Earlier this week, I was in a consultation with two new clients who were unsure about the effect that the Internet could have on their business and they asked me, 'Is the online presence of our business important?'
Today, I'd like to answer that question for any other business owners or entrepreneurs who have similar concerns about the effectiveness of the Internet when it comes to business promotion.
Where Do I Begin?
As someone who grew up with the rise of the internet, I built my business around it, aiming to utilise all of the tools available including; cloud-based applications, websites and social media etc.
The internet and it's many uses were so familiar to me that I never once considered how a business owner, who wasn't familiar with how the internet could be used to grow a business, would feel about it.
Looking at it from a beginner's prospective, it can all seem very confusing. There are so many options and avenues to go down when you first look at building the online presence of your business that it can be almost impossible to know where to begin.
You can create social media profiles on several platforms, build a website, write a blog, build links, perform analytics, carry out competitor research, pay for advertising and so much more.
It was overwhelming for me, even though I had an understanding of how most of it worked, and so it's easy to imagine how some of you feel, who are entirely new to online marketing.
The key to success that I found is to keep things simple and have a plan.
As the image to the left states, "Your website is the face of your business".
Today, when you want to find a service, product, holiday or local restaurant etc. the first place you look is your computer, laptop, smartphone or tablet. It's a fact.
How many of you still use the Yellow Pages book (not website) to find a telephone number or look through the Argos catalogue to find a new sofa? I'd bet that the answer is not many, if any of you.
That is why online businesses such as e-commerce shops and Virtual Assistant services, such as ours, have seen a vast rise in popularity over the past few years and it's also the reason behind the need for a business to have it's own website.
Yes, you may still get some enquiries and sales via your telephone listings and your newspaper advertisements, but in this age of information and technology, people want to know everything about your business; what you offer, how you operate, what they want and how much it will cost before they pick up the phone, send an email or come into your office/shop.
That is where a website is essential, it is the face of your business in the sense that it will not only give potential clients the information that they need to decide whether or not they want to buy from you before they even speak to you, but it will make your business visible to new customers.
If you're new to internet marketing and how it works here are two tasks to get you started this week:
In completing the two tasks listed above you'll begin to get a clear idea of how your competition are using the internet to promote their businesses and you'll have the outline of an internet marketing plan that will help you to go in the right direction.
To summarise, the answer to this week's question is a resounding, "YES!"
When used effectively and to a clear plan, an online presence will help potential customers find your business and make the decision to buy from you and not your competitors.
Join us again next week as we continue to work on building your online presence in Part 2 of our Basics of Online Marketing blog.