When it comes time to figure out how to market your business online, one truth quickly becomes clear:
Nothing is marketed online more than marketing online.
From methodologies and approaches to tools and software, there are thousands of offerings ready and willing to help guide you through your journey online.
Some of these offerings are effective, some not so much, but they typically share one thing in common – they typically don’t take you into account.
I Know I’m Supposed to but…
There are many ways to market your business online. Inevitably, some of these methods will suit you and some will not. For example:
- If you’re shy, I would not suggest hosting a webinar where you will be presenting in front of a large group of strangers.
- If you’re outgoing, I would not suggest sitting in your office all day writing content that will bring inbound traffic to your website.
However, this is where the constant drum of online marketing gets in the way. Spend any time online and you’ll learn that:
- “You’re supposed to have high traffic to your website.”
- “Inbound marketing with a blog is supposed to be the best way to attract attention online.”
- “You’re supposed to have a Facebook fan page.”
- “Search engine optimization (SEO) is supposed to be the key to online success.”
I hear the effect of these “supposed-tos” all the time when I talk with my clients and they are always causing grief:
- “I’m supposed to start a blog, but I hate writing.”
- “I’m supposed to create videos to put on YouTube, but I hate recording my image or voice.”
- “I’m supposed to have a really unique website, but I can’t afford it right now.”
All of these “supposed tos” ignore one thing: you. They ignore the fact that, no matter how hard you try, if you are not comfortable with a certain type of marketing, you will come across poorly.
You will not be seen as authentic.
Adding YOU to the Online Marketing Equation
Luckily, there are tons of ways to market your business online so you’re sure to find one that will work for you.
Most of these ways fall within one of two categories:
- Outbound Marketing – such as networking, advertising, pubic relations, trade shows, e-mail marketing, search engine marketing (SEM) and social media; and
- Inbound Marketing – such as referrals, content marketing, blogging and search engine optimization (SEO).
It’s easy to see that more social folks will be drawn to outbound marketing and more reserved folks to inbound marketing. Both can be used effectively and can be mixed and matched to fit your comfort level.
For example, a blog is a great way to bring potential customers to your site via external links and search engines and then presell them by providing helpful information.
- If you are uncomfortable with outbound marketing methods that put you in front of strangers on a regular basis, then a blog is a wonderful way to demonstrate what you do, how you do it and why it’s important. Done well, a blog will transform your site into a dynamic source of information, bringing readers back again and again, exposing them to your offerings and leading to sales.
- However, if you love to be out and about networking, participating in chats and forums and answering questions on social media sites, blogging becomes much less critical. Your site serves a different purpose in this case, an online brochure where you can direct people to view your offerings, read your prepared use cases and testimonials and just generally confirm that you are legitimate.
Of course, the inbound marketer can do social media and networking and the outbound marketer can blog to his heart’s content, but the key is that they are marketing in a way that feels authentic and real and that will come across to potential customers.
Balance and Authenticity
You cannot free yourself from the need to market your business online; however, you can choose how to do so.
As with any equation, the key is balance.
If you remove some inbound marketing methods with which you are not comfortable, you must add some outbound marketing methods with which you are.
No matter which methods you select, you are marketing your business, which is an important component to your success.
Almost as important is that fact that you are being authentic, which means:
- Your marketing efforts will be more successful;
- You will attract the right kind of customers, ones that match your style; and
- You will not dread your marketing tasks; you will embrace them.
So forget the “supposed-tos” and make sure to add YOU to the online marketing equation.
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“Matt Mansfield is the Head Tour Guide at Matt About Business (http://www.mattaboutbusiness.com) where he helps entrepreneurs and Fortune 500 companies use the web to manage and market their business by connecting online strategies and tactics with real-world results. Matt is not a Pitney Bowes employee and shares his insights on this blog as a paid contributor.”