Let me paint a picture that I am very familiar with – both in my own life as an entrepreneur and in my experience in working with, and coaching, many, many other entrepreneurs over the last five years.
You have a new business. You are excited about the prospect of what it can do for your life. You love the products, and you really believe in the value that they give to customers. You really, really want to be successful.
You have absolutely no prior internet marketing experience, and you have a very limited (if any) budget for marketing expenses. You’ve got to bootstrap this venture – so what that means is that if you’re going to have any exposure on the internet you are going to have to figure it out yourself.
You have a vague understanding of social media. You have a Facebook page for personal use. You go to Wix, web.com, or Squarespace and set up a site for free. Maybe you even take the extra step of getting a personalized domain. You then do a few searches on the Internet for ways to market your business online, and try to do your best with the advice. You set up a twitter profile, you create a Facebook business page, you get on LinkedIn, may even Pinterest. You start blasting out posts about your business. You throw up some pictures for good measure. Your friends follow you and click on your links but after a month or two no one is going to your page, no one is engaging you, and you are getting zero business online.
You start to doubt whether it is possible to actually see results online and whether you are wasting your time.
So you go a little deeper. You decide to invest – you don’t have the money to invest in someone to actually build a professional site or give you marketing consulting, but you invest in a book on search engine optimization at your local bookstore.
This only leads to a headache….
You start seeing words that might as well be written in Sanskrit because you have absolutely no idea what they mean – conversion analysis, local map submission, keyword density, the Flesch Reading Ease test, subheading tags, inbound and outbound links, meta description, meta robots, html sitemap.
You are almost ready to throw in the towel. Then you talk to your friend whose had success online in her business. You tell her (trying to be sophisticated) that you are reading so and so book about SEO when she interjects – “Oh that book is totally outdated, Google has changed their algorithm three times since then…”
She then goes on talking about Penguins, Pandas and Pigeons.
Ok – there is hope. I can help you. I have lived this. With no experience, and no budget at the beginning, I’ve found success online, and you can too. Let me simplify the process. No weird words. No high-priced consultants. Before you give up try these simple things:
1. You’ve got to have a place where people can find you or your business.
Simple enough. You need a website – ideally with a blog. You should set up profiles for your business with all the major social media networks. You should set up business profiles with all the major directories and business listing services. You should submit your sites to all the major search engines. Easy enough still.
Now – important point – this alone will not get you results. Setting up billboards on the Internet, as your only strategy will not get you results. So……
2. There has to be a reason why people want to go to your site.
What are you creating that makes them want to go to your site. What are you offering on your site that they can’t find anywhere else? Or if they can find it somewhere else, why should they go to your site for this particular product or service? What additional value are you adding? How else are you making it worthwhile for them to visit you.
Here are a couple of things that you could do that will cost you pretty much nothing other than some time:
- you consistently blog, and your posts are interesting, relevant and worthwhile.
- you are making YouTube videos that people like to watch, they are interesting, relevant and worthwhile.
- you have some type of freebie (like an e-book or valuable information on your site or social media profiles) that make people want to visit you.
Even more important is……..
3. There has to be a reason why they want to share your site / social media profile, with people in their network
So not only do you need a valuable offering for people to come to your site, you need a reason for them to want to share your site with others.
This can be easily done if you have a great product, or you give great service, or if you have something about you, your business, your site, that is worth sharing.
You need your business to get outside of your network, the only way (other than the search engines picking it up) that this is going to happen for you online is that people in your network start sharing it with people outside of their network.
This process happens over and over again until before you know it you have exposed your business / service with a much larger network than you could ever dream of reaching on your own. This is the power of the Internet and it all sources back to one major factor:
Having something worth sharing
What is worth sharing?
4. Compelling stories are worth sharing
Humans are story telling and story embracing animals. We love them. Our world revolve around stories. Marketing essentially is the art of storytelling. The better the story the more compelling the brand.
So what is your story that you are telling:
- Why do you do what you do?
- Why should anyone care about you or your product?
- What problem does your product or service solve?
- How has your product or service helped, or empowered others?
Tell a story. Make it compelling. Again, you can do this through blogs, videos, articles. All these things are free, and if your story is really compelling, and worth sharing, it will be seen and it will be shared.
Another important thing…
5. Make sure that your stuff is actually sharable.
I am amazed when I look at a website or blog that hasn’t incorporated sharing features. What is the purpose of the site? A billboard online, that doesn’t tell a story, and that can’t be shared, is useless.
So make sure that whatever you put out there can be shared by other people.
Now, a very important concluding point….
6. You’re going to have to work at this, and be consistent for a while, in order to get results
The reality is that there are thousands of other strategies that can also help you. A large portion of these strategies are the realm of professional internet marketing consultants, who in many cases do add great value.
However – as we’ve established – at least at this point you don’t have the budget to afford their services.
So, because of that, you have to accept the fact that you might not get the results you want, as quickly as you may want them, but you can still get results. You have to be consistent to get results. You have to consistently put out a valuable message, and a compelling and shareable story.
But rest assured, if you are willing to stick with it, and most importantly if your story and message is valuable, compelling, and capable of being shared. You will find success online.