If you are a local business or one that has never considered entering the online marketplace, then you are missing out on a real opportunity! Even though you have a small customer base, there is no reason why you can’t broaden your reach with the right tools and marketing techniques. In fact, local artisan producers and manufacturers have become more popular in recent years. If you are considering expanding your business, then here are a few tips to help you.
What Do You Want?
Having an online presence is a good thing, but you need to decide what it is you want to show the public. Do you intend to sell your products online, or are you simply looking to provide information? There will be more work involved in having an online store, but you will also benefit from sales from wider areas and perhaps other countries. Once you know what you want, you can approach someone to help you build your website. There are alternatives such as templates you can use, but these might not offer the types of features you want.
- Building the Infrastructure & Getting Noticed Online
Apart from your website, you also need to ensure that your business can cope with the additional demand that might arise. For example, if someone ordered a product to be sent overseas, do you have the means to make that happen? You will need to do some research into shipping both locally and globally so that you can send things as soon as they are ordered. You also need to speak to your suppliers to see if they can cope with any surge in orders as a result. Will you need someone to monitor your online store or perhaps your social media? Customers often purchase online because it’s quicker than going into the store, so you need to be prepared to respond quickly. Alternatively, you can place a caveat on your website to alert customers that shipping will take a few days.
When you want to get your website noticed, there are certain ways you can achieve this without paying for it. However, some of these tools are useful in both cases, as it makes the site more user-friendly and it also matches what the search engines want. One tool is SEO or Search Engine Optimization. There are many sites where you can read more about SEO, but in essence, you need to get the basics right to have a chance of being discovered. Another idea is to write great content for your website. People love to read interesting articles on all manner of subjects. If you can start to create some of these articles, then you will have people visiting your website to read them. You can then entice them to follow links to your products or services while they are there. Using social media is another great way to capture your audience. You can use any platform from Twitter to YouTube although making videos on YouTube can get you more results.
- Marketing & Social Media
A sound marketing strategy is a good way of getting more clicks to your site because it places your company in front of people who are looking for your products. It is also a good way to find local customers that might not know you are there. It can be a good way to drive traffic to a new site or to promote your company locally, but it can become costly if you aren’t careful. To promote locally, try sponsoring a sports team or event that is run by the community. Online promotions can involve using local TV channels or placing advertising on the screens at local cinemas. You can also do the same for national TV and cinemas with details of your social media and website. Targeted advertising on Facebook and Twitter is rapidly becoming a good way to get your products noticed. These can be focused on specific demographics that you can choose.
There is a lot of evidence to suggest that visual elements are more attractive to customers than text only. It is supported by the fact that posts on social media are far more likely to be clicked if there is a picture or video than if there is only the comment. It means that if you want to convey any information on your website or social media, then you need to have a visual element to explain or back-up the narrative. For example, if you want to, you can start to make how-to videos or product videos for YouTube. You can then add these to your website to encourage people to become involved and perhaps make a purchase. You should also be using social media to promote your business so that it can be shared as far as possible. To do this, you need to be an active participant and comment on other posts as well as creating your own.
Some companies decide that they want to enter into a collaboration with another company. The reasons could be that they want to share the cost of advertising, or perhaps they feel that their two products will work well together. It can sometimes be a good addition to having your own website and you can cross-promote them. If you do decide to go with collaboration, you need to be sure that the other company has the customer base to help you grow. If you enter into a partnership with a company that gets no online sales, then you may be wasting your time.
Setting up and running a business online takes time and patience. Even with all of these tips, it will still be a little while before you start to see the fruits of your hard work. As a local company, you need to offer the same service to your existing customers as you did before, but also try to transfer some of that winning formula online. However, if you are determined, and persevere, then you will get the business you need.