In the early 90s I started a home-based educational products company targeted at homeschoolers. It was called Bright Spark Press. In 1994 I created my first website, which was an online catalog for the company. No bells or whistles. No CSS. Just very plain, table-based design.
Given that I was bootstrapping the company, I couldn’t afford to plaster direct mail advertisements all over the country. Even with a site, the infant internet wasn’t a place you could just google for the best results. You found sites mostly by having someone give you the direct URL.
I used AOL message boards and chats as a lead generator and sent people to my fledgling web site. Once I had leads, I used a local web press to print the catalog, printed labels and attached them to each catalog, hand sorted, and used bulk mail for shipments.
Having done things the “old way” (read that: the hard way), having a viable digital medium for advertising opens up a world of possibilities, especially for companies that don’t have an advertising budget to speak of.
And it is not just in the United States. Paid search in the Middle East, for example, is skyrocketing. Marketing opportunities for businesses are available worldwide.
If you’re looking at a business to reach your goals, take the time to learn all you can about digital marketing. It’s an effective and affordable way to reach your customers.