Believe me, I was aware that I had far to go before I reached Dara Torres-like domination of the subject - I wasn't even treading water - but I figured I was at least up to my neck. That's certainly how it feels some days.
I email, I blog, I search optimize, I search market, I tweet, I'm learning my way around website building; but when I take the time to look out beyond where I am, I see a vast body of knowledge into which I've only taken a few timid steps.
When it comes to marketing a small business, or any business, the internet is the way to go. Recent research shows as many people use the internet everyday as watch television. Yet, aside from a cable public access show, reaching those people is well beyond a small business budget. Internet marketing, however, has several cost efficient options. Blogs, email, social media and press releases are all free.
So the question is, do you pinch your nose, take a deep breath and just dive in? Or can you still spare yourself some of the shock by wading into the deep end?
My little epiphany aside, I'm still all for getting in gradually. When planning a marketing strategy for your small business, it's almost always advisable to maintain balance in your efforts. It's easy to go too far, too fast in any direction and end up getting soaked. So here are a few tips (none of which have anything to do with waiting two hours after you've eaten):
Take the first step: It's so easy to be intimidated by the technology involved with internet marketing, that you may be tempted to just stay on the shore. But the information is available to make getting started easy. A good place to look is SBTV's Internet Marketing channel. There's great general information there about all the facets of internet marketing - just enough to get your feet wet.
Get lessons: It could be through your local community college or via the web, but there are plenty of avenues to learn how to keep your head above water before you start marketing your small business through the internet. If you decide to pay for instruction, be sure to work with a reputable company. If you prefer to take advantage of the many free courses offerred through the web, compare their information with other independent sources. You get what you pay for.
Lifejackets are okay: There are plenty of businesses built around internet marketing. They have the expertise to get your campaign afloat until you feel ready to take on the task yourself. Some, like Constant Contact, an email marketing firm, are so good you might continue to use them even after you've developed your own skills. Your added knowledge will help you to make the best decisions about their assistance.
Be inspired to go farther: Take some time to read blogs and message boards about internet marketing or written by SEO/M pros. Not only can you get a great sense of community and support but, like watching an Olympic performance, you can be inspired to learn more. Since this area of expertise has only exsisted in the last 10 years, many of the people who created the field are still actively involved today. A sample of the women in this business can be found at http://www.searchmarketinggurus.com/WoIM/smg-women-of-internet-marketing.html.
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