In order to complete any of the tactics outlined here, you'll need to have your business plan and marketing message firmly in place. The business plan and marketing plan both help you identify the methods that will work best for your business, as well as help you to convey your message in the most strategic way.
Personal branding is a way of marketing yourself online using social networking sites. Using your company's marketing message, "set up shop" by creating a page or profile on the site's system, and then by being active on the site. To start, try these:
- Set up your profile completely in the StartupNation Community, including listing your products in the StartupNation Marketplace.
- Create a complete profile at LinkedIn, and then search for family, friends, and colleagues past and present to add to your networking list. (As a bonus, we highly recommend giving the people on your list recommendations that you feel qualified to give -- often times, the gift is returned!)
- Find other networking communities like Ryze and The Small Business Forum to set up a profile at and introduce yourself.
- Depending on your product and online needs, you may find it beneficial to also set up a profile at Facebook, MySpace, Yahoo! or YouTube. You should also set up profiles in any of the additional forums you identify below.
Mailing Lists and Groups
Nearly everyone belongs to some sort of mailing list, whether it's a list-serv, Yahoo! group, alumni group, or networking group. (And if you don't, you should!) You can use your connection with these lists to spread the message about your new site, product, service or press if you follow these guidelines:
- Send to the appropriate list
Your moms' group won't want to hear about the programming book you now have for sale on Amazon, and your accounting alumni group probably doesn't want to hear about the latest diaper covers you're making. Choose which lists you send a message out to according to the makeup of the list.
- Use the list sparingly
A good rule of thumb is to not make an announcement to any one list more than 5-6 times in a year, equally distributed over the year.
- Follow the rules
Check with the moderator or the website to make sure your content is not breaking list rules, or you may be removed from the list.
- Cater your message
Tone your message down from "corporate speak" to something more personal so that you don't come across as spam.
- Remember the rules of copywriting
Respect your readers by not writing wordy emails that they won't want to read.
- Give clear direction and follow-up
Whether it's "contact me for more information", "I'm looking for investors", or "Hope you'll join us", make your call to action and your follow-up clear in your text. Some kind of notation indicating the message is okay to forward on would be good as well.
- Don't forget your signature
You should include your contact information and your website URL at the bottom of every message. You could also include a line or 2 about your current project, a tagline, or a point of interest—but keep it brief.
Not ready to announce anything? Participate regularly in your lists anyway. By answering the questions of others using your name and full signature, you can promote your site indirectly across the list.
You can also make your own one-time list by e-mailing friends, family and colleagues at the start of your new venture, announcing your site. This can be done directly from your e-mail program, and should only be used once unless the readers opt-in for further updates.
Newsletters are a way to connect to a dedicated audience that has optioned to hear about your products and services, usually through a sign-up form on your website. Most newsletters contain some sort of informational content, combined with an advertisement. For example, you might feature an article in your newsletter as well as announce a current special or a new product.
Newsletters can come in multiple formats, and the form you choose will have a lot to do with the profile of your target market, your marketing needs, and your budget. Some of your options are:
- Offline / print newsletters that are mailed to the reader through the postal service.
- Online newsletters that are distributed through an opt-in mailing program like the one we use, iContact, or similar offers like Constant Contact and aweber.
- Online newsletters that are controlled by blogging or content-management software, and subscribed to like text feeds in the "Subscriptions" section (covered later in this step).
The important part about a newsletter is delivery: If you have a sign-up box that says the newsletter comes at a certain frequency (i.e. daily, weekly or monthly) and has a particular purpose, stick to the delivery schedule and stay on topic! Abusing your opt-in list is the best way to get all your subscribers to opt out.
Don't have your own newsletter? You can promote yourself using other newsletters by writing articles for other businesses, much in the same way you'd do a guest blog post, which is discussed later in this step.