Even if your small business is thriving, there is always room for growth. Promotion doesn’t happen automatically, and while it isn’t the first priority on your to-do list, it should still be in the top five. After all, word of your business has to get out somehow; why not strategize and plan for it to spread how and where you’d like it to?
Online Business Networking
Whether you have an online-only business, a brick-and-mortar store, or both, every small business needs a few methods of promotion for its type. Of course, there are the standard methods of promoting your business, the basic ways of advertising that are usually no-brainers. For online-only businesses, social media promotion is both necessary and a given.
Several websites have ways to work with and for your business, and there are various routes for online networking that can be beneficial to your visibility and traffic. Customers often search for business listings in Google and on directory sites, and linking your info to these sites allows them to find you more easily in search results.
Even if your business is only a physical store, you’ll want to make use of some of these online listing sites. Most everyone searches online for businesses these days, and building an online presence for your physical store will help to bring in customers and increase foot traffic as well as digital views.
- Google Business gives your small business visibility when customers search for your business—or even similar businesses in the area. You can highlight featured or new items or products in the listing, post hours, share updates, and reply to reviews. Your Google Business listing is likely the first thing customers would see when they search for you, so using it would be a wise investment—and it’s free to sign up!
- Bing Places may be your second-best bet for online visibility, as Bing is widely used as well. It’s easy to add your listing to Bing, as it may already include it; you just need to update and verify. Like Google Business, Bing Places is free to use; sign up for a verified listing and increase visibility instantly.
- Yahoo! Local is another listing site that gives you a basic listing for free and processes millions of searches each day. Your business listing can be upgraded to add more info and photos, and a further upgrade gives you linked listings in other directories. Even just a free listing gives your business increased visibility in online searches.
- LinkedIn is designed for businesses, and even creating a page for your business will draw those who like to network and search for jobs, similar occupations, or connections through LinkedIn. Their system makes it easy to find businesses by type or category, and the rotating newsfeed and networking suggestions practically do the work for you.
- Yelp is another well-known listing site, as millions of customers use mobile and online Yelp to locate and evaluate businesses before trying them. Yelp gives your business a chance to reply to reviews and a constant update of visitor stats; creating a business listing on Yelp can only improve your business traffic.
- Reddit is a popular platform that boosts visitor traffic to your site by circulating your content on theirs. If you submit links to pages on your site, products, images, and so on, they are woven throughout their content, boosting your SEO ranking as well by linking to their text. This method may give you visibility in an otherwise unreached online community.
- MerchantCircle offers a network specifically targeting customers looking for local businesses as well as businesses looking to connect with other small businesses locally. MerchantCircle provides marketing tools and business blogs to boost your business’s network listing; the more you post, the more exposure you receive. And it’s all free!
- Foursquare is a unique concept, combining a business directory with a bit of social networking. While your business is listed online complete with reviews and ratings, customers can also leave tips for others, post photos, and share what they liked or disliked. Users can save places to a list to try, search for businesses by type, and add friends to see what they’re doing as well as “checking in” on their mobile app Swarm to remember where they’ve been. As a business, you can post a special on Foursquare to attract and reward visitors; Foursquare will send you a window cling to post and show your connection.
If you’re just starting out in building or promoting your business, it can be overwhelming knowing where to begin. Research and make a list of all the sites you’d like to be listed on and create a listing or two per week until you cross them all off. There’s no need to try to build them all at once, so maybe start with the most well-known options that will give you the most visibility and go from there. If nothing else, begin with Google, the world’s biggest and most widely known search engine. You can’t go wrong listing your business with Google, and if you keep track of your traffic and sales, you’ll no doubt be seeing an increase from each listing you create and be motivated to add even more.
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At Bright Vessel, we can help you with all your digital marketing needs. Contact us for assistance or questions.