The internet works differently than traditional media. Unlike billboards, television or print media which are used or seen by the consumer, internet businesses need to be wherever their potential customers are. So how do internet businesses keep up with consumers? "There is opportunity out there, the question is how do you appeal in the right way to customers," asked Thom Porter. Porter is a UNCW professor who specializes in internet marketing. He said businesses are cutting back spending right now, but not necessarily in the right places. "Companies pull back too much on the marketing side. Marketing will often be the first thing that companies get rid of and in my experience, sometimes it takes money to make money," said Dr. Porter. So how do you take advantage of the marketing dollars that you have? One way is to use the World Wide Web. "The internet provides very significant opportunities for small businesses to in a fairly cost-effective way, market their businesses,” added Porter. Dr. Porter said small online businesses should take advantage of what's called pay-per-click advertising. Through Google, MSN, or Yahoo you can purchase keywords and create text ads that appear in search engine results. Every time a potential client clicks on your ad, you pay a predetermined fee. Dr. Porter said, "You could set aside a $500 budget for online and drive in quite a bit of appropriate traffic because that traffic is based on people actually typing in that keyword sequence that you've specified." There are also free options. Many of us still have not given in to the social networking scene, but it is a way to promote your business quickly and efficiently. By creating a Facebook, YouTube, or Twitter page for your business, and getting people to follow your work, you could drive quite a lot of traffic to your site. "So become a little bit more sophisticated because if they don't, their competitors are going to be doing that, they're going to be losing their customers,” Porter said. So whether you pay money to market your business online or use social-networking sites for free, the key for any business using the internet is to have a strong web presence.
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