No longer is it enough to build a Website and expect to compete these days. Prospects, even those that are looking to do business locally, turn to search engines to find every kind of business and solve every kind of problem.
Today’s small businesses need to approach the internet with a mindset that’s focused on creating the largest presence—digital footprint—possible in order to stand out, and show up, when a prospect goes poking for a solution.
The internet now represents the center of the marketing world. Most marketing decisions must start and end there. Today’s small business must view its marketing strategies and tactics with a mindset on growing an online presence that makes them the obvious choice and facilitates most of the offline transactional functions that drive sales and service.
The Foundational Elements of an Obvious Choice Web Presence
- Building an online listening station (Google Alerts, Twitter List, HootSuite and SproutSocial)
- Optimizing brand assets in sharing services (eBooks, Seminars, SlideShare, YouTube, and Newsletters)
- Claiming valuable social media real estate (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn)
- Claiming valuable local network real estate, (Google Business Page, Bing Business Page, Yellow Page Listing)
- Participating in ratings and review sites, (Yelp!, MerchantCircle and
- Maximizing social media activity (Posting education content that links back to your website)
All businesses, regardless of industry, have become what I like refer to as O2O (online
to offline) businesses. Their primary marketing objectives are focused on driving people
online to drive them offline.
This is how you begin to make your content strategy pay. This is how you begin to activate the informing and educating elements of your Marketing Process.
In that effort, the online presence has significantly heightened responsibilities:
- While advertising was used primarily to create a sale or enhance an image, it
must now be used to create awareness for your website, online media assets
- While SEO has traditionally been about optimizing web page copy by targeting
keyword phrases in certain frequencies and densities, it must now rely on crafting
content so compelling that other people want to promote it by linking to it or
sharing it, which increases your trust and authority and helps the pages you want
to rank well for certain keywords.
- While lead generation used to consist of broadcasting messages, it must now
rely heavily on creating the right content, delivered to the right person, at the right time.
- While lead conversion often consisted of multiple sales calls to supply
information, it must now support online information gathering with value delivery.
- While referrals used to be a simple matter of passing a name along, referrals
now rely heavily on an organization’s online reputation, ratings and reviews.
- While physical store location has always mattered, now the online location for the local business has become a life and death matter.
If you are still looking at marketing efforts in a linear way – with online tactics falling
somewhere in line – it’s essential that you change this view entirely. Today’s business
owner must build a marketing strategy with the online engagement at the center. Only
then can small businesses create a strong foundation that will carry the company’s
marketing efforts into the next decade.
About the Author: Patrick McFadden is the owner and marketing consultant at Indispensable Marketing, a strategic marketing firm in Chesterfield, VA. We help small to midsize businesses create marketing plans and growth processes that generate leads and close sales.