These days, businesses have more choices than ever before when it comes to marketing their product line. While the old mainstream of television, radio and print are still viable, there are huge numbers of other choices on the Internet. If you are not careful, your marketing costs can be out of control and not very productive. There are many problems that are obvious with mainstream advertising. TV spots cost thousands of dollars. Radio can cost thousands. Print costs hundreds or thousands of dollars. The phone directories cost hundreds and are quickly losing usefulness. All of the mainstream advertising channels offer little in the way of statistical tracking of their effectiveness. Your business should use these channels in a small supporting role, if at all.
You should consider the Internet Web 2.0 sites for business marketing opportunities. These sites take advantage of Social Media where material is directed to a mass audience who judge the merits and self-promote the best items. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and many more are sustained by hundreds of millions of members. Businesses can have ads targeted to some or all of these people. The advertising costs can be quite reasonable for those businesses that adhere to an established marketing plan. Each of the various Web 2.0 advertising options comes with direct response statistics to show exactly how effective the marketing is. Using the statistics, a you can fine tune your business marketing and alter the focus as you identify preferred channels. It can be time consuming and expensive if done incorrectly. By following a few free or cheap tips, you can get started, identify some initial successes and decide where to spend more advertising money to create sales results you want.
Free tip #1 - Get a free Google account
Many of the Web 2.0 features work well with Google searching, advertising, Youtube, maps and more. The Google channels require you to have a Google account. Go to Google to set one up for free. In addition to the marketing opportunities, your Google account will give you web mail access, instant messaging and other features if you choose to use them. You don't have to, but they come with your account for free. YouTube is also a Google partner site which does allow business videos.
Free tip #2 - Get a Google Places free listing on Google Maps
Google Places offers all businesses a free listing on their Google Maps application. This is an excellent way to get started with Internet advertising. You login with your Google account and start the application script. You business gets flagged on a map of your business area. Internet searchers are increasingly using Google Maps to determine the location of businesses and other features in their home towns. Your free listing includes up to 200 characters of descriptive text, your hours of operation, up to 10 photos and 5 videos and more. Google also offers some inexpensive upgrade options such as larger map flags for your business. These features are worth investigating so check them out after your free listing is created.
Free tip #3 - Submit informational articles describing your business services
Since the advancement of Web 2.0, promotional content sites have been established that give you a great opportunity to promote your business services for free. Most of these sites, such as Infobarrel, are interested in informative content, not self-promotional advertising pieces. For an established business, this should not be a problem. You create articles that describe your service and in return, you get to include a promotional section that specifically highlights your business. For example, the owner of a dog grooming business could write an article that describes the difficult aspects of grooming a nervous dog. In the author signature section, the business owner highlights their business and the fact that they specialize in handling nervous dogs. A second article might mention the importance of quality when grooming for a dog show. Another describes the advances in pet grooming products. Each of the articles describes aspects of your business that you want customers to know. Each is indirectly promoting your expertise in the body of the article and giving you a specific business feature as well. In time, with a number of quality articles in your account content section, your business gets known for these services and rates highly with Google and other search engines. Your articles establish your business as one customers would like to frequent. Other members of the site get the opportunity to provide comments about your article. Your response to their comments can boost your position as an expert on your chosen topic.
Free tip #4 - Submit free ads to Craigslist, Used Everywhere and other classified ad services
These sites give you a method to put in a free ad that targets your business. You may need to create an account at the site but then you can submit an ad that is focused on your business area customers. The ad gives you the opportunity to include a description of your services, contact information and even photographs. These sites have a section for new ads and categories so they can be viewed by many of your potential customers. The search engines will automatically find them which boosts your business as well.
Cheap tip #1 - Get a business website or expand an existing one
If you are in business, you should have a web site. It will give you a presence on the Internet that you can use to highlight the positive aspects of your service. It also give customers as much information as possible about you and it is always working. Many people are constantly online and they rely on the Internet for education. If they want a service, they will search for it on the Internet. The use of phone books is rapidly declining. Young people aren't reading newspapers much. Your web site works for you and is the foundation for many of the Internet marketing tools that are available. You need to find a specific descriptive web address, (Chicagopetgroomers, for example), and register to use this with a web hosting company. An Internet presence isn't expensive anymore. Packages start at less than $10 per month and have an impressive set of features.
Cheap tip #2 - Get started with Google Adwords
This is a direct advertising program that offers businesses a method to target very specific customer audiences and to tailor your market budget to specific budgets that you establish. You identify specific search terms that customers might use when finding services and you pay for leads from these customers. For example, perhaps you believe that people will search for "dog groomers in Chicago". You establish this phrase in your Adwords campaign. Anytime that someone searches for this, you want your business ad displayed next to the Google search results. This is free. If your potential customer clicks on your displayed ad, you are willing to pay a fee for the sales lead, say 50 cents. You set the amount that you believe the lead to be worth. There are statistics that you can review that show the most often used search terms. You can see at a glance if your cost per lead is working or if it needs to be adjusted. Adwords also displays your business ad on their distribution channels automatically, if you allow it. Even then, however, you get control. You can specify that you only want such ads displayed on Chicago viewers, mid-west viewers or nationwide as appropriate.
Cheap tip #3 - Get a Google Adwords credit
For first time advertisers, Google Adwords offers a free credit voucher. These are often available in business magazines or from some of the online Internet services. They are only valid when you first start your first Adwords campaign. If you get $75 free, for example, you have to charge $10 on a credit card which then gives you an $85 credit balance in your advertising account. At 50 cents or less per lead, this will give you 170 or more potential customers.