Recently, TechRepublic contributor Daniel Prins authored two articles explaining how to grow your consulting firm’s online presence into your own “Web universe.” Yet simply creating a Web universe won’t guarantee that potential clients can find it. In this article, we’ve gathered some useful Web resources and we offer some simple suggestions to help you successfully launch your online marketing campaign.

The first step to creating a powerful Web presence is to create a cohesive series of interrelated sites. Once those sites are up and running, you can then set promotional tactics in motion to ensure you’ll get the most information from each visitor to your sites. With incentives like free e-books and newsletters, you’ll be sure to maximize the capture of contact information from many potential clients.

So what’s next? A launch. It won’t do any good to have a fantastic Web presence if no one knows it exists. While Prins wisely suggests that you ensure that the major search engines can find all of your satellite sites, you’ll still need to market your site to give your traffic a “jump start.” You’ll need to orchestrate a grand opening and get the word out through some strategic—and cost-effective—marketing.

Launch an online PR campaign
Free public relations are a myth. Most news releases sent to the press never get published anywhere, and many get thrown away unopened. The challenge is to find inexpensive ways to market your Web sites, especially online.

A whole host of free newsletters and e-zines offer ideas for publicizing your Web site. For instance, Phil Wiley’s All the Secrets newsletter suggests that you spend an hour a day posting answers to questions in community-based forums to increase your traffic. “I’ve noticed that my traffic triples when I spend an hour a day answering forum questions or even posing questions I need [answers to],” Wiley states on his site.

The following sites offer free or very inexpensive marketing ideas for small to midsize organizations:

If you’ve decided to market your firm via your own newsletter, you may want to consider using the services of Founded in 1996, ARA Content’s mission is to provide “informative, high-quality content for reporters, editors, and publishers in both print and online media.” ARA articles, along with high-quality graphics, are available free of charge to editors seeking feature articles and/or supplements to help fill their publications. The articles and graphics can be downloaded or e-mailed directly from their site.

“The features are informative and introduce the consumer to your product or service at a depth rarely found in advertising,” said Nancy Anderson-Smith, director of marketing at ARA Content. “You are at an immediate advantage because articles are not perceived as commercial. Your consumer is automatically more open to learning about your product. Feature articles can drive consumers to your Web site or your 800 number.”

Add “fireworks” to your site’s grand opening
A popular advertising gimmick used in the past to generate traffic to conventional brick-and-mortar grand openings was to have a fireworks show. Although you can’t duplicate such a display for your site’s grand opening, you can certainly modify the marketing concept behind it and create some “fireworks” of your own. These fireworks can include a prize or “free gift” giveaway and should always be mentioned in any press releases or advertisements for your sites. Prizes can include free consultations, gadgets, or software.
Have you launched a PR campaign for your firm’s site? What were your results? What types of no-cost or low-cost marketing tactics did you use? Write and tell us about your results or post your comments below.