OK, I hate blanket statements but if you’re starting or running a small business you’re going to need an online presence in this day and age. If you manage to keep going without one, you’re leaving behind a LOT of potential customers…
This whole article will seem like common sense to some, but it has to be said to keep the remaining people up to date. So I’ve taken a look at one small area of marketing your business – searching for a business that does what you’re after.
Think about the old days, you’d look at an advertisement in the newspaper or on television. Something might catch your eye and maybe you’ll spend some money on it. I know TV isn’t going anywhere and newspapers are still being read but when in comes to advertising – their reach is shrinking gradually.
What about when you decided to look for a business? A big one for me is the Yellow Pages. You rip out the Yellow pages and skim through, you’ll find that plumber or accountant you’re looking for!
But what if you’re the plumber or accountant, is it still your best option to advertise there? Let’s look at this example in particular.
Yes, some people still do use Yellow pages but that number is also shrinking dramatically but don’t take my word for it – there’s some numbers below.
Where’s the Proof?
If you’re wondering why you need to get online as opposed to sticking with ‘the tried and true’, here’s a few statistics for you to look at:
- ‘Rarely or Never’ is how often 70% of people in the US use a phone book, with 60% using the internet (that should be enough right there)
- The only age group to use print more than the internet is people over 65. This victory isn’t by much – 34% relying on Yellow Pages books, and 14% refer to a newspaper.
- To get specific, Seattle alone has 43,000 homes without a Phonebook!
- Under the Age of 35 – more than 51 – 54% rely on search engines alone! That was back in 2010!
To put it simply, people are more likely to search for a business online than through some form of printed media.
I think it’s safe to say that those numbers are on the rise too. I’m not saying scrap the yellow pages, just be aware of what you’re missing out on without a website. Sure, over 65’s can still be targeted quite well off the web but phone books are being used less and less each year.
So to put it in black and white – almost half of the population is picking which business they want to spend money with by going online and finding a website. Not having a website easily makes you unknown to this massive chunk of the population.
What can an online presence do for your Business?
You’ll look more professional.
Most people trust spending money with established brands because they know what to expect. A website is a way of increasing the perceived value of your brand or business, as well as being a top notch tool for delivering information and funneling people toward a call to action. Combined with a Facebook page and Email Newsletter, you can keep everyone in the loop with what’s going on and promote offers to them regularly – at little no cost.
Be everywhere and your presence will be more substantial.
You probably don’t need a statistic to understand how many people are on Facebook these days – it’s rare than someone doesn’t have a profile!
It can serve a purpose and make sales without you – 24 hours a day.
A website is simply a portal – your visitor arrives looking for information and you give them what they want in exchange for what you want.If you just want them to phone you, convince them you’re the place to go to by offering them what they want and direct them to your contact details. The trick is finding out what they want.
Taking things to the next level would be driving them to a sales page to make a purchase – give them a tease and leave them wanting more! This of course can also be a way of driving them to an email newsletter or a follower on Facebook (or whatever social media you’re using). Either way, it’s not just some text slapped up on the web, it’s a functioning sales tool that serves a purpose.
In some cases, it can even do the entire job for you.
If you offer a business that sells information, or you even want to add some kind of information or software product, a website can process payment, deliver the goods and wrap up the whole transaction automatically. The customer gets what they want and you wake up in the morning with money in the bank. Cha Ching!
It has the possibility of making you available to people outside your area.
This is very dependent on the kind of business you run, but I’ve seen tradies land big jobs out of town simply because they have an online presence and website. When work dries up in your town, people hours away may still find and hire you to provide your service!
More people will know you exist!!
Tha’ts the point of this little write up – most people are searching online so having your website up gives you the potential to be in front of more than half of the people around you. No website? Good luck reaching those people!
A few examples
If you’re a personal trainer or gym owner having an online presence and building a community (Facebook, email, whatever) is an awesome way to create support network for clients and better understand their exercise goals as you interact.
Obviously people may simply find you through Google but if you can get them to join your community imagine what they’d think of you if people were proudly showing off their weight loss results frequently, they look a little more and find a time table of classes they can take or spots open that they can book and you’ve made a sale.
All of this information is delivered while you’re asleep or off making money with another client. You get back and you’ve got another person who has booked a private training session.
If you’re a hairdresser? Show off your best work, convince them of how good you are and display a list of services with their prices – then make it easy for people to book online or call you from there.
If you’re a Printer – once again show off your work but offer somewhere for people to upload files for printing, list your file requirements so Graphic designers can set things up properly. Being on Facebook is a good way to share some of the more notable work you produce – check with your customers but I’m sure they won’t turn down a little free publicity.
You get the idea – promote, make frequently sought after information easy to find, offer convenience so that your clients can get things sorted without you having to be there – whilst offering the option of personal service as well.
You run a Gift Store – Go for an E-commerce solution and you may find yourself selling more stuff online than through your shopfront! Get a little agressive, spend some money with Facebook, marketing your online store and people may find they have taste for the unique things you offer. Before long you could be sending products overseas and the money is in the bank before you even know you have to do it!
Just remember, some people prefer to simply organize everything without having to talk to someone. When people land on your website, maybe they’re shy or have a few personal issues and find the anonymity comforting. Punching some numbers and information into a website can be less intimidating than talking to someone over a counter.
On top of all of this, you can promote or reach any of your subscribers easily and freely once they’ve signed up for your newsletter or liked your Facebook page – increasing the above benefits many times over.
As you can see, there’s a lot to lose and SO MUCH to gain from having a website, you’d be mad not to have one set up.
So where to from here? It’s time to get started…
In all honestly, the healthiest thing to do is get started by creating a small website – this sounds difficult but it’s pretty easy.
Register a Domain Name and Hosting
Starting a website can be done by almost anyone, pick a webhost and register your domain and hosting. It takes a few minutes and can be ready in a day or two at the most – all of this will cost less than $100 for the first year.
Install WordPress, choose a design
It’s free and easy. You can set up WordPress in a handful of minutesand pick a nice, clean professional and looking Theme and upload your logo or you could get us to build a website for you. This whole process may take an hour or two.
Alternatively, get a custom design
Upload your logo, create a few pages with information about you and your business and you’ve got a basic website. If you’re really serious though, you’ll want someone to design a theme suitable to your business, so try searching for web designers in your area (use Google, not a phonebook lol).
Designing a theme yourself isn’t hard with the right tools – if you prefer to go that way too.
Optimize for Search Engines (basic)
From there you’ve simply got to optimize for SEO, try installing All in One SEO plugin and list the keywords relevant to your business. Also list your business address with Google Places (here’s how) – this will allow people who find you to see where you are with a map and a full list of contact details and what you do.
Type up some info!
Finally, add the information you want to deliver. Products, services, information about the business and definitely – contact details are a must. This is probably the hardest bit – figuring out what to say (or type).
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