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By Howard Bomstein

Whether the task is new product development, shipping or marketing, small business owners face the same challenge: how to find the most efficient way to spend your dollars. When it comes to marketing, I have heard the same questions surface over and over. How do I choose the right media vehicle to reach my target audience and where should the Internet fit into my marketing plan?

With new platforms for advertising evolving on a continual basis, this is undoubtedly a complicated question, but by having a solid understanding of the following information, companies can find a media mix that works and take advantage of the Internet to reach customers in new and exciting ways.

The abundance of new media makes it essential that business owners be armed with two things: a clear knowledge of the basics of Internet advertising and a method to help separate the media that works for you and the media that doesn’t. First, let’s take a look at the basics – you should become very comfortable with this information in order to build on this foundation and explore new opportunities in the ever-expanding world of media.

Most owners are aware that the Internet has become a vital tool when it comes to running their businesses, but they must also understand the role that the Internet plays in the lives of their customers, who are using the Web to locate, research and purchase products and services on a daily basis. Even industries that used to be mired in traditional selling methods are now heavily reliant on the Internet.

In the automotive industry, for instance, seventy percent of U.S. consumers now research vehicles online before buying, making the Internet the richest source of information on in-market shopping behavior for auto marketers, according to DM News. In this type of market, failing to establish a presence on the Internet eliminates countless prospective customers, since the first instinct for many consumers is to head straight to their computer when they need to purchase goods or services or find a place to bring their business.

At the most basic level, companies can establish a presence on the web through search engines like Google and Yahoo whereby your firm enhances its position on the web simply by updating key words and phrases, often called metatags, and by paying for sponsorship placement. Since SEM is text-driven, it has a much more manageable learning curve than other forms of Internet advertising, making it the ideal method for companies who have little experience with interactive marketing.

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Howard Bomstein is the Owner and CEO of The Bomstein Agency.
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