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It’s actually no longer a secret that online marketing is not an option anymore. It’s absolutely a requirement for your small business if you want to continue to grow and thrive. “If you build it, they will come” is not the approach to use in your online marketing. It may have been true in the 90s, but it’s not true today. Don’t fret, because there’s still time for you to get established and see your small business success increase with these 5 online marketing secrets.
Online Marketing Secrets: #1 Social Media
Secret number one is not really such a big secret anymore. It’s social media. But let me tell you more about social media than you might already know. Where are your customers? Are they on Facebook? Twitter? LinkedIn? Have you checked out Google+? I’m sure you’ve heard of YouTube. Have you tried Pinterest? These are some of the big social media sites but they are not everything.
Facebook and Twitter together have over one billion members combined. Those members are seeking to make recommendations for products and services and experiences to and from friends and followers. I’ll tell you, the Fortune 500 prefers Twitter. It happens to be my personal favorite of the social media platforms.
It’s not just these big six either. There are things called community sites which are also part of social media. They exist for almost anything that you can think of, any kind of hobby or interest that exists. If you’re into coffee, there are community sites for coffee drinkers. If you are in real estate, a real estate agent or you’re looking for real estate or you’re related to the real estate field, there are online communities that cater just to real estate (Trulia, for example).
Maybe you’re a vegetarian or a vegan. There are tons of forums and communities all about healthy eating vegetarian style. It could be wine. It could be chiropractic. It could be law. It could be homeschooling. It doesn’t matter what industry your small business falls into, there is a community – and probably more than once unless you’re in a very obscure niche, like dressage for example. (If you don’t know what dressage is I’ll let you look it up on YouTube.)
There is probably a site that is already talking about what it is you do, what services you offer, and what goods you could be providing to your customers. Secret number one is about not just thinking about the big social media platforms, but really looking for where your customers are hanging out.
Online Marketing Secrets: #2 Google
Secret number two is about the big dog: Google. Google is the number one search engine. I have a huge love/hate relationship with Google. I need them desperately in order to do my work for myself and my clients, but at the same time, they annoy the hell out of me because they’re constantly changing things and constantly making us jump through hoops. You can’t really pick up the phone and call Google to get help.
But Google did something that changed marketing for small businesses, period. They did it in 2010. The Internet is virtual and every page that exists on the Internet is like a piece of real estate. The more pages your website has, the more real estate you own.
Think about it. Google is huge. They’re the number one search engine. They have lots of pages and lots of opportunities for people to land on their real estate, like playing Monopoly. But what the geniuses at Google – and I mean it when I say geniuses, unlike the way I use that term often around my children. The geniuses at Google figured out that if they gave a page of their website to every business in the United States they would expand their real estate. So, that’s what they did. Google took what the Yellow Pages used to do and pulled all of that information online and gave every business the opportunity to have a page on their website. All you had to do was claim it.
Another thing Google did, and part of the reason why they made this tremendous change is local search. Let’s say you searched the word “painter” and Google brought back The Louvre and famous Renaissance painters, when really what you wanted was someone to paint your house.
At the time, many people figured out that they could force the algorithm if they would put in painter and their zip code, or painter and their county. Then they would get back the results of local painters. Google discovered that around 1 in 3 of their users was forcing the algorithm intentionally. So if 1 in 3 people had figured out how to do it, how many people really wanted local search results but didn’t know how to get them and were digging through pages and pages of search results?
Google decided to just deliver them for free on page one. Now, unlike prior to 2010, when you searched for something if there are local results related to that word – and not all words actually have local results because not all words are appropriate for local business – but if you’re looking for a painter or you’re looking for a car, you’re going to get some paid advertisements. Then you’re going to get things like Wikipedia and really big sites like about.com or eHow depending on what you’re looking for, and then you’re going to get delivered the local search results in your area. What you’re really looking for. That’s true on mobile as well. It’s that huge shift in the delivery of search results that’s made a tremendous difference for you as a local business owner because you can take tremendous advantage of that.
Online Marketing Secrets: #3 YouTube
Yes, YouTube. I love, love, love YouTube. YouTube was purchased by Google in 2006, which is why YouTube is the number two search engine. That’s imperative to remember.
Over 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. In 2010 that statistic was 24 hours of video uploaded every minute. By the end of 2011, their annual report said they had 48 hours of video uploaded every minute. Three months later it was 60 hours of video uploaded every minute. Why the rapid rise in use?
People look for videos on YouTube to answer their questions, to show them how to do something themselves or reviews of a product or a business that they’re interested in dealing with. YouTube is a potential gold mine for small business owners. As people search for the things that you can provide them, they get to see you 24/7/365. You get to talk directly to your customers and your potential customers. They get to learn what you’re like, what you sound like, what you look like.
There’s a huge, huge, huge celebrity factor involved with YouTube. In the same way that we let Walter Cronkite or Oprah or Phil Donahue into our living rooms by watching their TV shows, once we let someone into our home – into our personal space – we start to feel like we know them. They start to become part of our lives. That’s where the celebrity factor comes in. There’s something about being on video and being helpful that makes a big impression on your potential customers.
The beauty of YouTube is that it’s free! It’s not like you need to pay a membership fee to belong to YouTube. You can make a video with your Smartphone and upload it to YouTube. It’s very, very simple.
I could talk about secret number three all day long. Let’s move on to secret number four.
Online Marketing Secrets: #4 Blogging
Secret number four is your blog. Don’t groan. I heard someone groan. There are over 240 million blogs out there. Why is a blog important? Why should you be blogging for your business?
Just like video, people go online to look for articles that answer their questions or review a product. Believe it or not, some people still read. They don’t all just watch video, people do still read and they look for articles to help them with whatever it is they’re looking for help with.
Why should your business have a blog? When you’re blogging you’re getting to create the dialogue. You’re creating your reputation. You’re letting potential customers vet you and your business and your business philosophy. You’re letting your customers get to know you. They get to know how you think, what’s important to you, and how you handle the important things be they big or little.
It’s also about transparency. Once again, it’s the Internet, so it’s there 24/7/365. Whenever your customer is of a mind to be looking for information that you can provide, or the goods and services you can deliver, you’re there. They get to know you. And because it’s your blog, you get to set the expectation. If you only want to blog when something occurs, something important in your business, or important in legislation, great. That’s when you blog. If you want to blog once a month and you have a monthly newsletter that goes out in hard copy, you should be putting some of that same information to use on your blog every month.
You want to talk to your tribe regularly and let them know what’s going on. Offer them helpful information and you can be blogging every week. It’s really less than 1% of blogs that exist on the Internet right now that actually make money, that is actually the tool for the blogger to make a living. That’s a very, very rare thing. That should not be your goal when you create a business blog. Your business blog should be about telling your potential customers who you are so that they can get to know you. You control that expectation.
Now a little drum roll. We’re at secret number five. Secret number five is going to become more and more important. It’s the secret that I find I am using more often with all of my clients, regardless of what other secrets that I might be taking care of for them already. Secret number five is the thing that most of them are most interested in right now and rightly so.
Online Marketing Secrets: #5 Mobile Marketing
Your Smartphone, your tablet. YOU are mobile. The population is mobile. People are walking around with phones, in their pockets! That’s amazing. By the way, if you don’t have a smartphone yet, then you have a dumbphone. I don’t like that. I need you to get a smartphone soon because you’re missing out on a lot of things, and you don’t understand your customer’s experience.
Generation X and millennials never leave home without their smartphone. It’s the one thing they take with them everywhere.
You can make payments with your mobile phone. You can make calls. You can get directions. You can look at a map. You can find the pizza parlor you want. Mobile I’m finding is the bridge between direct traditional marketing and the online world of digital marketing that I live in. More and more, mobile technology is going to be that bridge that connects your customers to you. You’re going to have to find ways to use it, and there are lots and lots of creative and fun ways to integrate mobile into your business.
Remember, mobile is not just about text messaging. It’s also about the development of apps. If that’s right for your business, then great.
All of these things that I’ve shared with you today can integrate so that they amplify each other. Social media, local search, video marketing, blogging, and mobile marketing combined together give you an exponentially huge way to speak with your client base and to improve your marketing.
These are the 5 Online Marketing Secrets that will make the difference between getting found or disappearing forever.