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Posted by Lee Anne Bartlett on 4 January 2011

Being in the technological age it only makes sense that if you have a business in 2011 that you are marketing it online. Now that doesn’t mean just slapping together an amateur website…. hosting it for $10 and you are in business. There is a lot more effort and attention that needs to go into your online marketing strategy. I will outline what I feel are the top 5 strategies every business should be doing online as a base.

1. Professional Online Business website
Everyone knows that a website is your online shop front. But a lot of people don’t really put enough time or resources into making sure it really captures your target audience and makes a great lasting impression. It needs to look professional, so let the professionals design it for you. You really shouldn’t try and design your own website unless you know what you are doing. In my personal opinion a bad website is worse than having no website at all.

So once you have a great looking website here are a few key points to keep in mind.

The industry stats show the most important things ‘a prospect’ must instantly see (within 8 seconds) is: who you are; what you do; what your point of difference is. Sounds simple, but often when you get someone not involved in your business to review your website they don’t get that message. The point of difference is important, as people now shop around more and is more comfortable on the internet – you need to make yourself stand out above your competitors. Standing out – Make sure you utilise the real estate on your home page, so people can find what they are looking for instantly. Use images as well to clearly display what services / products you sell. Also, identify your purpose of your website and what you want your visitors to do – then make it easy for them to do it. For example, if you want people to phone you make sure your phone number is big and bold in your heading. Or get a quote – have a quote button big and bold at the top of your website, or to buy – clearly display your website is a shopping site. Sounds simple but many people miss this, and it can make a massive difference to your success.

2. Professional Facebook Business Page
A Facebook business page should be a mini version of your website within the Facebook platform… here is an example of what I mean http://www.facebook.com/lovinglifenow2
It should once again look professional as it is another shop front for your business. It should have all the relevant information about your business to encourage someone to take action… phone, purchase, email etc. There are a lot of companies out there that can design this page for you, than once it is up and running all you need to do is continue to make posts to the page. You want to make your posts a mixture of promotions, education, advice, encouragement etc… It is not about trying to ‘SELL’ your products or services all the time. My suggestion is, if this is all new to you do a search and find some other companies that you like and click like on their pages… and watch what they do, it will give you some great ideas on what you could do.
P.S – A note here if you are new to Facebook. You need to set up a personal profile for yourself first to be able to set up a business page, do not set up a profile under your business name.

3. Linked In Personal Account
You will need to set up your linked in account under your personal name, not your business name. As people do business with people… Linked in is about building a business network, to be able to recommend and refer others. Linked in is a lot different to Facebook. Facebook is more the social fun side… so posting photos, lifestyle, making comments on others status etc, where as Linked In is more about professional business relationships and sharing knowledge and expertise. There are a few things that you want to be doing on Linked in. You want to be connecting with others and building your network, so in a nutshell inviting people to connect with you (you click on add to my network). Then you want to be joining some groups, you can search for groups based on keywords, then once you are in the groups you want to be posting a new interesting discussion and commenting on others. A note here, be sure to send a personal message to the person you are wishing to connect with as to why you would like to connect and read their profile first, it is not about quantity but quality.

4. Facebook Personal Account
Yes, you need to have a personal Facebook account if you want to market your business on Facebook. It is not as bad as it seems. I know some people cringe at the thought. You don’t have to be on their 10 times a day updating your status and uploading photos. You just want to have a nice professional photo and be actively posting interesting things about lifestyle, education etc (Feel free to add me if you like http://www.facebook.com/leeannebartlett ) You will see that it is once again not about trying to sell anyone your products or services, it is about building your reputation – expert status. You want to be assisting, inspiring others and educating them. And you also want to show lifestyle, family etc, as you are human, people like to see who someone really is, if they can trust them. You want to be doing the same here as you do in Linked in, you want to be joining groups, liking other business pages and building your friends list. It is about building/making friendships, so when requesting to friend someone tell them why, don’t just randomly add people… as Facebook frowns on this! Also only add between 5-10 people per day no more, as Facebook will stop you adding people if you don’t obey their rules.

5. Twitter Business/Personal Account
Same as all of the above, you want to set up either a business or personal twitter account. Now this will depend on your business and what you are marketing. Twitter is like a really simple version of Facebook and is basically all about status updates. What you want to achieve here is having people follow you. So to do this you need to find some people to follow. Do a search by keyword and find some interesting people/businesses to follow. You will find overtime, people will start to follow you back. Once again you want to build on this long-term. Your status updates you do here will be similar to your Facebook Personal Profile or Business Page depending on which way you decide to go.

A few things to keep in mind – Make sure you are using Consistent Branding Across all platforms including your photo for your personal profiles; use the same photo – Professional headshot. Have fun with it and remember you are investing some time into this as a marketing strategy to grow your business; it may cost you nothing but a little time… better than spending thousands on an advertising campaign and getting no results. You are doing more than just making a sale, you are building strong alliances and business partners which will continue to grow, assist and build your business.

So go slowly, if you put aside 15-30 mins a day and do a small amount of each thing, over time you will have started building some great momentum in your business and will be generating some free customers to your business. A really cool program to save you time and makes it easier to manage all your status updates and posts is www.hootsuite.com and it is FREE. Enjoy

Here is to an awesome 2011.. It will be the best year ever!

Lee Anne BartlettAuthor:Lee Anne BartlettConnect via:TwitterLinkedIn
Tags:Work from Home MumsBusiness General

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