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Promote an Offline Business Online Using a Blog and Twitter — for Almost Free

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The plan: To get a new blog and Twitter account with followers set up as quickly as possible.  Start date: April 6th, 2009.

What I did: The first task was to get the business a name — mainly a domain name – which we would also use to create a blog.  I thought a generic keyword domain name was best, so I looked for a .com name like “cape cod cleaning.” I found a locational, easy-to-remember domain — Cape Cod Cleaner — and that became the "name" for the blog, Twitter account, and business.

I realize a domain name isn’t free, but for under $10/year, you can’t complain. For alot of people, looking through the couch cushions, your car, the bottom of the washer, and skipping a latte or Dunkin Donuts coffee should cover the cost.

Next, the business owner needed a blog, and although I am familiar with Typepad, we were on a free budget. I decided to go with WordPress and a free theme.

I started with 1-2 posts and the About Me page. I found a free beach-ey header to use as a custom header with the Misty-look WP theme. For the post images I used commercial images with attribution from Flickr, or the client's own pictures.

Then I moved to Twitter and opened a new account for Cape Cod Cleaner under the account name @CapeCodCleaner, and added a few initial tweets to get things started.

This whole process took about 3 hours for setting up accounts, grabbing images, writing, loading a theme, and finding a free custom header. Not Bad!

The plan step two focused on adding more followers. That required some keyword searching first. Twitter’s search feature is limited, especially for targeting followers, so I went to Twellow and looked for twitterers within 25 miles of her hometown – or specific to Cape Cod itself.

I found about 20-30 initial candidates and followed them. Over the next week or two, I found a lot more, totaling just over 100 Cape Cod related followers by mid-April. What I wanted was either people who lived on Cape Cod year-round or people who potentially went to the Cape in the summer season.

Next, I added a video slide show, showing the client at work. I also added a testimonial page, as well as her info/rates page. I activated a WP Twitter plug-in to display her tweets on the blog in the sidebar. Then set up a blog feed to display new posts in Twitter. Voila! CapeCodCleaner.com

The Results: Within 10 days my client received contact from someone who saw her blog and saw that she was on Twitter. His comment was, “I don’t need to see anything else. I looked at your blog and because you are already on Twitter I can see that I am ready to use you.” He’s an online professional on Cape Cod who uses Twitter. The perfect customer.

Within four to six weeks, she got 10 leads and requests for more information and two long-term, year-round jobs — the most desirable clients to get — with no traditional SEO and definitely no PPC budget.

Compare this to a local newspaper ad she ran during the same time period for $150 for four weeks that resulted in one short-term client.

Although these numbers may seem small (and they would be for a larger business), the two jobs account for a significant portion of her clientele.

It proves the incredible power to leverage social networks like Twitter to connect with people in your location or industry — even if you've never had an online presence before, ever.

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About Roxanne McHenry

  • http://margekatherine.blogspot.com/ Marge Mercurio

    Hi Roxanne,
    Thanks for this information! I liked the simple way you spelled it all out for the reader. I look forward to reading more of your articles. ~~~ Marge

  • http://www.finalwebsites.com Olaf Lederer

    Nice article, but I think it will be much harder to find your customers on twitter in some branches. Think about all the spam follower

  • http://www.roxannemchenry.com Roxanne McHenry

    @Marge – Glad to hear the article and information flowed well :) It’s a simple idea that worked well!

    @Olaf – This works well for a local business targeting Twitterers who live in the local area. We didn’t follow anyone in the same business or industry, just local people.

    Once they saw the blog, they could get in touch for more information about cleaning services. Thanks for your comment! Roxanne