Do you have much of an online presence?
Almost all businesses need an online presence. Most business owners realize this. The problem is, most company websites look old fashioned and out of date.
In fact so many look like they were created because:
… Some bright spark encouraged the boss to get one years ago. The bright spark has since left through frustration.
… The boss heard that they really ought to have one to keep up with their competitors and ‘stay up to date’. That was as far as the online efforts went, a few thousand invested into a website that just sat there stagnating, receiving virtually no visitors at all.
Why do most websites look like this? They say that appearances can be deceptive, but in this case, these are the 2 most common situations and explain exactly what has happened.
So, with TV, print and billboard advertising becoming less and less cost effective what will you do? Will you keep hammering the telephone to try to keep business coming in? Client visits? Expensive prima donna sales people who can’t close a deal?
Anyone who has got their online efforts on track will agree, having people calling and emailing you to do business is far better. Even better still is to get up in the morning and take a look at how many orders came in overnight while you were asleep.
Speaking of making money in your sleep, that sounds a bit like the online dream that many marketers try to push with their guaranteed push button systems doesn’t it?
What is the truth? Is is easy to create or expand an online business?
The key is in the word business. What is your business offering? How many clients do you have? What are your margins? An already successful business can become even more successful by improving their online presence. If on the other hand you have an unsuccessful business, it will probably fail online too.
So, assuming you have a successful business…
(meaning that you have a product or service that people will pay you for, at a rate that allows you to pay all of the bills, and some extra to use for expansion).
You go online. Perhaps you sell a physical branded product that can be sold on Amazon, or on an online store. Perhaps you sell a service in the local area, you will want to create or improve a website that is search engine optimized for the local area. You will want to make sure your business is listed in Google My Business (the new ‘Google Places’), and featured on local directories and by local media.
Many businesses don’t fall into these clear cut strategies. You might want to look for customers in other areas, or be torn between paid advertising, social media marketing or trying to find affiliates to sell your product for you.
In many ways, creating or improving your search presence is an experiment in itself, so the best way to go about it is by using a blanket strategy. We call this the online omnipresence approach. Instead of choosing A particular avenue, you choose ALL that are suitable for your business.
You move from one to another mastering one technique at a time, until your customers are finding you… Everywhere. Unlike an offline business where the process is more labor intensive, online efforts are in many ways cumulative.
For example, if you opened a new restaurant and gave out fliers in the street, what happens when you stop giving out the fliers? New people stop seeing them and you are relying on different marketing methods. If you used the same time that it took to create the flyers, but added your business to Yelp and Zomato, new potential customers can keep seeing your message for weeks, months or years to come.
When movie film reels and plastic records were invented, actors and singers were able to become far more successful and wealthy. Instead of having to perform every week at the theatre or by going on ‘on tour’, their performances could be heard and viewed by millions, for decades. This is part of the logic behind nurturing a successful online presence.
Sam and his model train shop
So, lets imagine that you own a model train shop. The local fanatics know who you are and where you are situated. Every now and again you set up an exhibition and get some new publicity from your local newspaper. How will your business grow? You will probably be in a situation where you rely on Christmas sales every year to keep going. One bad Christmas and the following summer is going to be hard.
Now imagine a different city, and a different store. The store owner there is called Sam. Sam has every product that is stocked in the store also listed on Ebay, Amazon, AND a Shopify E-Commerce store. He is getting bigger discounts from his suppliers because of the volume of business that he is doing.
Whilst there are people competing on price online, Sam isn’t… On his blog he posts instructional ‘how to’ posts on every aspect of building miniature landscapes to properly display his trains. People are so happy for the advice they are less price conscious.
Not that Sam doesn’t offer bargains because he does… His products are bundled together in packages that are specially priced. This is fine because in the bundle, 2 items are very profitable and 2 are ‘lost leaders’ to make the package price more attractive. This is fine because he has chosen lightweight freebies that don’t affect the postage and packing cost much.
As well as the instructional posts on Sam’s blog, he has a YouTube channel and a Podcast that is found and downloaded all over the World. Sam is even starting to appear on other peoples Podcasts, not just in relation to model trains, but how to run a successful online business as well. He speaks at events and can’t believe that he actually gets paid for it.
The model train shop isn’t just a shop, the ‘shop keeper’ isn’t just a shop keeper. Sam is now an expert, and the shop is more of a showroom, especially now it has moved to its new premises that are 10 times the size.
Sam, (the model train expert), now has 4 Ebooks published on Amazon Kindle, one of them is only 50 pages long and retails at $3. Between the 4 Ebooks, the revenue is only about $1500 a month. This is fine because it is completely passive income. The books are delivered by Amazon, as is the monthly cheque.
Sam’s model train store now has the largest following in Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram in its niche. Products and offers are listed there by an outsourced online advertising specialist. Sam only checks last months revenue, and next months spend. The ad guy is now using Google Adwords to advertise on other peoples model train websites. Sam can’t believe that this is allowed. But it is.
Some of these other website owners have asked Sam to write an article on their site, and are happy to allow a link back to his own site. This too amazes Sam as his website is better, so to are the value of his product bundles. Why would competitors send their business to him? But they do…
The hardest decision is when to slow down. How much success is enough success? Since Sam put a general manager in place he doesn’t need to do so much. He can focus on his passion, which is to create bigger and better model railway systems. But it is tempting to take his Amazon UK listings and bundles on to Amazon US, France, Germany, Australia, Japan, and anywhere else. After all, they already know Sam through his blog, YouTube videos, Podcasts, guest posts and speeches.
Sam often sits back and wonders what his Father and Grandfather would think of what he has turned the small family store into.
So, this story is great, it is fictional but based on reality. You might be wondering whether this would work with a service, or with other products. We might need to modify or might tweak the process. Some online avenues will be suitable and some wont, but lets explore them.
It might seem like hard work, but the hard work is mostly in learning each new technique. After that, many processes or marketing materials will be in place permanently, such as the Podcasts, guest posts and Ebooks. Other tactics, (once proven profitable), can be outsourced or carried out by staff members. (For example tactics such as such as running Adwords or Ebay campaigns). At some point most successful online business owners find that the business almost runs itself, just as with offline businesses.
Hopefully you understand the difference between an online presence, and the online omnipresence that we promote. Can your business be omnipresent on the internet? Contact us and we will give you our best opinion.