By Diana Gomez

Once upon a time, businesses needed help getting their brand and their message out into the world. So they hired marketing firms – special companies that focus on those tasks. Today, a business can market itself without outside help. Not that marketing firms are no longer useful, but the abundance of marketing opportunities out there these days makes it much easier to do it yourself.

Still, if you aren’t experienced with marketing your own business, the vast world of the Web can seem scary. That’s why it’s still important to devise a marketing plan in the way any third-party firm would for your business. The three-tiered approach, with Web, personal contact and events, is a surefire way to cover your marketing bases.

On the Web

Unless you’ve been living under a well-insulated rock the past several years, you’ve probably explored social media and perhaps shared some photos and personal tidbits with friends. Businesses can benefit from using social media in marketing as well.

For an almost foolproof Internet marketing plan, try creating the following accounts for your business. There are many more options, but these are a great place to start:

  • Facebook for sharing company news and photos.
  • Twitter for sharing relevant news and links.
  • Blog or website with new content on a regular basis.
  • YouTube channel for uploading videos about your business and the products and services you offer.

To make the vast Internet seem a little smaller and more manageable, you need to keep track of your audience. Here are a few ways to do so, once you have content firmly in place:

  • Let your email contact list and your personal social media contacts know about your business’ new marketing efforts.
  • Encourage new fans and followers of your accounts to share links. Make sure you regularly check for new followers.
  • Develop a list of websites that pertain to your business and products, and use them as your regular sources for content sharing.

In Person

Marketing face-to-face is more important than ever, even in today’s Internet-saturated culture. A personal connection with your customers and potential clients will help your business grow and help your clients feel connected to you. Try these tips for marketing in person:

  • When clients visit your business, call them by name when possible. Make an effort to learn something personal about each of them – such as a favorite sports team – in addition to knowing their preferred product or service offered by your company.
  • Do nice things for your clients. Holiday gifts and occasional lunches never go out of style.
  • Reach out to your community. This could mean anything from volunteering a bit of your time to donating to charity – anything that gets you out of the office and into the public helps!

During Special Events

Besides Internet marketing and personal marketing, attending special events – both as a visitor and as a vendor – can benefit your business.

When you’re a vendor at a networking event or trade show, remember to do the following to make the most of your presence:

  • Bring literature about your business that potential clients can take with them.
  • Shake hands warmly and remember to ask questions – not only about your own business but about what the other person does for a living. They might have helpful ideas.
  • A take-home gift (commonly known as “swag” at trade shows) can keep your brand on a potential client’s mind after a special event.

Alternately, when you’re visiting other vendors or doing research at a special event rather than participating, it’s important to make a good impression on other businesses.

  • Have business cards handy and let folks know if you’re interested in sharing ideas.
  • Tell other businesses how to find your website and social media links, and ask for theirs in return.
  • Find out about other events that you can attend, either as a vendor or as a visitor.

Remember, learning to market your own business is easier than ever before thanks to the great tools on the Web; but don’t discount the old fashioned tactics, either! Whether you are marketing your company yourself or thinking of hiring people to help, a strategy that involves a combination of Internet and personal contact is essential.