Dun and Bradstreet recently reported the outlook for small businesses is positive with fewer shutting their doors this year. Part of the reason is the post-recession economy, but it may also be that businesses are finding better resources to spread their brands. Companies are learning the value of social media and other free services such as Google and Yelp.
In the business world, success is about exposure. Companies know they can expand their lead-generation potential by going online. Consider a few tools to get the word out to your would-be customers.
Think Off-Broadway for Social Media
Entrepreneurs know consumers are turning away from sites where friends talk about their cats and gossip about celebrities. They want swag and sass – that means businesses will make a mark by utilizing the up and coming social networks as well as the mainstream properties such as Facebook and Twitter.
Vine – A powerful marketing tool that Mashable calls all the rage, Vine is a video platform brought to you by the same pioneers that made Twitter. It embraces two key elements: video and fast delivery. Vine videos are really a tease to promote new products, introduce the major players in a company and provide endorsements and testimonials.
Pinterest – This visual showcase allows companies to demonstrate every they do in pictures. Pinterest offers a practical guide to making the most out of pinning for business.
YouTube – Although it’s not new to the game, YouTube is more than just a place to upload funny wedding videos. Businesses are creating channels as a way to communicate with customers via video casts and online help information.
You might be surprised by how many major corporations like IBM and Hewlett-Packard keep stores on Ebay. They are not just looking to increase their annual sales – they are using the auction site as a marketing tool. They can post to this platform to test new products or just thin out overstocked items. Ebay enables companies to expand their business into a global enterprise.
The cost is a consideration when selling on eBay. They charge an insertion and final value fee that will cut into profits, both based on the cost of the item and how you choose to promote it. They also offer protection against consumer fraud and tools that help you monitor the success of the store.
American Express Shop Small
This is one in a number of virtual storefront services available to businesses. American Express Shop Small focuses on retail services that accept their card. It is a win-win situation for both this financial giant and the business.
One of the biggest advantages offered by AmericanExpress.com is the free ads. Amex maintains rotating ads on popular websites to drive traffic to each store. The store is free as long as the business qualifies, but there are restrictions. For example, a company must have $3 million or less in net American Express charge volume to qualify for a place in its virtual mall.
The Old-Fashion Blog
Blogging is a businesses way of giving back when marketing their services. The virtual public looks to blogs to learn about industries and products. More than anything else, however, a blog should be a way to personalize communication and give the world a peek behind the curtain of your business. Make sure to make use of the comment section to answer questions.
Hubspot offers tips on how to set up a business blog in just minutes. This paid service can cost as much as $1,000 dollars a month for their top package. You can opt to set up a blog for free using a platform like WordPress, but you will have access to fewer tools.