How to Market a Small Business Online

38 replies
I'd really like to hear other Warriors take on this, and build this into a reference to other Warriors who may be struggling in this area.

I have a client who runs a small business selling fresh produce. I have been working with him for about a month now. I designed and SEO'd the website for him, and he's on page two already for his main keywords. I have created a Facebook page for him, have regularly added recipes to the site. I post the recipe page to Facebook, and add the image of the meal to Pinterest. I run a newsletter for him, and have submitted his site to local directories.

What would you do to market this and other small businesses online? What do you feel is the most important steps to take to get the word out? How do you feel I could get more leads and get them fast?

Eagerly awaiting your input warriors!
#business #market #online #small
  • Profile picture of the author Jerry McGough
    A sign that reads: "FREE Cataloupe or Strawberries for your email address....
    Sign Up and Save Big". The easiest way to increase business is to market to your existing customer base. And get those register people involved......

    Also, while waiting for Page One, use PPC......
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  • Profile picture of the author enterscope
    Believe it or not, I'd buy an ad in a Local magazine or Newspaper and banners on local websites/blogs.

    These are often overlooked and are quite profitable if your ad copy is good.
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  • Profile picture of the author footpod
    Video would lend itself to this market wouldn't it?

    Video of your man showing off his stuff?

    Better than boring webpages anyday :-)
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  • Profile picture of the author Lesley Huntley
    These are great ideas! I'm already thinking of 'how to' videos to make with him. Keep them coming!
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  • Profile picture of the author CoolDiamond
    One of the best ways to market business online is to create sharable content (images, videos etc.). You will be lucky if you manage to create content which goes viral. Good luck!
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  • Profile picture of the author quicklynx
    1. Keep working on getting the business to page 1 ranking with more content and relevant backlinks.

    2. Contact local restaurants and ask how they find their fresh produce, what they pay, and what it will take for them to try a different supplier.

    3. On a nice day have someone setup an outdoor produce sales area. Hand out flyers, collect emails in exchange for discounts.

    Hope this helps.
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  • Profile picture of the author liindsay
    Great thread!

    This is exactly what's in the works for me. I need to create a website to sell products for my friends business.

    These ideas will be invaluable.. keep them coming
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  • Profile picture of the author Eddie Spangler
    REally create a brand for him for example may he is know at the Fresh Fruit Guy
    or Mr. Healthy or whatever makes sense.
    Hopefully he is a big thinker and wants to grow.
    Find community related events that he can sponsor, just make sure the value is there and a mechanism to collect emails is in place. Often he may be able to get in events without paying cash but rather by donating goods/services.

    Good luck with this, hope you keep us updated!
    Promise Big.
    Deliver Bigger.
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    • Originally Posted by Eddie Spangler View Post

      REally create a brand for him for example may he is know at the Fresh Fruit Guy
      or Mr. Healthy or whatever makes sense.
      Hopefully he is a big thinker and wants to grow.
      Find community related events that he can sponsor, just make sure the value is there and a mechanism to collect emails is in place. Often he may be able to get in events without paying cash but rather by donating goods/services.

      Good luck with this, hope you keep us updated!
      Along these lines, he can create a column in the local paper or shopper like "Tips From The Fresh Fruit Guy" or similar. Then call local radio station and TV stations and pitch the idea of a "Fresh Fruit Guy" or "The Produce Man" segment.

      The trick is to keep pitching these ideas. Start out with the biggest media you can get on. If that means starting with a tiny shopper paper, do it. Over time his brand will grow and he will become a local celebrity. Sale follow like ducks and bread.
      Marketing is not a battle of products. It is a battle of perceptions.
      - Jack Trout
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  • Profile picture of the author cuttingedge
    Most businesses follow the industry leaders in their advertising and have no idea if it works for them or not. Seems like, if the leader is advertising this way it must be the way to advertise.

    You might consider an offline approach directing them to your website.

    Postcards to neighborhoods within a 5 mile area would be a good way to promote the business and the website.

    Small newpaper display ads or classified ad would be another way to direct them to your business.

    With postcards you have the added benefit that people will see your postcard message while with other forms, including the internet, I usually have to be actively searching for the product I want.

    You might find you have a greater return by using advertising methods that most businesses never bother with.

    There is also a couple of threads here that show where offline advertising made a better return than the internet. (see ewanmacks yellow page thread)
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  • Profile picture of the author thetrafficguy
    Figure out where his customers are in the local area. Then create very targeted ads that reach them.

    You'll need to grill him about his customers.

    Make sure you have a good pitch. There are some good suggestions already in here.
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  • Profile picture of the author paidsurveys
    FB pages platform will be great to market small businesses.
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  • Profile picture of the author Aaron Doud
    Can you tell us a bit more about the client and market?

    Hours, location, population of the metro area.

    Fresh produce can be a retail location to a farm to a weekend farmer's market and I need to know that to know how best to market him.
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    • Profile picture of the author sandalwood
      Here is an idea that never loses. If you have an animal shelter in your jurisdiction, have him set aside some produce with a sign saying something to the effect that all proceeds from this table are donated to Such and Such Animal Shleter. Then have him donate the funds with you taking a picture of the shelter director accepting a check from this client. Post it on his website. Let your local paper know what he is doing and ask if they will write a story about it. Papers in small towns in the US love this kind of stuff and usually give from a half page to full page coverage.

      Word of mouth will do the rest. I say all this believing you want to increase his revenue more than you want to get on page one. To me at least that's what's important but what do I know?
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  • Profile picture of the author Lesley Huntley
    This is an incredible thread with some amazing ideas. This should keep anyone going for quite some time!

    CoolDiamond that link to that Visual Facilitation video had me spellbound until the end, when I started watching it again! Who would have thought the transportation of medical records could be so interesting? Amazing idea!

    Love the postcards idea, might leave that to him as offline is his jurasdiction, will definitely suggest it to him though.

    Aaron we live in a relatively small city, 350,000. Hours are just your normal, and he is located close to our (now earthquake devastated) central city. He buys from a market fresh and brings it to his shop to sell.

    I'm going to see him on Monday where I'm going to have a chat with him about some of your great ideas. Keep up the fabulous work Warriors. This is going to be a very exciting thread!
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  • Profile picture of the author reninter
    Okay, you’re doing great ways but how much you’re in quality? Try to get some high quality back links and actively participate with social media.
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  • Profile picture of the author JessicaAutumn
    Social media has lots of uses to business and you should not miss this.

    Fun Promotional Products - Promotional Calendars

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  • Profile picture of the author Aaron Doud
    Ok based on that here are my ideas.

    1. Google Places and Normal Web SEO. He needs to be #1 period for the keywords like fresh produce city.

    2. Billboards, Radio, and TV. He needs people to know he is there so you need a branding campaign.

    3. Direct mail: Use the giant post card and the every mailbox service from post office. See thread make $5000 and be a hero.

    4. Coupon exchange: Find places like gyms and health stores with similar customers and exchange.

    5. Self serving political PR campaign: Basicly have him push the school to use local and fresh produce. Make is a campign and get others behind it. But make sure he stays the voice of the groups. That way on the news it will show him as John Smith: Owner of Fresh Foods. Basically relatively free PR. Of course we all know he truly supports the issue
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  • Profile picture of the author jamerkley
    As far as i'm concerned you need to be creating and posting lots of videos using two or three of your main kw's on You Tube with a link in the description box back to the site. Check for the kw's right now on Google and if there are few or no videos showing in the top 5 or 10 positions then you've got a wide open crack to squeeze onto page one.
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    • Profile picture of the author Dr Mukherjee
      I was trying to find out some threads on goggle places here and found this thread. Its a nice discussion with many useful ideas. These methods could be very important and applicable for any small business promotion.
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  • Profile picture of the author successproducts
    Well I would print ad on small stick it post notes in yellow color and stick on as many cars, houses in the neighborhood. If he is organic -- yeah the best. I am a vegan and I look forever for one that is closer to me other than Whole Food market and I've found none so far.
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  • Profile picture of the author Lesley Huntley
    Aaron thank you so much for your input. I absolutely agree he needs to be number one. I was thinking page one would be good enough, but I know in my heart it is not. I'm aiming for number one. I started today on optimising his Google Places. Wish me luck!

    I also love the coupon exchange. There are quite a few food outlets (bakery, butcher etc) on the same street as him. I thought I would get him to run a competition where he gives away $50 worth of produce. Then I would print the flyers and ask the other businesses to hand them out for him and we would reciprocate. Then I thought perhaps they will want me to do the same setup for them and this would be a great foot in the door!

    This just gets better and better!

    So this week I thought I will run a competition and do a Facebook advertising campaign, also do the swap for the flyers. I will send them to a page on his website that has a like reveal for the entry form. That way I get them on the list and gets likes for his page.

    Keep the ideas coming, I will keep you posted!
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  • Profile picture of the author arthisoftseo
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    • Profile picture of the author Brynnae
      Whether it is small business or big business you can initiate with Search Engine Optimization. You can go for organic method of SEO that helps in getting permanent link.

      When you are going for SEO, try to avoid paid submission or links as it reduces importance of your webpage.
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  • Profile picture of the author samlouiseroberts
    Use the social media. Images and videos and podcasts seem to dominate the web nowadays. Pinterest is becoming popular. Pinning pictures of recipes linking back to the page containing the details about the dish would be perfect.

    Hope this helps!

    Samantha Roberts
    Empower Network
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  • Profile picture of the author popmarco
    On top of everything, try caricatures in some of your ads... Something that'll catch the attention of your prospects.

    Whether you're in the newspaper, FB, etc. caricatures can relay some great messages. For $20 or so, you can get a decent one I guess. : )

    Toon Blogger gives No BS blogging tips highly peppered with toons (great for beginners!).
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  • Profile picture of the author HudsonJereth
    Advertising is not always the best way to market on social networks. People always look for fresh and interesting content on Net especially on Social Media. Even though you are a small business, you can sell your products by blogging, tweeting, sharing, and updating about things relevant to your industry, you can build credibility in your field.
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  • Profile picture of the author Lesley Huntley
    Hey a caricature is brilliant! He would make a perfect caricature actually, I might put that to him. It will defintely be a laugh =)

    Awesome idea!
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  • Profile picture of the author PPC-Coach
    Nothing beats a ppc campaign on adwords for this.

    It will tell them and you immediately if their business is even worth pursuing online advertising.

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  • Profile picture of the author mbitsol
    Send the press release to your local media outlets, or any niche media outlets that may be interested in what you do.
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  • Profile picture of the author ToolRepairMan
    Here is a couple of more things:

    I don't know if your local paper allows it, but do a press release. Let the people know more about the farm and the type of vegetables that he/she grows. They also might grow something exotic or something that is not usually grown in that area. Information like that can spark interest.

    I know in the US, anything organic is of great interest. I just helped a farmer friend mine by giving him a few ideas to work with as far as Organic and CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).

    He tried restaurants and was not too successful with the exception of a few. A lot of the places that he tried to sell too wanted to beat him up on price and they all had to be of uniform size, shape, color etc.

    He has has some luck with local natural food stores where they have rabid customers looking for organic.

    Just some more things to think about


    Nothing to put here .....yet! Watch this space.

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  • Profile picture of the author popmarco
    You're welcome Leslie! I'm glad it helped.

    Toon Blogger gives No BS blogging tips highly peppered with toons (great for beginners!).
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    • Profile picture of the author jacquic
      I don't know if you have local magazines/papers, but you could have him do a weekly or monthly column talking about seasonal foods; include a recipe each time, and maybe a story around why he used that recipe. (You could always ghost write these for him.) These local papers often have an online version; if not, a printed URL and QR code can help. Have a call to action each time. Maybe show him doing the recipe and post on his YouTube channel and/or website/blog.

      This works in several areas in the UK: local farms deliver weekly/fortnightly boxes of seasonal produce to homes, using set dates and set prices - some pay electronically, set up on a recurring monthly basis. These can be ordered through their online stores, and leafletting, ads (online and offline), newsletters, etc, drive traffic to the site.
      See our great value publications - business, SEO, etc. Being added to weekly.
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  • Profile picture of the author sdentrepreneur
    Here are my top few, most have been mentioned already.

    1. Google Places
    2. Google Adwords
    3. Video Marketing
    4. Twitter
    5. Facebook Page - Get 5,000 Likes
    6. Set up 50+ Directories
    7. Yelp and some other type of Reputation Management
    8. Foursquare Marketing
    9. Blog Page - Video Blogging
    10. Press Release Marketing

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  • Profile picture of the author Mwind076
    If he's produce, there are TONS of vegetarians and vegans (and just normal eaters) that love information on health in addition to the recipes you are doing. Those types of things go viral. You can check out , this is MY local produce place, they are small, but take pics daily of new things that come in, and also I follow a few "health/vegan" pages that may lend some ideas. It makes sense to cater to the veggie crowd in addition to the normal shoppers.

    Check these out for ideas (and I'd love the link to your client). You could just use these pages to repost or share on your clients page.

    As always, you are always welcome to market your business and any clients on our FB page in the "notes" section.

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  • Profile picture of the author James Foster
    This guy is selling fresh fruit... does he really need an online presence?

    You're over complicating this.

    He doesn't need traffic to a website... He needs 1 or 2 restaurants who buy all his produce for the year!

    Go find those restaurants for him and take 20% of the guy's revenue forever for setting up the deal.
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    • Profile picture of the author Lee M
      Originally Posted by James Foster View Post

      This guy is selling fresh fruit... does he really need an online presence?

      You're over complicating this.

      He doesn't need traffic to a website... He needs 1 or 2 restaurants who buy all his produce for the year!

      Go find those restaurants for him and take 20% of the guy's revenue forever for setting up the deal.
      Very well said! Believe it not there are times today when old fashioned shoe leather will do the trick.

      I was just talking with a restaurant client of mine and in pops a guy selling his homemade pasta (claiming it's the best of course). Wants local restaurants to buy from him etc. Gets the restaurant owner to accept several bags (samples) to try out. Happened to be talking with my client several days ago and he offered this, "Guy was telling the truth. Excellent stuff. Just gave him a nice order. I liked his approach, no risk, if I didn't like the pasta he would have never heard from me again."
      Working from Home since 1991
      (Well before anyone knew it could be done!)

      “Observe your competitors, for they first find your faults.”
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