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Be smart with your budget. In one very important way, establishing and growing your online presence is no different from establishing and growing your physical one: You need to be financially savvy. For instance, the last thing you want is to blow your overall budget in the course of creating a too-ambitious online marketing plan.

“Especially at first, figuring out how much you should allocate to online marketing can be tricky,” Tsai comments. “I recommend starting by cataloging your current marketing allocations, categorizing by group (e.g., direct mail, events, print marketing, broadcast marketing, etc.). Then, figure out which category or categories are least effective. These are the marketing efforts you’ll want to scale back in order to test new online channels. As you move forward, you can continue to tweak your budgeting allocations.”

“Building a plan for your online reputation before you dive in will save you countless hours down the line, so take the time to do things right up-front and to cultivate a solid understanding of the work ahead of you,” Tsai concludes. “Again, these are skills you already have as a small business owner, so don’t allow yourself to become so intimidated that you throw in the digital towel before you’ve begun.

“And don’t feel that you have to do everything yourself, either,” she adds. “You may find that one of your employees has the skills and interest to take on these kinds of projects, which is an ideal situation for the business since you can keep things in-house and support career development for someone on your team. In the end, don’t be afraid to ask for help, especially if you’re under time constraints. Whatever the outcome here, the first step is to understand what you need to do and be thoughtful about how you take on this very important piece of your business.”

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