Let’s face it – Internet marketing is complicated. There are dozens of things you could do to promote your business on the Internet, and new opportunities crop up every day. So it’s not easy to know what will work for your business.
The good news is that, for most local businesses, most of the benefits come from three key things. Focus on these first, and you’ll get 80% of your results. The even better news is that these three things are completely free!
1. Build a Web site
You Web site is the place your customers and clients will go to find out about you, to learn about your services, and to pick up the phone and call you.
Fortunately, you no longer need to spend thousands of dollars on a Web site – or even hundreds of dollars. In fact, you can build a simple, attractive and highly functional Web site for … wait for it … $0! Just go to Blogger.com, sign up and you can have your Web site up and running in an hour.
So what’s the catch? There isn’t one. Blogger is owned by Google, and this is just one of the many free services Google offers.
Strictly speaking, the Web site you create is a “blog”, but that doesn’t matter. A blog is just a business diary, so the home page of your site just has the latest news and articles you publish (I’ll show you below how to get other people to write high-quality articles for you free). You can also add other pages to your blog – such as a page about yourself, a page about your services, and so on.
If you’re willing to spend a small amount of money (and we’re talking about less than $20 a year!), go to GoDaddy.com and register a domain name for your business. You can then attach the domain name to your Web site, so it looks more professional.
2. Publish an e-mail newsletter
Keep in touch with people by inviting them to subscribe to an e-mail newsletter, which you send out at least once a month. Each newsletter should have a high-quality article, and maybe a small amount of promotion for your business.
Sign up at MailChimp.com, a professional e-mail newsletter service that is completely free for up to 2,000 subscribers. So it costs nothing at all to get started, and even after your list grows beyond 2,000 people, it’s not very expensive.
But what about writing the articles? If you’re good at writing, then it will be easy for you to write one article a month. But even if you’re not, you don’t need to be – because other writers have written great articles for you, and give you permission to use them free in your newsletter (Why? Because it gives them exposure). Just go to EzineArticles.com, search for your topic area, and you’ll find dozens of articles that you can just cut and paste into your newsletter. You can also use these articles on your blog (the home page of your Web site), to keep the site fresh and interesting.
3. Get Into Google
The third step is to get your Web site listed in Google. This is also a free service, but I have to be honest here and say that it does take some time and expertise to get it right.
However, if you get most of your business from your local area, then Google has an excellent service called Google+ Local (it used to be called Google Places) to help you. In brief, it helps you to be found when people in your local area are searching for you on Google. This blog post explains how to make the most of it.
But what about Twitter, Facebook, etc.?
You will notice that I haven’t even mentioned Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and other social media. That’s because these are extras. Yes, they can help you as well, but they do take time and effort. If you’re already using them, then continue doing so. But if you’re not, don’t worry about them just yet. Focus instead on your Web site, newsletter and Google+ Local listing – they are the things that will give you the biggest return on investment on your time.