Is your small business on-line yet? If not, why not?

SMEs, charities and community groups today require a digital mindset if not to be left behind by the competition.

Digital marketing wordcloud

Everyone is on the internet nowadays, aren’t they? Open 24/7, 365 days a year, it’s hard to avoid.

But you’ve been putting off creating your own on-line presence. Why? Time? Money? You don’t see the point of social media – why would you want to know what other people had for breakfast? Trust me, it’s so much more than that!

A Department of Business, Innovation and Skills survey reports that 55% of the public find it difficult to support local businesses because they can’t find them on-line. Yet, surprisingly, around 50% of businesses still do not have their own web presence, although we’re replicating more data in 48 hours now than we did up to 2003.  Can your organisation afford not to be there, when 57-70% of the buying process is done on-line? Marketing and social media departments are now more important than sales.

With 90% of UK searches done via Google, if they can’t find you, who else will? Many people are unlikely to get off their sofa and seek out a phone book when they can just click a button. You need only ask Blockbuster, who didn’t see the revolution coming and turned down the opportunity to buy Netflix

I’ve seen horrendous quotes for website design in my time but creating an on-line presence needn’t be expensive – it depends how you value your time. Blog platforms such as WordPress and Blogger are free and can be adapted to suit your needs, while most, if not all, social media channels are also free. A variety of free apps and hacks to manage your on-line life also exist.

Here are a few hints to a happy and productive web life:

  • You website should contain everything anyone might want to know about you: Who you are, what you do and, most importantly, how to find/contact you.
  • Don’t limit yourself to just a social media profile. Potential customers may be reluctant to sign up in order to engage. And engagement is key, so whatever web presence you have, make it easy for people to ask questions and give feedback: A comment box, a contact sheet, easily found email and phone number.
  • Social Media has its place. Engaging your existing audience, finding new customers and becoming a part of the community can all be achieved, as well as driving traffic back to the valuable, insightful content on your website – where they can also browse your product(s)!
  • Don’t use a platform solely to broadcast what you’re selling – it’s not called social media for nothing. Share fun stuff, local activities and fellow industry bods – become an influencer.
  • Don’t be afraid to show your personality – people buy from people they like.  (But take care not to offend with dodgy jokes!)
  • Build trust  – share yours, and others, expertise.
  • Look at every question in a comment or on social media as a piece of content for you to expand on. Answer the most frequently asked questions in a blog post that can be shared.
  • Think strategically, don’t register on  a platform that isn’t your target market. And social media is time-consuming – best to have one or two fully engaged streams than half-hearted attempts at seven of them.
  • Be consistent with your branding across each platform so as to be easily recogniseable.

If you need some guidance, you know where I am 🙂

Good luck – see you out there!

Image: Pixabay

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