Market your local business online

How to Market your local business online?

Our parents used a Rolodex to store the important numbers they had, and the yellow pages when they needed to find one. Now cell phones have replaced the Rolodex and the internet has made phonebooks obsolete. If you don’t maintain an online presence you’ll miss opportunities. But how? Making a website and online marketing are very foreign concepts to most of us, and frankly what small business owner has the time to devote to learning the requisite skills? The truth is there are a few simple steps everyone is capable of taking that can get you the internet presence you need.
Facebook and Twitter

The first step is creating a Twitter account and making a Facebook page for your business. Both of these options are easy – sign up takes minutes, and creating a simple profile or basic Facebook page will take even the most uninitiated a few hours at most; best of all they’re absolutely free.
Once your page or account is created the next step is attracting customers – you’ll need to find a way to spread the word. Whether it’s “likes” on Facebook or followers on Twitter the goal is to get as many as possible, think of that number as exposure. Some tried and tested ways to increase exposure are to run contests, sweepstakes and giveaways; everyone loves a chance to get something for nothing. Otherwise, just making regular posts can get you lots of exposure.
Creating Your Web Site
Making a website for your company is an absolute must. There is no lack of options when it comes to creating a website, indeed many chapters and whole books have been devoted to this very subject, but here is a much-simplified version.

The first option is to just pay someone to do it for you. There are lots of companies across the spectrum of price points that do nothing but website creation. This is the best option for the completely uninitiated, but it’s also the most expensive. A somewhat cheaper option is to outsource the work yourself and have the work done overseas at a cheaper rate. There are downsides and pitfalls to this method as well so make sure to do your due diligence.
The go-to option for most people however, is a design-it-yourself web service. Sites that offer pre-designed site layouts, where all you need to do is drag and paste images and content into the layout of your choice. Often these sites provide a basic version of their service for free, or for a minimal charge, and charge for each upgrade. The upside to this method of course is price; the downsides include a somewhat cookie-cutter end product.
Website Content:
Including lots of targeted information on your website is crucial. The website must be absolutely clear about what you do and what areas you serve. In fact, research has shown that if the customer doesn’t find this information quickly enough (generally less than 3 seconds) chances are they won’t stay around to investigate, they’ll just move on to the next search result.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to online marketing, but don’t let that deter you – having an online presence even for your local business is just too important.
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