A note from Don… I’m excited to have with us today someone I admire and respect. Andrew Warner not online is a talented and smart blogger, he is a business owner who understands the internet.
Take it away Andrew…
It looks easy, doesn’t it?
Knuckling down and finally taking your business online.
But what does that mean? What’s really involved in that?
I mean, you flirted with the idea, but never knew what was really involved, did you?
There’s more than just registering a domain name, writing a couple relevant articles or even promoting it. You have to engage with others, build relationships, map out a strategy to take you to where you want your business to go.
It’s not as easy as people think. It takes a little bit more work to truly get being online — but it’s worth it.
Especially when you have the potential to double, triple or even quadruple the growth your business is experiencing right now. Because being online leads to three things for your business:
- More exposure worldwide.
- More “potential” leads that you can convert into loyal customers.
- More money in your bank account.
And in this article, you’ll learn why you’ll never grow your business to reach its full potential unless you create an online presence.
Offline Businesses Need To Make The Shift Online (or Get Left Behind)
Let me ask you a question.
How smart of a business person do you think you are?
Obviously smart enough to start your own business, right? And even smart enough to operate, and maintain it for as long as you have, correct?
But are you smart enough to realize that:
- A large number of consumers do their searches online BEFORE making a decision to purchase something.
- You are the expert in your own business. There’s no better way to position yourself than by building a strong online presence.
- You can grow your business tremendously if you have a following.
As a business owner, your main goal is to provide excellent customer service at all times. You want to make sure that the experience your customer experiences with you is something memorable. And hopefully, they’ll spread the word to others who’ll do the same.
That’s how you build up a loyal following of customers.
Why Creating An Online Presence Will Strengthen Your Business (and Lead To More Sales Than You Can Handle)
Do you know what the real difference between offline and online is?
Offline, you can develop more than a few loyal customers to your business. Online, you can develop a whole following. And that following can drive in more business than you can imagine — if you do it right.
But whatever your business is, you should consider creating an online presence for the following reasons:
1. It Helps Shape Your Image & Brand
Branding is something that a lot of businesses overlook when trying to come online. Either they don’t know what it is, or they don’t know how to do it effectively — but it’s too important to ignore.
Realistically, it all comes down to understanding what business you’re “really” in.
When you know that, you can start shaping your brand, and image, to whatever you want your customers to see.
Take a business like Starbucks for instance.
They not only know what business they’re “really” in, but they’ve built an online presence to shape their brand as well. Look at their online presence on Facebook:
They certainly know what they’re doing when it comes to building an online presence, don’t they? And because of that, they’ve kept their brand sharp and powerful.
You can achieve these same results too because having an effective and powerful brand comes down to:
1. Choosing a domain name that memorable. This means NOT being cute with your name. You want something that represents you and your business when your customers think about it.
2. Knowing what your brand stands for. You need to have a full understanding of what your brand is about. What’s your primary purpose? What do you want to be known for? Those are questions that have to be answered.
3. Being active. Do you think it’s possible that you can get the results you desire if you’re not active on relevant social channels? What about if you don’t keep your customers updated with a blog — or email? Those things are too important to neglect.
2. It Provides An Opportunity To Connect With Your Prospects Anytime (and Win Their Business)
Make no mistake that your customers are always busy. And unless they’re loyal customers, they’re always looking for the best deals — depending on what business you’re in.
That’s why it’s important to create an online presence so that your customers can:
- Connect with you and your business on a personal level. They’ll be able to do this by seeing your status updates and knowing what’s going on with you and your business.
- Know where you are — or where you’re going to be (depending on your business).
That second point may not work for all businesses but take this business for instance. Having an online presence certainly works for him, doesn’t it?
And although you may think it’s just a food truck, he gets a lot of business because he has such a loyal following that he’s built up online.
Certainly helps when loyal customers helps advertise your business like this, doesn’t it?
And support you over any other competition.
More than likely your customers are active on various social networking sites. It’s your job to make sure you’re constantly connecting with them and building that relationship.
3. You’re Exposed To A Larger Audience So You Can Potentially Get More Referrals
Let me share a quick, TRUE story with you …
About 4 years ago, an associate of mine, here in Toronto, started an Art business selling local paintings. His job was to be the middleman and sell the paintings and other pieces of art for the artists. His theory was, “Artists are good at what they do, which is painting. They need me so I can be great at what I do, and that’s selling.”
And he was.
For the first year or so, he did very well. He had 50 clients and was averaging 4 – 7 sales per day selling art pieces that sold anywhere from $300 – $700 — and making 35% commission per sale.
A few months after that, he created a website to take his business online … and that’s when business really picked up.
He grew from 50 clients to 360 in a year of being online. Now, he has a network of 935 artists, across Canada, that he works with — and he sells their art work to art lovers all around the world.
So, what’s the point of this story?
He grew his business, had more exposure and got more referrals when he came online. Just imagine what you can do for your business? Think of all the places and prospects that you can reach if you take your business online.
That’s something you need to act on.
A Few “Behind-The-Scenes” Rules Offline Business Can’t Afford To Ignore When Integrating Online Practices
1. You Have To Start With A Real Plan
No matter what your business is, you can’t truly succeed in it without a plan. You know that, right?
Of course you do. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be the smart business person you are. So if you had to have a decisive plan to make your offline business work, why wouldn’t you need a plan to flourish online?
The short answer is … you do.
You had a plan in place to make your first dollar, right? And to acquire your first customer, correct?
If you want to grow your business online, you need to have a plan for that as well.
Here are some things you need to ask yourself before you formulate your plan:
- Who is your target audience?
- What social media platforms are they on and how do you plan to reach them?
- What are your weekly/monthly/quarterly/yearly objectives?
- Which online marketing strategies will you devise?
- Will you be the one to handle the online marketing? Or will that go to someone else?
- How will you measure any success you get?
These aren’t all the questions you need to answer, but it’s a start. When you have an answer to each question that you’re thoroughly satisfied about, you can start putting your plan into place.
In business, if you don’t have a solid plan, you’ll never figure out where you’re going. Let alone get there.
2. Follow Directions and Never Assume You Know Everything
Imagine this scenario…
You’ve just purchased a Peninsula desk with hutch doors and attached credenza for your office.
Anxious to get everything assembled, you start unpacking each box — completely ignoring the directions in the plastic wrapper that came with it. As you look at all the parts spread out on your office floor, you say to no one in particular, “Seems simple enough.”
But, 3 hours pass and clearly no progress has been made. Feeling defeated, you reach for the plastic wrapper containing the directions and start reading it.
And within 2 hours, with the help of the directions, you put everything together.
Sounds familiar, right?
We’ve all been there before. We’ve all thought we knew it all and didn’t need directions for something, haven’t we?
As business owners, there’s no question that you’re confident in your abilities. You not only know what your customers want, but know how to market to them effectively — offline. But just because you know what you’re doing offline, doesn’t mean that you’ll automatically know what you’re doing online.
Following your “gut” online may work for a little while — until you hit that wall. Then, you’ll have to start all over again because of something you missed.
And as hard as it may be to follow directions sometimes, it’s better than suffering a setback.
Having an offline business can be a thrill — and I commend anyone who has one. But, you’d be foolish if you didn’t implement online strategies to help grow it to heights you couldn’t even imagine.
The world we live in today, being online is a necessity for any business because most of your customers are online. And a smart business owner knows that they need to be where their customers are.
Being clueless isn’t an option anymore — you need an online presence to build your business.
And if you’re considering it, just know it may take a while to build it. But as long as you put in the time, energy and focus needed to do so, you can be successful.
That’s what I want for my business. I’m pretty sure you want the same thing as well.
So what do you think? Are you clueless about building your online presence? Or are you well on your way?
Take a moment and share your thoughts in the comment section. And, we would appreciate it if you took a moment to share this post. It’ll not only make us happy, but could really help someone you share it with.
About Andrew Warner
Andrew M. Warner is the author of Shadeofinfo.com, where he helps bloggers and entrepreneurs grow their blogs from nothing into something amazing. Get his free report, “5 Proven Strategies That Will Growth Hack Your Blog Immediately” to learn how to open the floodgates to massive traffic and grow your blog … the smart way.