When you started a new business at the turn of the century, you had an accepted and expected list of things to do, and you did them. This included things like having a shop, or some form of official premises, a bank account, a letterhead with a logo, business cards, and perhaps an ad in a trade magazine and some flyers. Then you worked and worked, and saved and saved, and usually, if you were good at your job and you made good choices, your business would succeed. With time, you could pay back the loan you took to start the business, possibly even expand, take on some help, and start turning a profit.
In the current era of digital communication, that list of what to do has changed. It’s no longer about having decent, legitimate premises, business cards and some flyers. Now, you need to do things like enlist the help of a company that offers online lead generation services. Your company must be plugged into the internet, even if your products and services are based in the physical world. This is because almost everyone these days finds everything through the internet, not the Yellow Pages. It can be disconcerting for an older person to navigate, especially with the multitude of buzzwords and jargon to translate.
Here are some things to consider when promoting your new business.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
When you start your new business, the first thing you will need is a website of some kind. This is your first and most basic presence in the virtual world, and the one thing that you will build on with all other initiatives. Everything else you do will lead back to your website, so it has to look smart. Think of it as your store front in the virtual world.
People wanting your products or services will need to be able to find your store. This is when they use search engines. They will type in a search term and look at what comes up first. In the first decade of this century, it used to be enough to be able to pay for your company information to come up on top, as a paid result, but people became wary of these paid results, and started to ignore them, looking rather for the “organic” or naturally-occurring results. This started up a need for experts who understood the algorithms and could make the websites appear naturally in the first page of results. They began the task of optimizing websites to make them friendlier and more visible to search algorithms, hence the term “search engine optimization”.
The internet’s biggest and most dominant search engine, Google, is always changing its search algorithms. This means that if your website was previously “optimized”, the game may have changed and you probably need to have another look at how you are playing it.
The content that you put onto your website can be optimized to make it more visible and user-friendly to search engines, but it must also be varied, original, and professional. Your images need to be good quality, clear, in focus, eye-catching and they must add value to whatever they are describing. You can no longer get away with scanning an old photo from the 80s and using that as a product shot, (unless that is your company aesthetic).
You need to put up a lot of good quality content with relevant and important key words and phrases. It has to be original, and it must add value to your audience’s experience of your website. This means you can add articles relating to your products and services that may be of interest to your customers. So, if you make barbeques, you can add articles about smoking meat on a barbeque, or include a recipe for a basic barbeque sauce. Maybe even do a review of a particular brand of barbeque tools. These are all pieces of content that will add value to your website and give your virtual storefront a stronger presence and credibility.
You cannot only have a website, because the way search engines (and people) work, they all look at different platforms. A platform is a place where you can share your information, like a virtual shopping mall. So, attached to your website, you will need to have a video channel (like the ones found on Vimeo or YouTube), and some social media channels, like LinkedIn (for your business profile, like a trade magazine), and either Facebook or Instagram (to show people the latest developments in your business).
All of these platforms need content, and if you are not up to the task of it yourself, then you should invest in a professional service to get it done for you. These have become much less expensive that they were a couple of decades ago, and they are also much more reliable.
Take the time to find an SEO expert who understands your business ethos and mission. Develop a working relationship with them, and you will reap the benefits of this choice in good time.