Want more exposure for your business? In less than an hour-and without spending a cent-carve out a home on the Internet in a hosted Web community like Tripod (www.tripod.com) or Homestead (www.homestead.com). Homestead features drag-and-drop quick polls, feedback forms, and chat rooms, as well as templates and graphics. E-commerce support is on tap for Homestead later this year. In the meantime, you can use Freemerchant to host a free shopping cart.
There's nothing more annoying-or more unprofessional-to site visitors than slow-loading pages, typos, or broken links. Once your site is up and running, fine-tune it for free with NetMechanic.
And putting your business on the Net is pointless if you can't lure customers there. MSN's LinkExchange provides a wealth of free and premium tools for increasing visits to yourpages. Don't miss its Banner Network advertising; SubmitIt, a search engine submission tool; and ListBot, a free mailing list utility. SmartAge offers similar traffic-boosting services.
The Net can help you market your business offline too. HotData is a unique new online data cleaning and appending service. For a flat monthly rate (starting at US$19.95 for 1,000 records), HotData automatically updates, standardizes, analyzes, and appends missing and out-of-date demographic information in your contact manager file. Plug-ins will soon be available for popular apps, including GoldMine Software's GoldMine, Microsoft's Outlook, Multiactive Software's Maximizer, and Symantec's Act.
Become an iMarket member and free MarketProfiles are yours for the asking. You can quickly pull up detailed market information about your industry by state or metro area. Click on New Business Leads to gather mailing, telemarketing, or demo graphic information in fields and locations that you specify. If you like what you see, download the list for about 20 US cents per name.