I am often asked by offline businesses how having a strong web presence really makes their businesses more money. First I tell them it depends on how serious you are about networking and meeting new people. Second, I tell them it depends on how much they really want to grow and how much effort are they really willing to work to improve their business.
Before You Do Anything Online You Have to Have an Open Mind
Mindset is everything and if you’re telling yourself that this website, blogging, social media stuff doesn’t work, you’re RIGHT! If you’re telling yourself and others that you don’t have time, you’re RIGHT!
Just the other day I was talking with Brandon who is the owner of a large local pet supply company. In fact, it’s one of the largest family owned retail pet stores in the area.
He is your classic business-to-consumer company that is trying to figure out a way to make his business more profitable through the internet.
Brandon’s biggest struggle wasn’t technology or even the cost of technology. His biggest struggle was trying to understand something that appeared to be complex coupled with the negative stories he heard from other business owners about their negative experiences online.
It was obvious that no matter how many good ideas or strategies I had he was simply not open. Now, could I possibly earn an opportunity to make it worth his while? Sure, I could show him stats and what he is losing out on and what he could be doing and possibly turn the tide and earn some money.
But, because of his belief system and what he taught himself the moment things are not going the way he wants them to go he will validate why this was not a good idea and my company will be left with a problem – an unhappy client.
I have enough experience to know that it won’t work out not because we don’t have good ideas but because in his mindset he is always looking to validate his belief system.
See, he built a successful business on the old practice of advertising and direct mail. Why does he really need this internet stuff? Okay, he knows why, I was just baiting you a bit there.
He knows that his website and internet marketing isn’t working but he’s not open to understanding that the old model of advertising is predicated on a different value system in an old economy that doesn’t exist anymore.
I run into a lot of business owners who still think that the old way of doing things is the way to go so they justify why their profits are down and they don’t have as many customers as they used to have.
Are You Serious About Networking and Meeting New People
The principles of networking are how every entrepreneur has gotten wealthy and every business was made successful. Reaching the masses via mass media has only gotten harder over the years and the cost is staggering for small business. Why do you think you only see the big companies advertising on television?
What the internet does for all of us is level the playing field. We can reach the masses who want to be reached and finding them and connecting with them is the key to successful online experience for a business in my opinion.
So, how can a business to consumer company like Brandon’s use the internet to reach a larger audience that wants to buy from them?
Great question, I thought you would never ask!
#1 Get to know your customers personally
As I walked through this massive store it was amazing watching exciting customers picking out their expensive aquarium tanks and then choosing which salt water fish they were buying. One guy seemed so excited he could hardly contain himself.
One idea is that there ought to be a staff member who is walking the floor and chatting with the customers, building the relationship between the customer and helping them with their every need.
But that is the in store experience. How do you take it online and how do you increase your visibility and earn more customers from online?
#2 Get your customers involved while they are excited
What if you asked permission to do a short, scripted spontaneous video after talking with the customer and of hearing his or her excitement? As a gesture of being willing to do it you’ll give something or a store credit in appreciation of their willingness to share their experience in the store.
Now you have video! WOW!!!!
Get a few pics as well if you can.
If they have their phone on them ask them to connect with you right there on your Facebook or Google Plus page and ask them to look for the upcoming video. Or better yet, you’ve given them a reason to join your email newsletter and now they can look for it when it comes in their inbox.
#3 Be smart with how you use the video
How many would just take the video and upload it straight to YouTube and then share it all over your social media? Yep, that used to be me. I did that all of the time. BIG mistake!
Here is what you should do…
Load it to YouTube but don’t share your video directly on your social media pages. Instead, embed it on your website blog and do a short article. It’s really super easy to do and requires little to no real technical knowledge. You can learn it fast no matter what type of website software you have (WordPress, Joomla, Concrete5, etc).
Be sure to add the pictures you took as well.
Now, take the link on your website or blog and put that on your social media and email it to your customer with another coupon.
Here is what is likely to happen. They are going to share your website with a lot of people! They are going to do your marketing for you by sharing the social media pages and telling their friends and family. And, if your page template is built right you can have lots of reasons for these new folks to come and visit your store, and you can change the template once anytime by adding and removing messages, sales and coupons and it will change on all of the pages.
This can be duplicated over and over again all day long in your store. Think of the amount of exposure you can garner?
I saw people with dogs having fun in the store and mingling with other dog owners. People were adopting cats, buying birds… pets bring joy to our lives so why not share the joy?
It doesn’t really matter what business you’re in or even if you’re talking on the phone. Yesterday I read an article by Chery Schmidt where she offered some great tips on how to influence and win your online customers when you’re on the phone with them.
Your website and social media can do so much independent of a search engine like Google. Take advantage of the technology and use it to network with your customers and their friends, family, acquaintances, social media followers and co-workers.
They will love it and re-share it. All because you created a fun and interesting atmosphere and made it all about them.
The Question is Do You Really Want to Grow Online and Are You Willing to Do the Work?
Aren’t those the real questions? The reality of it is when you say:
- I don’t have the time
- I don’t have the experience
- I don’t have the knowledge
Blah, blah, blah… is that it’s an excuse coming from a deep insecurity or fear.
The result is a list of excuses. Excuses, that is all that is. Just excuses from the mindset you have created that justifies why you won’t succeed and validates you when you don’t
Great ideas are born out of the desire to succeed. Great ideas come from trying and trying again until you get to the point that you find that sweet spot.
Many business owners I find just don’t want to take the time to learn something new. Do you think the one idea I gave you in this article was valuable? There are so many more where that comes from.
But, in order for you to be proactive and grow online it means you will need to take the initiative to build a community.
Who could that community be:
- People who frequent your store
- People in your store who are excited to be buying your products
- People attending your special events
- Those who are on your mailing list
- Those who are on your email list
- Those who are on your social media
How are you engaging with them and are you giving them reasons to buy from you?
I will be honest with you, it’s a lot of hard work. But, it will pay for itself over and over again. One year from now your videos and web pages will be working for you even better than in the weeks following.
I hope you can see that your online presence is only limited by your own creativity. You can start online or as I illustrated you can network online with your offline customers. In either case, you have to know your audience.
Want to learn more about how to discover your audience?
Now it’s your turn. Do you have a question or would you like to contribute some ideas? If so, please leave a comment below and let’s share with one another in the comments.