Bootstrap your marketing: Be an online expert

It doesn’t take a ton of money to market your small business. All it takes is determination, combined with a little strategy.

In this, the first of a multipart series, I’ll walk you through basic, low-cost marketing techniques that any small business can use to boost their marketing to the next level. On the agenda today: Become an online expert.

By showcasing your expertise, you’ll gain customers’ and prospects’ trust. They’ll see you as a credible authority on topics related to your products and services. And with repeated exposure to your brand, they’ll become loyal customers.

The first step to becoming an expert is to research blogs, forums, email discussion lists, social media sites and other user-generated content relevant to your company. Start getting involved in these conversations. Offer insightful tips and advice that  solves problems and answers questions.

You can carry these conversations into your email campaigns, too. Simply create e-newsletters with content that answers burning questions. For instance, if you own a bakery, you could write about the differences between baking soda and baking powder.

Not only does this approach provide a valuable service to users, but it also casts you as the resident expert on the topic. With time and persistence, you’ll generate plenty of new and repeat business.