It’s an age-old problem: now that you’ve started your business, how do you get people to notice it? Brick-and-mortar stores have a long-standing bag of tricks: everything from television ads to the person on a street corner twirling a sign.
But getting noticed online is an entirely different (and constantly shifting) game. Potential customers are awash in a sea of data every minute. How can you possibly get noticed online? Here are a few strategies to help your business rise above the tide.
Modern customers have grown increasingly suspicious of traditional sales pitches, and younger customers even more so. The secret to online business success is to cultivate genuine relationships and engage with customers on a human level. Don’t think of your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts as places to just blast information about sales and products — chances are, no one’s listening. Instead, use social media to start (and participate in) conversations, tell a few jokes, humanize your company. Just be careful what you joke about. You don’t want to end up on a list of famous corporate Twitter disasters.
Is your business suffering from a worn-out image? Maybe it’s time to shake things up. Replace that tired old logo with a fresh new design. Issue new business cards. Update your website with a mobile-friendly template and an up-to-date aesthetic. Revisit everything from your slogan to your mission statement and decide if it’s really where you want to be. If what you’re doing is working, great. But if your image is perceived by customers as strictly last-century, it might be time to freshen your look a little bit.
Classes and seminars
Customers love a good giveaway. But giveaways don’t always convert to new, loyal customers. If your business supports it, consider offering free classes or seminars using webinar software to help students, entrepreneurs, or enthusiastic hobbyists a chance to learn a new skill related to your business. You’ll build brand loyalty, generate strong word-of-mouth, and improve your online reputation. (Savvy business owners will also figure out how to leverage these free classes into advanced classes that people will pay good money for.) There are plenty of free and inexpensive tools out there to help get you started with creating your own courses.
One of the best ways to get people to start talking about your company is to create something useful and compulsively shareable. You’ll rarely go wrong posting a funny cat video on the brand’s Facebook page. But a custom-generated piece of useful or funny content like a video or custom infographic can go a long way toward getting your business noticed. It takes more work and care to make great content than to announce a sale or offer a discount code, and you won’t strike gold every time. One viral video could get your business some huge attention.
Many business owners think developing a mobile app for their company may be impractical, impossible, or both. That’s not necessarily true. Though complex apps can run hundreds of thousands of dollars, the average development cost of a mobile app is only around $6,000. Customers are moving more of their computing to mobile platforms every year. A well-developed app that makes life easier for your customers — even in a small way — could make a major impact on your business. There are commercially available software solutions for making your own apps on the market — many of them free or reasonably priced.
It’s not easy to get noticed online. Whether you’re a business or an individual, building up an audience and a reputation takes hard work, flexibility, and a strong dedication to your brand message. Keep your strategies fresh, don’t be afraid to try new things, and sooner or later, the Internet will take notice.