Recently I have been challenged by the small local business, and by that I mean if you are a sole trader, freelancer, musician, driving instructor or indeed have finally decided to start that soap making business.
The chances are that in the past, traditionally, having a business like yours has meant word of mouth (this actually works well but of course is rather limiting in scope) , putting in adverts in local press at a huge cost and only effective on day 1 of that publication or trudging the streets with several hundred leaflets, and in the process wearing out those Nike trainers.
Clients that I have recently completed web sites for, especially the individual with no in-house marketing team have went, wow Simon, that’s fantastic, now what now!
If these clients have traditionally hand delivered leaflets, they know that within 5 or so days, if no-one has got back in touch, then over 95% of these leaflets have been immediately binned, the other 5% are either filed away under all the usual paperwork we have in the house, or are lying dormant on the floor of an unoccupied dwelling.
Clients who are used to taking out advertisements in the local press are used to being inundated with several calls of the ad being placed on day 1 and then nothing, unless they put another expensive ad up the following week or month.
So it’s not unusual for clients to respond to me after a few days of their spanking new website going live to ask “Why is my web site not generating any leads?”
I can of course reply with, “give it time”, or “you must wait for Google to do another round of crawling the net”, but these days Google is pretty quick at that plus it’s not really what the client wants to hear.
It can take many weeks for your site to slowly crawl forward in the Google rankings due to its popularity and on site keywording strategy but in the meantime, what can be done?
This is what got me to thinking to write this article, and its clearly aimed at the individual who may only check their email every few days (instead of 10 minutes like me) and has under 120 friends on Facebook lol. Well at least they’ve used Facebook, and that’s my point. If they can do that then it’s going to be fairly easy to muster the enthusiasm and drive to follow these 5 strategies, and you don’t have to know the difference between your CMS and your SEO. I could have come up with 10 strategies, and I’m sure marketing gurus could come up with hundreds, and may charge you for that too, but I thought, let’s keep it simple and of course FREE.
So now you have your wonderful web site, and it seems to be doing quite well in terms of where it is placed when you have a search in Google for your business keywords ; these should be ‘what you do’, ‘where you do it’, ‘who it’s aimed at’ and any unique ‘USP’s’ that you have (Unique Selling Points).
Have you ever wondered why your competitors are appearing in a Map listing on Google and you don’t? That’s because these businesses or individuals have got themselves a Google Places account. From here you can also get reviewed and respond to reviewers. It’s especially important if you want to be found locally.
So go here to open your Google Places for local business account.
OK, so i will assume you have used this ubiquitous web site or application to reach out to your friends, so why don’t you get a Facebook page for what you do? You can then invite all your existing friends to it. And remember, not only are your friends the best people to spread the word about what you do but your page is not visible only to them, their friends will come across it quite often and not only that but your page is accessible to the public and you don’t have to put anything up there that is remotely personal. Facebook then gives you a choice at the top of the page whether you want to login as yourself or as your business. That’s how easy it is.
So to start up a Facebook page, login as normal and go here. Click ‘Create Page’
Now I’m guessing you’ve heard of this or maybe already use it infrequently, but these days it’s a truly fast and accessible way to reach many people. Once you have signed up for an account, try and use it for business or promoting what you do as much as possible, it’s a network more commonly used for these purposes and you don’t have to spend the amount of time on it that you might for Facebook. There are people out there that are potentially wanting to connect with you and if you use ‘hash tags’ well then even people who you have never met or connected with on Twitter will find you.
Go and get a Twitter account especially for your business
Your Web Site
Now that you have a web site, tell people about it, talk about it in the pub, in a gallery with a stranger, or make a video, put it on YouTube and get me to embed it on your web site 🙂 These days I try and create web sites that can potentially empower the client. When I do a web site it is more often than not a WordPress enabled one. What is WordPress I hear you ask? WordPress is a free, off-the-shelf, open source content management system. If that is Gobbledygook to you then think of it in terms of having a web site that you can go on and edit when you have changed your mobile phone number or when you have something to say about what it is you do. Some clients think they can leave it all for me to do (which of course i can) but isn’t it empowering for you when you find the time to do it. Plus with a little know how the web becomes a smart place to share. If you write something new, often called a ‘post’ on your site, you can then look at your own post as it goes live and right there and then share it to your ‘Facebook page’, your ‘Twitter account’ and indeed any other like-minded web service. So DO IT ONCE and see it in MANY PLACES.
Well the last strategy is more personal to you and your business, and that’s the reason why it has no name.
What you need to do next is find somewhere on the web which is more akin to who you are or what you do. For example, if you are a builder, get registered on the FMB web site or some other trade organisation online.
If you are a creative, say a designer, architect or hair stylist then get on over to Pinterest.
If you are a musician then make sure you get a MySpace web site done (FREE) and link to it from your own site.
There must be plenty of other bodies, associations or web apps that you can plug yourself into – so go for it!
That’s it, my 5 simple and free steps to off-site marketing for your freelance or small business