Much ado has been made about trading links and using Google advertising to drive traffic to Web sites. Yada, yada, yada. Yawn. If you are motivated enough to have your own business, you are probably innovative enough to come up with some more creative ways to get visitors to your Web site. Here is a list of ways to get ideas brewing, starting with those that take very little work and ending with those that require a wee bit of commitment but promise big returns.
- E-mail it: One simple, often overlooked way to promote your site is to make sure it is in the signature of your e-mail. Consider how much e-mail you send a day, a week, a month, and tally the free impressions.
- Create a fan club on Facebook: Someday Facebook is going to have to figure out a way to make money and start charging businesses for using their powerful platform to promote themselves. But until then it only takes a few minutes to set up a fan club for your business and then get the word out to friends. Once it is linked to your personal page, it will be seen by your friends. If your business is compelling and your network supportive, your friends will join your club and see it. Six degrees later you’ll have a worldwide presence and a unique way to get people to your site.
- Get out the promotional items: Sometimes old is new again and that is usually because it worked the first time. Do not dismiss marketing tangibles such as mugs, pens, T-shirts, and hats to promote your business. However, focus on your goal to promote your site, using your URL in an inviting color as the graphic. Check out CafePress.com as a source for promo materials.
- Play pundit: If you have your own business you are certainly an expert on at least two topics: 1) the product or service you sell, 2) running a small business. Do not discount this hard-earned knowledge base. Leverage it by positioning yourself as a pundit. Make sure journalists and bloggers covering your field know your name. Try to secure some speaking engagements. Write columns for industry publications. Using offline strategies to get your company’s name (and URL) out there, will lead people to visit your site.
- Create your own media event: Remember the convenience store that monitored the presidential election by tallying how many people ordered their coffee in a McCain cup or an Obama cup? That store created its own media, put a smile on people’s faces, and got a lot of press. If you can figure out a similar media-grabbing ploy that will help promote your business, you’ll see a boost in traffic to your site.
- Survey like crazy: We are a culture addicted to surveys, with few people stopping to analyze the source. You can capitalize on this by creating a survey of your own, revolving around the topic of your business. If you own a florist and have an e-mail list of loyal customers, poll them in early spring about their Mother’s Day gift habits. How much do they spend? What types of gifts? If they buy flowers, what kind? In the era of “green,” would they prefer to buy potted flowers or a plant instead of cut flowers? Offer a coupon if they complete the survey. There are many Web-based survey tools that make it easy to create and execute a survey online. Once you have the results, you can put out a press release using an inexpensive service such as PRWeb. From there, you will no doubt get some press mentions, with links to your site.
- Exploit YouTube: People are being exploited on YouTube 24/7. You can turn that around and exploit YouTube to your benefit, driving people to your Web site. How? If you are a chocolatier, why not share your method with the world? Forget Food Network. Create your own videos on baking tips, how to choose good chocolate, or the history of chocolate. If you sell or trade first-edition books online, you could be to antique books what James Lipton is to actors. Once you start producing, link the videos to your own site and your LinkedIn, MySpace, or Facebook pages. Make sure the URL for your Web site is always at the bottom of the videos.