Content Marketing, Social Marketing … Whatever Happened to Plain Ole Internet Marketing?
What the small business owner really needs is help with internet marketing. In my line of work, that usually means first having a well-optimized site. But once the site is finished, then what? What does a business owner need to do to sell their services/products?
There are several competing opinions about which is the best internet marketing tactic. They all use a different approach and have a completely different feel:
- Content Marketing – sometimes called ‘Inbound Marketing’, this uses the power of the written word to attract visitors to your site. Used to be called ‘blogging’. Focused on providing information, often in conjunction with email marketing.
- Social Marketing – using the social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and Pinterest to stimulate interest in your products. Best for those who love communicating with people.
- Old-School Internet Marketing – using ads on Google, directory site listings, product placement on Amazon and Google Products to showcase and sell your product. Initially intense to set up, things generally run themselves with minimal involvement.
Content Marketing to Bring in New Business
Content marketing, or blogging, is an excellent way to get your brand or business into the first page of search results. Blog posts can supersede websites or directory listings in search results if they are fresh and relevant to the search. A blog post at the top of search introduces your business to potential new customers.
You don’t need to sell your business to people. The information you blog about will help sell it for you. The overall tone, voice, and topic tell people a lot about you and how you will solve their problem. They have a problem and you have the answer: “Why is my pool green?” “What is SPF?” A good blog post that is thorough, answers the question, and is not a knockoff of another post, can rank well and show up for years to come in search results.
Think of the most common questions you are asked and write out a 300 word response. If the question is about cost, or process, anything that might require an assessment of different factors, say so. Keep it simple, positive and easy to understand. See ‘The Two Most Powerful Words in the World of Content Marketing Right Now’ for some great tips.
It’s best to blog once a week but if time is short, twice a month will do.
Content marketing includes email marketing, probably the best internet marketing technique around. Sending a monthly newsletter, or a copy of your latest blog post, can be very effective in generating business. Make sure you are set up with a mailing list signup form on your site, and use Mailchimp, Constant Contact, etc to send your emails.
- Make a list of questions your customers ask; Write 300 word answers
- Post questions and answers weekly
- Set up an account with an email service
- Add a signup form on your site easily accessible to the blog posts
- Encourage readers to sign up to receive new information posts
- Send your posts or a monthly newsletter to your list
Social Media Marketing to Promote Your Business
Social media marketing involves using the large social networks to deliver messages to your followers. Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus. Of course, this means you need to generate followers first.
Businesses have been creative in getting followers by running contests or providing ‘special’ content only available there. For instance, a taco stand runs daily specials only available to their followers on a particular network.
Social media is great for generating buzz. The drawback is that most people are on social networks to see what their friends are up to, not their local taco stand. And with a constantly changing ‘wall’ of information passing by, messages easily get lost in the shuffle. In addition, the networks tend to censor which of your followers receives your message based on what they have clicked on in the past.
- Set up business pages on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus
- Post frequent messages your clients might find engaging
- Use a platform like Hootsuite to post to all networks at once
Old-School Internet Marketing to Sell Your Products & Services
Before blogs or social networks existed (not so long ago), businesses advertised. Once the internet developed, they used several avenues to sell their products:
- Google’s Product Feed
- Amazon, Ebay, Etsy and other product platforms
- Advertising via Google’s Adwords program
- Banner Ads on related websites
These avenues are still valid today. Any business can generate sales or leads through advertising. Most of the avenues above do not charge (much) to list a product. They get paid when a sale is made.
Inclusion in Amazon’s product catalog is a must for products that can fit into one of their categories. The Google Product Feed is set up through a Google Merchant account. There are some good tips in the article “Internet Sales 101“.
Which Internet Marketing Style is Right For You?
If you are extroverted, love marketing, communication and spreading the word, social media marketing may be your best bet.
If you are introverted, love details, writing and organization, content marketing will suit you.
But no matter what your personality, your business needs product placement and advertising. Old-school internet marketing is a proven technique that generates results. Don’t forget to include it in your marketing strategy.