Many small businesses have recognized the true power of the internet and the influence it can have over their business. The fact is the internet is here to stay and we as small business owners need to fully utilize it. Here is step by step guide on how to market your offline business online.
Step one: If you don't have one already, you need a website. Having a website is the most important marketing tool for a small business today by far. You need to build a reputation for your business. You need a place where people can do their research about you and your company; so they feel more comfortable working with you. You can either have a website built by a professional or you can build one yourself if you’re on a tight budget. I would suggest using a professional mainly because this is the face of your business and you want to be taken seriously. However, you can build a very professional website on your own with a little help from yahoo site builder. I used yahoo site builder to build my first website.
Step two: Once you have your website now you can start the real work. Whether you have a service business or retail store, you can market them both the same. The first thing you need to do is sign up for a free account on yelp.com. Yelp is a great website for a couple of reasons. Signing up for an account on yelp and linking it to your website increases your Google exposure. Plus yelp allows your customers to leave reviews of you and your business. This is important because future customers have a way to gauge how well you deliver service or product.
Step three: The next thing you need to do is build a Facebook business page. Facebook business pages are extremely easy to build and give you another way to stay in touch with past customers and market to new ones. A Facebook business page is also another back link to your website and Google loves back links.
Step five: Once you have your Facebook fan page built, you now need to build a twitter account. Twitter is extremely popular and you can setup a twitter account within minutes. You want to include your website and phone number in your twitter description so you can be searched easily. Once you have your account setup you want to start looking for people you may know. Look for past customers, friends, business associates, etc. and follow them. They will eventually follow you back and then you in business. Now you have an audience to talk to. Your main goal with twitter is to give your followers something of value and not spam the hell out of them. So many people spam crap all day long and it doesn't work. Do not tweet anymore than 3 times per day. You can offer a special deal every so often but try to stick to adding value to your tweets. Give free tips or valuable information relative to your business. In no time you will be seen as an authority.
Step 6: The next step to online domination is back linking. Back linking is the process of building links between your website and other websites. Google uses back links and a couple other variables to rank websites. The general school of thought is, the more relative back links to a website, the higher the rank. You want to search out websites that are complementary to your website. You don't want to link to any website. Google is smart and will pick up on this pretty quickly and might even black list you. The first back links you want are from directories related to your industry. Go to Google and search for directories in your field. Link to no more than 20 per day for a period of no more than 30 days. Once you reach this point, take a break. You want to let Google index these back links before you go nuts.
Step 7: Submit your website to the big 3. The big three are known as Google, Yahoo and Bing. Go to each website and submit your site to them. This allows for a quicker indexing of your website.
Step 8: The final step is to research 3 forums that are related to your industry and become an active member. You want to be known as an authority in your field and there is no better way to do that then to give advice and share opinions with your peers. You don't have to post 10 times a day to reap the benefits but you definitely want to post or comment as much as you can. This also builds quality back links to your site.
There are tons of ways to market your offline business online. These are just a couple of techniques that I have used and have had great success with. Don't stop here. Look for other ways to increase your business.