Once upon a time, in 1969, there was a young woman who had a dream of starting her own company. She had ideas, talent and work ethic to spare but what she didn’t have was cash. After careful research she found that marketing would cost more than all the other aspects of her business combined. Out came the credit cards, family loans and savings. After a few months the woman realized that she had mortgaged her future to the hilt and she still couldn’t make enough money to buy her way out of debt. Sadly, she closed up shop and went back to a job she hated at an uncaring corporation.
Fast-forward thirty years and meet a young man working at an insurance company who dreamed of starting his own small business as a financial planner. He had the education and experience but what he didn’t have was cash. The year is 1999 and after a few weeks of research the young man realized that marketing and promotion were vital to the success of his business. However, the young man knew about a magical method of promotion that wasn’t available to the young woman in 1969. What was the magical method he used to start his business part-time and build it into a full-time thriving practice after six months? The answer, of course, is the internet!
It’s true that the internet seems like a capricious magician that selectively waves a magic wand over some small businesses. However, the reasons for this became glaringly clear to the young man after he completed his research. He discovered that success is garnered by avoiding scams such as “business opportunities” that seem too good to be true. In addition to hard work and patience he stayed away from spam, Free For All Links (FFAs), pyramid schemes, network marketing, sweepstakes and investment fraud. He used http://www.scambusters.org to avoid anything that remotely resembled a scam.
The young man developed a small business marketing plan focusing on the internet and after six months he found the following free or nearly free strategies worked best:
Press Releases – Particularly helpful if the release is tied to an upcoming holiday or a recent event.
Creating Content – Offering articles and case studies is by far the most reliable way to find clients and brand yourself as an expert in your field.
Book Reviews – Some on-line books stores like Amazon.com allow you to post reviews of books you’ve read. These reviews will be tied to an “About Me” page that can include information about you and your business and your URL.
Forums – Joining forums that cover your area of expertise is a good move. Help people by answering questions about your topic and include your URL in your signature.
Testimonials – Wise marketers ask every existing client for testimonials to be used on their website and/or printed marketing material.
Newsletters – Keeping in touch with customers and prospects with an on-line e-zine is a good way to build a steady stream of loyal clients.
Teleseminars – A small investment in a bridge line allows a group of people to sign up for a free or fee based seminar on your area of expertise.
Referrals – Proactively asking clients for referrals works better if they are offered a discount on products or services in return.
Solo E-zine Ads – Solo ads are an advertisement or article sent by itself to a list of newsletter readers. Many solo ads are competitively priced and offer a generous amount of room for your message.
The young man learned a lesson that we can all appreciate. There is no “get rich quick schemes” that work on or off-line. The only way to prosper hasn’t changed over time… build client relationships with hard work and excellent customer service. Cultivate patience and find your own internet magic by following in the footsteps of the young man.
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