As a marketing consultant, there are times when I wonder if Internet has some magical hypnotic effect on small business owners. For these online businesses, everything has to be online except perhaps for the delivery of physical products. When it comes to marketing, many of the good old-fashioned strategies still work. Traditional marketing has a proven track record for non-Internet-based businesses, however, they don’t own these strategies and the rules that apply to those small businesses also apply to online businesses.
Where the online business may differ is in its reach. Online businesses may focus on local, state, national or international customers. As your reach broadens, the old-fashioned strategies may become less effective – let’s face it, having a paper-based catalog drop around the world could be expensive. For a local Internet business, it can still be very effective and shouldn’t be ignored.
If you are doing business internationally, traditional marketing strategies are limited. Some of those strategies can be modernized – a good example is the use of coupons. Traditionally, these were paper-based, however, the trend now is to use digital coupons, and they can be used internationally to good effect.
For smaller businesses that concentrate on smaller geographical areas, marketing such as billboards, paper-based newspapers (and magazines), and sponsorship of local community groups such as sporting and cultural events can deliver good results. What is important to consider in these situations is how you can attract potential customers to your website(s). Your second consideration is attraction – what sort of bait are you going to use to encourage people to turn on their computers and to look up your website. Find the right combination of contact and attraction, and you’ll be well on your way to building a strong business.