Small businesses usually fall into two categories: need-based or want-based.
For example, if you own a plumbing or self storage company, your service is a need-based business. People call your company only after they sense a need for it, not just because they want it. Only when a pipe breaks in the basement, do you call a plumbing company. And only when you put your house on the market, do you call a storage company.
On the other hand, if you own a restaurant or bookstore, your service is a want-based business. People come to your store after they want a product or service. The challenge is being the first company your potential customer remembers, as they want to go out to eat or buy a book.
For either type of business, you must repeatedly put your company brand and message in front of your target audience so they already know you when it is time for them to need or want you. You can do this by creating an online marketing strategy and then work on a couple projects every day/week.
Consider this scenario: If someone types “Atlanta hair salon” into Google and your Yelp.com listing appears, someone might click to your Yelp page because your company name sounds familiar. The Yelp page should contain many positive customer reviews and will link to your website or landing page, giving even more information, including a Twitter link. Perhaps this person is in the researching phase and decides to follow you on Twitter for special discounts and to stay in touch as they move closer to making a final decision.
Each link in this process needs to have a positive experience for the person to continue - all the while the customer needs to be gaining confidence in your company and service.
A professional website is only the first part to an effective online presence. It is the bare minimum cost of entry and will not, on its own, bring customers through the door. You need all the components of an online marketing program working together.
Kari Kenner, co-founder of Grasshopper Marketing