Does your small business NEED to be online?

Let’s get real here.

You’re a small business owner, I’m a small business owner.

We’ve got it made! We set our own schedule, we work inside our zone of genius and feel on top of the world every day, and we have a constant stream of customers coming in because we told a friend who told a friend who told all their friends about our new business. Let’s put this baby on autopilot and head on a European tour for a few weeks, amiright?

Ok, ok. You can stop with the eyerolls. I can feel them through the screen.

I’m going to take a wild guess that those statements above sound about half true to you.

Do we set our own schedules? Yes. But a day off on Tuesday means making up that missed work time after the kids go to bed or on Saturday morning.

Do we get to work inside our zone of genius? Most days. But being a small business owner means you wear other hats than just the “doer” in your business. You’re also the manager, HR executive, accountant, bookkeeper, marketer, and janitor. You do all.the.things. And most days, we go from feeling on top of the world, to overwhelmed by the enormity of it all in a matter of 20 minutes.

Do we have a constant, consistent stream of work? Some of us do simply from word-of-mouth in our towns and neighborhoods, but others of us are wondering how to make that happen.

In this the year 2019, you know that digital marketing with a website and social media presence is how most businesses are marketing their products and services.

BUT…is it essential?

Do you need to devote all the time, energy, and money it takes to brand your business and advertise online?

If these questions have ever crossed your mind, read below for my seven reasons why you need to get your business active online:

1. Gasoline

If your business is thriving on word-of-mouth advertising, that’s fantastic. I’m really, truly happy for you.

But imagine if we could pour a little gasoline on the brush fire that is your customer’s current excitement and pleasure of doing business with you? What if we gave them a way to talk about your business and share your offers with a larger network? That’s what social media and digital marketing is there for. These marketing opportunities allow your customers and clients to take the wheel in your advertising and steer more people to your business.

Moral of the story: Pour a little fire on your marketing and get more eyeballs on what you’re doing by putting your business online.

2. Audience

Let’s face it. These days, a Facebook account can log you into apps, your Amazon cart, and connect you to your third-grade-best-friend who you haven’t talked to in 30 years. Anyone age 18 and older has a Facebook account, and studies show most of those users log in daily. So that’s 365 opportunities for your business to connect with potential customers.

Is your target audience 40+ years of age? Awesome. That age group is one of the most active on Facebook. Younger than 25? Let’s focus on Instagram, who is owned by (you guessed it) Facebook. People in your area and audience are spending their time online, so you should be too.

Moral of the story: Go where your audience is…find a social platform and show up there consistently.

3. Personal

Do you feel like you can’t advertise online because soooo many other local businesses and people in your industry are already there? It’s ok! Walk down the aisle at your local grocery store and check out how many varieties of ranch dressing you can purchase. Regular, low fat, nonfat, chipotle, ranch seasoning…can you tell I love this condiment?

But seriously, it doesn’t matter how many people in your industry got online before you because there is only one you. And your specific business and specific personality will resonate with your ideal customer if you choose to show yourself.

Moral of the story: Allow your businesses’ unique offerings, skills, and trademarks to show up, and don’t be afraid to let yourself be shown on there as well!

4. Dynamic

Have you ever printed tee shirts, only to find that there was a typo? Or have you seen a newspaper ad with the business’ name misspelled? These are fatal to your marketing reputation and budget.

But with digital advertising, these errors can be quickly and easily corrected. Nothing is permanent and therefore, can easily be edited if you have a typo or if you pivot in your biz.

Digital is also dynamic in the fact that there are so many forms of media you can use to capture your customer’s attention. You can also use videos, photos, audio files, and graphics to appeal to your audience in multiple ways from one handy platform.

Moral of the story: Digital marketing can quickly and easily be updated to appeal to your audience.

5. Data

Cold, hard facts and statistics. The words to every entrepreneur’s ears.

If I wanted to, I could create an ad right now to run on Facebook and Instagram targeted at women ages 25-27 years old who watch HGTV in a 5 mile radius around my town because digital marketing gives you up-to-the-minute data on your audience. What’s better, is I can see in real-time how any of my ads or posts are performing: how many people saw my ad, how many people clicked the “shop now” link, or I can make changes if it’s not as effective as I had hoped.

This is a major advantage over traditional or word-of-mouth advertising that we have relied on for small businesses in the past. Gone are the murky waters of “readership numbers” or “listening radius,” and now you can get all those cold, hard facts that warm your heart.

Moral of the story: You can see the results. Literally. There’s numerical data for every post, video, and blog article.

6. Cost-effective

How much is a 2″ x 3″ ad in your local newspaper for one week? How much does it cost to run a 15-second radio spot during the home football game this weekend? Did you know that setting up your website and consistently posting on social is FREE?

If you’re a business on a budget, it doesn’t get better than this. Or if you want to really see your social ROI, you can invest in paid ads or retain the services of a professional for the price of less than a billboard. But right now, online ad space is the cheapest option for advertising your small business.

Moral of the story: Do your wallet a solid and invest in a Facebook Page instead of more free pens.

7. Customer Service

Can a billboard answer customer questions as they come in? Can a listing in the annual telephone directory address a negative review?

On digital and social platforms, you have the opportunity to interact with your customers. Whether they are commenting on a positive or negative experience with your business, you can thank them for their feedback and follow up immediately. You can also take the time to go to their own pages and like pictures or comment encouraging messages, which all speaks to the level of customer service your business provides.

Moral of the story: Digital Marketing is the next level of customer service that not only gives you a leg up in addressing your audience’s needs, but it also has become something modern social media users expect to see.

Ok, I’m convinced. Now what?

Does digital and social media marketing completely replace traditional forms of marketing like print, networking, or word-of-mouth advertising? Absolutely not.

But by having social media platforms and a website for your business, you have much more power at your fingertips to advance your small business and pursue your goals.

If you need help with your social media or digital marketing, sign up for the MKM Newsletter for tips and strategy sent straight to your inbox, or check out the Events tab on the MKM Facebook Page for free weekly trainings on Mondays at 10 AM.

Watch the live training of the first three tips in the caption below:

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