Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question, “what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.
So, you’ve finally decided to turn your business idea into a reality. You’re done mulling it over and wondering “what if?” and you’ve come to a final decision to quit your day-job, and launch your start-up. First, congratulations! Now, however, it’s time to get a little worried! If no one knows about your business, you’re going to have to turn this around in order to get closer to those daydreams you keep coming back to. So how do you get the word out without spending a small fortune on SEO services and buying social media followers?
Create Fresh, Sharable Content: If you haven’t heard the following saying before, you’re certainly going to in the near future: “content is king”. This refers to the massive power of content marketing, which we’ve seen grow rapidly from 2010 onwards. Keeping a high-quality business blog is now the most cost-effective way for any company to attract beneficial, organic traffic and if you’re not taking advantage of it, you’re effectively waving away sales! Google, at this point in time at least, adores valuable and original content. Seen as this search engine has more or less taken the place of print phone directories like the Yellow Pages, you’re going to have to play ball with it if you want your business to really take off. When you write and publish high-quality articles on your blog, Google will not only reward your site with a higher SERP rank, but the people in your target market will naturally begin to share your posts. When composing content for your blog, just remember to write it not only so that it’s search-engine friendly, but also attractive to your ideal customer.
Leverage your Existing Connections with Referral Rewards: Even if you don’t have a lot of followers from the general public on Facebook and other social networking platforms, you’ll probably have at least a few personal and professional contacts who do. Ask these people to follow your you or your business on all their social networks, and spread the word about your products or services. Of course, you don’t want these shares to come off as spam, so give them specific instructions as to how you’d like these links to be framed. You can usually get a better kick-start this way by offering up rewards for referrals, for example, 10 percent off their first purchase from your company, or even a freebie if you can afford it. A healthy social media presence is more or less essential for any business owner hoping to make it. While it’s going to take time to build up a truly massive following, leveraging the contacts you already have like this is a great way to give your social platform a great kick-start.
Leverage Influencers in A Similar Way: When your business is first starting out, directing traffic to your site can be a real challenge. However, one method of doing this that’s been proven to be highly successful time and time again is sending out free samples to influential bloggers, vloggers and so on. Provided you’re choosing influencers in the right kind of niche, they’ll be happy to take the freebie, and review it on their blog. Now, these people have a reputation to hold up, so don’t expect them to tell everyone it’s the best thing since sliced bread just because they got one for free! Still, if your product or service has merits, they’ll be sure to outline them, and they’ll always include a link to your site or social media pages when prompted. This link will give you a nice SEO boost, all the while directing interested people to your online materials. Sometimes, influencer outreach is impractical or otherwise inaccessible, but you can still get people talking about it with tactics in the same sort of vein. A product sampling campaign is always a good option. In one of these, you’ll offer pretty much anyone a free sample of a product, (or free trial of a service), in return for unbiased reviews. This can be great for stimulating word-of-mouth marketing, which is extremely valuable in a time where social media is so closely tied to business. Aside from that, it can also point out various glaring errors in your product or service which you’ve been overlooking so far. Whether you’re reaching out to the most popular bloggers in the world or just a random member of the public, stimulating a conversation about your business is an important step.
Use PPC: Pay-per-click advertising, through platforms such as Google AdWords, is one of the most cost-effective ways for any new business to dangle their brand in front of their target audience. If you weren’t already aware of what PPC is, here’s a brief run-through. You draft an ad through Google’s platform, and select search terms that you want it to appear for. Then, you set a cap on the money you’re willing to spend for your ad. When people search for things related to your business, your ad will pop up at the top of the SERP and in the borders. If they click on it and go to your website, you get charged. When you reach the cap, you stop paying and the ad disappears. Obviously, just because someone visits your website doesn’t mean that they’re going to convert. PPC doesn’t guarantee results, and it takes a certain amount of trial and error to form a great strategy. However, if it’s applied in the right way, PPC can be a brilliant way to get your business seen by the people you’re targeting, and make those first sales which will carry your business forward. As the old saying goes, you’ve got to spend money to make money, and this is the one sure place where you should be spending money!