So you successfully started a new business and are looking to build a client base. Now what? These days, it’s no longer feasible to slap up a website and make a few phone calls. Startups need customers and revenue – and they need them quickly. Fortunately, today’s rapidly evolving technology makes it easier to promote a company or product and reach their target audience(s).
Social networking, search engine optimization, blogs, wikis, podcasting and bookmarking sites – to name a few – have penetrated the modern workplace thanks to their ability to increase traffic, raise awareness, attract new clients and help maintain the current client base. For businesses to compete, they need to keep pace with emerging technologies and embrace effective communications to capture their target audience. Of course, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are crucial marketing tools when building awareness of a new business or product. But there are other, often overlooked methods that can help generate leads and sales.
Make it Mobile: Mobile phones are no longer used primarily for chatting with friends and loved ones – they are emerging as a viable means of conducting day to day business operations. If predictions hold true, more U.S. Internet users will access the web via mobile phones than by PCs by 2015. As more people use their smartphones to surf and make purchases on websites, the platform has emerged as an essential tool for business owners to showcase, market and sell their products while also interacting with customers.
For example, you can utilize mobile-specific features such as location services and click-to-call by offering customer discounts when those customers are in proximity to your business. You might also embrace QR codes to advertise your products on traditional print media, directing more potential users toward your business. As a result, it’s important for brands to start focusing efforts now on new content, web pages and promotions that are mobile-friendly in both small screen format and tone. Responsive web design – which helps to ‘mobilize’ web content – provides brands with the simplest way to reach consumers across multiple devices.
Google is the Place: While many businesses invest time and marketing dollars on paid search campaigns and SEO strategies, some fail to notice a valuable – and free – resource: Google+ Local. Consider it the “Yellow Pages of Google,” offering users the opportunity to find products and services located nearby. Formerly known as Google Places for Business, Google+ Local is a directory listing that displays photos, reviews and essential facts about a particular business, as well as real time updates, a mapped location and special offers.
If you want to benefit from customers who are on the go and searching via smartphone, Google+ Local is a service you need to adopt and update on a regular basis. The free platform can help bump your listing to the top of local searches in your business category – and you can enhance the description by adding videos, customer reviews, QR codes or additional information about your company. Google is the most used search engine on the planet, so the more easily searchable your business, the more likely you could see success.
The Perks of LinkedIn: LinkedIn is not just a tool for career networking. Although it’s geared toward professional use, entrepreneurs and businesses can use the site to generate leads and connect with several valuable contacts. For example, LinkedIn’s Answers section provides the opportunity to be identified as an expert in your particular field, potentially driving new business. In addition, you can join LinkedIn groups to engage with businesses or individuals with similar interests, and you can utilize the Events page to promote meetings, launch parties or conferences. Take advantage of these opportunities. Instead of sinking time and money into customer polls or focus groups, seek out public opinion online. Use LinkedIn Q&As to get feedback on existing products, new product concepts and to determine your brand’s strengths or weaknesses. In addition, the Skills & Expertise search function on LinkedIn can help business owners stay up to date on trends in their market.
Smile for the Camera: As the old adage goes, a picture is truly worth a thousand words – particularly when it comes to social channels. Research shows that brand-related images consistently generate the most engagement. Fortunately, the emergence of image-based platforms like Pinterest, Tumblr and Instagram – all of which focus on visuals – could prove useful to your business. Announcing a new product or employee? Include a photo with your post. That image will serve as a visual storyteller, building familiarity and making the product or person easier to identify among those in your target audience(s).
Clearly the perks of image-based platforms have not gone unnoticed. Pinterest exploded in 2012 with 26.7 million unique visitors – up from 3.3 million just a year earlier – while Instagram drew 100 million registered users. Another benefit to be realized from these tools? Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Tumblr and Facebook all enable geo-locating services. That means every time a client “checks-in” at a business or an event, the brand is shared on the social web. And these types of virtual word-of-mouth endorsements can help quickly expand your audience reach.
The more socially engaged your business, the more opportunities you will have to promote your brand and product. To be successful, take advantage of these types of online resources and jump on the interactive bandwagon.