Running a small business (or organization) is a herculean task most days, especially when you wear many hats.  Well, put on your chief marketer hat for a moment and think about the importance of your online presence.  No bones about it, online is where people find information these days. Yet as many as half of small businesses don’t have websites, despite the fact that 97 percent of consumers search for products and services online. See article.  Trust me, they are going to CHECK YOU OUT online first.

Small businesses need an online presence

Small businesses need an online presence

Have you been too busy to give your online presence the attention it deserves? Imagine you’re at a job interview, standing there making an impression on a potential boss (in this case a customer) but you’re too distracted, too busy to be part of the interview.   They’re looking over your website (or lack thereof) and considering your qualifications to earn their business.  Are they impressed?  Or taking a pass?

There are a few mistakes I’ve noticed from business owners over the years that keep them from fulfilling their online presence potential.

Not Fulfilling Your Online Presence Potential

  1.  Being afraid to embrace change.  We’re all guilty of it.  Change is hard, especially when you don’t have much time to figure it out.  Doing the same old same old, however, is not going to snag you NEW customers.   Someone told me the other day, “I don’t worry about learning new things until I really have to. I guess I’ll have to get on Facebook one of these days.”   Thankfully, he wasn’t a business owner, but I suspect there are plenty of business owners who feel this way.
  2. Not knowing how to explain your business.  As a developer of websites, what shocks me most is that clients often aren’t sure how to talk about their business.  They can tell you what specials they have currently, but ask them to send you content for an About Us page and they stall longer than a kid trying to get out of homework.  Even if it’s obvious what your business does (think liquor store), your online presence should tell people who you are, why they should shop with you, what you offer that others don’t.
  3. Procrastinating till tomorrow, when tomorrow will never really come.  Often the core cause of the procrastination is because someone doesn’t know how to tackle the job or sometimes even what questions to ask.   What IS my online presence?  How do I use social media to benefit my business?   What should be on my website?  Who can help me and how do I start?

Getting started is the best place to start!

No one knows all the answers, even if they think they do.  Just when people think they know how to solve the mystery of search engine optimization, it changes.  The most important thing is to experiment to see what works for your own business.

  1. Learn from others.  Consider joining a business networking group and ask other owners what they do.  Look at your competitors’ online presence. The beauty of the internet is that you can even learn from “competitors” who are on the other side of the country.  If you own a plumbing company, you can discover pretty cool ideas from what other plumbing companies are doing even if they’re hundreds of miles away.   The point is to take time to learn from others.  Keeping your head in the sand does not bode well when you are on the lookout for new business.  Keeping your head in the sand does not bode well when you are on the lookout for new business.
  2. Build relationships.   In the days of Mad Men, this may have happened over a dry martini and good steak dinner.   Today, you can build relationships online (not referring to dating here) by showing your customers you care enough about them to help them.  If you sell organic honey, go beyond including information on the virtues of honey.  Post a bunch of delicious dinner recipes that include your honey to help that busy parent figure out the nightly healthy dinner conundrum.  If you own a home remodeling business, go beyond posting photos of your recent work to include a home remodeling cost calculator on your website or tips on how to save money on home remodeling.  Teddy Roosevelt was right – “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
  3. Recruit help.  If you aren’t sure how to establish or improve your online presence, get help from a professional.   Skipjack Web Services will be happy to partner with you to take the next steps so you can show up on time and to that next interview and get the next customer.