Online marketing doesn’t need to cost a fortune. As a small business owner there are plenty of things you can do at zero cost. Find out here.
Welcome to a new q and a session
Today I have a question from Paul in Nottingham who runs a bicycle shop.
The question is
Is online marketing too expensive for small businesses?
Ok, so this could be a very large topic and the subject of a very long discussion but I’ll try to keep it simple.
Generally speaking small businesses do not have a huge amount of spare cash to spend on online marketing campaigns and very often stick to what they know best such as offline marketing.
Although this has changed quite a lot over the past few years, you would be surprised at the number of business owners who still believe in doing door to door leaflet dropping.
There is a number of paying advertising platforms out there such as google adwords, facebook, youtube twitter etc… where you could advertise your business but they all cost money and can be a little tricky to grasp if you’ve never used them before.
So if you are short of cash there are still many things you can do to promote your business online at a minimum cost.
Google my business is a platform that helps small businesses being found in google and showcase their business.
Many small businesses under utilize this and miss out on potential customers.
The beauty of it is, it’s completely free.
This also exists for Bing so I would advise creating a profile on Bing places for business as well.
Ensure your website is optimised for search engines and that you have incorporated the right keywords that potential customers might be searching for on your pages.
That’s also free if you do it yourself.
As a business owner I hope you have a list of your existing client email addresses.
If not, start compiling a database now and every now and then send them a newsletter with whatever offer you have running at the time or just to talk about new products.
You may have to pay a little bit for this one but it is minimum.
You can also create social media accounts. Choose carefully as depending on your business type some will be less relevant.
Don’t overdo it as it is important to maintain these accounts with fresh content.
It’s pointless having multiple accounts if you‘re not going to publish anything on them.
Your website shouldn’t be a place to just publish your address and contact details.
Update the content regularly so people will want to come back.
Make it useful to your customers.
Paul, Since you are running a bike shop you might want to start creating interesting content around “how to best maintain a mountain bike” or “top tips for the casual bike rider” supported with images and videos and testimonials if you can.
Become a part of the online biking community.
It will help you understand what bikers are talking about which you can address on your own site and if you start offering free advice you may even yield some links pointing to your site.
Get your business listed in your local directories and industry relevant directories.
See my detailed tutorial on how to get business citations.
And when you have finally managed to grow your business with a lot more customers and that you’re feeling flush you can scale up your marketing efforts and start paying for campaigns in google or Facebook for instance, they are very efficient at driving traffic.
So although money is useful there is still plenty of things that can be done at almost zero cost to promote your small business online.
All of the recommendations I have made so far are more or less free to implement.
The only problem is that, it takes time to implement and understand all of it if you are new to online marketing.
Having a basic understanding of how to market your business is key to the success of your brick and mortar store.
I am not saying you have to be an expert but you need to understand how it works.
That’s one of the reasons I have put rankingacademy.co.uk together so you will hopefully find some useful information you can use to promote your small business online.
My last piece of advice is, try to find someone who can help you with all your online marketing moving forward so you can solely focus on running your business.
Someone trustworthy who can back it up with a good reputation. Not a friend of a friend who will promise to get you at the top of google as nobody can promise that.
Having gained the initial knowledge by doing some of you online marketing yourself should help you a great deal selecting the right person as it will be harder to fool you.