Marketing your business online can be a task suitable only for the patron saint of Patience, especially if you have special regulations. I know I’m not the only small business owner who has felt helpless in the face of the daunting list of permits, tax laws, licenses, business plans, and strategies. All that before even considering talking to customers?
No, that just won’t do. I want to provide the service without being tormented by paperwork. I like trees. I don’t want the process of setting up shop to make me resent them. The never-ending tears and skyrocketing stress levels almost made me throw in the towel when it came to marketing the business online.
You see, it wasn’t until I read a very special book by the founders of 37Signals (now Basecamp) that I realized I was getting way too worked up and focusing too much time on irrelevant things. I was trying too hard to fill the paperwork requirements of owning a business, rather than doing the work to keep my customers happy.
That got old quickly. Marketing your business online and getting more customers should be natural and fun, not something that causes immense discomfort and unrealistic expectations.
Therefore, to help my fellow small business travelers, I offer my hand in friendship and a few quick suggestions for getting up and running and marketing your business online, because sailing those waters can be frighteningly bleak and lonely for a business owner who wants to focus more on serving their customers, rather than the bureaucratic paperwork.
Tip 1: Read ReWork
Seriously. You won’t be disappointed. Between the humor and the painfully logical approaches to business and production, you will find yourself getting more excited about your next steps. You’ll find you have more time to market directly to your audience because you have found a more efficient and effective way to do something. You can find the book at Barnes and Noble, or any other favorite bookstore.
Tip 2: If You Haven’t Yet, Check For Trademarks
This will save you a headache in the future. It’s a lot more difficult to create a name, logo, and tagline than you may think, especially since the world of internet technology has made it so anyone can start a business. Check the United States Patent and Trademark Office for your name and tagline. A quick Google search will help too. You can also register with your Secretary of State. The cost ranges around $20.
Trust me, you don’t want to get your social media pages up and running only to receive an aggressively worded cease and desist letter.
Tip 3: Legal Considerations for Marketing your Business Online
This is terrifying for those of us who don’t crack open a law manual for some light reading. Consider your industry. There are 3 that come to mind that have some strict regulations:
- Oil and Gas
Do you fall into any of those categories? If you do, here are some good references for marketing regulations:
Other than that, the one thing I pay the closest attention to is following all Truth in Advertising laws as outlined by the Federal Trade Commission. These are essential to how I write and distribute content for clients.
Clients that fall into the above categories must first provide me with their requirements and then have someone proofread the work before distribution. It’s just too risky!
I am not a lawyer (obviously!). Therefore, if you are deeply concerned about strict marketing regulations, try to get a free consultation with a business attorney, or check out LegalZoom.
Tip 4: Educate Yourself on Marketing your Business Online
HubSpot is the leading provider of digital marketing solutions. They offer some of the best marketing classes I have seen, and best of all, most of them are totally free! Check out HubSpot Academy for more information.
These classes and online research from reputable sources are a good way to help you learn a workflow or process that will allow you to reach your intended audience with as little pain as possible. This is where you develop the skills for marketing your business online. You have to be ready to put in the research time, to save you the headache and losses in the future.
Tip 5: Plan and Follow Through
Even if it’s a small plan with a few goals, you want to make sure you cover the following when marketing your business online:
- Get your website up and running with captivating content and have it optimized for search engines.
- Set up a blog and social media pages. Maybe jot down some ideas of topics
- Know your audience and their online behaviors. Google Analytics is your best friend here.
- Determine the voice you’ll use with your audience. Will you be more formal or informal? Witty or serious? Informative or sales-driven? Keep it consistent.
- What kind of incentives will you offer, and how will you offer them?
I know. Marketing your business online can scramble your brain a bit. It’s okay. Stop crying. You can do this. You are here, so you clearly have the drive and the passion; now you need the resources. So go get ‘em!