You may think, “I’ve received all my clients through word of mouth so far, why should I bother going online?” and yes, word of mouth is one of the best forms of publicity – but if you want to attract new customers and build your clientele, getting yourself online is essential.
Roughly one third of the world’s population has access to the Internet and most of these users like to ‘try before they buy’. This means before parting with their hard earned cash, people generally want to find out as much as they can about a service or product – and researching on the Internet is fast becoming their first port of call.
The fact that you are a small business can actually work to your advantage online. It is likely that you are wanting to attract customers from your local area to increase chances of repeat custom, and thankfully big search engines like Google have you covered. These search engines usually track peoples’ IP addresses to find out where they live so that when they search for a service, such as a counsellor or nutritionist, the search engine will come up with local counsellors or nutritionists near them – clever huh?
How do I do it?
The key to making yourself visible online is having a diverse presence. This means having yourself listed on an online directory (a study by Burke revealed that 8 out of 10 people will use a directory when researching a product or service before anything else), having your own website and utilising social media.
No matter how big or small your business is – you should never underestimate the power of social media. When you are starting up, this is basically free PR for your company. It offers you a way to reach out to potential customers, keep in touch with existing customers and generally takes the whole word of mouth idea to another level.
Creating your online presence gives you a chance to really hone your brand and develop a voice. It also allows you to verbalise your company’s morals, mission statement and values, helping potential customers gain an insight into what you’re all about. Building up a presence can take time, but if you are willing to put the effort in you will start to see positive results and discover a whole new world of opportunity.
Once you have successfully entered the online world you can start to use some technical wizard-style tools such as SEO to make yourself even more visible, but we’ll save that for another time ;).
P.S. Those funky diagrams are part of a really interesting Infographic.