Have an offline business? Maybe you’ve heard an amazing success story about a local car dealership that tripled business in the first year of online marketing – or maybe you’ve heard a horror story about a company that wasted thousands of dollars in online advertising with little-to-no results to show for it. If you’re wondering how or why your ‘brick and mortar’ business will benefit from online marketing, you’re asking the right questions already. Let’s take a look:
1. Boost Your Business’s Image
Maybe you’ve built a decent base of customers through word-of-mouth, maybe you spent a bunch of money in the 90’s on TV and newspaper ads and that really helped you establish a decent customer base…or maybe you’re just starting out. Regardless of which of the above groups you fall into, online marketing can help you improve your business’s image.
When you take advantage of online marketing, you can share positive information about your business and the services you offer. For example: if you have positive reviews or testimonials, share them on your website and social media pages. A good review can help sway a person who was on the fence into becoming a customer. Another example? Use your blog to establish yourself as a local expert. If you are a CPA, you can discuss why QuickBooks Online is your preferred platform and how that makes life easier for your clients.
2. Reach a Wide Audience
Maybe you’re a small, locally-based company. That being said, being able to connect with a larger audience can really help increase your sales. How? The Internet is, in many ways, replacing word-of-mouth referrals. People like to research companies before they reach out – and they use search engines, social media and review websites such as Yelp to do so.
An added bonus? Not everyone that may want to contract your services will live in your own backyard. Do you offer car detailing? Someone living in Montreal, for example, may want to hire you to take care of their elderly mother’s car. Or, if you run a daycare, someone moving from another province may do research before they move on which daycares to look into – and if you have a strong online presence, you can make sure you get on that list.
3. Improve Your Customer Service
Having an online presence gives you a way to better serve your customers. Your website, which you may use primarily to advertise your services, can also serve as a place for customers to fill out contact forms and search through FAQ. Your Facebook page can be a way for customers to get fast responses when they don’t have time to place a phone call. Even better? Your website and social media accounts are open 24/7…so you don’t have to be.
4. Targeted Marketing = Big ROI
With offline advertising, you don’t have all that much control over whether or not you’re reaching the types of people who are likely to give you a call.
With online marketing, you can really reach the people who need your services. How? Well, if you have optimized your SEO and you’re one of the first results that comes up when someone types “I need a florist in INSERT CITY/PROVINCE”…you’ve put your business right in front of a person who is literally searching for someone just like you.
You can even take targeting a step further with highly targeted advertising options. For example, if you run a smoothie shop and you’ve been having trouble selling your almond milk based smoothies, you can use targeted marketing to really expand your reach. You can use specific criteria, such as “local people who are between the ages of 30-40 and are interested in veganism” and run an ad about plant-based smoothies that only these people will see. How would targeted marketing help your business…and who would you want to reach?
Thinking about taking advantage of online marketing? Don’t try to do it all right away. If you don’t have a website, start there. Have a website, but not a blog? You can start with your first blog post – introducing yourself and why your services make life easier for your customers. Or, if you have a website and a blog – you could go and finetune your Yelp profile (start by claiming it). Whatever your approach is, our point is: get started and start taking advantage of the many powerful ways to start getting more sales.