A friend recently asked if I could suggest some ways he could market online on a budget. At this point in his business he did not have the budget for professional online marketing and was looking for low cost options. Normally I would strongly suggest engaging an online marketing company such as ours but considering his dilemma I gave him a few suggestions of the cuff.
I write this with the assumption that there is a website already in place to market.
It need not be professional, it need not be the best prose of the year. As long as it contains information about some facet of your business, put it online. Google and other search engines just love websites which are updated often and content gives search engines a rich pick of keywords to index. That brings up an important point - make sure your content is rich with keywords (what's a keyword - a phrase that describes an area of your business e.g. fly fishing, fishing vacations etc.). For many writing is tough but if you are on a budget writing is a good tool.
As a corollary to the above, writing a blog is also a good idea. Just ensure that there are a lot of links to your website from your posts or alternately mention your contact details so people can get in touch with you after reading your posts.
Thumb rule: Use website for more permanent information eg. product/service details, pricing, etc , use your blog for more transient information stories, ideas, observations etc.
Whats a 'Long Tail'? A long tale is simply a keyword or key phrase of more than 3 words. E.g. 'Fly fishing' is not a long tail but 'Fly fishing in karnataka backwaters' is.
Why use adwords? Cause you can control the budget, you can choose to spend INR 100 per day or INR 1000 per day as your budget permits. Setting up an Google Adwords account is quite easy. If you choose the competitive keywords your daily budget will get eaten up quickly for little gains but using 'long tails' you can stretch your budget a bit more.
Caution: Long tails individually drive very little traffic so in order to get a good result you need to come up with a lot of long tails.
Create a fan page for your business and post regularly on it (1-2 posts daily), respond to comments and build up a network one at a time. Its a slow approach but can overtime yield huge results in terms of referrals. Also go onto Fan pages related to your business and participate in discussions and when you get an opportunity talk about your business. Don't be a pig and blatantly post ads on their wall. Be subtle. Building a social media network is about give and take. There are tons of blogs and articles on social media marketing, read them and use them.
This more of a collorary to the pervious point. Instead of restricting yourself only to Facebook explore other places online where your target audience might meet. Message boards, Yahoo groups, minor social media sites, chat rooms are all likely places where you can interact. Again the warning stands, be subtle, don't try to push your business onto others. Eventually if they trust you, people will recommend you.
For many who don't have the time or are not too web savvy, an affiliate is an excellent alternative. Basically an affiliate could be anyone who would be wiling to market your product/service online for a percentage of sales. It could be a college student or it could be a professional affiliate marketing company. The idea is to let someone more efficient do the work and you stick to your knitting. Caution: Be very careful when negotiating with affiliates, read the fine print, and consult a lawyer if possible. If you get an honest and hardworking affiliate then together your business will grow substantially.
Will post more ideas as they come to me. But remember when budget is not a concern and growth is required, come to us. A professional marketing service can do a lot for you.
Review all the paid marketing options available to you on http://www.miracleworx.com