So… you finally have the website of your dreams and it’s now live for the world to see.
Give it a few days and your phone will be ringing off the hook and your inbox will be flooded with sales and requests…
The most common misunderstanding regarding small-business websites is that by simply existing they will automatically generate clients/sales. Having an all-singing, all-dancing website is great but if people don’t know it exists then it’s largely redundant. The internet is a busy and crowded space. Developing a new website is like opening a small shop in the worlds largest industrial estate and expecting customers from the next city to know how to find you.
You need to let people know that your website exists. There are plenty of ways that you can promote your website, both online and off, but this article is just going to focus on the more traditional methods of offline promotion. Don’t forget that while this article frequently refers to the promotion of your URL it equally applies to your new domain email address.
1) Include Your URL on all business stationary.
Make sure that you update your business cards, flyers, headed paper and any other business stationary with your new web address and email. Be sure to display the correct URL leaving off the unnecessary “http://” part. It may be that your website is part of a larger rebranding exercise – in which case be sure to update any logos, slogans or fonts too. Don’t forget to include the less obvious documents such as fax cover sheets, invoices, receipts, etc…
2) Continue to promote your business using traditional methods.
If you’ve previously found a particular method of print advertising effective don’t abandon it in lieu of your shiny new website. Just be sure to update the adverts to include your web address and to invite readers to visit your site for further information or to place an order. Browse magazines and newspapers to see how other businesses use their web address in print advertising.
3) Update your listing in print directories.
If your business has been listed in a directory such as the Yellow Pages or Thomson Local then be sure to update the listing to include your URL. If you’re not listed with any of these services then it’s something you really need to be thinking about. Would all your potential customers find you online? If the answer is no then update your print listings.
4) Put your web address on your vehicle.
It goes without saying that if you own company vehicles that you need to update the livery to display your new contact details. However, if you’re a sole trader or small-business owner then perhaps consider getting a custom bumper sticker or door magnet. Whoever designed your business cards will either be able to offer this service for you or at the very least point you in the right direction.
5) Produce window signage.
If you have a business premises this is a great way to remind people that not only do you have a website but what they can find there (prices/menus/booking information, etc…) It doesn’t have to be an overbearing sign but maybe a small banner along the base of the window letting people know that you can also be found online.
6) Hand out branded promotional goodies.
As with the vehicle signage, whoever designed your business cards can also help produce branded pens, pencils, badges, mouse mats, mugs, bookmarks and t-shirts etc… Until I ran out (remind me to order more!) I used to give branded key-rings to clients at the end of a project in the hope that it may be noticed one day by a potential client or may even remind someone to recommend my services. You never know who will see your URL.
7) Launch a postcard campaign.
Have some branded postcards produced with an eye-catching vibrant image on the front and details about your website / business on the rear. Send these to existing clients/customers informing them of your new website, but also to any obvious potential customers. I still use this method myself to introduce myself to new businesses / customers.
8) Link with related businesses.
If you have personal relationships with businesses in a field related to your own (but obviously not a competitor!) then ask that they make a stack of your business cards / branded postcards available to their customers. You could offer to do the same for them.
9) Using QR codes.
QR codes are the square patterns consisting of arrays of smaller black and white squares that you might have noticed printed on nearly everything these days! These can be added to any form of print media – business cards, postcards, mugs, print adverts etc… When scanned using a smart phone they will automatically open your website in the users web browser. QR codes can be created for free online – there are many websites offering this free service – try QR Stuff to get started.
10) Word of mouth.
Also known as free publicity. Tell anyone that will listen! Just finishing a sale with a customer? Tell them that you’re now online and give them a business card. On the phone with a prospective client? Let them know that they can find further info on your website. Be sure to always mention your website in any conversations with prospective customers or clients.
So there you go, before you even consider social media, email newsletters, forums etc… there are plenty of real-world marketing tips that you can put into practice to spread the word.
Remember, a website won’t generate business in isolation – it’s another tool (albeit a powerful one) in your marketing toolbox, so go forward and spread the word!
What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts – please leave your comments below.
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