Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Is a Traditional Website Obsolete in a Web 2.0 World?

Considering the way people use the Web today, every small business owner should be asking themselves whether their traditional Web site should be the cornerstone of their Web presence. Several social media leaders today advocate dropping the traditional Web site model in favor of a blog. The thought behind the advice stems from the fact that most small business Web sites are little more than glorified business cards. Moreover, those Web sites are rarely visited.

Even as a marketing tool, traditional Web sites fall short. As a business owner, you have to ask how much value that actually delivers for your particular product or services. Especially as a service provider, a blog can help establish you as a trusted professional. For instance, a small doctor’s office can attract clients by writing posts about health topics, such as nutrition and exercise. That sort of credibility can grow into a new client-base. Of course, the same model can be applied across any industry.

Have you had any success with blogs or Facebook discussions that you have not seen on a Web page?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Small Business Marketing in a Web 2.0 Marketplace

Marketing a business in today’s Web 2.0 world can be daunting for entrepreneurs. Prior to the emergence of social media, small business marketing standbys were few enough to count on one hand. Word of mouth networking and few ads in your local directory would generate enough business to keep you in the black. Those standbys, unfortunately, are no longer sufficient, especially considering that your competitors are doing more to promote their services.

As more Americans take the entrepreneurial plunge, marketing your business becomes more critical than ever. However, marketing to stay competitive does not necessarily mean that you will spend more money. Aligning your marketing with you Web-savvy clients can start relatively quickly using these three tactics as a jump-off point. You may not see results immediately, but they will put you on the path to a more complete marketing strategy.

  1. Get on the SEO Bandwagon – Simply put, Search Engine Optimization (“SEO”) is an ongoing strategy to make it easier for search engine users to find you. Many business owners are frustrated that Google does not display a link to their Web site when clients search for their practice area. How do you get your site on the first page? A good SEO plan will help you achieve that. Start by implementing some easy SEO tactics to get you started.
  2. Hire a Marketing Partner – Marketing differs significantly today than it did just a few years ago. Using the Web, a good marketing partner will evaluate your Web presence and help you pull in clients that are searching for legal services. Potential clients are no longer looking to print directories to find you, so reduce your spend on Yellow Page ads and redirect that money towards a marketing partner with a proven track record. Among other marketing partners, Total Attorneys will provide you Web based marketing and several other peripheral services on a pay-per-contact basis. Do your research and find which of the many partners out there work best for you.
  3. Embrace Social Media – Social media is the new face of the Web for a good reason; people use it consistently and in droves. They use it to discuss everything from politics to baby products, and you have the opportunity to join the conversation. Use social media as a networking tool to showcase, not only your expertise, but your firm’s culture. Start a Facebook page and put up pictures of events at your firm to reduce the intimidation that potential clients may feel. As you use social media you will find other tools you can leverage, like LinkedIn and Twitter. Keep in mind, social networking is not an advertising campaign, so do not measure results against ROI for your traditional marketing efforts. Focus, instead, on relationship building to create referrals sources.

Although the tools have changed, the goal of your marketing strategy is still to get clients in the door. Furthermore, these new tools extend your reach beyond what was possible just a few years ago. Explore what the new Web has to offer, and discover what tools work best for you.

Have you found any other ways that leverage the Web to generate more business?