Competition is fierce for small businesses. Not only do they have to compete with other small businesses, they have to contend with larger competitors that possess deeper pockets and a bigger share of the market. But by adopting a few simple online marketing strategies a small business can level the playing field and achieve real results. These results being improved lead generation, increased sales, and enhanced brand establishment.

Many of these online marketing strategies are free and require minimal technical know-how to implement. Here are 10 powerful online marketing strategies that Horton Group believes any small business can adopt:

Create a Business Blog: A blog is one of the best ways to reach an online audience. For a small business with no online presence a blog is a great place to start and offers a very adaptable promotional tool that can be set up using free software, such as WordPress.

Company Twitter Profile: Twitter can be a great customer engagement utility for a small business. Create a free profile using the name of your business and personalize the profile page so that it includes contact info for your company, a website URL (if you have one), and a company bio.

Build a Facebook Page: Small business owners can start up a free page dedicated to their business on the social networking giant. They are easy to create and there are now add-ons that allow a business to take orders and process payments direct from the page itself.

Use Online Free Ads: There are many online free ads that could be used to post promotional content for a small business. Two of the larger websites are Gumtree and Craig’s List.

Online Directories: many people use directories to search for local businesses. They are the internet’s Yellow Pages. A small business should seek inclusion into any industry specific business directories.

Google Places: Formally known as the Local Business Centre, Google Places allows a business to geo-tag their location on a map and include photos, a bio, and contact details. Google is starting to charge a small monthly fee for direct links to websites but this is still a very useful tool, especially for small businesses looking to attract local custom.

Forums and Boards: Join any forums and community boards related to your market and show off your expertise. The more you interact and participate, the greater the chance you will develop trust and authenticity. You should be able to include a website URL in your profile and once established you may be able to post direct links into posts.

Yahoo Answers: This is a place where people can post questions or problems they may have and invite people to offer answers and solutions. Search for any questions relevant to your business and provide an answer. You can add the name of your business blog or website as the source. By providing a good answer people are encouraged to click on your URL link for more info and these will be targeted visitors.

YouTube: Create a promotional video and upload it for free to this massively popular video website. Include keyword-related tags to your posts. YouTube is now owned by Google and its content benefits from favorable Google search listings.

Paid Advertising: There are numerous forms of online advertising and they all vary in cost. For search engine advertising (sponsored results) Google Adwords is the most popular but both Yahoo and Bing offer viable alternatives that may work out cheaper. A small business can also advertise on other websites and blogs using textual or graphical ads.

As you see there are many online marketing strategies a small business can adopt to establish an online presence. Online marketing is vital to a small business. Not only can it thrust the business into a marketplace of millions, it does not rely on huge advertising budgets. With some dynamic content, smart keyword research, and a commitment to success, a small business can yield measurable results without breaking the bank.

Horton Group helps businesses large and small manage their online communications efforts. Call our Nashville office at 615-292-8642 to discuss your needs.

– D M Gray