A website without a marketing plan is a lonely soul. If you build it they might come, but usually not. At least not without a marketing plan. In my travels I have listened to many business plans. Everyone is going into business online and that's great. The migration of the world's business from brick and mortar to virtual is a natural and essential paradigm shift. It is a necessity for business to constantly move toward efficiency and improvement. the improvement portion should include a rational marketing plan in conjunction with an online plan.
Online marketing doesn't have to cost a bundle. It could include guerilla marketing which is taking advantage of FREE internet marketing. Building your site organically with the proper keywords and content is important. analyzing search data to shape your business doesn't have to cost anything. Social networking is also free and effective for most industries. A website without marketing is like a dinner Table without the tableware. You can try serving food but no one can eat it. You can build a beautiful website but if nobody can access it or if they don't know about you, you can't sell anything.
You can market traditionally. there is nothing wrong with TV, radio, print and mail and these channels for marketing should be used, but they should be utilized in conjunction with an internet guerilla marketing plan. This plan should be amended and added to as your marketing budget increases. The easiest and most convenient online marketing is Pay-Per-Click advertising. If you ever noticed the sponsored ads on Google, Yahoo!, Big, Facebook, etc. these ads are usually placed at the top or right side of the search engine pages. these ads are usually pay per click ads. Many people don't even realize these ads are sponsored by people like you. Pay-Per-Click advertising has many advantages. It can be turned on or off at a moments notice. This allows a business owner to implement a program when things are slow and turn it off or slow it down when things are getting to hectic. Remember to embrace hectic. That's what we all live for. Another advantage of Pay-Per Click ads is you only pay for the people who click on your ad and got to your website. In the meantime you are raising brand awareness because many more people are seeing your ad even if they aren't clicking on it. The cost of an average click when using pay per click advertising is about $1.25 per click at the time of this writing. It has been steadily on the rise at about a 20% increase per year over the last few years. The cost of pay per click ads is settled by auction in most cases. Supply and demand creates the cost basis on Google. Money can be saved by picking certain days of the week or times of day, when you run your ads, but those ads may be less effective. I recommend starting with Google because they have the best tools to teach you and help you to build an effective marketing program for pay per click ads. Later Google can help you integrate television and radio ads to compliment your online ads.
If you want to start a low cost marketing campaign start with a couple of free ways to market your business. Sign up for a few social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and any others that you feel are appropriate for your business. Add you business information to Google Places and online directories like www.BetterBizList.com, www.EastCoastCuisine.com or any of the directories that you prefer. You may want to create a video and post it on YouTube. Then you can also post it on your website and social networking sites to help drive traffic to your website.
Your website should also collect email addresses. Then you should market to them with a monthly or quarterly newsletter. You can tailor emails to particular interests and demographics. Remember to send something out for birthdays or special events. You can get a custom email marketing plan at www.BetterBizMail.com They offer up to 50,000 emails per month for $15.00. Part of the package includes the creation a completely custom email page that will market your brand effectively.
Make sure your website has content that your customers are looking for. Use Google Trends and Google keyword tools to find words and trends that people are searching for. Write content for your customers, not the search engines and the traffic will follow. Update your constant on a regular basis. Keep your website looking fresh so customers want to come back. Make sure there is plenty of pictures, videos and interaction. A blog helps quite a bit. There are many article on the basics of marketing here. Feel free to browse around and learn.
The point of all this is that you don't have to spend a fortune on internet marketing to get started. We offer free seminars and workshops to help you market on the internet. If you market your website correctly it will reward you with the proper return on investment. A website without marketing is a lonely place. Save solitude for your personal time not your website.
Good luck with your online endeavors. May they be prosperous and fun.