By: Ted McLaughlan (Intro By: Susan VanEpps)
Entrepreneurs launching a new business today are wise to consider the options and opportunities provided by the world of social media. A 2012 Manta survey of 600 small business leaders showed 90 percent adopting an active role in social media, with 74 percent viewing it as important as in-person networking.
Among those leading the charge in Loudoun County is co-founder Ted McLaughlan, who has 25 years’ experience in IT consulting. Here are just a few of Ted’s top suggestions for Internet marketing:
- Establish an interactive website, with a clear “About Us” page, which includes your local address, phone (seek a local number), directions, service hours and payment methods. Use new photos or even videos of your new business – preferably photos with great people in them! Be sure your website works well with mobile phones or tablets – it should be just as easy to conduct business with you on these devices, as with traditional computers and laptops.
- Note that designing your website and marketing or advertising your website are two related, but different activities. If you don’t have anyone on staff with these skills, get help!
- Establish an attractive, consistent business and personal profile in all major, relevant social communities, like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
- Spellcheck everything! For example, if you’re in Loudoun County, don’t spell it “Loudon”!
- Make sure your business is listed in localized “review” sites, like Yelp, Angie’s List and Google. Encourage reviews among your customers and partners. Consistently check out the reviews, too — keep up with your online reputation!
- Send a press release to the Loudoun papers and Craigslist with an update on your location and services, and make sure it’s optimized for online searches. Consider doing paid advertising as your budget allows. You can also do sponsorships (which get your logo on the local soccer team’s website, for example), “pay-per-click” ads, local online coupons (as with LivingSocial) and paid information releases through local media (like NorthernVirginiaMag.com, WashingtonExec.com, NorthernVirginiaBusinessNews.com and VirginiaBusiness.com).
- Hold a meet-and-greet event (with appropriate online marketing of the event, before and after) to introduce your business to the local community.
- Keep an eye on your website traffic analytics and reports to see if potential customers are finding you.
See the full list of ideas and suggestions on the KME Internet Marketing website.