Visit our website

How to make your small business thrive online

Posted by : admin in Online Marketing, Web Design ()Comments

Small businesses thrive online…declares Verizon’s site. If there is one business segment that the internet has done maximum good for, it has to be the “small business” segment – be it a mom-and-pop shop in a remote part of the world or a small manufacturing unit in a big city.

Internet has made it easy to reach out to far flung markets like never before. It has made communication way cheaper than what it used to be in the olden days. Skype phone calls, IM conversations with clients are a norm now. And a website provides you with a 24×7x365 office – reachable anytime, anywhere. That is the beauty of the internet.

Those who boarded the bus early will gladly vouch for it as they also benefited from easier search engine indexing (read visibility). Since there was lesser online competition then, search engine promotion too involved far lesser efforts and hence resources.

If you are still sitting on the fence, wondering whether to jump into the online world or to continue to rely only on the conventional ways of doing business, I hope this article and the next in the series will help you make up your mind.

Lets start with the basics – Test waters before diving in – May be you are not ready yet to dole out a few thousands getting a website done, may be you have seen friends and associates not benefit from their websites, or may be you just don’t have the time or resources currently to work out a web strategy for your business! Whatever may the reason be, it is best to wait instead of making a half-baked effort. But in the meantime, do the following:

1. Get listed: Search for relevant online trade boards, trade directories and regional/area directories. And list your business in them. Some of these directories may be free while some may have a listing fee.

Write a clear, concise description of your products or services, making use of “keyphrases” – words that you think your target customer will enter in the search engine while looking for your offerings.

Make sure your address and other contact info is included. A 24×7 phone number where people can reach you will help. Or else, where possible, mention the best time to call and include Contact Person’s name.

Some directories may not allow you individual fields to enter all of the above information, in which case you can include the necessary info in the Description area.

2. Follow your competition: Yes, sometimes it makes sense to follow them first to defeat them at what they are doing better than you! Think of your top 3 competitors. Search for them in Google, yahoo and msn and see the results you get. The list is likely to show you where all your competitors can be found on the web. You may find some sites or directories that missed your attention earlier. List your business there.

3. Help others to help yourself: If you are an expert in your field or if you have unique products or services, look out for online discussion forums relevant to your industry. Often you will find visitors discussing issues and seeking advice. It might be something that you have faced yourself earlier…may be it’s a problem you helped a client solve recently…talk about it. Offer a solution if you have one and you can’t help being noticed. Not just by the person seeking advice but also by those who may reach the discussion, in the future, while looking for a solution to a similar problem. Just make sure your business or contact info (very briefly) is appended to your reply.

4. Say it aloud: If you have an opinion that can count in your industry, say it aloud. Start a discussion on a forum or participate in a hotly debated blog post. And when you do so, leave your business name, a few words describing your business and an email address in your signature. If you make yourself heard (read seen), they are likely to notice your signature and contact you further. Even if it does not translate into business, you would probably make some interesting contacts in the industry. Possibly interact with peers in other countries and learn something on the way.
Make sure however that your post or discussion is relevant to your business.

4. Network judiciously: There are tons of networking sites out there. Most definitely you get an average of atleast an invite a week to one of these sites. Not all of these networking sites are meant for business but there are plenty out there that can help you reach out to the right people.,, are some such sites.

5. IM Communication: While this one is not directly related to an online web presence, IM communication makes it to the list by virtue of its cost-effectiveness and its wide-spread usage and acceptance. If you are still not using IMs like yahoo messenger, msn, Google talk or Skype for making phone calls or engaging in text discussions in real time, try them out today!

Millions of small businesses make huge cost savings by using IMs for their communication needs. Easy to use and costing virtually nothing, they are the best modes of communication for SMEs reaching out to clients across the globe.

6. Start a Blog: It costs nothing and you can set up one in minutes., are some of the popular sites offering free blogs. Set up one and have your say. If your writings provide information and your musings add value, traffic will come and with that will come your clients.

Read More