So you have a real world business and you have been doing real world marketing. Maybe you are advertising in newspapers/magazines or trade journals. If you are a local-based business you might have had roadside banners made, or maybe printed some brochures and flyers and had them distributed. All of these methods have two things in common: they are traditional (tried and trusted) and they can be expensive.
Even if your bricks’n’mortar business has very little to do with the internet, let’s say you are a plumber – so your business is highly practical, skilled and physical – you can still benefit from having an online presence. Even if your business is a long, long way from a typical internet–based business. So why not carry on with the real world way of marketing? Well, you will be glad to hear that I’m not saying do away with traditional marketing methods. What I suggest is that even if you are ‘not interested’ in internet marketing for your business, you really, really should consider it.
Here are a few reasons why:
- Often it is inexpensive or even free
- Most likely when someone is looking for a local plumber (etc.) they will turn to Google first (if not, a close second)
- It can often be easily monitored to check if your marketing efforts are working
- Often it is easy to set up (although some methods have more of a learning curve)
- You can often set up on automatic, saving time and money
Here are a few examples of what you can do:
Be Found Online
When your local, potential customers are looking for a plumber (or electrician, builder etc.), the first thing they are likely to do is ask their friends and relatives if they could recommend one. Word of mouth has always been the best form of free advertising. However, if they don’t come across the tradesman they are looking for using this method they will turn to Google. When people turn to Google, they will contact a plumber (or electrician, builder etc.) via their website, where their plumber of choice will have all his/her contact details, plus testimonials saying what a great plumber he/she is (almost as good as word-of-mouth).
So whether you love the internet or not you need a website. If you don’t get an online presence you are likely to be missing out on a lot of business. Getting your own website is easier than ever, with companies such as 1and1 or Weebly making it easy to get up and running at a reasonable cost.
Use Google and Facebook
AdWords is a way for businesses to advertise directly in Google. Importantly you can set it up to show your adverts only to your local area (if you are a local business), check the responses you get (this is not so easy with traditional adverts in newspapers and magazines). You also get to set your own budget - so no nasty surprises. To find out more about AdWords, just google ‘adwords’.
Join Forums or Facebook Groups
You can garner some great free advertising when you join some online forums or like-minded groups on platforms like Facebook. By joining a forum, you can not only participate in helping others on the forum with your expertise (raising your profile within the forum), but some forums will allow you to insert a link to your business website - so potentially sending more customers your way.
Online Directories and Listing Sites
There are hundreds of online directories and listing sites that you should explore. Most of these sites will allow you to insert a link to your website (and possibly show your telephone number), again sending more potential customers your way. The majority of these sites are free to put your basic details on (although some will try to sell you their premium advertising packages). Here are a few of the most obvious ones:
- Free Index (UK)
- Freeads (UK)
- Gumtree (UK)
The common theme when advertising your business online is to have a focal point that all your customers are directed to – invariably that should be a website or similar. If you haven’t tried advertising your business online before then the first step would be to research what might best work for you, and then get a website up and running for free (try Weebly) or at low-cost. Then put your website address on as many free forums and online directories as possible, before spending anything on programs such as AdWords.