The 3 Keys to Online Marketing for Small Business

What does it take to be the best?

The best accountant firm, the plumbing contractor, the best law firm, the best landscaper?

There’s always a spot for the best in the market.

Now that every business can connect to millions of people worldwide, become a media company, build a website, do business globally, create content and distribute that content. It’s easy to get lost in the chaos of mediocre, of discount, of close and cheap. But if you’re the best, among a segment of mainstream who care to seek and have conversations about the best, no market is too crowded.

Those who sit back and wait for their business to explode online will be waiting a long time. The 3 keys to online marketing for small business are visibility, credibility, and relationships, and that means one thing: work.

1. Visibility

Getting a website is easy. In fact, the days when having a website as a online billboard, gave you a competitive advantage in terms of visibility are over.

Now, in the same way that this philosophical question, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” is commonly asked. The same is true for your website. “If your website is not visible, if nobody knows where it is and why they might want to go visit it, does it make an impact.” I think we all know the answer.

Visibility comes by placing your message, your website, platform, or location address in front of as many of your prospects and customers as possible. This means:

  • using a signature on your e-mail messages that directs people to your website for further information;
  • posting relevant and valuable content on your status updates, in discussion groups, forums, in the comment sections of blogs,etc.
  • creating and posting classified ads in appropriate places
  • establishing links or listings on as many major business directories as possible. For example: I have a listing on manta.com (the worlds largest community of small businesses)

Learn More: Four Ways Your Business Can Generate Attention

2. Credibility

Visibility is great, but it works against you if you’re not building a credible identity. Notice I didn’t say image. “Image” is a word worth striking from your marketing vocabulary!

An image is a façade, something phony. A far better “I” word is “identity.” Your identity is automatically honest. If you communicate a real identity, people sense a feelings of comfort and relaxation when they contact you. What they see in your marketing is ultimately what they get from your products and services, and that builds trust and rapport.

Credibility comes from being a good resource and from providing useful, relevant and valuable information. For example:

  • Don’t post or make a comment to a LinkedIn interest group just for the sake of posting or commenting. Or don’t like an update “giving it your vote of confidence” just for the sake of agreeing. If you can’t add value to the discussion or answer a question, keep searching and poking until you can.
  • Don’t waste other people’s time with long forum information in a discussion, forum, or interest group. Time is life, not money. If you waste a person’s time, they will never do business with you.
  • Don’t post lengthy articles either. Instead, post a summary and place a “call to action” telling the prospective reader where they can get the full article.
  • Try keeping your signature to a minimum. Anything long like 12 lines can be considered self-indulgent. When was the last time you bought something from somebody who did nothing but talk about himself?

Learn More: How to Build Credibility with Your Marketing

3. Relationships

If you’re visible and credible, you’ll begin to establish relationships with individuals. Just remember that your prospects and customers are human beings, not names on a list.

Show a little personality in your e-mail messages. Follow up after the sale to make sure everything is great. If you focus more on what your prospects and customers want than on how you can make them buy what you’re selling, you’ll develop long-term relationships with customers that are the basis of continued profits.

Learn More: How can you build more trust and develop better relationships?

Your job also changes from trying to find more customers for your services, to finding more services for your customers.