When marketing your small online business, sometimes the sheer amount of SEO, content, social media and link building strategies that you read about can be overwhelming to say the least. It becomes very easy to say to yourself that you just don’t have a chance because the resources available to you are tiny compared to your competitors.
But you have a distinct advantage. You can be nimble. You can change strategies at the drop of a hat and you can explore things that cumbersome competitors take too long to do.
There are many ways that you can be innovative and fill the gaps that competitors leave behind. And as you fill those gaps, you become a much stronger force over time, eventually being seen by competitors and Google as a company of value.
I’ve listed here some innovative ways that you can create a buzz about your business without breaking the bank. They require some work, but if you were afraid of hard work, you wouldn’t have started your business in the first place.
Publish written content on your site. You have heard it a thousand times, but, if done correctly, it really does help your site to start to get a footing with search engines and then visitors. I have yet to see a site that writes large amounts of content not be successful in its industry in all my years on the web. A top tip, if you can manage it, is to write ‘longform’ content on topics that relate to your product or service, which typically means anything over 3,000 words.
Become helpful on Reddit and industry forums. There will undoubtedly be a ‘subreddit’ about the business that you are in. Join that subreddit and genuinely help people out, giving answers to questions, pointing people in the right direction, and once you are a settled user in that community, and seen as someone who is helpful, you can start to (gently) promote your own content and services. If you tie that in with the content you publish (as mentioned in the previous point), then you can start to gain a following and make many more people aware of what you do. The same goes for any industry forums that may exist. But remember, your number one priority is to be helpful and of value before you mention your own business.
Be a valuable social media person. Until you have a steady stream of business coming in, much of your time should not be spent on social media, unless it is absolutely vital to what you offer. However, there is a way, when you start out to be a valuable member of your community on Twitter and Facebook and that is by sharing recent, useful articles and news items about your industry. This is so much more simple than people think. Use Google News to find recent articles about your industry, then share them, perhaps @mentioning the person that wrote the post and the company that it may be about. Do this several times per week and you’ll soon be seen as someone that offers value and will be followed and liked by important people within the sector.
Write a report about data or information in your industry. The larger companies in your industry do this and there is a reason. It works. They use these reports in many different ways to gain business. They build brand awareness, they gain email addresses when people swap an email address in exchange for downloading a report. They also work in ways such as mail posting (yes, remember that) reports to prospects and then calling them about it a few days later. These reports, if done correctly, are useful in so many ways. If you know your product, and can use the internet to find things, then you should be able to put together a 4-25 page report that is non-salesy and useful to potential buyers of your product/service. Big companies do it because it works, smaller companies don’t because they think it’s too much hard work – so do it while you have the chance and are nimble enough to do so.
Use freelance sites to build useful tools for your site. Have a look around sites in your sector. Some will have useful web tools that visitors fill in or interact with to gain a useful conclusion – such as calculators etc. You may wish to emulate one or some of these tools, or indeed have your own ideas having used other tools on competitor sites. You can post projects on freelance websites like freelancer.com or fiverr.com asking for tools to be created, but crucially, you pay nothing until you are satisfied that the freelancers bidding on your project are capable of doing what you require within your budget. You can drastically improve the stickability of your website by adding one or more tools and then sharing them with the correct audience.
As you can see, whether it be longform content pieces about your industry, web tools that are helpful to potential buyers, the sharing of useful industry news stories and articles, or answering questions on the appropriate subreddit for your business, content is important, especially at the early stages of a small online business. Use content to become a valued resource in your sector and you'll be well on your way to building an audience and an income stream.