How to market your business online

Marketing (advertising, to most of us) can be one of the main expenses when starting your own small business. Luckily, there are ways to engage in online marketing with spending little or no money. Focusing your cash flow on running your business – rather than getting business – can give you a leg up right from the start.

Step #1: Use free local listing services.

You can use Google Places, Yahoo!Local and Microsoft Bing to list your business so that when someone searches for your kind of business on one of these three search engines, your business will be listed in the top results. All you have to do is fill out a form in order to register. Then, you’ll either have to do a phone call or mail in verification for your business.

Step #2: Use social media.

If you aren’t a social media guru, advertising on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media sites can seem daunting, but it’s the way of the future. Make sure your business ads show up on your social media sites. Simply having a constant presence on social media can keep your business in the back of your customers’ minds.

Step #3: Use a blog.

You don’t have to be a writer to write a blog. Just a few hundred words once a week (it’s not that much once you’ve done it a few times) about your business – what’s new, events you have coming up, changes in staff – will advertise your business by making your customers  feel like they’re in on the inner workings of your business.

Step 4: Make videos.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, imagine how much a well-made video is worth! Videos are known to increase the time a person spends viewing your website, and they also add a personal touch. YouTube and Vine are two platforms that offer absolutely free ways to save your videos. You can embed them in your business web site or on social media.

Step 5: Make use of SEO on your website.

For those of you who don’t know, that’s short for search engine optimization. It’s a technique that uses specific terms throughout your website so that when someone Googles “best dog groomer” (or whatever your business might happen to be), then your site pops up first because you’ve used the term consistently and tastefully all over your site.

Step 6: Make press releases.

Press releases can be sent out the old fashion way through the mail, or you can send them via email (they’re absolutely FREE that way!). Press releases are a good way to let your regular customers, the ones on your mailing list, know that your business is doing something great. Brag on yourself for helping a local charity while also raising awareness for the charity itself, or customers know that renovations are completed.

Step 7: Make use of online communities.

There are many online communities already devoted to business people just like yourself. You may join an organization based on what you do (restaurant owners only, for example), or your community might focus more on location – your city or neighborhood, maybe.

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