Your small business can take things into the 21st century, and do a lot of things the right way – online. And while you’re online, you can make use of a whole lot of different technological aids to your operation. In a lot of cases, going online is the best thing that ever happened to a business.
1. Get a web presence. “You can start off with a free WordPress.com blog, and “”test the waters”” with your message and your target market. After you fine tune your messaging and targetting, if you decide that WordPress.com is too limiting in its functionality and design, you can easily export your content to a self-hosted WordPress.org site. With a self-hosted WordPress site, you have the freedom to install one of the thousands of beautiful free WordPress themes, such as the Green Stimulus Theme for Green Business, or you may opt to buy a profossional premium theme, or invest in custom design that reflects your small business brand.
2. Utilize plug-ins. With WordPress.org , you can add various plugins that can enhance your site with extra functionality. One important function that you absolutely must have is a contact form plugin, as this enables your customers and leads to easily send a message to you through your website. A really useful contact form plugin is WordPress-to-Lead. This actually also captures the customer information as a lead, and is a customer relationship management application which is like contact management software on steriods. Using a CRM system will help you better manage customer information, which is far better than losing this lead information in your email inbox.
3. Be a green marketer – avoid dead tree media by going digital. Working online lets you just use pixels on the screen – which may be used an unlimited number of times, without having to harm any living things. Using e-mail and your blog, you can communicate rapidly – and not have to use paper that would inevitably end up in a landfill. Email marketing is also considerably cheaper than print marketing. Compare email marketing platforms like Vertical Response, Campaign Monitor, or AWeber to see which best serves your needs and budget.
4. Monetize your web traffic. Once your message has begun to reach the right people, and your website is drawing in plenty of traffic, there are a few ways that you can make money off of this. For one, you can become an affiliate marketer, and promote great products to people they could really help. For another, you can sell ad space on your site, either through dealing directly with other website owners, displaying banner ads, or text ads through Google Adsense. You may even want to build a product to sell online.
5. Engage your target market through social media. These are your core group, or your “peeps” and chances are, most of them on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. They want to hear what you have to say, because you speak their language. If you are a small business, you have an advantage that no huge corporation can ever match – you can be both the CEO, and the person who reads every e-mail you receive. You can even write back, and help people directly. Helping people is the best kind of business.
When you’re trying to go green and make money simultaneously, you can expand on everything above and add your own changes in as well. Going green will save you money on top of what you’re making already.
This is a guest post by Lorna Li, a marketing expert for a global CRM company by day, and green business enthusiast by night. Visit her green marketing blog for tips on social enterprise and green business marketing.