The world of marketing — especially in the digital/online world — has gotten quite complex over the past couple of decades. In the early days of the Internet, you could put up a mediocre website, load up the keywords meta tag, and legitimately expect high rankings in the search engines (back then, it wasn’t just Google — remember AltaVista, et al?). You might have included your domain name on your business cards and brochures. But really, that was about it. Let the business roll in!
We all know what happened after that — well, at least those of us who are old enough to have been born before the Web was a thing. The Internet exploded and every business and organization had a website — and, usually, a pretty good one at that. Competition for online business became more and more challenging. Bandwidth increased, online video (in particular YouTube) gained popularity, blogs and social media took hold, and before you knew it, trying to keep up felt a bit overwhelming. How are we supposed to compete with others who are doing “everything”?
While I’m a believer in doing all you can to market your business or organization, I’m also a realist. There’s a huge difference in time and resources available to a private practitioner compared to a corporation. Most of you reading this are probably in the sole proprietor or smaller business category. Not that the following suggestions don’t apply to larger organizations, but most of these marketing ideas are geared toward smaller businesses looking to catch up to — or get a leg up on — their competition.
I know it doesn’t sound glamorous and can sometimes feel like a real chore, but it’s still one of — if not the — best methods for grabbing your target audience’s attention. You don’t need to be a Pulitzer prize winning author, as long as you can write something of interest and value — preferably something that not many others have written about, or at least not from your unique angle — you increase the odds of getting indexed by Google and being recognized as an expert in your field. Especially if you can post on a regular (e.g., monthly or weekly) basis.
In addition (or instead), you can look into guest blogging on others’ sites. This can get you a whole new audience and showcase you as a potential authority on certain subjects. Just make sure that your post includes a link back to your website.
As with blogging, this doesn’t have to be a huge production. In fact, like some people I know, you can tie the two together, i.e., send out a newsletter to your subscribers to update them on what you’re doing and inform them of your latest blog post (perhaps with a brief excerpt).
The overall podcasting market may seem saturated, but if it’s something that interests you and you have a unique take on a field that hasn’t been covered to death, then go for it! Whether you decide to do short podcasts on your own or a longer ones with guests, doing so can be a new and exciting way to get known and expand your audience.
Doing a simple 90-second introduction video to put on your website’s home page can be a boon to your business. It can really make potential customers feel like they know you better than by just reading your text and looking at your photo, especially those who are too busy (or lazy) to read. And, of course, Google loves videos.
Doing a single video like this can really make a difference and that may be enough for you. But, after creating that one, you just might get the “bug” and find yourself starting up your own YouTube channel and creating new videos on a weekly basis. If so, the possibilities are endless. Again, whatever you enjoy and feel comfortable with.
5. Social Media
I know this isn’t for everyone. But before you say it’s not for you, consider that there are many different social media outlets available. You might not be a fan of Facebook, but perhaps you find Twitter to be less intimidating and more useful for you. Maybe LinkedIn isn’t your cup of tea, but Instagram is. I wouldn’t recommend forcing yourself to use any of the social media channels that “just aren’t you,” but if there are one or two that look like they might appeal, start an account or two and see if you have fun with it/them and — who knows? — maybe after a while, you’ll start to make useful connections. At the very least, social media is a great way to publicize blog posts, podcasts, and videos.
6. Cross Promotion
I wrote a blog post on this a while back, so I won’t go into great detail here. But suffice it to say that collaborating with others, whether they’re in the same industry or something altogether different, can be a fun and rewarding way to promote both of your businesses.
7. Free Guides
People are always looking for quick and easy tips. Popular ways of providing those are how-to guides and top 10 (or whatever number you like) lists. They’re usually easy to write and fast to read and absorb.
A good idea is to give the guide away as a free incentive when someone signs up for your newsletter. Or you can just give it away on its own. Just make sure it has your website and contact details, so that if someone wants more information, they can easily get in touch with you.
These are a mere seven of many possible marketing ideas you may not have given much (or any) thought. In addition to a great website, they can help boost visibility to your target market. Try one or more and you’ll be glad you did.