How to Use Internet Marketing to Promote your Business

by Michelle Hunter

How you can use internet marketing to connect with people, build your brand, and bring new customers to the door of your traditional brick & mortar business.

internet marketing_ducks in a row

Some businesses – like mine – function primarily online. My team works remotely. I serve clients from around the world using online tools and streaming video calls. Working online vs. in person is the preferred situation for many businesses like mine. 

For brick and mortar businesses – think retail shops, local service providers, and even professionals – transitioning to online work was much more chaotic and challenging. Retail stores suddenly needed to get serious about eCommerce. Restaurants were forced to figure out online ordering. Fitness studios struggled to convert in-person classes to video on demand or live streaming activities. Professionals discovered video streaming as a way to meet with clients, and doctors leaned into telemedicine as a way to give their patients the day-to-day care they needed. 

As the world begins to crawl toward some normalcy and local economies begin to open up to in-person business, you might be tempted to breathe a sigh of relief and just revert back to business as it was before anyone heard about coronavirus. Before you do that, though… I’d like to encourage you to reflect upon the past few months. 
We’ve learned that… 

  • Organizations that use the internet to market effectively and serve clients are more resilient in times of crisis. 
  • Consumers will buy online – especially if you make it easy and safe for them to do so. 
  • We CAN stay connected, engaged, and productive even when working from home or working remotely. 

Take time NOW to get serious about internet marketing. The work you do as the economy reopens will position your business for success no matter what the future holds. Not sure how to get started? Let’s talk about it. 

Already market your business online? Keep reading… you will likely find info in this article that will help you improve your internet marketing game and help you generate more and better leads for your business. 

Build your internet marketing on a clear core message. 

Things move quickly online. Marketing effectively on the internet means having a clear core message people can consume in a few seconds and remember over time. People need to understand what you do, why you do it, and how your work impacts them.

Let’s talk for a moment about buyer behavior and how internet marketing works to bring potential new clients and customers to your business. People use the internet for all kinds of reasons… some social, some transactional. Internet marketing works best when you find a way to leverage both types of behavior to generate leads.  

Let’s talk about transactional behavior first.  We go to search engines like Google to get answers to questions, find information, and search for options. Google gives us a page full of results and we scan them quickly and make instant decisions about what to click next.  

You have a few seconds to persuade people to click the link to your article, post, or website. You must hook them here… and then begin delivering value immediately after they click. 

Social behavior is a little more subtle. The platforms change, but our goal remains the same. We come to social platforms to build relationships, support relationships, and connect with people. The types of relationships vary – consider Facebook vs. LinkedIn, for example – but our actions on the platform remain the same. We want to connect in some way with other people. 

You have a few seconds to grab someone’s attention and create an emotional impression. You must connect with them emotionally in some way to give them a reason to engage with your post. 

In both these cases – transactional and social – you will get better results when the content you create is tied to a clear core message. This message creates consistency for your audience, builds trust, and makes your brand memorable. 

Wondering how to craft a clear core message? There are a number of ways to get started. 

  • Grab a book on copywriting and read it. One of my favorites is Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller. 
  • Think about your marketing as a conversation and connect with people at their point of need. Not sure how to do that? Check out this blog post. 
  • Consider connecting with a marketing strategist who can help you refine your core message. This is my specialty… and I’m ready to help you. Let’s talk. 

Use your website as your online marketing hub.

Most businesses have (at minimum) a website they use as a type of placeholder. This site gives contact information, a business address, and a bit of background on the business as fodder for search engines. Basically, it’s just a digital calling card… not a marketing tool. 

Your favorite local business likely has a website like this – offering hours of operation, location information, and a few images of the storefront. Some local businesses actually use a Facebook Business page for this type of thing and avoid  the bother of a website altogether. 

Getting serious about internet marketing means using your website as an online marketing hub… a virtual place where people can connect with your team, investigate your products and services, and begin a buying journey.  

You might consider creating a storefront on your website so that people can purchase your products, order your services, or request a quote for a project. Or – you might fill your website with interesting content to engage people and help them learn about what you do. The important element is to connect all your online marketing efforts to your website… and then create a clear path to purchase on the site itself so that visitors can convert into paying customers and clients. 

Should you connect your social accounts to your website? Yep, absolutely.  In fact, you should link any digital marketing efforts – press, podcast episodes, articles, advertisements – to your website. The goal is to connect people with your website so they can build a closer relationship with your brand… and ultimately consider your products and services. 

Of course – getting them to your website isn’t quite enough. You need a strategy to connect with them when they visit (lead generation strategy) so you can continue to market to them in other ways – such as email marketing, sales calls, and targeted follow up. This doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, something as simple as a free guide or video series can do the trick.   

Find an internet marketing channel that fits your brand. 

If internet marketing is relatively new to you, you might feel overwhelmed at this point. If you’re actively marketing your business online right now – overwhelm might be your current state. That’s pretty common. 

Clients typically come to me with big goals and confusion about how to achieve them. The bigger the marketing goal, the more complex they think the marketing strategy needs to be… and as a result they try to market everywhere and on every platform. The result is typically burnout and sometimes even disaster.

Effective marketing works when you select a primary marketing channel and master it… use it strategically to connect with your ideal clients and bring them closer to your business. 

You only need a single primary marketing channel.  Select one and master it first before you begin marketing in multiple ways. You may find that a single channel gives you plenty of business. How’s that for simple?  Choose a channel that is (a) simple for you to use and (b) well aligned with your ideal clients.

You can… 

  • Create great content (blog posts, videos, or podcasts)  to attract people to your website. This is great when people are hungry for information you provide and you enjoy the content creation process and style of content you choose. 
  • Network and build relationships with peers and colleagues online. This works well for professionals with industry experience and a desire to connect with others on LinkedIn or specialty sites designed for specific industries. 
  • Build a community on a truly social platform such as Facebook or Instagram. This is ideal for creating a buzz around your business while serving your community in a more personal way online.

The key here is that you don’t need to do everything. In fact, you shouldn’t even try… because dabbling in multiple approaches limits your ability to truly connect and build momentum. Instead, you need to master a single approach and build confidence there before you layer in other ways to connect. 

Are you struggling because you’re doing too much… or working inconsistently to implement your internet marketing strategy? It’s time to simplify. < — That’s right. I’m advising you to select a single platform and step away from the others until you’ve built mastery first.

Here’s an example from my own business. My primary marketing channel is content creation. I write articles, like this one, weekly for my own website and for other websites and communities  where my ideal customers hang out. My focus is on creating great written content consistently. I don’t mess around too much with social platforms, because they are not my primary focus. 

Recently, I’ve begun building a presence on LinkedIn. I’m layering in networking on this platform now that I’ve mastered content creation. It’s early days yet, but I’m focused on building a network of connections and providing real value to people I meet on LinkedIn. I see this as a great – and very natural – way to build my brand. 

I’m not burned out because I’m not trying to do everything all at once. I’m also not frustrated because I’m taking a long-term, strategic approach rather than anxiously focusing on getting immediate results. Internet marketing works best this way.  Trust me, I’ve learned the hard way. 

Internet marketing strategy doesn’t have to be complicated. 

Promoting your business on the internet is easiest (and most effective) when you keep things simple.  Start by getting clear on your core message… and then focus on making your website an effective marketing tool. Want a little help getting started? Visit my website or connect with me on LinkedIn to start a conversation. 

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