can do to enhance your business. Obviously when you go into depth in each of these strategies there is a lot to learn. There are plenty of resources out there to help you grow your business.

A true entrepreneur will do whatever it takes, right?

Remember to add value to your prospects by explaining what you have to offer them.