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How To Successfully Market Your Small Business On The Internet

* Have you ever tried building a successful small business on the Internet before, but failed to make it work? * Would you like to discover a 5-step, sure-fire formula that is guaranteed to help you effectively market your business on the Web.? * Would you like to know all of the FREE tools successful online small businesses use, that you can use too, to effectively grow your business? If you found yourself answering YES to any of the questions asked above, then this will be the most important article you'll ever read. Today, practically every other brick-and-mortar business has an online presence. What with the Internet fast revolutionizing people's lifestyles, it has come to a point where offline businesses that don't have a presence on the Web, lose out on a large number of potential customers. That's why many offline small businesses are keen to establish a strong online identity as well. Unfortunately though, many end up shutting down in less than 12 months.

And my guess is: you've had 'a go at it' yourself. How successful were you? Well, this article will reveal a foolproof step-by-step formula you can easily use to get your small business up and running on the Web once more. Let's dive right in, shall we? Step # 1: Write Out A Business Plan Even though most business owners write out a business plan when starting an offline venture, many of them forget to do it when it comes to Internet marketing. In fact, this is thought to be one of the foremost reasons for the failure of a small business on the Web. FACT: To be able to fully tap into the lucrative potential of the Internet, you'll need to have a specific blueprint.

Make absolutely sure you have a systematic approach in place, together with a detailed list of goals, and gear your business for success. Step # 2: Find Your Niche And Position Your Business For Success! 'To survive in the Internet jungle, it's vital you stand out from the crowd!' This is what an Internet marketing expert will tell you when you're seeking to establish an online small business. If you think about it for a moment, it makes perfect sense to set yourself as the best and most knowledgeable company folks can turn to, when seeking goods and services in your target market. Finding your niche and then taking steps to dominate it, is guaranteed to propel your online small business to huge success. But since this one article alone, is not sufficient to help you gain a good understanding of the vast amount of info Niche Marketing covers, here are some links to some outstanding websites that discuss this topic at length: * www.

entrepreneur.com/marketing/marketingcolumnistkimtgordon/article49608.html * www.wilsonweb.

com/misc/niche-marketing.htm * www.authenticpromotion.com/niche-marketing/ Step # 3: Maintain A 'Sticky' Site A 'sticky' website is simply a site that attracts repeat visitors.

A major share of the success of an online small business can be attributed to the type of website it portrays. If you maintain a website that provides valuable information to potential customers, drives sales, and offers specialized solutions to the problems faced by clients in your industry, then your business can't go wrong! And oh, there's one more thing you might want to consider: Maintaining a free electronic newsletter, otherwise known as an e-zine. You see, there's no better tool to build a solid relationship and gain the trust of a customer, than a valuable newsletter. A newsletter is considered by many internet marketing professionals as THE MOST POWERFUL tool for gaining customer trust and driving sales! Every week or every month, you can send out an ezine, containing useful snippets of information. Remember to avoid pitching your products heavily though, as this may turn off a lot of subscribers. However, a couple links inserted in between paragraphs, is perfectly alright.

TIP: Here's a great piece of Email Marketing software you can use: Infacta offers a free version of their award-winning email marketing software - GroupMail. (www.group-mail.com) It provides all that you'll need to start building a unique and personalized relationship with your customers via email.

Step # 4: Stay abreast Of Technology The secret to running a hugely successful online small business these days is using every last piece of technology to your best advantage, so you can pass on all of the benefits to your customers. Many online small businesses ignore this obvious advice, and have paid the price for it. You see, in order to stay two steps ahead of the rest in an intensely competitive online world, you need to keep up with the most recent technologies and who uses them. And with the Internet evolving at such a frantic pace, the latest piece of software on the market today, may well become obsolete tomorrow! (so you may be spending too much effort in obsolete technology that no-one uses anymore. Example? - Meta-tags!) Granted, you can't utilize all of the newest tools that keep popping up, because frankly, some of them are just way too expensive, especially for a small business. However, you sure can harness the amazing power of these FREE marvels of technology! Here's a list to help you get started: * Blogging: A blog is a great way to get your customers involved in your business and let them know of the latest services/events you plan on rolling out.

Many top companies use Wordpress (www.wordpress.com), because they offer an excellent package of free blog creation and hosting services, and are highly recommended.

* RSS Marketing: 'Nooked' (www.nooked.com) has a free RSS Marketing service that you can try out. It's a great tool to help you familiarize yourself with the exciting opportunities that RSS offers. * Podcasting: Podcasting is the hottest trend amongst online small businesses today, so check this one out right now! 'Audacity' (audacity.sourceforge.

net) will give you access to a free podcast creation and management application that's sure to add a new dimension to your existing content. * Desktop Publishing: Want a free alternative to Microsoft Office? Open Office (www.openoffice.

org/)comes equipped with word processing, presentation, drawing, spreadsheet, and database applications. * Press Releases: PRWeb (www.prweb.com/) is a massively popular free online Press Release distribution service that will help publicize your business announcements to the Internet Community. * Website Analysis: If you want to analyze the amount of traffic your website generates, and gage the success of your online marketing efforts, then make sure you head over to Google's free website statistics utility (www.google.

com/analytics/) Step # 5: Cut The Learning Curve - Hire An Internet Marketing Expert! If you prefer not to handle all of the above on your own the next time you attempt to re-build your small business on the Web, why not hire an internet marketing expert? Sure, hiring a specialist costs money, but if you want to jumpstart your Internet marketing, or if you just want to get on with business and leave the internet to the expert professionals, then this is definitely the way to go. Do-It-Yourself can be a low cost way to start, but don't forget that your Return on Investment is directly proportional to PERCEIVED value by the consumer (your potential customer) and not related to PRICE or COST. Hmmm.

sounds like a whole separate subject on marketing. Well, there you have it! A 5-step plan designed to help your business succeed with Internet Marketing.

Anthony Santen is the Team Leader for Ajax Web Design(http://www.ajaxwebdesign.ca), an Internet Marketing and Web Design Company focused on unlocking hidden potential in small companies.

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