The first 30 days of an online marketing plan is huge for your startup local business.
Starting a new business is exciting. It’s like Spring, the opening day of baseball, a time when hope is high, expectations bright, and the future looking good. But all that can turn to gloom, regret and anxiety if your business doesn’t start showing positive results within a few months. That is why an online marketing plan is so important. You need a plan that will bring encouraging results without crushing your budget. Here are some key steps that can get your startup off on the right foot.
Get Your Google My Business (GMB) Listing – Free
Google is the world’s most popular search engine. Second on the list is Google Image Search, the third is YouTube. They are all owned by Alphabet, aka Google. If you want to get found this is the place to start. Begin by going to the Google business page. If you don’t have a Google account, you’ll have to set one up. That can be done in a few easy steps. Then you set up your business Google will ask you to verify your listing, usually by sending a postcard with a verification code to the address of record. Once your account is set up, adding your business is straight forward. A few items you should be aware of when setting up your page:
- NAP – Google wants to see the same name, address and phone number across the web. Make sure the information here is correct or it will hurt you in the future.
- If you run your start up out of your house, many startups do, make sure you check the box that that indicates that you travel to the customers’ premises. Otherwise, your home will show up in your listing and that is not helpful.
- List the locations that you service and the services you provide. Add images and include details about each (remember Google Image Search?).
(We interrupt this article for a shameless promotional plug – We’ll build and optimize the GMB page for any startup, in business less than 6 months, for $29.95. Fill out the form, we’ll get back to you. Now, back to the article).
Create Your Social Media – Free
Any good online marketing plan has to have the use of social media platforms as a major component. There are many platforms to choose from but we’ll focus on the three you should start with.
Hopefully, you’re not one of those people who shun Facebook for privacy concerns, indifference or some other reason. If you are, get over it, Facebook is your best opportunity to brand your new company, and one of the best platform for connecting to customers. Setting up a business page is easy. Once the page is set up, ask your friends to “like” it, and ask them to ask their friends.
Start posting on the page, once a day is fine. Make the posts engaging. Ask questions of your followers, offer good advice on subjects and products in your market. Use images, images help drive up engagement. Be positive, offer solutions that your business can supply. If you have a few dollars laying around, promote you best posts. Facebook has the best platform for target marketing an ad. For just $5. – $10 you can reach hundreds of highly targeted prospects. Further, if you have also started an Instagram page, and you should do that, your Facebook ads will run on that platform as well.
The aforementioned social marketing app is used for sharing photos and videos from a smart phone. You interact with it the same way as Facebook, users you follow, or following you, sharing posts on a newsfeed. This is the platform millennials fled to when their parents invaded Facebook. The most active demographic on Instagram are between the ages of 18 and 29. Instagram is visual so use high quality images. The app has some photo enhancing tools. Don’t be afraid to use them. Be liberal with hashtags to help drive people to your content.
If your new company is going to serve other businesses, LinkedIn is a must have. It’s the place where professionals and business persons network and interact. Here you will find prospects and possible partner opportunities. LinkedIn will help establish you as a professional. You can scour LinkedIn for people you know and connect with them. You can look for people who can use your service and expertise and others in your niche or local area.
Buy a Domain
Building a website is not on the online marketing plan 30 day list but buying a domain is. You will need a domain for branding and authenticity. People are more apt to open an email with yourbusiness.com at the end rather than @gmail.com, @yahoo.com, etc.
Buy your domain from an established company like GoDaddy or Host Gator. It will cost you $10 – $15 a year. There are companies that offer them for much less but don’t go there. After all, you get what you pay for. If you’re haggling over a few dollars a year, you’re probably not in the financial shape to open and support a new business.
Most companies want a domain that reflects the company name. Their friends will say that’s how you’ll get found. Wrong! Choose a domain reflecting your main service or product. That’s what Google will look for and that’s how Google, and most of your prospects, will find you. If you’re a local company, using your location name will be money to you. Search engine wise, yourtownyourservice.com is gold.
One task that’s not included in the first 30 days of your online marketing plan.
Getting a website
Websites are important for many reasons, not the least of which is selling products and services. But a website is not so good if no one can find it, and no one will if it’s standing alone without other online entities pointing to it, like Facebook or LinkedIn for instance. Websites cost money that can be better spent elsewhere those first 30 days.
If you really want a website right away, be smart about it. When building a website many people will choose a DYI company like Weebly, Wix or Homestead. These are good companies that deliver what they promise but stay away from them anyway. Although they look sharp and offer some bells and whistles, they own the product not you. You become married to them and in a divorce, they get all the property, not you.
If affordability is an issue, most domain hosting companies offer their own website builders. Using them to build a simple 1 to 3 page website until the budget allows for a more professional site is the better way to go.