A message board is an online discussion area modeled after a traditional bulletin board, where like-minded users can join to talk about common issues and relay their own expertise on a variety of subjects. These forums can be found just about everywhere, and can provide fantastic public, free-of-charge marketing opportunities for business owners in a variety of industries. Professional services companies – accounting and law firms, IT/computer and management consulting businesses, etc. – can use them to showcase their unique expertise and build credibility to attract potential clients. Tech retailers will find an endless plethora of relevant message boards with active, avid customers.
These three tips will help you get started on crafting efficient and effective message board comments:
Every word counts. Make sure the content you post – whether as comments on message boards or content on your own blog and Web site – uses the most heavily-searched keywords by those looking for your particular type of business, service or product. That way, when your customer base searches for something related to your business, they may stumble upon your comment, and from there to your website and business (tip: be sure to include your URL in every comment, subtly).
Similarly, when you are looking for relevant places to post comments, look for sites related to your industry that have high search rankings to ensure your comments will actually be read by those that might be interested in what you have to offer.
Your time is money, so post and moderate wisely. Set aside a modest amount of time each week (two hours, perhaps) to finding blogs and online business journals that will be relevant to your company’s marketing message. Contribute personalized content that shows you are a real person with unique expertise within your specific industry, and not a potential spammer. For example, if you own a computer retail shop, you need to go beyond finding a news article about a new piece of technology that you sell and then posting a comment along the lines of “We have the lowest prices on computers in town!” Instead, react to the content and give your opinion – as a technology expert – of the product and how well you think it works alongside a very brief description of your company and what you do. This description of your business will help not only introduce your company but also show others why you really know what you’re talking about so they will be more likely to look for you and even buy from you.
Aim every comment at potential clients. Even though your business blog and any comments you leave on message boards will be read by a combination of other competing business owners, current clients, potential clients and those that won’t be a good fit for your services or products, creating content that speaks to your future revenue providers is important because everything you do related to marketing needs to be designed to attract more steady clients. Write informative posts that speak to your potential clients’ biggest business problems and the fears they have. No matter what, keep your comments short and to the point and make sure they are not overly focused on your company – avoid the dreaded “Me, Me, Me” syndrome.
Everyone is looking for easy, inexpensive opportunities to market their businesses, especially during a recession. Staying within a modest marketing budget while still diversifying your strategies and succeeding at reaching new clients and customers is a constant process that requires a lot of trial and error to get just right, but can be very successful if you stay focused on your target audience and your unique expertise.