Being a small business owner requires the ability to wear many hats and become proficient in multiple skills. Long before opening the doors, owners must develop strategic business and marketing plans to ensure required tasks are accomplished.
Perhaps the greatest challenge for small business owners is engaging in effective and affordable marketing strategies. While it is nearly impossible to build brand recognition without substantial marketing efforts, this venue can be cost-prohibitive for companies just starting out.
Social media marketing is a venue that is not only affordable, but can yield powerful results. This technique can be interconnected with other online marketing strategies to obtain maximum online visibility.
Most people are familiar with social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook. Nearly every major consumer brand has implemented a Facebook business page. This venue is effective for interacting with consumers and offering private discounts or sales offers to subscribers.
Social media outlets can be used to promote company websites, blogs, marketing videos, podcasts, digital newsletters, press releases, and informational articles. Business owners can interact with subscribers to obtain feedback, build momentum about a new product release, and share company news.
Social media marketing also encompasses social bookmarking through websites such as StumbleUpon and Digg. Not only can companies promote their own marketing collateral, they can also share resources about other companies. This provides opportunity to build customer relations and expand business connections.
Another form of social marketing is publishing comments to like-minded blogs or websites. Many companies use this strategy to develop relationships with businesses that would be a good marketing partner.
For example, FoodBuzz.com is the #1 online foodie network. It provides a venue where food bloggers can meet other foodies and share recipes. However, FoodBuzz has numerous sponsors who reach out to food bloggers and provide incentives to promote their products. This is a prime example of co-op marketing that not only reduces time, but also costs.
Leaving comments on company websites and blogs is a good strategy for link building online. Link building is essential for boosting search engine rankings. While search engines utilize a variety of techniques to determine where websites rank, inbound links is one of the more important criteria. When hundreds of websites link to a specific website it signals the search engines that it is a popular site and offers information people are looking for.
The primary goals of incorporating social marketing into a small business are to develop customer relations, build brand recognition, and improve online visibility. There are many facets to social media marketing, so it can be beneficial to participate in a marketing training course to learn about available strategies and how to capitalize on each.
Small business owners often find it advantageous to outsource marketing projects to an online marketing company. Working with professionals eases burdens for entrepreneurs and frees up time for them to attend to business management.
Those who are new to operating a small business may find it helpful to visit the Small Business Association website at SBA.gov. The SBA provides a variety of training courses, business financing resources, mentors, and step-by-step guides for developing business and marketing plans.