If you have a business that does not translate well to a "shopping cart" system on an e-commerce site, you may wonder how you can get word out about your services without having a website. While you should definitely consider having a website, there are ways to market your services on the Internet even before you set up a website. The ultimate goal is to build a community of people who know you, know what services you provide, and who like you well enough to recommend you to others. There are many ways you can go about accomplishing this.
Email marketing is the 21st century version of direct mail marketing, but it's much easier. Writing a weekly e-mail about your services and sending it to clients and contacts is a very inexpensive way to advertise your services. Make it easy for new contacts to sign up, and encourage contacts to forward your weekly email to people they think would be interested in what you have to offer. Some of these people may themselves sign up to receive your weekly email.
One reason blogging is so popular for business and commercial enterprises is that blogging works. Your blog is the perfect way to stay in touch with your clients and contacts. Blog posts do not have to be long – in fact, it's best to keep them short and sweet – and they need to be friendly and inviting. Encourage people to comment on blog posts. Somewhere on your blog, have a way for visitors to sign up for your weekly e-mail. Break up longer blog posts with relevant pictures and graphics to keep readers from becoming bored.
There are several free blog hosts that offer convenient and easy setup with numerous available blog templates, so you can make the look of your blog reflect your business. Setting up a blog takes only a few minutes, and it is a great investment for your business.
Even if you do not have a website, you can write articles and get them in front of people's eyes. One way to do this is to write an article as a Google Knol. Google encourages links between Knols, which means your article may pick up some very helpful back links, helping it rise in popularity. You can have links to these articles from your blog and from your weekly email. Google Pages is a way to create a page for free with your content on it. Again, if you do this, put links to it in your blog and your emails.
E-zines are similar to blogs and weekly emails, but they are archived rather than updated like a blog or email. If you include genuinely helpful information, attractively packaged in, say, a portable document file, you have the potential to serve as a reference for clients and prospects, plus you regularly remind those people who you are and what you do.
There are ways to advertise your services online without having a website. Any number of providers allow you to specify a monthly advertising budget, create ads, and have them run on sites that are likely to generate some interest in your business. Text ads cost the least, ads with pictures cost a little more, and ads with videos cost the most. Some plans let you set up your ads, and then only charge you when someone clicks on one of them. Of course, you should include your website (if you have one) on your ad, or your business email address.
Viral marketing can not be bought the way ads can. This is where your blog comes in. You want your product or service to generate buzz, not hype, and you do that by getting individuals interested enough in your services to mention it to their friends, who mention it to their friends, etc.
Make the local press into your friend. Local newspapers and television stations like having a ready stable of experts that they can turn to when they need quotes or commentary on a news item. Send by snail mail a package of information about you and what you are an expert in. Explain that you would be happy to be a resource if a news story coincides with your expertise. Reporters like knowing there are people who are willing to talk. Cold calling local experts is not always a pleasant task for reporters. Make their jobs easier and get your name, face, and business in front of lots of people at the same time.
While you should at some point invest in a good website for your business, there are many things you can do that do not require setting up a business website. If you're selling services rather than products, then tools like regular emails, e-zines, blogs, and "word of click" viral marketing can work well in attracting new clients and contacts.