(c) 2002 by Cheryl Williams Levey, http://www.cherylsweb.com
The Internet has created
an incredible opportunity for current or potential business owners. But
there are factors and issues to consider to be effective online.
How Are Online Businesses Like Traditional Ones?
First, forget the idea that the internet can make you rich overnight without
any effort. It takes time, effort, and money to become successful online.
Gee, isn't that true in a traditional business as well? What other similarities
do online and traditional businesses have? Well, you need a plan. You
need to develop your business and marketing plans and you need to determine
how much time and money you can invest initially and monthly. Speaking
of marketing, like with traditional businesses, you need to advertise,
advertise, advertise. You need to define, specifically, exactly what you
will offer, be it product or service, and you need to define, specifically,
exactly who your customers will be. Then you need to slant most of your
marketing efforts toward that audience. All of these things are true whether
online or off.
You Have A Website?
Also, if you have a website for whatever purpose, no one will know it
exists unless you advertise it. There are literally billions of web pages
out in cyberspace now, and yours will be a drop in the ocean unless you
spend some serious time and effort making sure people can find you. Simply
having a site online is just not enough. No one will visit you electronically
if they don't know you are there. And they won't know you are there unless
you tell them.
How do you know how to tell people? There are all kinds of ways, but some
caution needs to be used to both preserve your personal and business integrity
and to brand you as an expert in your field--which over time will help
you gain more customers and get more business. The important thing to
remember is to be a "real" person, because people can see right through
insincerity and can hit the delete key faster than you can blink. It's
better to be sincere in your efforts than it is to try to hard sell or
push anyone, because, think about it: Do you like to be pushed or bullied
into anything? Remember to always think in terms of what your audience,
individually, is thinking and how you would like to be treated.
Here are just a few of the FREE ways to get noticed, but there are more
and I'd love to hear your thoughts, options, comments, etc about this:
Build An Email Opt-In List
First, on your website, offer free reports or newsletters (like this one),
or whatever you want based on what kind of business you have, in exchange
for people's email addresses. This is called an opt-in list and gives
you permission to email information to them. DO NOT gather up emails from
everywhere you can and send them stuff. That's spamming and can get you
booted from your ISP and completely destroy any credibility you might
have been able to build. You can also buy contact information, called
leads, from several different lead generation companies. These leads are
typically generated from people answering ads asking if they are interested
in receiving information on business opportunities. Build your list and
send information about business in general and about your opportunity
regularly. This does not mean every day. Once a week or every month or
whatever. Put yourself in their shoes and consider how often you'd like
to be solicited--on top of all the other emails you get every day, and
Visit Forums and Chat Rooms
Choose some forums and visit them regularly. And not to just tell about
your business. In fact, it might be better to not talk about your business
at all, but rather offer advice, information and answer questions when
you can about different aspects of having an online business. Over time,
people will get to "know" you and look to you for advice as an expert.
Don't hit them with your business, but always include your URL in your
signature line and lots of people will check you out that way.
Submit Your Site To Search Engines
Be sure to check rules for submissions, but periodically submit each page
of your site to search engines like Yahoo, AltaVista, DirectHit, Google
Find Similar Businesses and Swap Links
I know that sounds counterproductive, but just think about it a while
and you'll understand the beauty of this. People who end up on the other
site will see the link to your site and you will benefit from their curiousity
when they click through to your site. Yes, it works both ways, but just
think about how many potential customers or partners you could attract.
These are just a few of the many options for marketing online. Please
feel free to send me additional input on what works for you!
Cheryl Williams Levey owns cherylsweb.com, a site
dedicated to showing you how to save time and money
while growing your home business. Do you have what
it takes to build a home business?