With the cacophony of noise online, how do you get the word out about your business and website? The answer is everything you can! We all know relying on organic (free) search engine rankings alone is a pipe dream.
Yes, email lists (how do you build that list without site traffice in the first place) and social media are the first two things that come to mind for most site owners but you just stop there. Site owners have to literally use everything and anything at their disposal to to build awareness.
One commonly overlooked and underestimated venue are forums. Yes, forums are still a powerful way to showcase your expertise and build awareness for what you have to offer. Forums are also a great way to add to building your brand and being perceived as someone folks will want to work with — and trust. But it takes time and only if done properly!
Be Helpful and Share
Let’s get this out there right away! By using forums I don’t mean you post all about your business, how great you and your products or services are. Nor do you wait stalking in the background for a segue to promote what you have to offer. As a matter of fact you only are going to mention your business if you are asked specifically by another forum member.
I hear you — “How is that marketing my business if I don’t even mention my business?” Here’s how:
- Find forums where you can share either your business or personal experiences. You want to participate in a way that helps others via sharing your experiences. By doing so you put your expertise on display while soft-selling your business.
- Complete your forum profile with a photo of yourself noting what you do and why you do it to entice folks to visit your website.
- Create a two line signature file that includes your name and your slogan that is a link to your website. That’s it! No hyperbole, no long winded about you. No list of links to all your social sites.
Tips on How to Market on Forums
- Make note of the questions that get asked repetitively and then write an article solving that issue and add it to your blog. You can then link to that helpful article on your site from the forum when the question arises again.
- Use a photo of yourself not an avatar. You are the face of your business, don’t hide that.
- Select a forum username that reflects what you do. Think intuitive and professional!
- When responding on forums, always start by using the username of the person you are helping preceded by the @ sign (@username). Most forums will then send that user a notice that there has been a reply to their inquiry.
- Only mention your services or products in your response if they are a direct match to what the forum member is looking for. Then, make a brief mention and link to your site for more details.
- Refrain from posting generic responses that are thinly veiled excuses to mention your business or to get your signature file posted. You are there to help, not promote!
- Link to other sites and resources in your responses as well so it’s clear you are not only there to sell your wares.
- You don’t have to stick with business only forums. Find forums that discuss your hobbies and non-business interests. Then, simply make a short and sweet (one sentence) mention about your business in your forum profile. People like doing business with people they know, have grown to trust and have similar interests.
- Start your own forum! There’s BBPress and several other WordPress plugins. You also have a choice of other stand-alone CMS options such as phpBB, SimpleMachines and vbulletin .
- Last but not least, show your personality! With all the competition online, there is only one you — use that to your advantage!
While forums can help to build awareness for your website, your brand and reputation, they can also help to generate leads. As with anything online, this takes your commitment to build your profile and to show other forum members what you are made of. Don’t squander that opportunity by being too self-serving, aggressive or sales-pitchy! For more tips visit: Marketing on Message Boards and Forums.
At your service,