I've been doing lots of work on a new presentation about how you would take a fledgling on-line business with a modest budget (or no budget) and some know-how using the latest tools and techniques, make it a success. Now I’ve completed it and read it back, it’s amazing the power and diversity of tools and services that are available to even the smallest companies to promote their business and generate sales.
And this isn’t just limited to on-line brands. We have a wonderful coffee shop just around the corner from our offices run by a very enterprising and passionate Italian who runs a successful and sustained Twitter campaign to promote his business, inform on special offers and entice the local population of Leeds into his establishment with daily Twitpics of the latest foods he has to offer. This campaign works for him because he is consistent with his output, engaging in his style and passionate about his product. For that reason I follow him. For him, the investment is simply time and effort and with some planning and the right tools (things like co-tweet so that more than one person can easily tweet on behalf of your business) you can reduce the effort it takes. In a recent meeting I was discussing with a business owner in a very niche sector how they could promote their brand and attract natural links to their website without a full blown SEO campaign which they currently couldn’t fund. After just a short time discussing their business and their new website we came up with several new resources they could create, which would appeal to potential customers or complementary business sectors. It’s a process of community engagement and it’s a way of identifying who are your target market, what resources and services do they need and how can you fulfill that need in a positive way that people will value and want to return to your website for (or better still, link to your website for). Let’s take a small company for example, one that sells cycling and triathlon training clothing (they are the focus of the presentation I have been writing). They can’t afford a full SEO campaign but they can create valuable content on their website that would attract links from other sites. For example, if you are into triathlons you are always looking for your next race. There are several sites that exist regionally that list races but I’ve never found a site that lists everything. With a very small amount of development (probably something the website owner can do themselves through their current CMS) and some effort (compiling the various existing race lists into a ‘super list’) you have created a valuable resource that can be used by the community that you hope one day will buy from you. You can’t put a measure on how quickly this will pay back (either by what impact this resource may have on your natural search position, as the links to this useful resource increase, or by people using the resource on your site who also decide to buy while they are visiting). However this process is all about establishing your company’s position within an on-line community and staying there. Going further still, once you have such a resource on your website you have services like Twitter and Facebook where you can target communities to promote your new services and spread the word. Obviously for those companies who have the budget then PPC and full SEO will always have the tangible benefits and measurable results but for those just starting out, the opportunities to promote their products and brand is only limited by their own creativity.