If you are a small business owner or entrepreneur in South Africa, you will know sourcing, closing and retaining clients is becoming increasingly competitive, even though the demand for services is growing. But whether you are selling services or products, having a basic but effective digital strategy in place can help you stay ahead of the pack. Here are five steps to get you started with marketing yourself online:
1. Create a website
It does not have to be hugely complex, but a simple, professional website that is clearly and neatly laid out can go a long way in establishing your online brand. These days, one of the first things people will do in seeing if you have credibility is to Google your name – and if you have a website, that is what they will see. Make sure to include any work experience and qualifications you have on your site in order to boost your credibility with potential customers.
2. Create a Facebook page
It is a common misconception that social media is just for socialising – it has its place in business too. After all, many people might just have a need for your product or service. You can get involved here by setting up a simple Facebook page for your business, and then linking to it from your personal profile. Also keep a look out for community groups asking for recommendations. If it is something to do with your field of expertise, you can contact them directly via that channel.
3. Get socially interactive
Now that you have created a Facebook page, think of other social media channels that can help you expand your business network. LinkedIn is a good option, as it is specifically aimed at helping facilitate professional networks. Twitter can be a great way of getting your knowledge and expertise out to a wider base of people. The golden rule with Twitter is not to use it as a hard sale tool. Rather, build your brand by adding value to your followers through useful, unique tweets.
4. Create content
It is all very well having a Facebook page or a website setup, but once you have done that, how do you keep people engaged? By offering them something of value like creating and sharing great content. This can be in the form of a blog on your website where you publish articles, which you can then republish on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. When writing content, try and take a unique angle and talk directly to your target market. What problems do they have that need solving? What good advice can you give them?
5. Buy advertising
A good place to start with online advertising is with Google Adwords, where you can spend as little or as much as you like on a campaign. The Adwords platform is effective because ads are shown on search results pages for keywords that relate to your business – because you choose them. And best of all, you only pay when someone clicks on your ad, not just when they see it (like an online banner, for example).
Entering the digital world can be overwhelming, but it is essential if you want to grow your small business. Establishing your digital profile is a great way of building trust, by showing that you are serious about your business.