If you’re reading this, then you’ve probably thought up The Next Big Thing or have a plan to provide a product or service that’s way better than your competition.

All that’s left is to build up awareness and recognition of your brand and generate some interest before the Grand Opening.

Now, you may have already planned a traditional advertising campaign – some adverts, grass-roots support, etc. – but you could get better results for less time, effort and money online. Follow our 7 tips to promoting your business online by reading the guide below:

1. Use the three big local listing services
The Yellow Pages have been overtaken by search engines in the information age, so why not get your business listed on sites that process billions of visitors a day for free? Yes, we’re talking about the big three search engines – Google, Yahoo and Bing – which all have free business listing services.

All you have to do is fill out an online form and pass a verification test, which is often nothing more than a phone-call. After that, your business is online! Anyone searching for your business will see your details (including contact details, location, a brief description, etc.) right away, resulting in more leads and contacts from searches.

We recommend putting your business’ basic details on Google Places, Yahoo! Local and Bing, as they all have similar functions – putting your business details front and centre in relevant searches.

2. Embrace social media
Social media is far more than just a tool to get exposure, and used wisely, social media can be a cheap and easy way to connect with customers and promote deals. You can post adverts on Facebook, use Instagram to host a competition, and respond directly to your Customers on Twitter, all for free.

Furthermore, you can use social media to network and interact with other professionals – both at the personal and company level –to establish B2B relationships and general respect in the industry. However, Social Media Marketing (as this is formally known) takes time and expertise, which may be better provided by another company while you focus on the day-to-day running of your business.

3. Start a blog
A blog can help to promote your business through followers of the blog, as well as communicating with customers (both prospective and previous) directly. The topic of the blog is entirely up to you, and a wide range of topics may help to draw in a wider audience, though you should try to relate each blog back to your business to drive brand engagement.

However, one of the key aspects of a successful blog is regular updates – the more content the better, but regularity is key –  and a constant stream of content will keep more people coming back to your blog and by extension your business.

4. Use Multimedia Advertising
One of the best ways to draw the attention of consumers is through interesting content. The more they enjoy your content, the more likely they are to keep coming back to your brand, so why not keep things fresh with different types of content like images and videos?

With relevant and interesting content, you can raise brand awareness and keep loyal customers’ interest for even longer. YouTube is accessible and easily monetised for video content, and Flickr allows you to compile all photos related to your business in one place whilst linking back to your website.

5. Optimise Your Company Website
In an age of almost constant searching, you need to make sure that your business is visible online, and ideally more so than your competition. To achieve this, you need to optimise your website for popular search engines, which is often referred to as Search Engine Optimisation (SEO for short).

The process usually centres around the text content of your site, including headings, sentence length and the amount of ‘keywords’ overall. If you’re unsure of what SEO is or how best to use it, we recommend online research or speaking to a Cleartwo SEO expert.

6. Send Out Press releases
While the online presence of your business is increasingly central to your success, don’t overlook more traditional ways to raise brand awareness, like being featured in your local newspaper. Every time that your business does something newsworthy – such as launching a new product line or hosting a charity event – don’t hesitate to send out a press release.

Something as simple as a summary of the event and a few statements from senior staff is enough detail for most news organisations to pick up the story, depending on interest. If your release is published, then you’ve gained a powerful and fee source of publicity for very little outlay. 

Furthermore, a wide variety of websites, such as PRLog, specialise in press release hosting and co-ordination, so it’s easier than ever to get your news picked up by another publication. If you’re still unsure of how best to proceed, you can contact Cleartwo for help and guidance.

7. Contribute to Relevant Discussions Online
Every industry has enthusiasts, and every community of enthusiasts has a message board, forum or discussion space in some form. By contributing to discussions and providing helpful tips, you can build a rapport with the community and passively promote your business through natural customer interactions.

However, it’s important to treat these spaces as an opportunity for customer relations, NOT free advertising.

If you don’t contribute to discussions or help anyone, then you’ll be treated as an unwelcome guest yelling about their own interests, which you are.

Omer Riaz is a Consultant at www.cleartwo.co.uk