You are starting your new business in Valparaiso Indiana (replace with your town/city name here). You have a lot on your mind and truly lot of work to do. When you start you wear many hats and years from now you'll still be wearing those hats even with a growing team. Starting a business requires a lot of juggling on your part, dedication, and passion. Checklists are one of the most valuable assets a growing small business owner will use. It allows you to stick on-task, on-time, and hopefully on-budget. We hear from other business owners, startups, and even business consultants and are amazed at what we've done as well as how we've done it. I have a series of articles that I will be sharing that will help businesses get started and hopefully started better than we did. As you are building your list for your new business or if you have a growing and established small business these five tips will help you better market your company online.
Have a marketing plan
A marketing plan does not have to be anything super complex and can fit on a single sheet of paper (to start). Define your goals, objectives, where you plan to market, how you plan to market, define what success is, and equally define what failure is. Establish a time to meet on a monthly basis to see what is working or not working as you expect. Adjust your marketing plan during each of these meetings. Do not get a marketing company that makes all the decisions for you. You are your company just as you are not your customer. You need a voice and that voice needs to be heard. You may not know marketing but you do know your business. Your marketing plan over time will continue to grow and evolve into something more substantial and refined. If you can start with a full-blown marketing plan great. We just know that most small businesses don't fully know their market as they have never put much thought into it. Rather than guessing take a more simplified approach, be agile, and adapt each month to changing marketing conditions (which you should do with a full-blown marketing plan as well).
Free internet email addresses
Part of running a business is being credible, honest, trustworthy, and a business with lasting value. When it comes to being online this starts with your own domain name. For us, this is jm2marketing.com. The cost ranges from $8-$35 depending on which provider you choose. Don't just choose the cheapest as it could hurt you down the road. Choose your domain name based on your business, pass it by your family and friends, and choose your registrar so that it meets your needs over the next several years (and beyond). There are many registrars out there. Common ones are Network Solutions, GoDaddy, and Bluehost to name just a few.
Nothing looks more unprofessional for a growing business than using gmail.com, yahoo.com, outlook.com, aol.com, etc. First impressions are extremely important, and your email is going to be one of the primary methods of communicating. Think of all the businesses you are talking to for help in growing your business. The one's that are credible, professional, and you are most likely to choose most likely are not utilizing a free email address.
Using social media as "your website"
You will never hear us state social media isn't important, it is. The problem with social media is you do not control it. You are at the mercy of the social media site (e.g. Facebook, Instagram [also owned by Facebook], Google+, Pinterest, Twitter, etc.). In the previous section we stated to purchase your domain name. This means you are already on your way to having a website. Your website you control and the sales funnel process you need to inform, educate, and make sales.
Don't build a monster website, but have one
All too often we see businesses either do nothing for a web presence or build a website that is so large that is starts them off giving too much information. You need to balance and determine the best options for your website. Don't create new menus because it's "cool". Don't use fancy sliders because it's the latest thing. Provide the information on your website that is needed to get started. Inform your audience and educate them. Submit to the search engines and get them finding your website. A benefit for starting with the basics is when you start adding content the search engines see that change and that information shows them you are making updates and will further help your search engine optimization efforts.
Losing the passion of online marketing
As you start your business there is a lot of hype and interest in your new business venture. This over time has the potential to slow down. Often, we see businesses forgetting about their marketing efforts online. They get content that they are busy and only worry about "fixing the slowdown" after they slowdown is started. This is too late to make a quick recovery. Marketing is a constant effort that you do not only during your slow times but your busy time as well.
You have a dream to be the next big thing when it comes to business. Only with constant marketing efforts will that happen. Your first impression is your most important but not your last. Stay consistent, be consistent, and have a plan when you are market your business. We constantly have new businesses walk through our doors on a weekly basis asking for help. Some after meeting we know we cannot help them and do a soft introduction to the marketing and advertising company that can. Those that we can we always start with the most basic of a marketing plan to start positive consistency for that great first impression and grows.