Big Strategies For Small Business

Big Strategies For Small Budgets

Affordable Online Marketing for Your Business

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Marketing used to be simple.

A great product, a simple press release for the dailies, a catchy jingle for radio or TV, and a well designed print ad for the magazines, and your business was good to go.

Then came the Internet!

Suddenly, your ranking on search engines became a priority. Getting reviewed in top blogs became important. Followers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram became a thing. And, engaging with your customers online turned out to be crucial.

Personally, I believe it’s the options that business owners have these days that make it seem like marketing has become this complicated and confusing, but necessary, part of running a business today.

The good news?

Businesses, no matter how small, can actually go toe to toe with blue chip corporations. The Internet has managed to level the playing field. It’s just a matter of knowing how to use it.

The bad news?

If you’ve ever tried to Google “online marketing,” then you know what it’s like to sift through over 1 billion search results and whittle those down to the top usable, feasible, and affordable marketing options you can try. But it only takes one of those things to work.

Because, if you ask me, marketing is still as simple as it ever was, and it all just boils down to finding the answer to this question: How can I let the world know all about my great product/service without spending a fortune?

In all my years in the industry, I’ve come to the conclusion that there are no hard and fast rules or cookie-cutter methods on how you can effectively market a particular brand, product, or service. It’s a matter of instinct, understanding your audience, making sure you actually have something great to sell—and these are things that you tweak here and there as you try to keep up with an ever-changing market.

What I can tell you… is how to get started, in the simplest and most budget-friendly way possible.

#1 Create Your Online Presence

It still surprises me how reluctant established local brands are when it comes to making their presence felt online. I suppose it’s because the Internet is still fairly new territory for them; but the fact is, if you have a local business, it’s time to bring your marketing efforts online. How?

  • Create A Website (Like you didn’t see that one coming!) It doesn’t have to be a flashy or complicated site. For starters, just be sure that it has all the necessary information about your product or service and your contact information. While there are places that will host your site for free, I would highly suggest signing up and paying for proper domain hosting that will allow you to register and use your actual business name. Remember, when a potential customer starts to show interest in your business, the first thing they do is to look you up online. Having your own website means you are able to control the content (the message your visitors see).
  • Start A Blog Blogs aren’t necessarily the exclusive domain of lovelorn teenagers jotting down their daily escapades. In fact, company blogs are essential when it comes to engaging customers and targeting audiences. It makes it simpler for companies to connect and share stories. Visit or, two of the top blogging sites to learn more. For ideas on what to write about, check out this great article.
  • Sign Up For Social Networks Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, LinkedIn—you’d be surprised just how much traffic consistent engagement from these sites with their followers can drive to your website. It’s better to start with the one social network you feel most comfortable using. Then, once you’ve established a solid following there, you can branch out to others.

#2 Introduce Yourself

So, let’s say you have a basic website up and running, your Facebook or Twitter account is good to go and you just published your first blog post. What’s next?

Ask yourself: “What’s my business about?”

Are you opening a restaurant? Are you running an online fashion store? Go online and start compiling a list of sites and blogs related to your business. Once you have that list, engage regular site visitors by commenting and creating discussions on these sites. Leave insightful and detailed comments that lead back to your website.

The best example for this is Mashable—a British-American social and technology blog that introduced itself by commenting consistently on related sites. Today, it’s one of the biggest and most popular sites out there.

#3 Respect The Power Of Online Message Boards

Message boards (also known as “forums”) are so easily overlooked because they’ve been around for years, but you’d be surprised at how you can use them to your advantage.

Take your cue from Timothy Sykes. If the name sounds familiar, it’s because he’s famous for turning his bar mitzvah money (a little over twelve thousand dollars) into a million dollar enterprise by tapping into his day trading expertise. How’d he do it? Well, understanding the “ins and outs” of stock trading helped, of course. The more important question is, how did he create and sustain his business after finding his fortune?

The Answer: He did it online.

Sykes marketed himself on top Finance and Yahoo! message boards and used it as way to share his expertise and eventually drive traffic to his own website where he had books, instructional videos, and other similar references. Now he gets thousands of new leads visiting his site and has established an online business that rakes in the bucks.  There's more about his business model here.

#4 Go LocalBig Strategy For Small Budget: Go Local1

Google searches, as they evolved, have become more specific and personalized.

Take Google Local for example. It works sort of how phone books used to (but in a more engaging and effective way). It’s especially helpful for businesses with actual, physical locations—stores, restaurants, shops—where not only can you provide relevant information such as the address, contact details and your website but also provides an option for users to give local reviews.

#5 Guest Blogging

A fairly new strategy that has slowly been gaining ground, and one that has proven itself to be more effective than you’d think is guest blogging.

It simply means writing for other blogs. Of course, this means choosing the right blogs, making sure these blogs are appropriate to your business and creating content that is relevant to your (and their) target market. But if done well, this means that you can tap into the followers and network of already established blogs who share the same interests and maybe even get their readers to learn more about what you have to offer.

If you’d like to get started guest blogging, is a great place to start.

WARNING:  Guest blogging has been used as a spammy way of getting low-quality links and Google is on to it.  If you decide to guest blog (and I recommend you do) be sure to be selective about what sites your write for and generate high-quality content that is unique to them (i.e., don't reuse articles you've already written).

#6 Embrace Reviews

There are still some business owners who balk at the idea of giving customers a venue where they can potentially post something negative about their product. But you’d be surprised at how many customers are also willing to talk about great customer service and awesome products when they have a place to share.

Use social networks like Facebook or Twitter to encourage people to talk about your brand.  Especially encourage the use of hashtags (#seriouslysimpletip).
Designate a section where these reviews can easily be shared by your customers.  You could even create a page on your site that highlights some of the best ones you receive.

#7 Incentivize

You know how you just love going to a particular bakery because the owner throws in a couple of baguettes for free? How you keep coming back to your neighborhood salon because you get all these perks simply because you’re a regular? Or, how your local coffee shop knows you by name and starts your double nonfat cappuccino the second your walk through the door?

The same strategy is applicable online. Keep them coming back by rewarding your loyal followers/customers/patrons.

Create mini promotions where you can give away small prizes or promotional materials that can expand your brand’s reach. For instance, behemoth athletic brand Nike has been known to start art contests online and offer the production of the winning piece as part of their latest line.
Provide opportunities of interaction with relevant personalities—do you have a top personality who just loves your product or your brand? Why not host a live Twitter Q and A?
Drive more people to your website by offering exclusive perks or discounts.

#8 Turn Your Attention To Video

There was once a time when videos didn’t appear in Google search results, but then came Youtube and brands like Blendtec quickly started to take advantage.

The goal was simply to show how powerful their appliance was, and they did it by introducing the “Will It Blend?” series—a collection of viral videos where they featured their blenders blending everything from lighters to iPhones. What a creative way to show just how durable a boring, old kitchen appliance can be!

Can you think a novel way to use video?

#9 Get Published On Top Blogs

Getting published in a magazine can cost money, time, and effort…but getting published in a niche blog with over a thousand followers? A lot easier than you might think!

Jot down your top 5 target blogs and extend good will by writing to the blog owner and offering a sample of the product or service. Do not ask for a review or a feature outright—if your product or brand deserves it, you won’t have to. Instead, offer to provide information about your product or service, maybe even ask if you can interview the blog owner for your own site—this might lead to a mention of your product or even encourage the blogger to promote your content.

#10 Free InformationBig Marketing Strategy For Small Budget - Social Media

Offering free information is one of the fastest ways to get yourself recognized as an authority. Provide good quality content that's specific to your industry or service.  This could include offering helpful tips, relevant reviews, and similar information that Internet-savvy customers are looking for.

Remember:  The more useful content you share with others, the more others will share your useful content.

How will you know what’s relevant?

Try crowdsourcing content ideas from your audience.  If you have a website, blog, and social network already setup up, go ahead and ask them what they want to read and talk about.  You could even create a quick Google Form survey to ask them what challenges they need help with.

You could even tap into web analytics and keyword research as a way to build your content plan.

Finally, use social data to determine content might appeal to your audience by checking out what your  own followers are following, posting, and tweeting about.

Simple enough?  Let’s give it a try…

Build Your Social Media Followers

Seriously Simple Marketing Hack

Want to get more followers on your social networks? Tap into the power of hashtags—

  1. Go on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and review the top hashtags relating to your brand/ service or product.
  2. Take a picture of something related to your business—a new product, your featured service or a meme for example, and post it on your social networks.
  3. Be sure to keep your caption brief and witty, and add the top 3 hashtags at the end of the sentence. #greatidea #seriouslysimplehack #easytodo

This simple technique means your latest post can now be seen by anyone in the world who searched that particular word or phrase. Quick and easy! Try it and see how many new followers you get by the end of the week.

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I look forward to reading your feedback and answering any questions you have in the comments below…

– Mercer

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About The Author


Chris Mercer, who typically goes by "Mercer", has a sales and marketing background that stretches over 20 years. He began his online marketing career in 2009 and has become a sought after analytics & conversions expert, helping other top-marketers to improve their own offers and sales funnels. Now decades of real-world experience are brought to you post-by-post as he delivers Seriously Simple Marketing tips that you can use to build your own business!