Over two decades ago I published a newsletter called Marketability for small businesses. At the time, the Internet was in its infancy stage and more baby boomers than ever, like myself, were working from home. While a lot has changed due to the rise of the internet and social media, the basic principles of marketing remain the same…commitment, consistency, and investment.
Successful marketers create a strategic plan before they spend a single dollar on advertising. This plan includes committing to a specific advertising message, deciding where and when to advertise, and how much they will spend over the course of a year. Creating an ad budget and a realistic assessment of the rate of return on investment (ROI) should dictate the where, when, how and why you advertise.
For businesses with a modest marketing budget, the Internet has leveled the advertising field. You can create a basic website (or electronic brochure) for as little as $500 that can be seen by a worldwide audience 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Furthermore, unlike a brochure, you do not have to wait weeks to get more printed if you run out or need to make updates such as a change of location, adding a product line, or introducing a new service. These changes can be made in a single day on your website.
After the initial investment of developing and launching a website, the cost to maintain your online presence can be as little as $10 per month. You probably spend more than that on morning coffee for the week. What about print ads in your local paper, or paying for radio or television ads. If you are very lucky you may get one week of advertising for the same $500, if you are in a very small market.
While a basic website can be very affordable to launch, you will still need to promote your new website before you can reap the rewards. If your website is being developed by a professional, ask them about SEO. SEO stands for search engine optimization and if done properly can organically raise your websites ranking on the search engines so your website is found easily by prospective customers in search of what you offer. Having your site search engine optimized can range from $500 - $2000 but if done properly, the investment will pay for itself in a short period of time. Do not hire a SEO expert unless you get references. There are many companies advertising this service online and only a few that truly deliver results.
If you are just getting started on the web, you can save some dough on SEO and promote your new web address on your business cards, stationery, and other marketing and advertising materials. This is the most cost-effective way to drive business to your website.