Who is your target? Your target audience is one of the first things you need to know before marketing a product, beginning a website, offering your services and writing web content. You will need to understand the type of people who will be interested in your product or services and be able to reach them in a way that holds their attention. A website selling accessories to teenage girls may have a “punk” vibe, use colors like black and pink, and use teenage lingo- let’s see, how do the teens speak these days? I’m not even going to try that one! On the other hand, a website providing information on an upscale lawyer will be very clean, and very informative, have very few distracting colors and be written using pristine content. What is PPC? PPC (pay-per click) advertising is basically bidding on keywords and paying for them each time someone clicks on your ad. This service is available through search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo. The reason this is so effective is because people are actually searching for words relevant to your specific website, so most of the traffic you get will be from people who are interested in your goods and services (your target audience!), rather than random traffic. There are many books written specifically about PPC marketing, so I won’t go into it, but let me just tell you that this way of marketing is just as expensive as it is effective. So make sure you educate yourself as much as possible before you start investing money in search engines. I made the mistake of just reading a few short articles and watching a short video on PPC before I started bidding on words, and it was a complete waste of my money. What are your other marketing options? Brochures, business cards, postcards, radio, TV and billboards are all forms of advertising that have also been proven to work! The first three I mentioned are much less expensive and arguably just as effective as the latter three. Giving brochures, business cards and postcards to people can give you an upper hand on competition just because people like to associate a business with a friendly face. Of course it is more work to pass them out to individuals and speak to them one on one, but if doing this results in a sale, then it was all worth it, wasn’t it? Another effective way to market a business and reach more customers (target audience!) is to attend fairs and festivals. If you are selling home improvement products, get a booth at a home and garden fair. If you sell crafts, get a booth at a crafts fair. Paintings? Art festival. You get the idea. Does networking benefit you? Social media has taken off. There is a TON to learn about using sites like Myspace, Twitter or Facebook to target your audience and spread the word about your business. This is another form of advertising I would definitely research before attempting, but it works! Just as a small example, if you have an account on Facebook, you can send “invites” to people on your “friend’s list” to become “fans” of your business page. If these people become fans, it is announced on their “live feed”, which in turn encourages other people to look at the business page and also become fans. You, as the business owner, can even send announcements to all your fans and even keep them interested by offering discounts or giveaways. Who doesn’t like free stuff?! What is the cost to you? That’s the big question, right? TV commercials and billboards can cost thousands, so I wouldn’t start there unless you have some serious funding! When it comes to PPC, it can also be pretty costly. I was told once that “search engines punish ignorance”, and in my experience, it seems true. If you don’t know what you are doing, you will pay dearly. PPC words can cost $0.10 to way over $5.00. That means, you will pay each time a person clicks on your website, after searching a particular word. If you bid on a word for $5 and have a $10 a day budget, that means only 2 people can see your site per day. That won’t get you very far. So research, research, research! (And be ready to pay, pay pay!) As far as using paper advertising, such as business cards, the cost is minimal. You can find really good deals on professional cards by visiting one of my favorite sites www.vistaprint.com. Facebook, Myspace, Twitter and other social media sites are FREE! I would definitely take advantage of those! Start there, target your audience, and start bringing in money for your business!