In the online-based economy we live in today, consumers can no longer follow the yellow page road to your business. Traditional methods of print advertising and other low cost methods of advertising that worked in the past are now secondary measures at best. Even the industry magazines are moving to online media and hiking up their ad-placement rates. While the old ways still have their place, particularly for certain demographics, it is important to establish a strong online presence. From a mom and pop shop to a multinational corporation, driving web traffic and promoting widespread brand recognition for your business is vital to success in today’s marketplace.
Start with a Site
The first step to making this happen may seem a bit obvious: build a quality website. Your company’s web page should be a digital storefront that effectively represents your physical operations. The key to any marketing, online or otherwise, is to communicate your unique value proposition to the customer. What differentiates you from all of the other options available to potential consumers? Make sure the answer is evident to visitors of your online store front. It is equally important to communicate information about your unique products and/or services in a language that search engines can understand.
Understanding Customer Intent and Search Engine Speak
I imagine most of us these days have at least a cursory knowledge of how search engines work; at least from a user’s perspective. You type in a keyword or phrase and the search engine returns the most relevant results it can to try and serve up the information it thinks you are looking for. The foundation of any good online business platforms is understanding customer intent. If you can accurately identify what searches are driving customers to your site, and tailor your content on your site to organically incorporate those keywords/phrases into quality content, then you are off to an excellent start in building a sustainable and profitable online revenue stream.
Starting the Revenue Stream
Now, I realize that all of this is easier said than done. Particularly for those of us that aren’t “digital natives” or simply lack the technical skills, time or desire to develop a website this e-commerce migration can seem overwhelming. While there are various content management systems and helpful plugins to help the less technically inclined develop their online presence, sometimes you may find it more worthwhile to hire an SEO (search engine optimization) specialist and a web developer. If you’ve ever looked into contracting out these services, you know they don’t come cheap.
A quality site can cost thousands of dollars and SEO services represent another considerable cost. How can you change your brick and mortar into pixels and product pages without breaking the bank?
Given the recent economic downturn and the increasingly strict lending requirements imposed by banks, it can be very difficult for business owners to get funding for expansion or even to subsidize their existing operations. Luckily, there are alternative financing options available if you can provide sufficient evidence that your new ventures will be successful. Given the vast potential of the internet, an investment in your online development can pay tremendous dividends and prove to be well worth the risk.
Whether you choose to tackle the project alone, or invest in professional help, it no longer makes sense to rely on traditional advertising methods. Start trying to figure out how to use the internet to help you help your customers.
This post was originally published for ResourceNation by Jim Rutherford