Attention, Please

Yell out "Look at me!" for free by using other Web sites to your advantage.
Magazine Contributor
3 min read

This story appears in the March 2003 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

It's easy to educate prospects about your product or service once they're on your Web site, but how do you get them there?

One way is by getting your company's name and URL out on the Web. You can do that by writing content for online newsletters, trading links and posting messages on chat sites. Communicating through other Web sites attracts quality visitors to your site-and it can be done for free.

Content may still be king, but it's an expensive kingdom to maintain. Many organizations can't afford webmasters whose only job is to develop new site content. But because you're an expert in your field, many companies will be more than thrilled if you give them content in exchange for a link to your site.

Your content can be posted on Web sites or sent out in their e-mail. The "publisher" benefits by offering relevant information to their site visitors. When you teach these visitors something new, you also create a "soft sell" marketing opportunity. Don't pitch your business. Rather, share some educational information to establish trust and brand awareness.

Just what is "educational information?" It's content that addresses your prospects' problems. For example, if your company sells exercise equipment, you can provide tips, case studies or statistics about fitness. Your readers will want to know how you, the fitness expert, can help them achieve their goals. With a simple click on your URL, prospects can travel to your site and discover your company's line of fitness products.

Of course, you aren't limited to providing articles to Web sites. Try asking for a link to your site or a link trade. Just don't put someone else's link on your home page-that encourages people to leave your site as soon as they arrive! Links from sites related to yours provide another benefit: They boost your site's position in search engines that rank sites according to "link popularity."

If you would like feedback in addition to getting free exposure, try hanging out in chat rooms. As a fitness expert, for example, you can ask people what prevents them from exercising consistently. Let people know you are doing market research. Chat room participants may happily share their thoughts with you online.

Find your target audience by starting with the industry Web sites you frequent. Also, run a keyword query in search engines. Tell Web site managers what your company does and how your information can help their visitors. You may be offered a link or a writing opportunity. In addition,try posting chat room messages that reveal valuable information. You'll be greatly rewarded with free PR opportunities that can lead to immediate and long-term sales.

Speaker and freelance writer Catherine Seda owns an Internet marketing agency and is author of Search Engine Advertising.

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