The fastest way for most people to find out about the services of a local business will be to do a search using a computer or mobile device. If you happen to be a business owner who doesn’t have an online presence, then you are missing out on a lot of customers every day.
The type of business you run, the industry you serve, or the size of your business isn’t relevant to deciding whether or not you should have an online presence. If you offer a product or service that a consumer wants at the right price, then they will gladly patronize your business – provided, of course, they can find it when they do a Google search.
So what exactly do you need to do to create an attractive online presence to tap into this powerful way of marketing your local business?
You basically need three things: a website, a blog, and a social media network.
Build your website
While you can certainly build a website yourself using a website builder template, it won’t be as good as hiring a Web Design company to do it for you. Yes, you can save money by taking a DIY approach, but you’re not just building a hobby site – you’re building a business asset.
A professional agency will try to get a detailed understanding of your business. They will then design a website to suit all your needs. A custom website will give you exactly what you need to grow your business. The agency will set up your website for eCommerce functionality, for setting up email marketing, and for blogging.
They will also help you with everything related to virtual merchandising, from product graphics to great product descriptions.
In addition, professionals understand how to create the best the look-and-feel for your website, create easy navigation and install a search box to help visitors find items by keyword. You’ll end up with the right graphics, banners, color schemes, and fonts.
They will also help you to incorporate the latest technologies and get high Google search engine rankings through Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Finally, they will provide you with website services for updates and maintenance issues.
Build your blog
A website alone is like an island. You need bridges to the mainland. The way to create these connections is through blogging and social media. Your blog is where you will create fresh content. You can build your blog on your website or host it separately. Since the content of your blog will be related to what you are selling on your website, it will probably be better to build it as part of your website.
Build your social media presence
Your social media pages are a great place to promote both your website and your blog posts. You can also use these pages to share ideas with other people, answer customer questions, provide useful advice, and generally build relationships with other people.
It’s not a good idea, however, to use these pages for non-stop pitching your business. It’s fine to talk about your business if you do it in a non-promotional way. For example, if you attend any trade shows, it’s fine to post pictures of your booth and reps, and so on. The main thing is to avoid coming across as salesy – even on your fan pages.
Join highly trafficked site like Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, Pinterest, and Instagram. You don’t want to join too many more because you will probably spread yourself too thin.
Here is a game-changing tip from a Forbes article on how to optimize your social media presence: “Understanding what your audience needs will help you be able to interact with them on a more intimate level. Knowing what they want to read about and what they believe in will help you understand what you need to give to them.”
Building an online presence is an organic process. It’s a form of inbound marketing because it makes your target audience aware of your business and its form of outbound marketing because it builds your brand visibility. While creating a content schedule for your blog posts and being strategic with how you position yourself of social media will speed things up, it still takes time to create an excellent online presence.