Small Businesses Should
Review Their Online Strategy
Small businesses today may want to take the time to review their online strategies for future growth. The up and coming young professionals entering the job market as company engineers and buyers have grown up using the Internet. Their reference source of choice is the World Wide Web. They are very computer literate and enjoy using the Internet for finding information and on top of that they are very quick about it. It would behoove the small business owner to offer them a source for finding information that fills their needs. Failing to be present when one of these new breed of business professionals are looking for products or services can mean the loss of sales, important projects and future business. They are looking for a reason to use a company for a product or service or they may just be looking to learn a little more about what a particular industry is all about.
With all the various disciplines that a company can be of service with the information available is very limited in spite of the wealth of knowledge out there. Product descriptions sometimes lack a lot of information necessary to make a buying decision or vague unclear instructions for the use of a product. We have all seen them and wondered what’s the point of even putting the information online if it is that incomplete. Its not like a few more words are going to cost a great deal of money because you just went beyond the one inch ad mark in a printed advertisement.
Is your site ready?
With the recent updates to some of the search engines, sites that lack quality content will get limited exposure, if any at all, on the Internet. This will force some into paying for advertising to get their product exposed to would be buyers who use the Internet to look for services. Are you offering more than just an online brochure with a tag line of, “give us a call”? If that’s your method of using the web to generate business, you’re missing the boat in a big way. People using the Internet to look for products want more than just an online catalog. They want answers and solutions to their problems. They want to know that they have found that one product or that one service that will fill their needs and make their headache go away. Some just want to impress the boss by being the first to locate the solution to the problem that they’re dealing with, or that money saving idea that may help them look like a hero to the boss.
What sets your company apart from the others online in your specialty? If you have answered this question with a shrug of the shoulder then your probably right. Nothing sets you apart, and you’re just like the guy down the street offering the same service. I am sure that given the opportunity most of you could answers this question with about ten minutes of dialog and are able to tell everyone about your great customer service or your fantastic solution to solving the biggest problems most people deal with on a daily basis. Yet, your website does not say anything about these things. In fact, the most you offer online is an address and phone number and may even mention that you have been around since the 1970’s. The Internet as we know it has been around about twenty years now and most of us have been using it for at least the last fifteen years. Still some websites look like they were reproductions of a 1962 Chevrolet ad in the local newspaper. If your website is more than a couple of years old, it more than likely needs a facelift or some digital botox.
One thing you may want to consider offering is a “how to” section on your site to help the customer solve a problem. This alone will go along way in helping your site get attention and traffic on the web. By offering “how to” information you are providing the kind of information a potential customer is looking for. By posting such information on a regular bases your customer will keep coming back to see what your recommendations are and you become a knowledgeable industry professional in their eyes. This will make your company more likely to gain their trust and their business when they are in the market for your services.
Here are a few tips that can help you get started with a fresh approach.
- Hire a content writer or have someone review your work before you publish your white papers.
- Try and space out your publications over time so that your information is indexed over time. This alone will get you better results in the search engines.
- Develop a marketing calendar and publish on a schedule. Releasing a new article or how to information once a month, or more frequently if you can. One way of doing this is to write several articles and post on prearranged dates. We recommend having 5 or 6 ready to go if you plan on publishing weekly. Two or three would work if you are going to publish on a monthly basis.
- Start a business blog focusing on solving problems using your products or services.
- Develop and maintain an e-mail list of subscribers to your blog and send a monthly newsletter to them.
- Send out a weekly thank you note via e-mail to customers that have purchased from you in the last week. If you’re in a service-based industry, ask for a review or referral online. Reviews will get you business on the popular sites like Yelp and the yellow pages.
- Investigate a facelift to your website. Websites can be grown over time its not just a brochure or an electronic marketing piece. Think of it as a place to show off your knowledge and expertise. I know of many sites that are well over 100 pages and growing.
- Investigate alternative methods of getting traffic to your site. Learn to use social media for marketing your services.
Make 2013 the year that you set out to improve your standing in the online community. Start looking at your strategy and begin working on result driven improvements that will set your company above your competition.
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