With the onset of the information age, broadband internet, and mass communication, the barriers for entry for entrepreneurs are shrinking. This means that to stay buoyant in this new business world, you must adapt to the times. In this article, I will present you with a list of five areas that are essential for your business today if you want to stay competitive.
So your brick and mortar is doing well and you have achieved the greatest market share in your region. Good job. Now it’s time to tap into your full potential by taking your product online.
Many entrepreneurs assume that once their products are online, they will market themselves. This is certainly not the case. Now that E-marketing is maturing, companies in all industries are fighting for domains, search engine rankings, and advertising space. To be successful you need to stand out.
The key to successful online marketing is search engine optimization, primarily link-building. To get traffic to your website, you simply need to rank higher in Google. What’s the best strategy for SEO? Exchanging links with other webmasters/bloggers is a start. The more links back to your site, the higher your site will rank. For further information on SEO, see this article.
2. Social Networking / Community Building
I’m sure you’ve heard it a thousand times, but you simply need to be active on the big three social networks: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. This is perhaps the easiest way to build a brand’s reputation.
Create a fan page for your company or brand on both Facebook and Twitter. Be active. Post at least once a day on each and ask questions to promote interactivity. Ask people what they want to see in your brand, just be ready for what they might answer. The best way to utilize social networking is to give people content that will make them want to return.
A little bit of work on your social media campaign can produce great results. See Mashable for more tips and resources.
3. New Collaboration Techniques
This comes down to using available technology to be more productive in the office. If you haven’t started using Google Docs yet, jump on that bandwagon first. Docs allows collaboration on presentation slides, spreadsheets, word documents and more. Imagine a document that lets users log in all simultaneously to make changes, rather than waiting on individual changes via email.
If you have larger projects, you should check out BaseCamp. They offer a 30-day free trial and host a plethora of collaboration options.
4. Obtaining Relevant Information
With the massive amounts of information the internet has granted us comes massive amounts of clutter. Be smart and target relevant information.
To stay up to date on my industry, I use two tools. The first is an RSS (real simple syndication) reader. This will automatically update every time a blog you follow posts new content. This saves you the time of checking each blog individually. The second tool is Twitter. Follow key players in your industry, they usually post relevant information.
5. New Sources of Financing
Traditional bank loans and investments are on the decline while new financing options are emerging. One innovative new idea is the growth partnership. The premise is that one company invests capital in exchange for equity and then uses its core strengths to help its partner grow. For example, Company A invests $X in Company B for X% equity, then Company A uses its resources to help Company B’s online marketing campaign. Win-win for both companies.
Guest author Rob Stretch works on the online marketing campaign for VA Mortgage Center.com, the number one dedicated VA lender in the country, securing over $1 billion in VA funding in 2009. Image by gilderic under CC license.