Q: Everyone says we are supposed to grow our business digitally in this digital age. But for the average small business, what really can or are we supposed to do, other than have a great website and maybe a blog? — Bill
A: Yes, we have all heard the same advice, and I am even responsible for disseminating some of it: Use social media! Tweet (if you must!) Work your SEO! Go viral!
While it does indeed all work, it also can be a bit overwhelming, so that is why today I want to make it as simple as possible. To get ahead in this e-world, there are two essential things you must do:
1. Create content
2. Market that content.
Creating content: I recently had a chance to speak with John Jantsch, one of the sharpest marketing guys around and creator of the Duct Tape Marketing system. According to John, the single best thing anyone can do to grow the online part of their business is to "commit to creating content regularly and putting it online." This should include, he suggests:
• Blog: "When people search, they will have a better chance of finding you if you have a blog."
• Have pictures of your products on your site, Flickr, etc.
• Search engine optimize your site with valuable content, including articles, e-newsletters, etc.
Market the content: Let's take the power of great content one step further: What is the best way to get your content in front of your customers and potential customers? Let me share an e-tool that goes far beyond articles and blogs and searches, and one that far too many small businesses fail to take advantage of, namely. .. a downloadable community toolbar.
What do Major League Baseball, Jib Jab, Greenpeace, and Lufthansa all have in common? They use the easy, excellent service from www.Conduit.com to create their own custom toolbar that their customers can download and use to access their content. The Major League Baseball toolbar allows users to "access MLB.com features from anywhere on the web." Lufthansa uses their downloadable toolbar to give their customers "our best offers."
Even better: Creating a custom community toolbar at Conduit is quick, easy, and free.
Do you see how powerful this might be for your small business? Creating your own toolbar for your customers to download allows you to have your best content in front of them – all of the time, whenever they have a browser open.
Let me give you an example: The Pretentious Pooch is a "full-service doggie boutique" in Baltimore that created its own toolbar and has found it to be a very valuable and powerful tool for marketing its business and content to its customers. Instead of waiting for customers to surf on over, the toolbar allows the folks at Pretentious Pooch to always be in front of their customers whenever those customers are online.
Because the Conduit toolbar creator allows you to add whatever you want from your site to the toolbar, each is necessarily unique and so the Pretentious Pooch's toolbar offers clicks to their online store, a message ticker for news, sales, and updates, Facebook and Twitter updates, an RSS feed, and "hand-picked links."
No wonder that more than 200,000 content creators use Conduit's toolbars to communicate with more than 60 million users.