Effective Online Advertising
We are all coming to understand the power that the internet holds to drive large amounts of traffic to our businesses. The question is, how do you, the small business owner, take advantage of this opportunity to grow your business. As you may know there are large corporations with astronomical advertising budgets who spend literally five figures a day to keep their top listings on Google. The internet is changing, and quickly. What was a great, inexpensive opportunity a few years ago, can be completely out of your financial league today.
So, the answer for the small business owner, while competing against big business with their advertising budgets that are larger than the GDP of some countries, is LEVERAGE, doing more with less. One of the beautiful and exciting things about the internet is that it gives you a unbelievable opportunity to leverage your effort. The downside is that if you do not understand the right way to go about this it can eat up your time, money, and effort leaving you with nothing but frustration.
A great example of wrong thinking about the internet that is so unfortunately pervasive in the small business world is the idea that all you need to do to grow your business online is to have a very expensive well designed website. Allow me to paint a word picture to explain this idea. strictiond
Imagine yourself at your local grocery store standing in front of a cork-board covered in business cards. You ask yourself, “Is this really an effective way market my business”? What does it accomplish for you to tack up your expensive, well designed business card right along side the cards of all of your local competitors? Now, imagine that you are standing in front of an IMMENSE cork-board, miles high and long and every square inch covered in business cards. What a waste of time! How could it do any good to tack your business card in a random spot on this giant board? How frustrating would that be?
Well, I hate to tell you this, but this giant cork-board is the internet and your business card is your expensive, well-designed website. Placing your website on the world wide web is a necessary beginning, but if that is all you do, it is as effective as placing your business card up on that city-sized cork-board. The fact of the matter is that there are over a trillion websites online today, and if you are going to be found by people locally, you are going to have to use some serious leverage!
This leverage I am talking about is driving traffic to your website. With so many websites (expensive and well-designed or otherwise) cluttering up the internet, you must have a way to direct people to your website, if you want to tap into the power of the internet to grow your business.
Now, there is a smart way and a hard way to go about driving traffic to your website. You could spend days researching search engine optimization, spend large amounts of your money on Pay-Per-Click campaigns, and basically be back to the same old place of frustration, or, you could leverage the power of what is called web 2.0 and viral marketing to push your companies name into all corners of the internet. This would include social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, and YouTube as well as organic listings with search engines like Google, Yahoo!, and Bing.
There are a lot of new companies springing up that offer their services for driving traffic to peoples’ web sites. I will warn you that many of them, while they can be effective, will also be very expensive. Many of these companies will charge you a monthly to annual fee for their service, while they uses your ad in a pay-per-click campaign. This leaves you at the end of the month receiving not only a bill for their service, but a large bill from Google as well. Another problem you will face with services that ‘optimize” your website and drive traffic, is that they are driving traffic from all around the world. Now, this is great for some businesses, but what does a bakery in Boston need with someone in Bali being directed to their website? The solution to this problem is found in a new break-through in online advertising called “Geo-Targeting”, literally targeting your ad geographically (by using zip codes, that are part of ip addresses, to be technical) so that your ad goes out to the local people who are looking for your business. I can not stress enough how powerful this concept is, if people will realistically only drive 10-20 miles to your business, you do not need to be advertising in a 2,000 mile radius, you need to target your ad like a laser and focus it into a 10-20 mile radius!
I hope that this information is helpful to you in your quest to effectively market your small business. If you will allow me, I would like to give you my recommendation of a company called Local Ad Link. I recommend them to you because they are a company that specializes in this very same “Geo-targeted” local advertising that is on the leading edge of online advertising. They also have what I like to call the traffic “muscle” behind them which enables them to push an ad virally into all corners of the web.
The purpose of this article, however, is not to sell you anything but to give you some helpful advise in your search to grow your small business. Right now our economy desperately needs small to mid-sized businesses to succeed! I have made it my personal mission to help people and businesses hedge themselves against the economic storm that is claiming so many casualties. If you are reading this article then you are one of the smart ones, the ones who understand that knowledge is the best empowerment anyone can have! I hope that I have been able to provide you with a small bit of knowledge today, and that your business experiences great success!