Where to start: 10 easy easy ways to begin promoting your business today
Maybe your business is new or you just haven't had the time to even think about where to start your small business promotion. Well now you have a bit of time (really it doesn't take much to do a little a day) and you're ready to dig your heals in and get started. But where, and how much? Well, that's up to you really. Having a big advertising budget is great! But many of us starting out are on a shoestring. This list is a little $ to no $ way to begin the promotion game for your business. It's not nearly everything you can do, but it's what I do and it will get you started and set up for more success.
1. Set up a Facebook page for your business and start collecting Likes on Facebook.
Here's where it can feel awkward - 0 Likes. You just have to take the leap and start, put the like button on your business, buy some facebook Likes for a while until it picks up some momentum (any budget will help say $30 - $500 a month, whatever you can afford) and send it out to your friends and family on Facebook
2. Get listed in the Open Directory (dmoz.org) - Don't pay anyone to build links for you!
DMOZ is a powerful ally of Google - so you want to be in there. Choose your category carefully and don't use advertising jargon, all caps or other spammy content. Be descriptive, clear and honest. They have very particular requirements - you need to follow them to get listed.
Hint: make sure the category you are adding your business to has a current editor (found near the bottom of the page)
3. Get Google Analytics & Webmaster Tools
Analytics - monitor your traffic, keywords and visitors etc.
Webmaster Tools - if you only have time for one thing - make it this. This is the fastest and best way to submit your site to Google and get pages indexed. It's a bit of a learning curve but its super important. Get your web guy to do it if you can't. Then read about it and use it.
4. Create a small budget for Google Adwords
I have a theory that the more Google products you use the better your site does in Google Search. It's just a theory. You can spend as little or as much as you want on this. I would spend $500 on well placed Adwords before I would spend it on an SEO firm.
5. Get involved in the online community for you business
Somewhere on the web there is a forum for you and your business, or 4 or 100. Get in there and start getting involved, share ideas, argue, write articles and make sure you use your business information, including your website, in your signature
6. Create good vibrations - do good through your company
Raise money for someone in need, give away products or services, stop and help motorists, make an effort to return lost items to their owners, random acts of kindness. There are lots of ways and opportunities to help, when you offer kindness to customers and strangers, your efforts are always returned.
7. Greet every customer like an old friend and start a conversation
Don't say 'Next!', say, 'hey, how are you?' Talk to your customers like a friend and soon they will be your friend. Hire with this in mind because it is hard to train.
8. Advertise if you can - even small text ads can be helpful and have good returns
Try small local publications and don't be afraid to try and make a better deal. Try an offer like 'I would like to try it but want to make sure it is a good investment. How about I buy two months and you give me the first month free?' Doesn't hurt to try.
9. Stand by your product and fix any complaints or products, refund if they are not satisfied
It doesn't matter if the customer is wrong, or stupid, or crazy or all three. If they are dissatisfied, give them their money back.
More often than not, the customer is not crazy or wrong and there is a problem - whether it is a problem you would see is another matter. The point is to make the purchase a good experience and if for some reason it is not, then you need to repair the experience. Offer a replacement, a refund or something free - but make sure they leave with a smile.