“If you do something and don’t tell anyone about it” feels like the marketing equivalent of “If a tree falls in the forest, but nobody is around to hear it.” Either way, you don’t really know if it happened.
With over 50 million new websites launched each year and 20,000+ new products introduced each month (sample from consumer products alone), gone are the days of “if you build it, they will come.” Building it is only half of the process. You have to tell everyone and their mother that it’s there.
Larger companies may have million dollar marketing budgets and global networks across which to spread their message, but there are things that small businesses and entrepreneurs can do, often on their own, to spread the word. Here are five ideas to get started.
1. Establish inbound links to your Website
The mere existence of your website is not exciting, no matter how pretty it is (sorry!). You need inbound traffic–other websites (hopefully more established than your own) to run links to you. Joining your local Chamber of Commerce or Industry Association are easy ways get links. You also can set-up a cross-promotion with complementary businesses, such as a theater and a restaurant, parking and shopping. Doctor’s office and ice cream shop…think creatively to build a network in “real-time” with your neighbors while increasing inbound links on the web. For professional services, add a “resource” page to your site–if you handle tax-law, offer referrals to qualified professionals in other areas of law. Inbound links are critical to building a presence for your website.
2. Consider advertising on Facebook or Twitter
For Facebook, you can target your add by geography, income, interests and more, and you can see immediately how many people have clicked through to your website. For added tracking–offer a specific promotion to measure how many people actually contact you from the promotion–e.g. “Mention you saw us on Facebook and get 10% off your first order. Have a profile on Linked In (note to self…set up a Linked In page)…be sure to announce what you are up to to your connections on Linked In as well. If your product is very visual, or perhaps you can do a trade with a photographer, you can post your top notch photography with an announcement on Pinterest.
3. Post your new product, event, promotion on local web-based news sources.
The Patch is one such web-based publication (for example, see this “self-posted” article about a new restaurant menu), or there are oftenlocal versions of daily papers, such as TribLocal. Simply search for your town name or zip code, followed by “local news,” to find places to post your information. Often it’s as simple as creating a user name and log in, and then you can cut and paste your press release or information into the site’s templated form. If rather than a form there’s an editors name, call and ask the best way to submit your local news.
4. Add your website or announcement to your email signature.
It seems so obvious, but if you want people to visit your website, learn more about your product, you need to give them the address. Add a standard signature that will go at the bottom of your email with your website and perhaps links to twitter, facebook, linkedin, blogs, etc. (but, beware, if you use the logos for those items, they may show up as attachments when someone receives your email). And, change up your content (e.g. maybe a photo of the week, or tip of the week, or even a weekly or monthly drawing, and add a photo of this month’s winner, even a simple “how to” video) to keep people coming back.
5. Support your online presence with printed real time materials.
Gotprint, Vistaprint, Uprinting…all offer easy, inexpensive ways to print post cards or business-card sized announcements that you can give out everywhere you go–you already have long term relationships in your community–ask your local bank, coffee shop, Alderman’s office, church or synagogue if you can leave a stack on the counter/table/bulletin board. Be sure to ask and draw from your personal network.
Does this sound easy? Hard? Piece of cake? No time to do it? Gauge your time and budget and start from there. Most of these ideas are free or low cost in money to do it yourself, but they wil “cost” you time. That said, just as you are an expert in your work, you can always engage the services of a marketing professional to help, for short term launch projects or ongoing marketing support.