The Internet is a great tool to master when it comes to marketing a business – not only is it available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but online marketing is relatively easy to do and cost-effective because it allows marketing to many prospects at once.
Successful marketing involves building a relationship with a prospect and turning them into a satisfied customer who will keep coming back to the business and encourage their friends to do the same.
Online marketing uses this idea, but the relationship is initially built via the Internet or email. Social networking websites – including Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn – are not just another way for teenagers to talk to their friends, but have already become additional tools businesses use to market themselves. In fact, LinkedIn is aimed at professionals wanting to create a business network.
These websites can be used to tell prospects a little bit about you and your business, leading them to your business website to find out more. Invite business contacts and friends to join and then link with your contacts’ networks as well – the potential is unlimited.
Sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn groups are best used regularly to build ongoing relationships, but not for sales pitches.
Email newsletters are another ideal online marketing tool for building relationships. They can be used to communicate with past, present and future customers – all that is needed is the contact’s email address and permission to use it.
Electronic newsletters can be done from the office using regular email programs or, even better, there are database management programs available that manage the whole process, including distribution, tracking and spam compliance for people who unsubscribe.
For those who love to write, try a blog. Search engines love blogs because the content is constantly updated and so this is a great way of ensuring you and your business feature in search results. Free blogs can be set up at www.blogger.com or www.wordpress.org.
Blogs build credibility and expert status because writing about your chosen topic puts you in direct contact with your target market. They also attract leads and begin the relationship-building process because prospects can read what you have to say on the topic.
Once in the habit of writing regularly, a selection of blog posts can be combined to produce an e-book that is published on your website or used as an incentive for people joining your business mailing list.