The internet has made it easier than ever for individuals to start up their own business which is great news for millions of people around the world. However, with the rapid growth in the volume of businesses online, there is an increase of “noise” which makes it an uphill battle for businesses to grab the attention of potential and current customers.
The tech giants of Silicon Valley capture the lion’s share of consumer attention through apps such as Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp (all owned by the same company!), Twitter and, of course, Google. The easiest and quickest route to get in front of lots of people quickly is to fork out large sums to these companies for advertising space. It is generally accepted that you need to “pay to play” now to get your company messaging seen by consumers.
Although this makes it a more expensive channel than the free social media traffic of years gone by, it does not mean that ads on platforms such as Facebook are not cost effective for many businesses. The ability for hyper-local and deep interest targeting of customers means you are getting in front of the right people at the right time with the right message! You can start playing with Facebook ads from just a few pounds to see what is working and allow their system and third-party software optimise performance.
Google dominates the search market in the western world with over 75% of coverage. This presents a great opportunity for businesses as you can be found in search results without paying if your content is relevant, high quality and optimised to be understood by Google.
You can read more about the factors that impact an organic search result (the ones below the ads) in this industry-leading guide. Investing time in getting this right will provide you with an unrivalled ROI as there is the opportunity to get seen by a large, relevant audience. You are unlikely to have the quick returns that Facebook provide but is a crucial part of the marketing mix for many small businesses.
The art of communication and gaining trust within a community has always been a critical part of running a small business. While some believe that the online marketplace has eroded this part of the business world, it has arguably become even more important to overcome the barriers that the lack of face-to-face communication poses.
If you are looking to speak to other business owners who you can work with, you should start your online networking journey on a small business forum. This active group is supportive and you will be able to quickly build connections that may become valuable to you.
In all of these communities, it is a good idea to freely provide insight on topics you are an expert in. Not only does this lead to direct enquiries, it prompts others in the community to recommend you at a relevant time.