How To Get Started Marketing Your Small Business Online

Thanks to Rebecca Romo of SHA Insurance, a Life and Health Insurance Agent in Allen, Texas, for being the first person to submit her Top 3 Online Marketing Questions.

Here are the answers to your questions, Rebecca.

How do you make your business successful online?

As with most questions this broad, the answer is really “it depends”.  It depends on what type of business you are in and what your objectives are.

However, there are several things any small business can do to improve their online presence and help connect with their target market.

  1. Establish a web presence.  You can do this several ways, but the most important way, in my opinion, is to have a web site that you control.  With our own website you have full control over the content of the site, how it is marketed, how well it is optimized, etc.
  2. Get your business listed in relevant online directories.  There are a multitude of online directories, both free and paid, that you can list your business with.  Some of them, such as MerchantCircle, are a very good alternative if you absolutely can’t afford to build your own web site as I mentioned in #1.  We offer Local Search Engine Business Profiles that are very well optimized for local search and provide a good snapshot of your business, not to mention they are very inexpensive.
  3. Get involved in Social Media and Social Networking even if you don’t have the first clue about how to proceed.  Get yourself listed with sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter and slowly learn more about each one and how you can use it to connect with your target market and grow your business.

What is your favorite part of online marketing?

This seems to be a more personal question and my answer is optimizing small business websites.  I love seeing a company go from generating very few, or in some cases absolutely no leads from their website, to generating a consistent flow of quality leads because of the work we do.

Search engine rankings are not the be all, end all anymore.  With the introduction of Universal Search and Personalized Search from Google, evey single person could get different search results when looking up the same keyword phrase.  Therefore, the only true measure of how effective your optimization is, is whether or not your business improves as a result.

If you had to start marketing online again, what would you do differently?

I’ve done a few projects in the past where I just leaped out, spent a bunch of money on image stuff like logos, letterhead, business cards, etc. only to find later that the market either wasn’t there, or wasn’t willing to pay for the services we offered.

If I had it to do again I would do more market research before spending a bunch of money developing a web site and other materials.  I would start with some of the free tools available online and find out if there was a need for my idea and how big of a potential market there was for our product or service.

Then I would do everything I could to keep expenses to a bare minimum and not make any long-term obligations until the business started picking up steam.

I’d love to hear your comments and thoughts.

To your success!

Ken Partain

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