Why Small business owner should have their online presence?

Giving your small business an online presence means more than simply putting up a little website with your company’s address and phone number. It means setting up a virtual version of your business, with a welcoming, informative website, a Facebook page and Twitter account. In this electronic era, more people search online for the products and services they need as opposed to searching through a phone book. Ignoring this important potential marketing platform is akin to saying, “I don’t need any new business.”

The Internet has revolutionized the role small businesses have in the larger economy. Despite smaller spaces, they can now compete with larger businesses through an effective online presence.

“Just a few years ago, 50 percent of small businesses didn’t have a website. Today you have to have a website and a social media presence.”You first have to figure out where your customers go to receive their news.”

“Then, if they are using social channels (and most Internet users are!), the next step is to engage with them. Social media isn’t a one way street. Listen to your customers and reply to their posts. That’s how you turn average customers into brand ambassadors.”

With all of the information swirling around the Internet, Google e-mail Alerts sift through the noise for you, and deliver all of the articles pertinent to your business, right to your e-mail inbox. There are tools like Postling.com that provide you with  work flow to take action on what you see in the social media.

Networking is very important, but beyond that, find your niche and establish yourself as a thought leader. Becoming a resource for your peers is a win-win: you’ll help them while you challenge yourself to continue to grow. Sharing knowledge earns you karma and also gives you the opportunity to pay it forward.

Ultra-Competitive Environment

In today’s ultra-competitive environment, your small business needs an online presence just to be found. Showing up in a prospective customer’s search results can provide a significant advantage over competitors in your niche and, let’s face it, a significant portion of the market you serve is made of up consumers who begin their quest for products and services online.

If most of your customer base is local, and you’re not looking to expand beyond the local marketplace, make sure that your listing is linked to Google maps. Doing so ensures that, when a customer or prospect types your city and business description in the search field (e.g.- “Phoenix bowling ball repair”), your business’ name and location should appear on the map. Prospective customers also may find you by performing a “Search Nearby” on Google maps for bowling ball repair businesses in the area.

Beyond getting found, being listed on Google maps is helpful to customers who rely on GPS devices to navigate their driving. Small businesses not listed on Google Maps run the risk of seeming out-of touch.

There are far more online directories than you might imagine. You may not use them yourself, but you never know where your next customer may find you—so, choose several and submit your information. Make sure you keep track of them on a spreadsheet, so you can accurately update information as your business grows.

Look for directories that are specific to your niche, as well as broad-based directories such as: Local.com, AngiesList.com, Yahoo!Local, BingPlaces, Yelp, YellowPages.com, CitySearch, Manta, Kudzu.com, etc. The value of online directories varies, but having these listings should boost both your website traffic and your search engine ranking.

Although there are many social media sites to consider—and there are good reasons for you to be using Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and others—Facebook is a solid choice for both small businesses that are just venturing into the social realm and local small businesses that want to bring in foot traffic.

Importance of Facebook

Facebook is one of the most popular sites for small businesses because it provides a great way to showcase locations, hours of operation, photos, web addresses, and relevant content. Updating your Facebook page at least once a month will keep your business top-of-mind for customers, and hopefully catch the attention of prospects who are on the fence about doing business with you. You can also encourage followers to share your page, which would increase your following. The platform even empowers you to distribute targeted advertising to Facebook users who may not know about your business yet.

Although there are many social media sites to consider—and there are good reasons for you to be using Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and others—Facebook is a solid choice for both small businesses that are just venturing into the social realm and local small businesses that want to bring in foot traffic.

Facebook is one of the most popular sites for small businesses because it provides a great way to showcase locations, hours of operation, photos, web addresses, and relevant content. Updating your Facebook page at least once a month will keep your business top-of-mind for customers, and hopefully catch the attention of prospects who are on the fence about doing business with you. You can also encourage followers to share your page, which would increase your following. The platform even empowers you to distribute targeted advertising to Facebook users who may not know about your business yet.

Easier Selling and Marketing

It’s a well-known marketing fact that people like to buy but don’t like to be sold. A well-written piece of copy for your products or services on your website allow buyers to make a more relaxed, informed decision to purchase, as opposed to feeling pressured by a possible pushy salesperson. Marketing your business is also easier and more far reaching, as the electronic format allows for a wider, more cost-effective distribution as opposed to traditional marketing, which usually included printing and mailing costs.

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