Vinny La Barbera wrote an awesome, easy-to-read, kick-in-the-pants internet marketing guide for small business owners, and I want to add direction for SMBs to know where to start. Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Google Adwords, LinkedIn ads, blogging, and the list goes on – all these new terms and tools are really overwhelming, so how do you choose your starting point?
First, you need to work backwards from your goals and an understanding of your business.
Are you creating a brand new product that doesn’t have existing demand? For instance, a new medical device that turns ketchup into usable blood for transfusions? This requires you to create demand by “push” marketing aka interruption marketing. Channels in this group include public relations and display advertising, as well as social media (a digital form of PR).
Or are you tapping into an existing market, like selling photo frames or light fixtures? In this case, you’ll want to focus on demand satisfaction aka “pull” marketing channels, such as search engine optimization and search engine ads.
Second, a lot of success comes from avoiding failure, so here’s the first step to success: avoid doing everything.
If you choose to use Google AdWords, ignore everything else and just focus on getting excellent at that. If you choose Facebook ads, ignore everything else and become amazing at that.
While Vinny’s post gave a lot of great tips, I disagree with the suggestion that you need an account on each of the big social media networks. If you’re B2B, you can use LinkedIn exclusively (the team at SEO auditing software company WooRank have 5 tips for SMBs starting on LinkedIn). If you’re B2C, you can use Facebook exclusively [to get started, after which you must diversify, as shared with the GrowthHackers community by Sean of Qualaroo . Twitter kind of straddles both worlds, for better and worse. My impression of Google+ is that it’s very focused to B2B, but that’s only my view as an outsider. Nevertheless, this is a negligible quibble when he gives you crucial insight such as the importance of building relationships and how you need to give to others first. I’ll expand on that below.
Third, the above advice needs to be modified slightly for blogging.
Blogging isn’t a standalone tactic since it needs to be read by others to be effective – in other words, you need to promote it. Conversely, social media (not ads, but regular engagement) also isn’t a standalone tactic usually – you need to drive the traffic to your site at some point.
This is where Vinny’s tip about building relationships comes in handy. Make friends in the blog and online world, and they’ll help promote your content.
How do you make friends? In short, give to them.
Give them links, comment on their blog posts, promote their blogs on social media (e.g. with updates on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn, and submissions to social media sites like Inbound.org or GrowthHackers.org). I wrote more about this in the interviews I did for About.com: part 1, part 2.
Once you’ve begun giving and built a good circle of contacts, then you can ask them to promote you back and return the favours. They can link to you, vote for you on social platforms and so forth.
If you haven’t already, go read Vinny’s introduction to SMB internet marketing.