Archives for October 2010

9 Easy and Inexpensive Ways for Businesses to “Get Found”

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I was recently asked the question,

What are some easy and inexpensive ways for companies to get their name out to the public?

This all depends first on what you have to start with. Do you have a website? Do you have an existing client list? Does it include e-mail or mailing address details? Are you starting totally from scratch? What industry are you in?

Off the top of my head, here’s what I’d do…

  1. Add your business listing to Google Places.
  2. If you have an established business, search for your business/product/brand and find all business directory listings in which you appear. Claim each one, and ensure that your listing is appropriately categorized and that the keywords are optimized.
  3. If you have a website already, review the keywords to ensure that they’re accurate and optimal. Use Google’s Keyword Analyzer to identify the best keywords for your site.
  4. If you don’t have a website already, create a free one using either WordPress.com or moonfruit.com. If you plan to include eCommerce on your site, you may have to go ahead and pay a little something. To see the differences between WordPress.com (the free site) and WordPress.org (paid version), go to WordPress’ Support page.
  5. Create social media profiles, as appropriate. Use Facebook to build a community around what you do, Twitter to share news and information, LinkedIn to network with potential collaborators, partners and referral sources, and industry-specific networks, as appropriate.
  6. If you have an existing mailing list, I use a fantastic online greeting card and gifting company to connect with my best clients. If you’re interested in doing the same, take a look at SendOutCards.
  7. If you have an existing e-mail list, consider sending out a newsletter or using the list to invite people to join you on your various social network profiles. Be sure to also add links to your online profiles in your e-mail signature and newsletter. (I use WiseStamp for this.)
  8. Ensure that you post links to your website and social media profiles everywhere that you can. Think of your online presence like a spider web. Each strand (site) should point people from one to the other, providing similar content with unique information at each place. (Some overlap is expected. But give people a reason to follow you in more than one place.) As these pathways from one place to another are created, a web builds around your online presence, making you easier to find.
  9. If you enjoy writing or sharing information, consider blogging or video-blogging. If having one of your own is too time-consuming for you, find people who would welcome a guest post from you.

Obviously, this is a quick and dirty list. There are many more things you can do, but this will get you started. Up to this point, everything I’ve suggested (except a WordPress.org site) is free. The only expense is your time and talent.

The only issue with this is, you probably didn’t go into business to do all of these things. You started your business to do whatever it is that you are passionate about. So, is your time and energy best spent doing these things on your own, or hiring someone to do it for you?

Whenever I take on a business-related task that is not part of my work, I consider this before I start. Where are the cost efficiencies? To make it simple, say you charge $50/hr for what you do, and the task you’re considering doing will take you 90 minutes. Are you willing to pay yourself $75 to do it, or is there someone else you can pay to do it so you can find a client willing to pay you for that time instead?

To give a concrete example, when I first started my business, I wanted to form an LLC. I spent some time on it, and found the whole thing very frustrating. I didn’t understand much of what I found. After wasting more than an hour on it, I found a website called Legalzoom.com. For $150, they would file the papers for me. Given how little progress I’d made, it was easily evident that it would cost me less to hire them (even though funds were limited) than it would to pay myself for my time based on my own rates. Plus, hiring someone else gave me the chance to focus my attention on what I love doing instead.

So, do yourself a favor. Balance “easy and inexpensive” against “experienced and cost-effective.” And if you decide that you want help, give us a call! Helping you get found is what Aleweb loves doing!