- 18th January 2017
- Posted by: Kris Cook
- Category: Small Business Marketing
When it comes to building a brand, regardless of whether you are a small, medium or large business, we are all competing with mass global machines. I’m talking about Nike, Adidas, Cadbury’s, Microsoft, Apple etc. These are not just national but in most cases multinational companies with substantial marketing budgets. Due to the nature of the online business world your small business has no option but to compete with these brands but how is it even possible.
Answer… By building a solid online presence.
Building an online presence is more than just putting up a website and hoping that people passing through will become customers. I hate to be the one to break it to you but wishful thinking as a marketing strategy will not get you or your business far at all.
So what is an online presence? It’s about creating a digital experience for your customers so that you can not only generate more, but also nurture those that already exist.
In order to build a successful business online an internet marketing strategy needs to be in place. Unfortunately most small business owners don’t have one and are therefore destined to fail in the early stages of growth.
Remember though that no matter how good your marketing strategy is you must still run an excellent ship that offers great customer service and offers quality services/product to its customers.
Before we get into the benefits of having a strong online presence, let’s first consider why small businesses in particular suddenly need this extra marketing channel.
Customer’s Expectations Are Shifting
When you first hear about a new business what is the first thing that you do? I bet it is to look it up online, right? So naturally others will do the same when they first hear about your business and how you offer such quality products/services, except when they do they will never actually see any of this quality because it is not available to them online. Add to this the fact that within 2 minutes they would have already forgotten you existed, that is potential business down the drain. Imagine how often this is happening and then add up all the potential profits that you could have made. It hurts doesn’t it?
There is also another big problem here.
All of Your Competition Offers Online Services Already
When potential customers search for you through a product name or a description and you have no online presence, guess who does? That’s right, your competitors!
You are not only losing out on business for yourself but you are literally handing it over to your biggest competitors and guess what happens? The more they grow, the smaller you become. Marketing for small businesses is often disconnected for small businesses because they often don’t engage with an online audience in a clear and defined way.
So now that we have defined why you need an online presence, let’s now take a look at some of the advantages of building an online presence for your small business…
A website is more than just a flashy accessory for your small business, it is a 24/7 gateway to your business, accessible from all over the world. A shop, if you prefer, that has no closing times or out of business hours.
Linked to a customer’s initial thoughts on doing business, brand awareness can stand for a number of factors; initial risk being one of them. It is only natural for you to question a business’s credentials, even more so if there is no proof that others have found the experience positive themselves. Positive impressions are also generated through strong posts, either to your blog or through social media, as well as quality interactions with current customers; all of which lead to a future sale becoming more likely.
Wider Reach for Marketing
People like to buy products but not when they are ‘sold’ to them. This is where your websites about page comes into play. A well written copy on your products will instantly make buyers more relaxed, allowing them to make a more informed decision when purchasing, as opposed to feeling pressured by a pushy salesperson.
Marketing is also easier and more cost-effective thanks to the combination of both online marketing and email marketing. When used in sync they generate a greater reach than any traditional form of marketing and are generally more cost-effective due to the lack of additional charges (think printing and mailing costs).
Whilst we are on the subject of marketing be sure to get started on social media marketing if you haven’t done already. Learn to master one social platform to gain maximum exposure, as well as using appropriate hash tags. Additionally you can also geotag your posts so that they are targeted more towards your local area, and not a worldwide audience, unless of course you offer your services/products all over the globe.
Sean Gardner (@2morrowknight) “Social media is not just an activity; it is an investment of valuable time and resources. Surround yourself with people who not just support you and stay with you, but inform your thinking about ways to WOW your online presence”
Social media marketing not only allows you to generate new leads for your business but also to nurture your existing fan base, which leads neatly into…
Why is it so important to nurture your current customers?
These customers should be your number one priority. Why? Well in laymen’s terms these are the customers who are going to come back and buy more of what it is that you are offering. They do this because they have already built up trust with your business, so the risk of a sale has been minimised already, meaning they are more likely to buy more along the way. Loyal customers are also the ones who are going to leave you 5 star reviews on Trust Pilot, or shout about your brand on social media; all of which are great ways of building brand/trust awareness with your audience.
Offline marketing is still important to any business (especially local directories such as yelp or yellow pages) but because of the lack of analytics offered through these mediums it is often difficult to see which form of marketing is doing the most to generate profit, and which are just eating away at your profits.
Begin to incorporate social media marketing into your marketing routines and quickly see the added benefits of interacting with your customers on a day to day basis. Trust begins to build and relationships are formed, in turn creating loyal fans of your brand.
Is your business currently online?
If not then what is holding you back?
If so then how are you improving your customers experience?