The advent of Web 2.0 technologies has made marketing and growing a small business easier, cheaper and arguably more fun than ever.

“There is this intimidation factor – a sheer terror – when it comes to utilizing this technology,” said Theresa Barnabei, a course architect with Course Creators, a company focused on teaching technology to business owners and the self employed. “These tools are more simplified than ever and once you understand it, the application is limitless.”

Len Elder, Barnabei’s partner with Course Creators, separates the technology into three parts: marketing technology, business image platform and ‘techsphering’ or creating an online sphere of influence.

Marketing technology

There are numerous platforms available to a seller out there to promote products, according to Elder who specifically mentioned Adsense, Craigslist, Yahoo, Ebay and Google Base.

“Maybe because of the way Craigslist started out people think it is only good for a used sofa, but as a tax planner I can advertise my services there. I can advertise any service there.”

Elder also said starting with a fundamental knowledge of the YouTube platform for promotional services can’t be underestimated.

“The days of having a gatekeeper are gone,” Elder said. “Now I can take a small video camera, take high quality video, use existing software on my computer to edit it down, throw some narration behind it and publish it. What would have cost $20,000 to produce three years ago can be done today within 24 hours for free.”

Barnabei said this kind of marketing allows small businesses a forum to put themselves out there how they want to be seen more often.

“You can differentiate any way you want,” she said. “There are all kinds of small businesses out there and they’re not all the same. These tools are a huge differentiating factor.”

Business image platform

The business image platform is where a business promotes itself. This is typically the company’s website.

“There are so many business owners out there who are still saying, ‘I need to get one of those website things,’” Elder said. “Well, now they’ve procrastinated long enough that there is a new necessity: a blog.”

Elder and Barnabei aren’t putting down websites by any means.

“A website is not overrated unless it is just a savvy business card for you,” Barnabei said. “But if you are sharing information and your site is not static then it is a great tool. What do you want it to do for you? There is huge potential there.”

Techsphering

“When I talk about social media, people get the idea that it is just a bunch of people chatting about nothing in particular or sharing photos or pirated videos,” Elder said. “But that is not the case with social media in its business form. It is your new sphere of influence building tool. The social networking techsphere is the best thing since the Rolodex.”

Elder said business people know you have to build a sphere of influence and social media is a virtual cocktail mixer that you can be at 1,000 groups’ mixers at the same time.

“You used to try and find hobbies and interests about your clients to build some common ground,” he said. “And now that is laid out nicely right on their profile page.”

Elder added that small business can’t afford not to participating in social media.

“Business is being done on here every day,” Elder said. “The social media network is the ultimate form of word of mouth marketing, which is the best.”

For more information visit www.coursecreators.com.

Time to reach 150 million users

Telephone  1876 to 1965 = 89 years

Television 1928 to 1966 = 38 years

Cell phone 1983 to 1997 = 14 years

iPod  2001 to 2008 = 7 years

Facebook 2004 to 2009 = 5 years

Source: Fortune

Contact reporter Joe Pangburn at jpangburn@azbiz.com or (520) 295-4259.