As an entrepreneur you need to be nimble and quick. Whether you're an internet startup or a brick-and-mortar business, there are new techniques and tools you can use to separate your business from the rest of the pack. By using these tools, you can create more marketing buzz and increase sales for a low cost.
Blogging has been around for awhile, but it's becoming more and more mainstream. Over the past few months, the LA Times, SanFrancisco Chronicle and other newspapers have announced layoffs. Almost all major newspapers are experiencing decreases in circulation. On the other hand, blogs are being created at an astonishing rate. According to Technorati, an internet search engine that tracks the number of blogs, there are about 120,000 new blogs being created worldwide each day.
Many have very small audiences, but many bloggers are developing their own brands and large loyal audiences. Other entrepreneurs are putting together collections of popular bloggers and marketing them as separate networks and brands.
You can differentiate yourself from competitors through a blog by providing your own personality and communications online. It's your personal, interactive journal of business activity, which can be a great advertising tool for you to describe why your products and services are different. What other marketing medium allows you to interact and gain insights from your prospects and customers in a non-threatening forum?
If you decide a blog is right for you, the easiest technique for the average business person is to use a hosted blogging service. You can set up your own blog in a few minutes. Here are some of the more popular services:
If you want to publish your content using a more traditional approach, there are plenty of new tools available. Lulu is an independent publishing marketplace for digital do-it-yourselfers. If you want to publish a physical book, DVD, CD or calendar, you can outsource the project to the company. Upload your Word or PDF document, and you can publish one or thousands of copies of your book. Lulu is a "publish on demand" service that prints each copy when it's ordered.
You can also either distribute the book yourself or market it online via Lulu's marketplace.
Twitter is an interesting study on people interaction, described as a "what you are doing" service. It allows people to update their contacts on what they're doing from their phone, IM or web browser. For some businesses, this is a great way to create buzz for what you're doing around a type of service or event. While this may not be an effective tool for every business, it's something to inspire new communication ideas and keep others informed about what you're doing.
Are you using events to market your product or service? Do you need to market your events? There are plenty of new Web 2.0 social networking sites where communities of people can connect, and many allow you to promote your events.
Aside from MySpace and Facebook, Upcoming, a service provided by Yahoo!, is another web-based event promotion tool. Marketing events through these web channels are a low-cost way to promote your events to an ever-growing online audience.
The web continues to aggressively evolve. As an entrepreneur you need to evolve with it. A blog can be an effective marketing tool for your business if done right. Using the internet to promote events can help you increase demand for your product or service. As the web continues to mature, you need to make sure your business is being represented online, otherwise you'll be missing out on new sales opportunities.
Frank Bell is Entrepreneur.com's "Web 2.0" columnist and a principal atIT Strategists, a leading business and technology consulting firm in Southern California. He has consulted with many internet startups, as well as companies such as Yahoo!, Vivendi Universal, Disney, Toyota, Nissan, Deluxe Digital Studios, AEG, Sony and Ticketmaster.