1) Identify your search-engine keywords
- Why: Arm your web site and Internet initiatives with powerful ammunition by incorporating relevant search-engine keywords into your content. From web pages to biographies to blogs to pay-per-click campaigns, picking the right keywords makes all the difference in helping your target market find you online.
- How: I have found that one of the best resources for identifying keywords is the Google AdWords Keyword Tool. It’s free and you can search for terms based on your existing web site content or search specific terms. The Tool will give you a report of the average search volume of a keyword term as well as its advertising competition. This is important because highly competitive terms mean more competition for your site if you use the same term. Luckily, the Tool’s report also includes alternative terms. Plan to use these terms in the content your share on the Internet and pay-per- click campaigns.
2) Increase your social media outreach
- Why: There are a multitude of reasons to increase your social media outreach including more pages for the search engines to reference and encouraging interaction from current and potential clients.
- How: Start a blog, a Twitter account, a Facebook page, or post articles to community web sites like Digg. Or, if you already have a blog or social networking account, create a plan to help you make the most of your current social media outreach. For instance, I advise clients to plan to post blogs one to two times per week (e.g., every Tuesday and Thursday) and to create a list of topics ahead of time to help with writer’s block. Another example would be to create a weekly to-do list (ideally at least a month ahead of time) for your Facebook page. Keep in mind you probably won’t stick exactly to the posting schedule, but it will give you direction as to what content to post and keep you on track with when to post it.
3) Join a new business association
- Why: Word-of-mouth referrals are extremely valuable. The relationships you build in networking groups can lead the way to your best clients and also help you spark new ideas for your business.
- How: Search for business groups or associations in your area and visit a few before you choose which one(s) to join. Become a regular at networking events and aim to set up meetings with members outside of the events. Also, practice your ‘elevator speech’ ahead of time so you know how to introduce your companies to others in as few words as possible.
4) Advertise in special editions of publications
- Why: In January most publications release their editorial calendars for the year. These calendars detail the focus of each issue giving you a head’s up of advertising opportunities that you can include in your annual budget.
- How: Most editorial calendars can be found on each publication’s web site. Choose publications that are distributed to your target demographic. For example, if your ideal target market is local search neighborhood newspapers, magazines and e-newsletters.
5) Plan sponsorships into your year
- Why: Sponsorships are a fantastic way to promote your company to a particular audience. Pending your level of financial commitment and the type of event, you may receive placement on all of the event’s marketing materials as well as signage at the event significantly increasing your company’s visibility.
- How: Non-profit organizations and business associations hold annual events that may be the perfect sponsorship opportunity for your company. Choose a monthly or quarterly sponsorship budget and then pick the events that you want to sponsor. Search calendar of events or search charity and business events in your area. After you pick the events, plan them into your marketing calendar giving yourself a reminder a month or two ahead of time to sign-up for the sponsorship.