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Where were your competitors a few decades ago? If you were starting a business 15-20 years ago how would you do it? Well you would register your business licence and name at the local registry. Then, you would open an office or store, acquire signage and advertise in your local paper and yellow pages. All of the above can be a costly venture. Today that process has changed to online sign ups, an informative website, targeted online marketing and the costs have been dramatically reduced.

The website has replaced many offices or stores and the online marketing has replaced paper advertising and yellow pages. As you would hand out flyers or pay for paper ads to attract your customers to your business, today search engines drive traffic to your website which in turn sends leads to either your email or calls to your phone. Furthermore, conversations that used to happen at the coffee shop or office, likely now are responses to blogs, comments on Facebook or replies to postings on Twitter.

What is required today for your small business? Where do you start if you’re not that online savvy?

The first thing is branding. You need to start with a good business name, tagline and a professional logo to bring this all together. Along with branding is an attractive and quality stock  business card to reflect your image in a positive way. After these basics are in place, an arresting, functional, social media integrated and mobile friendly website with easy reading content and quality photos is the hub of all your online marketing efforts.

A website that isn’t found is just a glossy brochure on the web.  It needs to be found by Google, Bing and Yahoo searchers. Therefore, time and money need to be invested by using SEO (search engine optimization) marketing to assure that your business is found with the keywords for your industry. This type of organic marketing is good, but it takes time to rank well.  Therefore the Red Bull of marketing is to use PPC (pay per click) marketing using Google Adwords or Facebook Ads for paid rankings in order to get traction. Once these basics are are in place, you can increase your online exposure through integrated blogging, targeted email campaigns, video marketing and social media content marketing.

I’m not saying that old school methods aren’t valid today, but I’m saying they are being replaced by online marketing and if you’re not where your customers are looking, then your competitors are there taking away any potential customers.

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