It’s funny, this post jumped out at me today as it was a related post for one that I published earlier.

It was originally written for 2013, but when I read back through it, I realised that all of the principles still apply today. There are others that I would add – webinars would now be high on my list, along with video marketing, but for anyone starting out, the list below is a great starting point.

O nline marketing is so much more than having a website.  It’s about having terrific content on your site for people to read which you keep fresh and updated.  But if no one visits your site, you’re wasting your time.  It’s like spending months creating a glossy brochure that you never give to anyone, or talking to an audience that isn’t there. None of us have enough hours in the day or pennies in the bank for that.

  1. Email marketing – there is no excuse not to do this.  It’s one of the cheapest forms of reaching your customers and building relationships.  There are plenty of interfaces available which make it extremely easy and cost effective for you to do this yourself.  I recommend Mailchimp to all my clients – it manages your lists and makes designing impressive looking emails a breeze.  But there are plenty of others to choose from too – just Google ‘email marketing online software’.
    If you don’t have email addresses of potential and existing customers, now is as good a time as any to start collecting them.  Ask your web designer to include a sign up form on your website home page, and offer some kind of incentive for people to sign up – it doesn’t need to have a monetary value – something as straightforward as a white paper sharing some of your expertise may be sufficient.  If you’re a kitchen designer – 10 key points to consider when to revamping your kitchen.  For a restaurant, a free bottle of wine with your first meal for two in June when you sign up.  The possibilities are endless.  If you’re stuck for ideas, speak to your friends and customers to ask them what kind of thing would encourage them to sign up for your newsletter. Subscriber emails will automatically be entered into your email marketing platform and most software interfaces will manage your lists for you, so you don’t need to worry about obsolete email addresses and unsubscribes.
  2. Blogging – blogging is going to keep your website content fresh, raise your credibility in the marketplace, and increase your search engine visibility.  But with so few hours in our day to write new posts, I completely understand why more new businesses aren’t doing this.  But it doesn’t need to take long – just half an hour, a couple of times a week should nail it. Or even better, block out a time to schedule your posts for the next 30 or 90 days. What should we be blogging about? You’d be surprised how much you know about your industry that other people want to know, but don’t have time to learn, or the experience to draw on.  So just write about what you know!  And if you’re no good at writing – speak to a copywriter about penning your content – poorly written articles aren’t going to win you any customers.
  3. Social Media – if you’re anything like me, you may feel slightly uncomfortable with publishing posts and snippets for the world to see.  But the reach and viral effect of this medium is unmatched by any other marketing format.  Educate yourself on how to do it better, and try some of the platforms which will help you manage multiple networks from one place to save you some time. Don’t feel that you need to be everywhere – master one platform first before moving on to others
  4. Participate in forums and other blogs – bookmark forums, Facebook groups and blogs that your potential customers visit, and put aside half an hour every day to pop in and see if there are any questions or comments you can contribute to – it establishes you instant credibility and gives you access to a crowd of potential customers.  Make sure that you complete your profile to your advantage so if people want to follow up with you, they at least have your web address to hand. Quora is also a great platform for driving traffic.
  5. Provide customers with a reason to visit your website.  I’m a sucker for falling for discount offers, especially time sensitive ones (eg. this offer runs out at midnight on Wednesday).   It creates an incentive for me to just go and look around, even if there’s nothing I particularly need.  In this era of vouchers and discount codes, customers are looking to get the best deal that’s out there, and loyalty is hard to come by. Make sure that if you’re running a special offer, you stand by your timeframe.
  6. Above all, create killer content.  People are on the internet for a reason – they have a problem to solve, or need information – make sure it’s you in your industry who is providing it in the most credible, logical and approachable fashion.

Crack these six basic principles and be sure to make that this is your best year yet.

And if you’d like to find out more about why it’s such a good idea to be so active with your email marketing, your blogging and on social media, you can find out how the principles of it all come together in a short video I put together about chickens – really – chickens!

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