The Small Business Online Marketing Survival Guide

If you're a small business owner struggling to survive online, you've probably figured out by now that Internet business involves more than simply building a website and making sales. The trouble with online marketing is that you're no longer just competing with other businesses in your geographical area. Now, you're competing with the whole world -- a daunting prospect, however you look at it.

The good news is that your customer base is far larger than it once was. Even if you have average site design and non-competitive prices, you're liable to get a few customers here and there. But nobody starts a business just to get by. We all want to make a profit. Most of us would even love to get rich. Yet by simply putting up a website and waiting for customers to find their way to you, you'll get nowhere fast.

In other words, to survive and get ahead in online business, you can't just sit in your tiny corner of the Internet, waiting for people to initiate a conversation with you. The Internet is a vast, interconnected system of social networks and communities based around dynamic content. If your marketing budget doesn't allow you to break into these systems through eye-catching advertisements, then you have to take the high road instead.

I call it the "high road" for a reason. Today's Web-savvy consumers despise flashy, intrusive advertising. There's no quicker way to encourage negative associations with your company name than to plaster it across a banner ad, or to have it pop-up in flashing fonts on the screen of an unsuspecting Web surfer. These heavy-handed marketing tactics will only sink your online business.

The key to earning your future customers' respect is not to hit them over the head with shallow self-endorsements, but rather to use pre-existing content structures to generate a crescendoing buzz around your business.

Whether your business sells solid goods or useful services, there is undoubtedly a Web community centered around your field. There are blogs, journals, and online magazines that relate directly to your area of expertise, and, as someone with a passion for your field of work, you probably follow these on a regular basis.

Who generates this content? For a piece of content to be genuinely useful, it must be written by a person who knows all the ins and outs of the subject matter. In other words, the people who generate Web content are not a special class of cyber-writers; they're professionals like you, who do nothing more than set fingers to keyboard and write about what they know.

Meanwhile, who are the readers of this content? Not everyone reading the same content that you read are small business owners like yourself. In fact, the vast majority of them are interested observers looking to learn something new -- or, more importantly, the vast majority of them are potential customers. Though they may not realize it as they're reading the content, they're learning what to buy, where to buy, and how to buy. By not being one of the experts who generates content, you're missing out on a huge opportunity to speak to your customer base.

So, maybe you should try to generate some Web content. Actually, on second thought, you simply must generate Web content, and you should start as soon as possible. The survival of your online business depends upon it.

To generate content might sound difficult, but in reality, you only have to set fingers to keyboard and start typing. If you're writing about something you know -- which you will be -- then the content will flow out of you. And if you're a smart business owner who deserves a large share of your market, then your content will inevitably be useful and informative to your future customers.

Once you have some articles, find an article marketing service. These are inexpensive, and easy to locate through any search engine. Sign up for one of these services, and they'll help you polish and distribute your content. Take their advice, and soon you'll be building site traffic, earning higher search engine rankings, and making greater profits.

Nancy Amada helps small businesses become more successful, and offers more ideas at Chapter Two. She is a frequent contributor to Article Marketer, a highly popular article distribution service. Reach new customers the smart way!

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