...More Than Just a Website
Build it, THEN Market it!
Gone are the days of "build it and they will come". A website must be promoted to get traffic. Do so effectively.
For the small business owner, a website is an electronic pamphlet that is available 24 / 7 / 365 to communicate your core message to your target market. Hopefully this will include, who you are, what you do, and why you should be considered valuable to your target customer.
As a page that is visually appealing, easy to navigate, and search engine friendly and structurally sound, it should do well to sell your unique value.
It is the cornerstone of an online presence. However, let me emphasize that it is only a cornerstone. The site must also be effectively promoted.
Local Search Engine Marketing is the set of techniques to ensure the website has a local presence online. Such techniques include submitting the site to local directories such as Google Maps, Bing Maps and Yahoo Local as well as other community directories such as Merchant Circle and Manta. There are also various industry specific directories to consider. Most of these resources are free yet time-consuming to research and build.
Social Media Marketing is the set of techniques to effectively engage customers and build trusted relationships by efficiently posting relevant news updates that elicit a following and a response. There are many free social media sites available. Even though there are tools available to post to many sites simultaneously (such as a free WordPress.com blog), each social network must be maintained and nurtured individually to effectively respond to customers.
The last technique that could be employed to complete your integrated marketing mix, would be pay-per-click whereby one employs an SEO rich text ad and bids for top placement in search engines. Of course the message here should be the same as what was placed in each of the above named marketing opportunities. Doing so is the essence of an integrated marketing communications program.
The above off-page SEO & link-building techniques are free for the do-it-yourselfer yet time-consuming to research and build. However, it is not the purpose of an integrated marketing mix to rank better in search engines (although if done responsibly, it is a bi-product). The purpose of an integrated marketing communications mix is to ensure the core message of the brand shines through consistently regardless of medium or channel used. Build more than just a website, build an integrated and comprehensive online presence.
The Website Guy