Running a business basically means you wear as many different hats as Mr. Dressup did. An amazing little number you must put on your head from time to time, is the marketing and advertising of your own business. I’m sure it’s a cocktail hat and that there is a very frilly feather involved, alas, it’s never as easy as simply putting on a hat.
While there is a lot of research and strategy that goes into marketing, there are some small, quick, and “easy” things you can do to promote your business online, today.
1. Start and manage your Google Business Profile
Did you know that Google’s search engine captured nearly 95% of mobile traffic in the last year? With traffic like that it’s not worth ignoring the tools that Google gives us when it comes to helping them populate their search engine with our business information.
When you search a business name in Google you may find an extra panel to the right of the search results page that features a location map and additional information about the business. This data is pulled from a Google Business Profile that is set-up and verified by us, the business owners!
By populating your GBP with keywords about your services or products, you gain an additional foothold in local search engine result pages (SERP) and give your customers more ways to connect with you. Having a business profile also allows you to:
- Manage customer reviews by inviting customers to leave public reviews and respond to any customer feedback.
- Turn on chat and allow customers to message you through Google.
- Add your phone number to let customers call you directly.
- Create offers to advertise any sales, discounts, or promotions.
- Answer FAQ that customers may have before interacting with your business.
- List hours of operation, your website, and social media links.
💡 Tip: You do not need to have a physical location for your business to use Google Business Profile. You can assign a general service area and mark your business as ‘no location, online appointments.’
➡️ Start now by heading over to https://business.google.com/ or review this article on how to add or claim your business profile on Google. Once you have access, run through the options and fields to set-up your profile. There. You did a thing!
2. Update your LinkedIn profile and network
Word-of-mouth, networking and ‘who you know’ still play vital roles in landing new connections or audiences. LinkedIn takes your entire working life’s rolodex and lays it out in a clean, professional way, allowing you to reconnect with employers, coworkers, or employees and develop new relationships with people in their circle. And so on, and so forth.
There are plenty of articles out there outlining the importance of LinkedIn already, so what I will say here, or remind those of us who need to hear it from time to time – is that it’s okay to talk about yourself. Update your network! Are you open to work? Have a big goal worth sharing? Something you’d like to learn this year? Let people know what’s up. Don’t be afraid to admit you’d like to be busier.
If you only talk about how busy you are, or conversely don’t say anything ever, people may assume that you’re not taking on work at all. You never know who reads your post and thinks to extend a recommendation in a timely conversation, or knows who to put you in touch with to help you reach your goal.
💡 Tip: This recommendation goes beyond LinkedIn, apply it to the social media platforms that you use to keep your network informed!
➡️ Start now by drafting a status update to include a personal message and your intent. Look for examples of what other people in similar situations have posted to get ideas. Make sure you include how best people should get in touch with you and watch those comments so you can answer any questions.
3. Ask your existing customers for a review
You’ve already done some wonderful work for people who are willing to support you with their review. Why not reach out and ask someone you’ve worked with to talk about their experience working with you?
Plenty of positive things can come out of this process.
- Your client leaves a review that a future client reads which helps solidify their trust and preparedness to contact you.
- Your client recognizes you’re in a place where you’re looking for more work and will keep you top of mind when speaking with others in their network.
- You open a line of communication where you or your client may discuss additional work that is needed, earning you more work with existing customers vs garnering new ones.
Ask your client to leave their review on your Google Business Profile, LinkedIn profile, and any other online platforms you use to maintain customer feedback. You can then pull from these public reviews to use in your own marketing efforts.
➡️ Start now by writing a draft email that you’ll send to your current clients or customers and customize each one you send out.
4. Participate in a community conversation
Using social media in a professional capacity is a balancing act. Shouting about your own too loudly, for too long, may not return many leads. Instead, participate in a community conversation about a topic that has something to do with your business!
Consider this: A thing happens in your industry and you write a blog post about it. Then, on social media you reiterate the title of your post, include a link and hit send, expectantly. Time goes by, one person likes it. And that’s it.
Now consider this: You post a more meaningful description with your link, and then, you start searching for similar conversations.
If people are already talking about something, see where your expertise or insight may add to the conversation. For me, an example of this recently happening came about while newsletter writers were discussing what platform to use in place of another. I kept seeing WordPress come up a lot in the conversation and I have a lot of experience with WordPress – creating many openings for me to comment and be able to offer some advice or recommendations.
These types of interactions are far more valuable than posting an article into the interneteverse. (Motion to petition a new word?) And by including that initial thoughtful post to the article you wrote, those people you interacted with who decide to follow you, will see it and be more likely to share it with their network having had an interaction with you.
➡️ Start now by brainstorming and searching topic ideas from your primary social media platform. What are your customers talking about? Your colleagues? The industry? Think about what you can weigh in on and feel comfortable contributing to.
5. Look for partnership opportunities
You’re not entirely alone, so don’t act like it. Take advantage of what is already out there and see what you can leverage for yourself.
Are you a freelancer, self-employed, solopreneur?
If you’re a freelancer like me, there are valuable partnerships out there with fellow freelancers and agencies. For example, while I work on a lot of different website services there are a few that I don’t offer because I deliberately choose not to or am simply not as experienced in doing myself. Finding another freelancer who specializes in these services, gives me someone to refer my clients to, and vice versa.
Your local agencies may also keep a retainer of contractors whom they reach out to when their team is at max capacity for a temporary period of time. You in turn can also refer or partner on larger projects that you may not have the means of fully completing on your own.
➡️ Start now by making a list of similar services that would compliment your business but you do not offer. Then, list the people and companies that do offer these services. Promise yourself that you’ll submit at least one of these introductions today! (If you need accountability, I’ll consider that you’ve now promised me and I won’t be mad if you don’t, but I’ll be disappointed.)
Are you a local business owner?
Look for online and offline partnerships that help get word out about who you are and what you do.
Think about your community, physically – where you are located and what else is nearby? Consider the other businesses that are close by and if you could see a possibility of partnering in some way. This could be done by:
- Displaying signage or promotional materials in each other’s stores.
- Carrying a line of products and becoming a local retailer.
- Referral promotion codes for customers.
- Sponsorship opportunities.
➡️ Start now by making a list of opportunities that you could provide another business, and what ideally would fit in best for yours. Then, list the local businesses who fit in with your vision. Reach out to at least one of these organizations today! (Accountability, blah blah, etc.)
At the beginning of a new year a lot of us are considering starting our own business or brainstorming new ways to market and interact with our customers. It can feel both daunting and exciting but you can curb the overwhelm by taking some small steps today – from the comfort of your own cozy corner in the world. 5 ways that you can promote your business online, today are:
- Start and manage your Google Business Profile
- Update your LinkedIn or social network on your current professional status
- Ask your existing customers to leave you an online review
- Participate in a community conversation on social media (ensuring your profile has a working link to your website)
- Look for partnership opportunities locally and online
Do any one of these things today and know that you’ve not only accomplished a task this day but you’ve also successfully spent some time promoting yourself and your business. That hat just looks fabulous on you!
If you’re looking to work with someone who is experienced in designing, building, and managing websites, I am currently booking for new projects and clients in 2024. Contact me by sending an email and tell me what you’ve got in the works!