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Keeping Your Small Business Thriving Online

Keeping Your Small Business Thriving Online

The Coronavirus Pandemic is the latest challenge that brick and mortar and digital retailers that aren’t Amazon have had to face in the last few years. 

While much of the financial world has bounced back from the Great Recession of 2008 and 2009, the average consumer has had to tighten their belt considerably, balancing shrinking wages with increasing prices for basic necessities like rent and food.

This means that no matter what product or service you are trying to sell, it has to really hit that sweet spot of desire. However, no one will know what it is unless you have a plan to make sure people know what you are offering and why it is the right thing for them right now. 

Since we are spending more time in cyberspace both voluntarily and involuntarily, it is imperative that you have an easy to find and easy to use digital marketplace set up.

No matter what you are selling, making it easy for potential customers to browse your products (even if they are diesel engines) and leave comments on them (even if they are London Escorts reviews), being properly engaged with the online world is key to the survival of your business.

Embrace Social Medial (if you haven’t already)

Perhaps the most powerful double-edged sword at the moment, there is nothing better than going viral and nothing worse than going viral for the wrong reason. Anyone who said ‘there is no such thing as bad publicity’ was certainly referring to a time when the only thing a computer was connected to was a wall outlet and maybe a printer.

While it had been easy to dismiss social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for a long time (unless your business catered to the young adult market) today, people of all ages have their own Facebook profiles and a Twitter handle even if they don’t tweet.

One of the challenges is finding what your target demographic is able to spend and whether your product fits into their budget as a necessity or luxury. Many small businesses have tried to get the cart before the horse and design products or services for people they know have some spending money, and that is typically the group of baby boomers and Gen-x-er’s, which is not the first age group you necessarily think of when it comes to social media.

But that’s because ‘using’ social media can be a vague term. Yes, there are plenty of people who post several hourly updates of their lives from what they’re eating to what they’re watching on television, but that’s the exception, not the rule. For many, using Facebook or Twitter is a way to keep up to date about whatever interests them, and that can include whatever you might be selling. Making daily updates to your social media accounts is a form of advertising that can actually be quite affordable compared to hiring a PR consultant to do this for you.

Influence the Influencers

In Malcolm Gladwell’s excellent book ‘The Tipping Point’ he explores how something goes from being known by a small group of people to a huge percentage of the population. One of the keys, he discovered, was to have extremely social people learn about the product because it increases the chances that they would talk about it with plenty of other people.

In the old days, you would simply hire a salesperson who would have these qualities, but the online version of this is having a Social Media Influencer discuss and display your product. An Influencer is someone who has garnered a large following online as they open up about their personal and professional life, and will name-drop and mention your product in posts and messages they make, which might be seen by millions of people. 

While you should definitely be making your own posts on your business’ website regularly, you might only see a fraction of the traffic that these influences get. But if they are directing some of their own followers to you, a spike in interest is practically inevitable.

There is some debate over how much manipulation and payment is being done in regards to this business model, but many point out that it is not much different than a celebrity promoting a luxury designer brand or soft drink (and hiring an Influencer can be considerably cheaper).

Try Out Your Own Website

The hard part is getting people aware of your product and making them want to buy it, so don’t screw up the easy part and make it hard for your customers to give you the money. Website design has gotten much easier over the years, and there is nothing wrong with trying to do it yourself, as there is plenty of software that offers different templates to give your webpage a great design.

That said, there are several pratfalls you should be avoiding. A well-designed website is one thing, but if it is difficult for clients to find basic information like pricing and delivery information, potential sales will fall through the cracks.

Even when someone decides to ‘proceed to checkout’, make sure that every step along the way is a working one. Buy a product or two on your own website as soon as you ‘go live’ for the first time.

If there are any hiccups – a button you click on doesn’t work, the letters or numbers you type don’t appear in a text field like they should – it’s better that you find this out yourself, rather than a customer who might decide to back out at the last minute. It is the equivalent of having a great brick-and-mortar store, but the cash register is broken. 

Make sure that any changes you make – even small ones, like price changes – are double and tripled checked so that the site still works perfectly. First-time customers will become regular ones if their checkout experience is as good as their experience with whatever are selling them.

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