Growing a small business takes time.
Unfortunately you need to be realistic and you can’t expect to jump right in and start making millions of dollars (it even took TradeMe a few years). It takes a sustainable approach to your marketing to generate leads, sales of your products or services and to eventually improve your bottom line.
Many of the successful businesses you see (especially the larger ones) have a highly specialized marketing staff running their daily operations.
However, most small business owners can’t afford such employees. You are on your own. This usually means that have to turn yourself into the specialized marketing department as well as generate the leads by yourself. While it may take a bit of work I suggest you spend some time in educating yourself on simple marketing strategies and resources. In this way you may discover a whole new level of business possiblities and growth strategies you never thought possible.
We aren’t asking you to get a degree, or to spend too much time away from your core business, but if you can become proficient in a few simple areas, it can help you understand what makes your website work, what might improve it and help you work with your web designer to get the right focus.
Marketing & your website
Your website is your “storefront.” You should put as much into your virtual storefront as you would to the front window display at a traditional store on Main Street. Your website needs to attract customers and keep them coming back for more.
Remember that although business that is conducted online may be quite different in theory and practice to brick and mortar businesses, the one constant is the customer and how he/she thinks! Customers still like to think they have got a bargain, good value for money or top service. These are things they will tell others about.
In the real world we all know that word of mouth is the best advertising tool one can have – well it is no different online, except that sometimes word of mouth works at lightning speed online compared to the real world.
So for your product or service to become popular online it still needs to meet the same criteria that would/could make it popular offline and answer some of the following questions;
- Is my product or service needed?
- If so can I determine my target market?
- Do my target market go online?
- If selling a product do my target market buy online?
- How much opposition does my product or service have?
- If my product is not unique, what makes it better than similar products?
If you can’t answer most of the questions above in the affirmative, then you are going to struggle to market your product online successfully. Websites are not just build and they will come businesses – if you walk along the street in your town you might see 20 cafes all competing for the same business. Deciding which cafe you go into can be determined by things like;
- closest to where I got a car park,
- saw a friend through the window,
- had outdoor seating and it was a nice day,
- second cup of coffee free sign
On the web, it is completely different because in theory you are competing with every coffee shop in the world, because locality now has no meaning. There are no signs out to see what the cafe or seating looks like, you basically have to click a link in Google to find out more. With millions of opposition websites, your point of difference is even more important, so you need to plan your marketing in conjunction with your website in a well thought out manner.
Parts of those strategies may include social media like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Newsletters, Blogs and more as they come on stream or evolve. You can’t forget normal media like advertising in magazines, newspapers, on the radio and TV but your marketing plan needs to encompass all these areas and be planned out according to budget.
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- ~ Gavin Whiting (Aoraki Business Coach)
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