Online Business Solutions For Offline Firms

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You may be a high street printing firm, a small café that sells fried food, or a small shop and feel that your business is seeing fewer customers walk in every day. It could be that now the majority of your customer base is now made of loyal customers that know about your business already. Many failed businesses blame their downfall on a bad economy, but the reality is that most failures today are simply because business owners, no matter the niche they operate, fail because they do not venture into or see the need to go online.

When the competition opens on the same high street or a few roads away from your location, they are likely not starting up their business with at least some kind of online presence. Without a question of doubt, these companies are getting business simply by having a website, Facebook page, Google Maps pin, and some online marketing.

A Scenario That Makes Sense

Imagine that your high-street café has been the most popular in town for many years. Suddenly its popularity starts to dwindle. You have the right to blame this on fast-food chains offering delivery and so on. However, there is also another threat to your business. This is new competitors that are online.

Now imagine that a new housing estate has been built locally, and most of your old customers have sold their house to move on. When new people move into the area and look for a local café, they will use their mobile web browser, Facebook, or their desktop search engine.

You do not need to be the number one search result on any of these platforms because most people will make shortlist. If your business is not seen on those searches as at least an option, then you are not going to be on their shortlist. And the only reason your business would not show up on a local search is that it has no online presence.

Which Online Methods Should You Invest In?

There are several ways to get online and they do not have to cost you an arm and a leg. Below we have compiled a very short list of the bare minimum you need with a couple of suggestions.

1.    Getting a Website

Gone are the days where getting the website will break the bank. There are plenty of website builders out there such as Wix, Weebly, for businesses or blogging, you can use holiday home rental sites or Shopify for e-commerce, and so on.

Website builders are by far the easiest tools to use and they are relatively inexpensive if you choose the right one. You will probably need to watch a few videos and learn how to set the site up, but that is about it.

Other options include slightly more advanced template website options such as WordPress. In theory anyone can buy a WordPress theme and set it up out of the box. However, some templates and some of the settings on nearly all WordPress sites can get a little complex if you not a web developer. As such, it may be best to hire a web developer to set it up for you and show you how to use the WordPress CMS for times when you want to update the site.

If you are looking for a basic office style website, then look at the many website builders available by reading reviews. Try out this Wix review for example.

2.    Online Maps

Hire someone to get your business on Google Maps, Bing Maps, and any other map tool that people use in your area. You do not need to have a website to list your business here. You are talking about a small investment that will mean your business will show up when people search for a shop or firm in the local area that offers the good or services yours does.

3.    Online Directories

You can list your business on several directories. Yellow Pages, White Pages, or whatever is popular in your country. Once again it is not a requirement to have a website to get listed on these sites. People still use them and they also give your website a free backlink that will help on Google searches as people still do use Google for local business searches.

4.    Social Media

At the very least your business should be listed on Facebook. You can try Instagram and Twitter too as these are also very powerful social media platforms where you can share information about your business such as new promos etc. If your business comes up in the feed of locals that live in the area on any of their social media accounts, they might share it with others.

You can even create competitions that encourage them to share it with others too and give something away. With this kind of exposure, your business will start to build a name for itself in the area.

All of these marketing methods and website design concepts mentioned are available from various providers that offer packages for local businesses looking to increase their exposure.

Hattie B. Trosclair

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