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Wednesday, March 23, 2005

9 Thoughts on E-marketing for small businesses:
1. Have a website. You've probably already set one up. If you haven't, almost any ISP will offer a free hosting service. If you already have one, now might be a good time to make sure all of your product and contact information is up to date. Are you offering new products and services that you should put online? Are there new features like surveys, guestbooks, polls, or live chat that you might want to add?
2. Digital materials. Have copies of your sales pieces, and product information online, or link to it. If someone wants the latest news on the TSX-1000, or information on a new makeup product, it should be easy to find.
3. Do you have an email list of customers and potential customers? There are plenty of services online ranging from Yahoo to Topica.com that will let you maintain an email list of customers. They offer forms on your website, collect contact information, and add people to your list. They'll also automate things like unsubscribe messages, which you don't want to be dealing with manually.
4. Make sure you're listed in search engines. You should make sure you've submitted your site to Google and Yahoo; and you should also make sure to add to industry specific directories. There's one for almost any industry that you can think of.
5. Online advertising. Both Overture and Google offer ad campaigns where you pay by the click. Essentially, you're paying for each visitor to the website. You choose the keywords that you advertise on, and you can be as specific as you wish. So "Herndon Virginia beauty salon" might be one that you choose. There are options that start as low as a $25 deposit, and you can set a daily budget of any amount you wish, so that you can see what kind of results you generate.
6. Blogging. No longer the domain of kids lamenting their parents or listing their favorite music. Many small businesses use them to document what's going on with the business, solicit customer feedback, and establish an ongoing dialog with customers. Blogger.com is a great way to get started, or you can talk to your 14 year old.
7. Do you want to sell your product on your website? This sounds obvious, but there are many cases where a sale might not be practical online. A home demonstration of an air purifier might be needed. In that case, an online query might be the best possible result. If you do want to make sales online, you'll need to accept payment. You may be able to use an existing merchant account online, or you can sign up with a service such as PayPal, which lets you take a variety of payment types. There are also a number of online catalog vendors that are available, if you have a variety of products.
8. Do you want to make money from the people visiting your website? If you have traffic to your site, from people wanting to learn more about a topic, you can have ads run on your site for other products. One of the easiest is Google's AdSense, https://www.google.com/adsense/ Do you want to sell your product online
9. If you really want to be on the cutting edge, looking into podcasting. Podcasts are audio programs that you record, that people can subscribe to, and listen to on their MP3 players, the most common being the iPod.
If you're interested in more info, this discussion will be online at http://www.joshgreene.com/


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