A lot of small businesses still don’t have a fully functioning website or much of an online presence at all. You may have a page that lists your opening hours and contact details, or you may have entries in online directories, but when someone tries to find out more about your business, they are met with a frustrating blank screen. This most often happens with locally focused services, who perhaps have been running for several generations and those who don’t feel the need or lack the knowledge and enthusiasm to get involved with online marketing. You probably have a regular customer base and don’t see that websites and Twitter accounts are relevant to you – but are you missing a trick?
You don’t know it won’t work
If you haven’t tried online marketing, you truly have no idea whether it would generate a lot of new business for you or only make a moderate difference. If you are making a reasonable living you may feel that you have enough to do as it is, and therefore believe that creating an online presence is more work than it’s worth. You could be operating the same marketing strategy that you have been for years, with ads in local publications and an event every summer. There could be hordes of frustrated people looking for your product or service in your area who you haven’t managed to reach, and as a result, you could be missing out on valuable revenue.
The problem with not being visible on the web
More and more people are using an Internet search as their first route to finding something they need. If you are a feed merchant and you’re not present in the search results when someone enters a query for chicken corn suppliers in your location, they will be unaware that you exist and will select from the results they find. Even if your name comes up in a directory that lists local animal feed suppliers, if it only has your address and phone number, the implication is that you are living in the dark ages. Unfortunately, this leads to people assuming you will be remote, expensive, and probably a bit odd! What consumers want is to be able to find out about you on the Internet, get a feel for your stock ranges and prices, and see if you are worth visiting. A lot of potential customers won’t bother driving over to see your business to find these things out, so if you haven’t made your offer clear, they will simply move on elsewhere.
Take it slowly
You don’t need to overload yourself and open an account with every social media platform or start investing heavily in Google advertising. Instead, start with something simple, like a single page website where you can list all your most important information. You can create your own website very easily with an online tool that can take all the complexity out of design and requires no technical know-how whatsoever. When you have that setup, go through the online directories and update your details to include the website link. Doing so will immediately improve your visibility and make a better impression on potential customers. Include an email address too, as many people prefer this to make a phone call. Get used to dealing with email communications and keeping your webpage current, and once you are used to it, you can start to add more, like a Facebook page. Do everything in slow steps until you feel happy before adding anything new, and make use of the wealth of free resources online to help you maximize the beneficial effects of your efforts.