Marketing Like a Maniac: The Ultimate List of Ways to Market Your Business Online

Marketing Like a Maniac: The Ultimate List of Ways to Market Your Business Online

“If you build it, he will come.” – Field of Dreams, 1989

This often misquoted line from Field of Dreams succinctly describes the mentality that many new bloggers and business owners have when they first start their projects. They fall into the trap of thinking that all they need to do is build a website, or redirect their domain name to their affiliate URL, and the customers will start lining up at the door to buy their products and services.

As attractive as this thought is, it simply is not true and I know this from experience. Despite the fact that I worked in the business sector for eighteen+ years and had been online since 2004, when I formally started my business in 2007, I did the same exact thing. I set up my website, sat back and waited for people to automagically find me. My only excuse is that I wasn’t drinking nearly enough coffee in those days. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Luckily, in the intervening years, I upped my daily dosage of caffeine and learned a thing or two about how business on the internet works. There is no way around it. If you want people to know who you are, you have to become a blip on their radar by marketing yourself. Even if your goal is to attract people to you by being seen as an authority in your field, you still have to prime the pump by marketing like a maniac in the beginning days, months, or years, of your business.

Why is this? Well, when you are brand new, no one knows who you are. Even worse, no one but your mother cares. The goal of marketing is two-fold: to raise your profile so that you become visible to your target market and to show them why they should care that you are around. The focus of this article is to show you the many different options available for getting your name out there. Showing people why they should care is a topic for another day.

One thing I can’t stress enough is the fact that you want to reach out to your target market through as many channels as you possibly can. Another big mistake a lot of people make, both newbies and experienced business owners alike, is that they only reach out using only one or two marketing tactics. That’s fine when you are learning the ropes. However, as your business grows, you want to expand into other ways to market your message.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is the art of creating content, like articles or videos, for the express purpose of sharing with your target audience as a means of attracting them to you and cultivating an image as an expert in your field. Content marketing differs from other types of marketing because you are, hopefully, providing solutions to problems experienced by your audience.

Keep in mind that the problems experienced by your clients aren’t always one of needing an answer to a question. Sometimes it is simple boredom or wanting to have information they read put into proper perspective that causes them to hit the search engines. This is why it is important to understand what your target audience cares about and to offer content that addresses that.

* Article Marketing – This is the act of writing articles and submitting them to article directories like Ezinearticles and GoArticles. To be effective, you want to submit articles to more than one directory (at least 10). Submitting to multiple article directories increases your exposure as well as the number of links to your website. The more links pointing to your website, the higher it’s ranking in the search engines which mean more traffic to your site.

* Blogging – Having a static website is great. It can serve as a central place to find you online. However, having a blog that you update on a regular basis is even better because it encourages people to return to your website. It is also a good way to brand yourself in your field of expertise and offers innumerable ways for your audience to promote you.

* Guest Posting – A good way to generate traffic to your website or blog is to tap into the audience of other websites. Guest posting on blogs in your industry, or sister industries, exposes you to their readers who will naturally visit your website to see what you are all about. Additionally, because you are seen on a blog they trust, overcoming the trust barrier will be much easier.

* Video Marketing – YouTube is the #2 search engine on the internet. Over 100 million people visit the site every month and watch about 65 hours worth of videos. To say that video marketing is huge is an understatement. Creating a branded channel on YouTube and other video upload sites, like Metacafe, is a good way to reach people who prefer to watch video rather than read content as well as get your message distributed around the web.

* Podcasting – This is a frequently overlooked marketing channel. Podcasting is the creation of audio content that people can download and listen to. Like video marketing, this is a good way to reach people who are not into reading content. Additionally, creating content that can be downloaded to a portable device, like a MP3 player or cell phone, allows them to listen to your message during times when they can’t access your content any other way. Like when they are driving.

* Search Engine Marketing – Search Engine Optimization/Search Engine Marketing is the art of ranking well for certain keywords in the search engines. Keywords are the words people use to find information when they search on Google, Bing, or Yahoo. Ranking well for the keywords your target audience is using will draw them to your content. All of your written content should be created with this goal in mind.

* Press Releases – These are basically public announcements to the world about anything of interest regarding your business. Changes in management, new products and services, and even the announcement of a business startup are all good candidates for a press release. The goal of a press release is to get picked up and distributed by the media. However, since most aren’t, they are a good way to generate links to your website which helps your search engine rankings.

* Email Marketing – This form of marketing includes newsletters, email courses, and sending marketing offers directly to your audience. Delivery of your message and marketing is sent directly to their email box. Never send unsolicited mail. Your message will be received much better if you work to have people sign up to your list of their own accord.

* Webinars – This is the internet version of a seminar. They differ from teleseminars in that they incorporate visual media, such as video or PowerPoint presentations. The goal of webinars is to teach your audience about something or to discuss an issue of importance.

* Teleseminars – These are the same as webinars except delivery of the content is done over the phone and often includes time for discussion.

* Blog Carnivals – Although not as popular as they once were, a blog carnival is an online event where the host blog posts a list of links to articles submitted by participants on the topic of the carnival. For example, a carnival whose topic is marketing would review and add to the list all articles that pertained to some form of marketing.

Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing differs from content marketing in that the focus is on directly engaging with your target audience. Social media marketing takes the place of those face to face meetings over lunch or formal introductions through business associates. When used the right way, they can quickly raise your visibility in the crowded social sphere. However, unlike content marketing which offers a measure of longevity, social media marketing requires continuous updating to keep you top of mind.

* Social Networking Websites – Twitter and Facebook are the most well known of the bunch although there are plenty more. These sites provide a way to directly connect to members of your target market. Social networking sites provide a way to get a better sense of who your audience is as well as allow you to directly address their needs and concerns. Think of it as the party where the conversation starts. Use other marketing tactics, like blogging, to draw followers into your sales funnel.

* Blog Commenting – This is quickly becoming something of a lost art as people focus more and more on their own projects. Blog commenting is, essentially, participating in a conversation on someone’s blog. Similar to guest posting, it is a way to tap into an existing audience and draw people to your website. The trick is to make sure you are adding to the conversation and not just posting various forms of spam.

* Forum Marketing – The social networking phenomenon has many people declaring that forums are dead. This is not true. People are still seeking each other out for help and friendship on forums. Honestly, there is only so much you can do with 140 characters. Like blog commenting, you want to contribute to the conversation by being an active member who provides quality help and information.

* Blog Memes – Another oldie but goodie, blog memes are the precursor to Twitter trending topics. They operate in a similar way to blog carnivals except your post generally has to adhere to a specific format. For example, Thursday Thirteen requires you to post on the topic of your choice except it must include a list of 13 things (i.e. 13 ways to market your blog) and be posted on Thursdays. Members generally visit each other’s sites and comment on the posts so this can net you more readers.

* #Hashtag Chats – This is the Twitter version of a chat room. Participants gather together at a specific time and talk about the topic du jour. In order to follow and add to the conversation, you must use the group’s hashtag. An example of this is #SMManners which meets every Tuesday night to talk about manners and politeness in the social media arena. Participating in #Hashtag Chats is a good way to display your knowledge in a particular area which will help you with your branding as an authority.

* Social Bookmarking – This is basically the sharing of bookmarked links in a social atmosphere. Think Digg and StumbleUpon. Generally, you find and post links to the site which other members rate and comment on. To be effective, it is important that you submit links to content that appeal to the target audience of the site. E.g. Digg caters to a mostly tech audience so stuff about gadgets, gaming, and technology usually gets attention.

* Question and Answer – Websites like Yahoo! Answers and Blurtit provide a place for people to get answers to their most pressing questions. If someone held me at gunpoint and asked me what I thought was the best place to find targeted buyers, I would have to say Q&A sites. Why? Because they are asking a question, therefore, they are obviously looking for solutions. Additionally, answering questions helps position you as an expert.

* Word of Mouth Marketing – Word of mouth marketing is, perhaps, the best social marketing you can get. People trust the recommendations of others in their social network. Working to get people talking about you and referring others to your business is an age old marketing tactic that still works today.

Paid Marketing

There are tons of free marketing options out there. But, what a lot of the experts leave out is that they take time and sweat equity to get results. If you don’t have any money then you don’t have any choice but to go the free route. However, as soon as you have a few extra dollars to spend, you may want to check into some of these paid marketing options.

Since you are spending money, it is important that you track your results to see what is working to avoid wasting money on marketing tactics that are not getting results.

* Website Ads – Directly advertising on websites that people in your target audience uses is a good way to get your name in front of their face. However, due to ad blindness, a condition where surfers are so used to ads that they don’t notice them anymore, you really have to design your ad so that it sticks out.

* Pay Per Click – Google popularized this form of advertisement. Instead of paying a flat fee to display your ad for a certain length of time or page impressions, you only pay each time someone clicks on your link. The cost of each click depends completely on the competitiveness of the search term you are trying to show up for. Before engaging in pay per click advertising, I highly recommend that you take advantage of the many training programs available online that show you how to get your money’s worth.

* Paid Reviews – This is another way you can take advantage of the audience a particular blogger or website has built up. A paid review is exactly as it sounds. You pay someone to review your product, service, or business. However, paying for the review does not guarantee a positive review. Therefore, you want to be careful when employing this option. Make sure your business can stand up to the scrutiny.

* Contests and Giveaways – People love to win stuff. Running a contest with awesome prizes is a good way to get people talking about your business. Additionally, giving away stuff, like an EBook or special report, in exchange for an email address can help you build your email list.

* SMS Marketing – There are several mobile advertising companies that specialize in sending your marketing message via text message to your target audience. Similar to an email list, they launch campaigns designed to collect telephone numbers and get them to agree to receive the messages. Be certain to work with a reputable company so that you don’t get dinged for sending SMS spam.

Other Marketing

These marketing strategies didn’t really fit in anywhere else but still offers an opportunity to get your name out there.

* Classified Ads – These are just like the classified ads you find in your local newspaper. Online, though, there are both free and paid options. Additionally, it is very easy to advertise in a number of cities and states. Like social media, however, you must advertise on a consistent basis to remain ahead of all the other people submitting their ads.

* Directory Submissions – This is mostly for building links back to your website rather than directly generating traffic. Submitting your sites to blog and website directories can help you get listed in the search engines faster (for brand new sites) as well as increase your ranking in the search engines with relevant back links.

* Link Exchange – Sometimes you can get free advertisement on other sites by offering to exchange links with bloggers. This mostly works with people who are on the same popularity level as you. Additionally, be certain you are linking to a person with a good reputation. A link on your site to another person is a silent endorsement of them.

* Traffic Exchange Websites – This is a unique type of directory where your blog is shown in a rotation of other blogs. Generally they are based on a credit system where the number of credits you have determines how many times your blog shows up in rotation. For example, if you have 100 credits, your blog will be advertised 100 times. You can either buy more credits or earn credits by surfing the directory.

* Banner Exchange Websites – Similar to traffic exchange sites, you place a code on your website that shows banner ads from other people in the directory on your site. In exchange, your banner ad is shown on other people’s websites. Some operate on a credit system while others show your ad based on the number of ads that are served on your blog. For example, if ads are show 30 times on your blog then your ad will be shown 30 times on other sites in the network.

I think I have exhausted the number of ways in which you can market your website. If I have missed something, please feel free to contact me and I will add it to the list.

Once again, you want to use a combination of marketing tactics to generate as much attention and traffic as you can to your business. Don’t hesitate to ask for assistance in executing a marketing strategy that gets results.

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