This article aims to provide valuable information that will help small business owners to leverage the benefits of launching their business online. Is it really easy for them to handle their business and online stuff together? Well… I would say it’s not that easy, though it’s not that much harder as well!
Starting a local business and expecting local customers from offline marketing techniques like word of mouth publicity, local daily ads and other offline stuff is understandable but running your business online and targeting customers and sales on the web is another thing and it requires special tactics. I am going to explain some of those tactics in this article that will give you immense knowledge, confidence and determination to get started with your business online.
Steps to put your business online:
- The foremost step is to have a neat and clean website depicting your business specifications and services. Many a times I have seen people giving not much preference to the design of the website and that results in a shady image online. You can easily find information regarding how to create a website on Google. I would suggest that you hire a web designer to do that task for you. Just book a nice domain name for your website and book a hosting space from a credible hosting provider. This is a simple and common thing which many small business owners do not tend to focus on – so make sure you get your basics right.
- Once your website is ready online, let’s get started with local SEO or in other words, local promotion within and nearby your area. To begin with, create an account on Google Places to list your business online. You can visit www.google.com/places and sign in with your Gmail account details.
- Once you are on the listing page, you will need to enter information like company name, address, website URL, phone numbers and other things. Make sure you enter all the information correctly. Google will then verify your information through a telephone call before creating map listing of your company. This process may take couple of weeks. You can also do a basic yahoo directory listing as per your category and geographic location.
- Once placement of your business on Google Places is done, it is your job to encourage your current customers to take out some time to visit your Google Places profile and provide honest reviews about your products and services. A Google Places account with customer reviews stands ahead of your competitors and also instills a sense of credibility and reliability in new potential customers.
- The next step is to collate a list of local business websites wherein you can enter your company details. Some useful local business websites can be Yellow Pages, Craigslist, SuperPages, Insider Pages, and others. These websites will help spread your company’s presence online. Make sure you are mentioning your company address and phone numbers in all these local websites so that the potential customer can easily contact or reach you.
- You should keep your website up-to-date with all the information you want to pass on to your customers. Outdated websites tend to get lost in the overcrowded online marketplace.
- Do not forget to make your presence social through social media websites, as they prove to be a real destination to get targeted customers for your products or services. I would say this is the perfect platform to show the USP of your company and the products you offer. You can create your company pages on Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter and other social networking websites and showcase your products and special festive deals, if any. Doing regular updates of your social accounts with special deals will attract hoards of people to like your page and to become your ultimate customers.
- If you have a product-based business, then you can tie up with other e-commerce websites to list your products as such e-commerce or shopping websites have gigantic traffic that gives you a good chance to reap good amount product sales. This will further help in generating company awareness among the populace.
- You can also leverage classified ad websites like eBay, Craigslist and others to sell your products. It may require more time than you expected to create and maintain these accounts and that could become a problem for you. Later on, you’ll be able to afford a dedicated person who will do the marketing for you through classified ad websites.
I do not think that the above mentioned points require much money and time to give a real boost to your online business. I haven’t mentioned any technicalities whatsoever such as On-Site Optimization, Search Engine Optimization, Paid Advertising and so on. Google can make things happen in two ways – simple way or the technical way!
Let’s first get started with the simple way and when you will get time and money for the resources, you can always go for the technical method.
If you are one of those small business owners who think that you need to hire an SEO expert to bring your business online, will you will at least forget that perception and give this a try yourself?