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If you’ve just started a business, you’re probably completely overwhelmed by how much marketing there is to do to establish yourself: naming your business, getting business cards, setting up your social media profiles and of course — your web site. Don’t worry, it’s not as hard as you think. I’m going to walk you through a simple step-by-step process that will have you online before you know it.

Don’t Stress The Website — Start A Blog First

Back in the early 2000s, there were websites and then there were blogs. These days, the two are one and the same. So don’t stress the small stuff and start a blog first.

Starting a blog first will not only get you up and running faster, start building your brand and get you in front of your ideal customer in a more authentic way. You’ll be able to engage with them, learn from them and refine your voice to match the voice of your customer.

Don’t waste time messing around. Find a WordPress Host such as HostGator or BlueHost and do a 1-click install of WordPress. Select a basic theme and start writing blog posts.

Have your first post be an introductory post to you, your business and what the blog is about. Then brainstorm a list of 30 topics. You can start with the most common questions your customers have, then move on to what challenges and frustrations they have, then make a list of ten reasons your customers should choose you.

Write 30 articles and schedule one to post every day for a month. Then decide on how often you want to post. You might start with one per week and then increase the number of posts you do as you get more comfortable.

To make it easy, recruit employee, suppliers and industry experts to contribute articles to your site.

Get Your Head Around SEO

Don’t let the fear-mongers freak you out. To get the most out of SEO, you only need to keep the marketing basics in mind;

Who is your target audience: Be as specific as you can because how your audience describes themselves will most likely end up in the search term they use.

  • Best exercises during pregnancy
  • Best email marketing tool for fitness centers

What problem are you solving for them: What problem are they looking to solve and what are some potential ways that they think that the problem is solved?

  • How to lose weight
  • How to drive traffic to my web site
  • How to develop a content calendar
  • Best Facebook contest platforms

The better you are at putting yourself in your customer’s place, the more relevant your content will be and the more people will share it, reference it and the higher it will rank on Google.

If you want MORE information on SEO for small business, I’d recommend you read SEO Like I’m 5 by Matthew Capala. This is a super-short book with just enough information about SEO and the most current tools to use to get your strategy up and running very quickly. I’ve written a book review on it over on Small Business Trends.

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Capala has also written a companion book 99 SEO Tools for 99 Cents – this one is loaded with all kinds of great tips and tools.

Here are a few more basic tips — especially if you’re running a ?Main Street? business:

  • Submit your business to Google Places, Bing, Yahoo and Apple’s Maps Connect – this is so important because different devices use different maps and having your business on each of them ensures that when people search for your product or service, they will get information about your business.
  • If your business operates locally, then you definitely want to use geographic terms on your web site, in your SEO tagging and in your content. For example Basement Waterproofing in Cleveland, OH? or ?Landscaping in Medina, OH?.
  • Develop relationships with influencers in your industry and guest post on their blogs, this creates powerful backlinks to your site.
  • Post great images and NAME them. I’m terribly guilty of NOT doing this. But if you have a business that uses images such as a hair salon, restaurant, landscaping business or a business that makes products — take the time to take pictures and create quality images. Also when you upload those images, give them a name that your audience might use to search for your product or service.
  • Create instructional videos. If you run a ?Main Street Business? – such as a landscaping company, or plumbing, dentistry, honestly just about any product or service business, you can get HUGE visibility by posting basic how-to videos. Think about the most common questions your customers ask or some of the most common calls you get and show people how to solve this problem. You can post those videos on YouTube or Vimeo or even do a LIVE how-to video on Meerkat or Periscope.
  • Create guest-posting relationships with Influencers. This is an extremely powerful way to gain credibility and traffic to your web site. Your first step is to identify the influencers in your industry. Start by trolling your industry and association databases and publications. If your influencers are active on social media, check out Followerwonk and BuzzSumo- these are super easy ways to search for influencers.

Create Basic Social Media Profiles

Stake your claim and make sure that you have both business and personal profiles on social media. I like to say that you need to treat your online marketing like digital real estate.

In the same way that you own physical real estate — you may own a house that sits on property. Your house has an address and people might know that ?The Taylors? live there. Maybe you have a fence around your property. Do the same for your social media profiles.

How To Decide Which Social Media Channel Is Best For You

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Here’s an interesting and unique way to decide how to manage your social media presence and where to spend your time.

Think about what mode? people are in when they are spending time on a specific channel. For example:

  • When you’re searching ebay — you are probably looking to BUY something.
  • When you’re watching your Twitter stream, you might be doing research or finding interesting things to read.
  • Facebook is more of a casual searching and catching up with friends.
  • LinkedIn – you might be looking to find a connection to someone with a specific area of expertise.

The WORST thing you can do is waste your time SELLING on a channel where no BUYING is going on. For example, I get a TON of pitches on LinkedIn and I ignore ALL of them. The best way to engage with someone on LinkedIn is to ASK THEM A QUESTION in an area that they are an expert in.

Just remember, social media is NOT for selling (otherwise it would be SELLING media). It’s for building relationships and getting to know people better. You don’t just walk up to someone and say — Hey I have this awesome thing — BUY IT?, you ask them questions, you understand their interests and then you might recommend some solutions.

[Tweet “Treat social media the way you might treat a telephone or your email — it’s a conversation.”]

Choose and Email Marketing Provider

Choosing an email provider can be really overwhelming because there are so many choices. But I will tell you this – it’s a lot like buying a house; you will have to make some trade-offs, so it really helps to have a list of needs, wants and nice-to-haves so that you can stay focused.

The most important thing for you to know is how your customers use email; do they use it to make purchases or communicate with people, do they use it for work or for persoal reasons? If your customers are younger millennials, they may not use email the same way that working professionals do.

Then think about how YOU intend to use email; do you simply want to send newsletters, or educate your audience or do you intend to sell via email? All of these fall into the what do I NEED category.

The next thing you need to know is how you want your email service to interact with your website and online content. If you are a regular blogger and you want to collect leads from your web site, then you will need an email service that easily integrates with your website.

Making a choice for an email provider is critical because switching email providers can be very difficult and there is a good chance that you will LOSE email subscribers when you do. Normally, I don’t worry about that because I subscribe to the quality vs quantity philosophy. It’s better to have fewer, more engaged subscribers than more subscribers who don’t open your emails.

[Tweet “Here’s an easy way to choose an email marketing provider”]

To make things easier, I’m going to recommend a handful of email providers here:

MailChimp – This service is FREE and an ideal choice for non-profits and those businesses who primarily send newsletter emails. It sports a beautiful design, it’s easy to use and integrates with many website tools. If you want to send ecourses or auto-responder/follow-up emails, there is a fee associated with that. Overall, for basic email services, this does the trick. What I don’t like about it is that the reporting system isn’t as good as some others.

Aweber – This is the service that I use and I highly recommend it. It is the standard for online marketers on a budget. It integrates with just about every online marketing tool and website platform that you use and the reporting system is outstanding. The downside is that you pay by how large your list is and if you have people on multiple lists, you will actually PAY for the double counting. One more thing I’d recommend here. I use an add-on called AWProTools and LOVE LOVE LOVE it! If you don’t have a large email list or a lot of products, but you want to segment your list — you MUST have this tool. For $29/mo it will turn your Aweber into an enterprise level software.

Constant Contact I have several clients who use this and LOVE it. It’s very easy to use and allows you to have many lists and also allows you to tag people based on their interest. The other wonderful thing about Constant Contact is that it has a survey feature. It’s also a wonderful tool for those businesses that have ?Events? and want to invite their customers to events.

InfusionSoft?This is the MOTHER of all email marketing systems and isn’t for everyone. First, because it’s CRAZY expensive and second because it’s truly designed for businesses that have more than 5,000 unique emails on their list and who sell lots of products online. The other must-have to get the full benefit of InfusionSoft is that you have a firm and solidly defined sales and marketing process and funnel. This is what makes InfusionSoft totally worth the money. They claim that it can literally replace a full time marketing employee and it can — but you have to have these conditions in place.

How to Implement These Recommendations

The best way to implement these recommendations is to choose each section and devote one week to each one. If you want to master each one as you go, spend a month on each one. This way you will have the time to learn everything there is to learn, ask questions and get help.

You don’t have to DIY this forever. Look. Only YOU can answer some of the critical questions that are addressed in this guide. And the best way to know what you want done and how you want it done is to Do It YOURSELF for a time. Then you will be in a much better position to outsources some of these tasks as you go about adding new elements of your online marketing strategy.

In fact, once you’ve mastered each of these sections, create a list of tasks and objectives that you want done and start looking for help. I use a company called Transource Media to help me with all aspects of my online marketing. So if you’d like an introduction, just let me know.