amazonSome small businesses can survive without an Internet presence and this is may be the case, if you are a one person operation, have a few long term clients and are happy with how your business currently operates. However for others who need to keep looking for clients, then it is vital that the widest possible audience is reached.

Research indicates that small businesses are not fully maximizing the Internet and in particular, ecommerce (doing business online) to promote their business.

Many businesses are familiar with Amazon to buy and sell goods but forget it can also be used to promote the service or services of their business.

How? By offering something of real value to their targeted market.

The best way I have seen this done is by preparing a tasteful informative report or book that covers something of interest to potential clients and to charge a low cost for this information, or even better offer it for free.

Some examples of how Amazon can be used to promote a small business are as follows:

1.       A life coach who wants to expand their business and get international clients to coach online, over the phone, on Skype etc., can prepare a short book on anything that will educate and inform prospects. This can range from case studies showing what the problem was, what worked and what didn’t, to providing guidance on how to handle different situations, tips on restoring work-life balance etc. At the end of the book, they can offer a complementary consultation etc.

2.       A craft worker selling offline and online may want to get more clients and generate more interest in their work by writing a book about their craft and include links to their products, online workshops etc.

3.       An artist in addition to selling on and offline, can write a book about how to  paint portraits, seascapes etc., and give examples of their work with photos and where to buy them. Offer courses, coaching etc.

4.       A writer of a particular genre can write about how to write in a particular field and take the reader step by step through the different stages from concept, to research and planning, to the different drafting, editing and rewriting, submission of work etc. They can also offer coaching packages and different levels of support.

As seen above, there are many small business types that could benefit from having an online presence at Amazon either to sell goods or services. Writing about what the business knows and does best is one way to establish credibility, attract targeted customers, generate more interest in the business and make more sales.

To make the best use of Amazon, as a platform for promoting a business, it is vital that contact details about the business, its website, social media sites and other relevant links are given in the book or report. For instantly downloadable material such as a Kindle book, any links must be live i.e. “clickable” taking the reader to the different places where your business is promoted and ideally to a place where they will take action and sign up of something so there is follow-up contact details, or make a purchase.

Of course offering a free gift in exchange for contact details where a prospect can be followed up with, makes good business sense as does offering a discounted cost for any purchases of goods or services.

Not only does the business get to “test the waters”, see what works and what doesn’t, but having a book which not only promotes the business but also is of real value to others makes an excellent marketing tool.

Depending on the size of the book, businesses can also prepare print copies (also through Amazon) and use them as promotional material, giveaways, gifts etc. It is a great way to showcase a business once it is balanced in content, offers real value and is not overly self-promotional.

There is real credibility associated with being able to physically hand a client or prospect something they have a real use for and that will educate and inform them about something relevant. Of course the more people that read this material, the better.

Although, the above makes for good marketing strategy, if it is not done right, the following can occur:

·         Negative reviews online which can damage your reputation

·         Business message won’t be translated into sales or leads

·         No increase in “awareness” of business

Do it right and the following can occur

·         Positive reviews about the business or services

·         Repeat business

·         Increased number of clients

·         Better sales

·         Greater “awareness” of the business

·         Stronger online presence

·         Greater “respect and credibility” associated with the business. Perception of “expert.”

To summarize, Amazon makes it easier to promote a business as it:

·         Offers marketing tools

·         Is fast and responsive

·         Easy to navigate

·         Is a platform where buyers “hang out”

·         Is a global marketplace to offer goods or services

·         Is targeted so your product or service is easier to find, and contains a

·         Receptive audience of targeted prospects

Think what problems clients or prospective clients encounter? What do they most need in terms of support/services? What are their weaknesses and where do the strengths of the business lie? Try to do something that will make the business stand out and differentiate itself from others. With a little thought and planning this can be done. Amazon offer online support and tools to help you get online so there really is no reason not to at least “test the waters.” Happy brainstorming!

by Orla Kelly