In this challenging economy, diligent care of your web presence should be the focus of every small business’s marketing plan. If your still holding out, consider these three benefits of the web:
Traditional marketing mediums are pathetically ineffective compared to the web. Print ads, signage, radio, yellow pages … all are lost in the noise and reach only segments of your potential customer base, at best. With the help of search engines, people who are actually seeking your services can find you. Your website works for you 24-hours/day, 7 days/week and is just a few clicks away from anyone connected to the internet.
2. Customer Satisfaction
A well-tended web presence makes basic information about your business–hours of operation, phone number, address, etc.–easy to find. In a small but significant way, you make your customers lives a little easier by putting this stuff out there where they can find it. You save your customers the frustration of unsuccessful searches. Even if only sub-consciously, the pleasure of a question answered and a slightly less stressful day will make a lasting impression on your customers.
3. Trust and Respect
Finally, having a web presence shows your customers that you are serious about your business. You have your act together and your priorities in the right place. Whatever your industry or expertise, an accurate web presence is evidence that you know what you are doing and you plan to be around for a while.
- Google Places: Claim or set up your Google Place Page. It will be the #1 listing in searches for your business. Pretty much a no-brainer.
- Yelp and other social review sites: Claim your listing on these sites and keep an eye on what people are saying about your business (warning: people are often rude and unrestrained on the internet, so this can require a great deal of grace and maturity from you). Direct happy customers to leave a review of your business on the site. Maybe even give them some kind of incentive or gift for doing so.
- Facebook: Despite our love/hate relationship with Facebook, it cannot be ignored that Facebook practically is the internet for some people. Set up a page for your business, then feel out the best way for you to engage with your customers through it. Here are two articles to start with: 9 Rules of Facebook Promotion Every Small Business Should Know and How To Promote Your Small Business Through Facebook
Extra credit: Register your domain and get your own website set up there
- Chris Brogan has an excellent article on the steps required to getting a website up.
- I have written about a few excellent web-based tools and services for small business websites that you may like to check out.