You might not want to sell your product online or even attract customers outside your county but the message for every small business is that you can’t afford not to have a healthy online presence if your business is to survive in the world today.
Many small businesses don’t understand how important being online can be to them. They underestimate the potential it has in bringing new business and opportunities. For some there is a reluctance to get involved because they don’t understand what they need to do. Many just don’t know where to go to get help. Some just decide they won’t even bother investing time or money but this is a false economy. Yes, it costs money to get a good online presence but it will cost you even more in the long run should you decide not to invest in yourself.
Here are some reasons to consider a good online presence for your business.
Reason for small business to be online No.1
50% of the world is online and in Ireland we spend an average of 30 hours per week online. 33% of that time is on social media channels. Your customers are there so you need to be there also. The chances are that your competitors are there and if you are not there also, you could be missing out on potential sales. Having a website makes you appear more credible. People will assume that you are well established and professional if you have a well designed website. Being online gives your business access to a wider audience than those that just walk past your shop front each day.
Reason for small business to be online No.2
Having a strong online presence like a great website and active social media channels is like having another sales person for your product. The difference is that this one never sleeps and is still working long after the doors of your premises has shut. The internet never sleeps so your online presence is there whenever others are searching for your product.
Marketing your brand online is easier and more instant. It means no printing and delivery of flyers, no advertising in the local paper and wondering who saw it. It’s easy measurable and much more cost effective.
Reason for small business to be online No.3
You become visible to existing and potential new customers. When somebody searches for your product your company name needs to appear. Your current customers can find out more about you by engaging with your site or social media channels. People like to buy, but they don’t liked being sold to. They can browse on their own time and decide if they want to buy from you without pressure. Potential customers that didn’t know you existed may come across your business while doing a Google search.
Reason for small business to be online No.4
Being online is a wonderful way to get to know your customer. You can converse with them on your social media channels. You can engage them with content and see how they react to it. You can encourage them to buy other products from you that they didn’t even realise they needed. It’s a great way of listening to your customers and seeing opportunities for new improved products. Email is a great way of getting tailored offers to your customers and enticing them back into your store.
Reason for small business to be online No.5
It’s a great way to show your expertise. If you have been in business for a while the chances are that you know what you are talking about. A blog on a website is a wonderful way to showcase your expertise and knowledge. This can give you a significant competitive advantage. You are building your brand and sharing of knowledge is a great way to do this.
Your customers like you so getting positive reviews from them and sharing them out into the world will surely encourage more business your way.
The biggest challenge to a business getting online is having a plan. You need a plan that will help achieve your business objectives. You need to have a timeframe in which to achieve it and you need dedicated personnel. If you are a small business and don’t have the expertise or time for getting an online presence, ignore this at your peril. You can always outsource this work for a lot less that you think.
Research undertaken for the European Commission indicates that traditional businesses with a meaningful online presence grow twice as fast, export twice as much and employ twice as many people. Don’t you want to grow? Get an online presence for your business or improve the one you already have today. Don’t hand your competitors all the business.