Today's guest post is from my friend Simon over in the UK. He has been helping businesses succeed online for a decade and has become an expert in the space. In this post, he talks about ways to get your business out there. This will prove to be very helpful for all of you startups that have an amazing product but don't know what first steps to take to get it in people's hands.
Customers are the key to success for any business. Attracting new customers and encouraging others to return will be at the heart of many business plans.
If you feel like you’re offering a great set of products, or group of services, then it makes sense to shout about it from the rooftops! You’ll have to let people know that your business exists if you want them to become customers.
You may think that you face a few hurdles when it comes to achieving this. It’s common for new businesses to struggle to compete with more established rivals. But have faith in what you have to offer.
There’s no reason why you can’t attract the customers that you need. The first step in the process will be to think about how you can get your business name “out there”.
You’ll need a website. So many consumers use the internet for shopping these days, meaning that businesses without websites are really missing out. Your website probably won’t need to be constructed at great cost. It will, however, need to do the basics.
At the very least, you should be using your website as an online business card. It should tell potential customers about what you have to offer and should make it extremely easy for them to contact you. There’s massive potential here for generating new leads and sales.
Search engine visibility
So many business owners build a website and then wonder why potential customers never seem to find it. They don’t realize that designing and building the site is only half the battle. In fact, it may even be less than half the battle!
If you want people to find you then you need to be active. You need to let them know that you exist.
In the online world, search engines are the gatekeepers for many businesses. You probably know this from your own experience. If you want to find something quickly then you probably use Google or one of the other major search engines. Your future customers will be doing the same thing.
This means that it’s vital that your website appears when people use the search engines.
There are two key ways of achieving this. Firstly, you can pay to be included in the search engine results, using a paid search program. The Google Adwords program is the best known of these.
Alternatively, you can concentrate your efforts on Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO is the art of “naturally” helping websites to move up the search engine rankings. You’ll find that there are many companies offering SEO as a service. You could choose to hire one of them, or look to carry out the work yourself.
The most successful online businesses tend to use a mixture of paid search and SEO.
Other online avenues
Don’t make the mistake of assuming that great search engine rankings are your only means of increasing your online visibility.
There are numerous other methods for getting more customers and sales. In particular, you should think about engaging with the online community. Are there relevant forums that you could contribute to?
Is your website listed at relevant business directories? Many such directories can help to generate new leads.
Take a look at what your competitors are doing too. These may give you some further pointers in terms of your own marketing strategy.
You can also use offline, traditional forms of advertising to increase awareness of your website and business.
Many traditional publishing companies are struggling to deal with competition from internet rivals. As a result, they are often slashing prices. This means that there are some competitive deals around right now.
Consider offline options, including newspaper adverts, leaflets and offering interviews to others in your industry. Don’t forget to always mention your website too!
By taking the time to get your business known, you’ll soon find that you’re attracting new customers.
Simon Barnett is one of the UK’s leading search engine experts. He has spent the last decade helping businesses to succeed online.