A local start-up business marketing list may look something like this.
Find a name, then register the name, get a phone number, locate a store-front and put up a sign with store hours in the front window. What’s next? Design a logo, get an email address, secure a domain name or print some business cards. For the ambitious, get out a local press release and research advertising in yellow books, newspapers, billboards or local radio. Finally, you must build a website. After all the web is where everyone is spending their time.
For many business owners, this list is also their business plan. I've seen many small local businesses operate this way and struggle to stay in business.
For some, the website and other local advertising is something that they get to later with little regard as to what they want it to do and how much it will cost. Others will spend too much time and money on local advertising with no way to measure results. The ones who understand the dominance of the web sometimes spend too much on their web presence and still don't end up with the intended result or functionality. In any case, business owners are ignoring digital presence beyond websites.
Consider that access to web information was commercialized over 20 years ago and could only be viewed through desktop computers. Text dominated the information super highway. Today, access can be achieved through sound, voice, camera and proximity using mobile devices such as tablets and phones. Content readers have become content providers in many forms. The web has become the dominate way for people to communicate to other people in their own communities.
Let’s face reality, people or things visiting your website are either the older tech generation, search engines, hackers and the younger tech generation only because you have no other digital presence. And since you're stuck here, you look to SEO, sharing links and using Google Adwords as a channel to get people and bots to find your brand. Really? There is so much more you can do.
Digital Presence Essentials:
Make it mobile friendly. A Responsive Web Design will give users a better viewing experience with your brand. The site formats nicely to any device (computer or mobile). At the very least make sure your site has a mobile friendly version. Don’t overlook meta data. It’s still a good tool to communicate with search engines while advertising a message to consumers.
2. Social Media
Social media platforms have done a great job with their mobile apps. They quickly realized that their users access their service on mobile devices more than desktops. You need to be there and be active.
3. Mobile App
80% of a smartphone user's time is spent with apps. Apps are not replications of your website. They provide a meaningful service to your customers (or things that websites can't do). The investment in your own app will put you miles ahead of your competitors' website only digital presence.
Back to social media for a second. Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin have robust advertising platforms. You can spend as little as $10 per month to promote your business, a product or promotion. The analytic reports will help you with targeting and your budgets. And don’t discount search engines as most still offer local affordable advertising solutions. But above all, there are hundreds of credible websites where a business can advertise information for FREE. Find those sites and create a presence.
Use a professional grade service to set up your mailing list and create decent newsletters or announcements. Email marketing is really good for reaching your customers while giving them the opportunity to share your news with others via social media or email forwarding.
6. QR Codes
People really don't have the time to type your website address or contact information. QR codes can be used on printed material to scan with a camera and a QR reader enabled app. The information is saved to the device to be used later.
7. Reputation Monitoring
Your reputation online, reviews or news that consumers share about your products or service provide critical information to search engines that can be used to rank your business against competition. Many times a review is the first impression for an internet user. Make sure you know about and address reviews about your business. Thank customers for the positive things they say.
These are just some of the steps. Start with what you can handle. Typical excuses from a business owner are, “I don’t have time.” Or “I don’t know where to start.” Don’t ignore the internet or your digital presence. Now you know where to start. Make the time to learn, or hire someone to help.
If you need help with your digital presence, find a company or someone that knows the internet. Ask for references, local if possible. How long have they been in business? If they survived the internet marketing world at least five years and have good reviews, ask for a consultation. Most first meetings are free and you will at least learn your options.
For more information on services SBS provides, reach out email@example.com .