"If you build it, they will come." Oh, how business owners wish this quote were true. If only customers would just flock to them, unbidden, they'd get back years of precious time spent trying to drum up business. Marketing is a necessary but time-consuming evil, especially for proprietors of small businesses who often have to do all the work themselves. And the days are long gone when you could make do with a Yellow Pages listing and some ads in the paper. Especially if your business exists totally on the Internet, you have to be up to date on all the latest online marketing options — and there are a lot of them.
No matter what your situation, identifying your goals is the first step in any marketing plan. Do you want to attract new customers, keep existing ones or create local awareness of your business? Next, research your current customers to decide which online marketing avenues you should use. Where are they located? Figure out how they find you now. Where else do they go online?
Social media should be an integral part of your plan, so choose a platform or two that seem like the best fit. Your budget and time constraints will dictate how many marketing tactics you end up using, but you're also going to be most effective when you're comfortable. If you're not a natural salesperson but you love to write, start a blog. If you're a number cruncher, get to work analyzing and optimizing your ad campaigns.
Here's the best news — if you succeed with a few these fairly simple approaches, you'll eventually be able to hire an online marketer to do it all for you!