I recently had the opportunity to interview Chris Knight, CEO of the highly successful EzineArticles.com web site. Here’s what he had to say about Internet marketing for local small businesses:
1) How is Internet marketing different than offline marketing?
Internet marketing is online in the form of web pages, permission-based emails, ezines, blogs, RSS feeds, search marketing, etc. Offline marketing is typically physical media, such as print, postcards, letters, newspaper advertising, etc.
2) Do you recommend small businesses with a local clientele use Internet marketing techniques with traditional methods of marketing? If so, how should they go about that?
Yes, of course.
They should first attempt to get the email address of every single customer and prospect along with permission to send them a weekly or monthly email newsletter or alerts of special promotions that their clients may find valuable.
The next step is to make a simple web site so that your basic core contact information, hours, directions and product lines or rate cards can be found.
The third step may include a shopping cart that allows clients to buy from you online as well as offline. Even if your current clients don’t buy online right now, you may find that your expertise can be packaged or bundled for digital sale to others all over the world.
3) What is the best way for a small brick-and-mortar business to get in on Internet marketing action?
Get the ezine started and begin an email-based relationship with your prospects, business friends and clients. It all begins with email.
Concurrently with the ezine, I’d recommend starting a blog and beginning a market discussion with your audience. It’s not that difficult as one of the core tenets of blogging is that the blogger doesn’t need to know HTML to produce frequent updates to the blog.
4) Is article writing just for those folks with an Internet site or can businesses without a Web presence benefit?
While you can engage in article marketing without owning a website, it doesn’t make sense. How much are domains these days? $10? Web hosting accounts are $15-$20 per month and HTML web designers can be hired for $8-$15/hr in most places. If you’re not on the web, it’s only because you’ve chosen to not be on the web. I’d recommend skipping article marketing until after you’ve built a very simple web presence.
5) What do you think is the biggest mistake small business owners make when they try to go online, and what advice can you give to stop people from making that mistake?
Not updating their website frequently enough. Daily would be what I recommend and weekly at a very minimum. Email newsletters should be delivered weekly at a minimum, and blogs should be updated every day or every other day if you want to achieve success online.
6) There are many ways to go about Internet marketing. There's SEO, e-books or information products, blogs, forums, article writing, press release distribution, pay-per-click, ezine publishing and so many others. In your opinion, what is the most important Internet marketing method for small businesses with traditional mindsets?
The best method from the list you gave is ALL OF THEM, and at the same time.
The biggest mistake I see traditional mindsets making is thinking the offline world can be applied to the online world. Traditional direct marketers are often the worst offenders in terms of not honoring client permissions when engaging in email marketing.
Another mistake is thinking short term and doing highly risky “black hat” activities to cheat or game the system. Have some integrity and use the Internet to build new, and reinforce, existing relationships with your target market.
7) How would you recommend a small business owner who is primarily interested in reaching a local clientele approach online marketing efforts?
I’d focus on making sure your web site is search engine friendly so that you attract localized search users who are trying to find your business online.
Assuming your website is up and you’ve got a few years under your belt, it’s time to test Pay-Per-Click (PPC) marketing and Article Marketing. Both will help deliver qualified visitors to your website so that you can begin the relationship and help your customers buy more from you.
8) Of course, small business owners are budget minded so they're always looking for low-cost ways to promote their businesses. What low-cost ways does Internet marketing offer?
Comparative to PPC marketing, Article Marketing is more grass roots because it only costs your time to write, produce and submit or distribute your quality original articles.
Ezine delivery and management is also a relatively low cost investment with the highest costs being your time to produce each issue.
9) Should the strategy be different for a service business? I mean, if a person is selling a service instead of a product, would they still approach Internet marketing the same way? How about article writing?
It depends if their product or service can be acquired over the web. I’m always amazed at how many service-based businesses don’t think they can acquire sales by putting their services online. How falsely they have assumed.
As far as article writing & marketing is concerned, both physical and intangible products or services make for excellent topics to write about and attract qualified visitors.
10) One final question. What is the best way to ensure ezine publishers pick up your article for their publication?
Ask yourself this question: “Does my article make the publisher look good?” If so, my chances of being picked up are higher.
Did you use correct spelling, grammar, sentence-structure and punctuation?
Keep your articles short, 300-700 words. No one has time to read thousands of words unless they are sitting down to read a book or research whitepaper/report.
Keep your article writing and submissions on a consistent and frequent basis. The traffic rewards disproportionately go to those who submit new articles every week instead of the experts who only do article marketing once a year. If you advertise your business monthly, consider marketing with articles monthly.
Chris, on behalf of Taylor and Associates, I want to thank you for your time and energy in coming up with responses to our questions. Taylor and Associates performs all the services you mentioned here on behalf of our clients, including article writing, blog management, SEO, ezine publishing and Internet marketing. We are as committed to the success of local small businesses as Chris Knight, of EzineArticles.com is, and that’s why we invited him to be our guest this week.
Christopher M. Knight invites you to submit your best articles for massive exposure to the high-traffic EzineArticles.com directory . When you submit your articles to EzineArticles.com, your articles will be picked up by ezine publishers who will reprint your articles with your content and links in tact giving you traffic surges to help you increase your sales. To submit your article, setup a free membership account today: http://EzineArticles.com/submit/
Allen Taylor is an award-winning journalist and freelance writer. He operates a full-service content provider for online businesses, a local small business directory in South Central Pennsylvania and Articles.pn , an article directory with social networking tools.