You can always market your business online even FREE!

As a small business owner, you have a lot to worry about——not having enough customers, enough money, or enough time to do it all. You probably know that digital marketing is important, especially for business just started. I want to say it’s easy to build your online presence, no money requirement or time commitment……but I don’t want to lie to you. The truth is you got to put at least one thing there, if not both of them. Don’t panic, it’s not hard to start.

What do I mean by money and time spent in digital marketing

Of course, I don’t mean absolutely no budget needed or time spent. In this spectrum, one end is money, the other end is time. If you are willing to spend more time, money would be saved. On the other hand, if you have a bigger than shoelace budget, you would have more time for other business tasks. The trick is to find the balance for your stage of business.

You have more time to commit for digital marketing

This is usually the case for most of the startup owners. You are CEO, you are a sales representative, you are HR, you are every role that could help with developing business. So you are going to do online marketing yourself (not because you want to, but you have to, and you heard it’s cost-effective too.)

Here is a list of what you can start with,

Create a website

It’s the basis of your online presence. You sell stuff, that’s your store; You give advice, that’s the place you tell people what you know and even how much you know (not by saying that I know, but by posting what your customers say about you). No excuse, such as “I don’t know how”, for this one. There are many website builders for non-techies. Start from a template, add content related to your business, voila, you got yourself a website.

List your business

The first and foremost, Google my business. Let people find you on Google, whether it is your store or your office. Funny thing is that there are plenty of people think GOOGLE IS THE INTERNET. That’s why put your business on Google, so people can find everything about you. Of course, look for business directories which are review-condensed if you are a B2C business and social proof is very influential in your customers’ decision making.

Share your knowledge

It could be on your website (create a blog). Blogging, one type of content marketing, may require a huge commitment if you are trying to do it right (quality over quantity). Or if managing your own content sounds overwhelming, try answer questions in your industry forums where you show off your authority.

Be a social butterfly online

Create your company social accounts, Facebook, Instagram, you name it. Post updates of your company (achievements, milestones, any other things you want to shout out to the world). Connect people on LinkedIn and let them know your company.

Add your website, channels links to your email signatures

This is a way that you can promote your company effortlessly when you are reaching out to your potential customers or sending any emails. It’s just like in traditional marketing, business owners advertise on vehicles, so they can let others know about their companies when driving around.

Give a webinar on YouTube Live or any other platforms

People may not have time to read for half an hour, but they are more willing to interact with the presenter whenever possible. A webinar gives you a perfect opportunity to understand your potential customers’ needs in real-time. After you get your webinar content ready, how can you let your audience know about your webinar? There are a few ways, such as listing events on your website if you have some traffics coming in or event management platform (Eventbrite, etc.). When people attending, it’s your showtime!

Start your email campaigns

From my point of view, this strategy is underrated. Some people think that email marketing is dead because of the low conversation rate without thinking about ROI. True, the conversation rate of email marketing is around 5%. However, sending out 1000 emails could be as easy as one-click and cost as low as nothing. The reason to start email campaigns earlier is that it takes time to build and refine your email list. Maybe, you can send out emails to your existing customers about the latest promotions, but essentially, you want to reach out to new customers for more business.

You have more budget for digital marketing

Even you don’t have much budget, there is plenty you can do to build an online presence for your business. No excuses! What if you say, “I know the importance of digital marketing and I have some money carry out our marketing plan……”

Freelancer vs. Agency

Find someone to do it for you

Someone could be a freelancer or an agency whoever has expertise in digital marketing. This seems like an obvious answer but finding a good one usually takes time and effort. In most case, freelancers are less expensive than agencies, because agency will have a team working on your marketing plan execution. However, if you want to focus only on one aspect of digital marketing and the freelancer you found happen to have a lot experience in that aspect, then go for it.

Affiliate Marketing

Set up an affiliate program

Get help from other people selling your product. Wikipedia provides definition as “Affiliate marketing is a type of performance-based marketing in which a business rewards one or more affiliates for each visitor or customer brought by the affiliate’s own marketing efforts.” You can even engage industrial influencers to review your product in your market niche.

Google Adwords

Advertise on Google

When I say Google advertisement, I don’t just mean Google search, which might be the most well-known format on Google AdWords. It could be showing banners after visitor conducts related search terms in your niche, or it could be showcasing your products and services before a YouTube video.

Search Engine Optimization

Optimize your website

You don’t necessarily need to pay for SEO. However, if you don’t have much ideas about SEO, you need someone to help you. All kinds of links (backlinks, deep linking, do-follow link, linkbait, link building, link farm, etc.) will be too much for a non-technical business owner to take. Also, optimization for search engine may not happen overnight, and business owners may lose patient or hope in the long-period of waiting. Why bother if you could buy those time to create more value from the tasks you are best at?

Should I market my business online myself?

This is probably a question most small business owners struggled with. The answer is that it depends. Basically, you can do whatever you want if you think you have the knowledge and abilities. Maybe you start with absolutely no ideas about digital marketing and an agency helps you with it. However, as time passed by, you get to know your customer personas more (what their characteristics are, where they are gathered, what kinds of communication methods they prefer, what languages they use, etc.), you can execute marketing plan yourself. Another circumstance is when your business is growing faster, and you have to focus on other tasks, such as managing customer relationships, recruiting new employees. In this case, outsource your marketing tasks might be cost-effective and effort-effective.

About the author: Michelle is a digital marketing specialist who always loves to work on ideas and is creative in solutions. Now, she has a new role as a blogger, sharing knowledge and spreading love. Connect with her on LinkedIn here.

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