Internet has been available to the public for two decades now. It is something everyone is familiar with yet so many small local businesses are still oblivious to the benefits it could offer.
Granted, the need for internet differs from one industry to another. The benefits might be obvious to some industries but not so much to others. However the fact remains that any business regardless of sector can benefit from the extra publicity and reach the internet provides. For some businesses, internet can directly generate monetary transactions that boost the bottom line while for others it provides leads and brand awareness that can translate into monetary transaction later.
It is surprising how many small local businesses are still choosing to ignore the internet. The main reason is the misconception that creating and maintaining an online presence is very expensive and the benefit doesn't justify the cost.
Hiring a web development company to create your own website can be expensive depending on the level of complexity and visual appeal you desire. However, what most people don't realize is that you can create a powerful web presence without having your own website!
Online presence without your own website...
The purpose of online marketing is to put your information on the internet so your customers can find you. It doesn't matter whether it is on your own website, your blog, a social networking site or a local directory. Once your information is online, people will be able to find it using search engines like Google. Let's face it, as long as we find the information we are looking for, in most cases, we don't really care where it is.
Using blogs, social networking sites and local directories are all completely free. All you need is a valid email address to set up an account. You can register an email account completely free with free email services like gmail or ymail.
At this point you may be thinking: 'I don't know anything about the internet so I am intimidated by the idea of creating my own blog or social network account or local business page.' Well don't be. The way these services are set up, you just need to follow a few simple steps and fill out the forms. You will not need any computer knowledge and clear instructions are usually provided.
Once you have filled out your information, the rest will be set up for you automatically and you will be able to easily upload photos, price lists and maybe even videos. It should take just a few minutes so why not give these free online services a try?
It is not necessary to spend thousands of dollars on a dedicated website. The free online services can get all your information online without costing you a penny. In addition, social networks and local directories come with large audience you will immediately tap into. Every business can benefit from being visible online.
Dawson Gao is a member of lacartes.com - an online community that helps people find local businesses, meet new friends and search for jobs.
He has written numerous articles about SEO and internet marketing and regularly advices small businesses on e-commerce and free online marketing techniques.