What tool do you currently have in your tool box that has the capacity to reach hundreds or thousand of prospects that costs you pennies a day? The answer: Your Website.

Most Websites have a one time fixed upfront cost and a monthly or annual hosting fee. Once your site is up and running, there is little in terms of financial investment that is required to keep it working for you. There are many tools freely available on the internet that will help you to spread your message and get you noticed.

First, look at organizations that you are already a member of, Chambers of Commerce, Professional Associations and Industry Associations. Check out their Websites and see if they have a member listing page. If they do, make sure your Website is listed there and if it is not, contact them and have them put it up.

Any activity that you participate in online must have your Website address attached to it. Look for industry related forums that you feel comfortable participating in. Join in and make sure that every post you put up has your Website address in it. Similarly, make sure your Website address is on your email signature. If you like to read blogs that pertain to your industry or even just as a hobby, leave a meaningful comment with your name and Website address in it.

Create profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, start a blog, do something that gets you into a conversation with potential customers. The conversation is the most important part of the process.

Customers want to talk to you, the business owner. When something goes wrong or they have something to share with you, today’s consumer wants to break through the board room door and talk to you face to face (at least virtually). Enabling your customers to contact you via Social Networks goes a long way to personalizing your relationship with them (do I sound like a broken record yet?). People don’t just want to buy blindly any more, they want to buy from a company that cares enough to invest in the transaction’s overall experience. You want people to walk away from any transaction or interaction with your company with a smile on their face and the trust and confidence in you to share that experience with their friends.

Americans are eager to deepen their brand relationships through social media,” said Mike Hollywood, director of new media at Cone.. “It isn’t an intrusion into their lives, but rather a welcome channel for discussion.

Kodak’s use of Social Media is a prime example large corporation successfully engaging customers on a one to one level. Through their blog http://1000words.kodak.com/ a group of employees talk about photography tips, post pictures, and discuss what is happening at Kodak. It is obvious that the authors are passionate about what they do and are truly invested in positive customer experiences.

From Thomas Hoehn Director, Brand Communications and New Media, Kodak

We feel we are adding to the value of conversations because we are not just laying marketing babble out there from people “representing” Kodak. Our comments, posts, pictures, videos are from real Kodak people with real opinions and insights. We see returns such as: appreciation for photo tips, thanks for sharing great pictures, accolades for speaking to people directly, kudos for providing a channel to provide feedback. Those all seem pretty positive to us, especially for the low barrier to entry it takes to join in social media conversations. It is more about sharing passions, being real and mutual respect.

Let individuals within your corporation use the various social media channels to create a real one on one relationship with the consumer. Customers will no longer perceive themselves as being talked AT, but rather spoken to and more importantly listened to. Today’s marketing efforts must make a connection, create a relationship and generate trust.

Retailers have long known that customers spread the word quickly when they have had a bad experience. With user reviews and ratings sites becoming common, consumers now have the technology to spread the word faster than ever….

One of the reasons consumers start complaining to their friends is that they do not get satisfaction from customer service.

Social Networking tools are a proactive approach to customer service. How are you going to know what customers are saying if you aren’t listening? By listening you can better determine their needs, what services or products will best meet them and how to continue your relationship with them after the initial transaction.

There is no other tool available to you at a lower cost of entry. What is involved is an investment of time. Like anything worth while, relationships take time to build, and our customers or potential customers are worth a little more time.