After you figured it out where your business is standing, what you have and what your real needs are, then you will be able to choose the right plan. That is the time that you can start searching in “Online gear box” to find the tools that suit your needs. You’ll see how much it would be simpler to decide because you know what exactly you want. Following, I list the most important tools currently being used by majority of businesses and tell you why you need them:
1. Web Site
OK… Let’s start with the most basic and obvious tool: web site. There is no doubt that every business needs a web site. That is the most wrong decision to ignore the importance of a web site and start with something else like a Facebook page. Your web site is your business. Internet is like a city which has hundreds of streets with shops and offices located in each. Your business is one of this shops. If you want to keep your business alive you must have an office or shop there. Definitely you can’t expect anyone to find you if you have no activity. The more exposure you have the more people walking around will see you. But only having a sop is not enough as long as you don’t have an attractive shop front to attract the visitors. If you think you’ve done the best for your web site but can’t get more visitor into that, then you have to start thinking of different approaches like signage or flyers… In the other hands, once the doors open, and someone enter to your shop, you must have enough material to keep them busy. Your web site gonna be your show room but with no sales person or reception. It should be self descriptive and convince the visitor that you are the one he is looking for. He should believe You are the most professional and the most important “reliable”. If you do well, he will pick up your business card to call you for an enquiry. “About” page is where you transfer this reliability and “Contact” page is your business card!!
I am sure all of you have visited IKEA stores and know how they have organized their show rooms: There is a big stand with the floor map at entrance which tell you how exactly you should walk through to get the best shopping experience. Of course, there are some shortcuts if you are looking for a specific product not just browsing! When you are following arrows as marked on the floor you have such feeling that you’ll never get lost. I believe that is an amazing model for a web site. The fact that how much you have thought of your web site, how big is your site, how you have organized your showroom and finally how you are conducting your clients towards the checkout gates, will help you to be known and be distinct among your competitors. That’s where exactly you are found.
2. Mobile Site
Looking into some recent statistics for web access using smartphones & tablets – such as TNW - shows in May 2012, mobile accounts 10% of internet usage worldwide which is a jump of 3.8% in 2010. Doesn’t that trigger anything for you? There are plenty of this surveys and reports updated every month and if you keep tracking of them you’ll find out soon the importance of being on mobile is as same as web.
But what is the actual difference? You have a web site and that means for any device (PC, Laptop, Tablet, Smartphone) which can connect to internet, you can be accessed with your web address, isn’t that correct? The answer is Yes! but what users sees on their phone is different with what they experience on Desktop PC or laptop. A 17″ Wide screen can show more contents than a 4″ only mobile. Images and texts looks smaller. Therefore, if your site hasn’t been designed for that particular tiny screen, then you should expect one-time visit of your web site for mobile users. They will never waste their time to scroll the screen to left & right or up & down to read a text or see a product image and they will never return!
It is pretty hard these days to say that a business doesn’t need a Mobile Site because the usage of internet has been changed And as result of this change of attitude, giant search engines like Google and Bing have already changed their indexing strategy to find the most proper results for their users. i.e. if someone search using the phone and you have a mobile version of your site ready to serve, they prefer you over the site which doesn’t!
3. Social Networks
Let’s first have a clear understanding of what the term “Social Network” refers to:
“Social networking is the practice of expanding the number of one’s business and/or social contacts by making connections through individuals. – WhatIs
From what the definitions express, the goal of social networks is to make more contacts. That’s what your business do. but not all contacts are useful for you. you might have heard of the companies who are offering thousands of new contacts to “Like” your Facebook page. Does that really help? Obviously Not! What you need is real contact who has the potential of doing business with you. A 16 years old girl won’t buy a house from you if you are a real estate or a 60-years old woman doesn’t like to hear about your latest gym offers!
Social Networks cover a wide range of contents which are categorized to main media types such as Photo, Video and Text. Some are purely dedicated to one type – like Youtube which only serves videos – and some focus on multiple types. Facebook, Google+, Twitter and networks similar to them are of the second type.
What is important here is to identify what you are offering and who is your target audience before starting to invest money on social networking. For a Shoes company, Facebook and Twitters are a good idea to promote their new products but using a blog can not be very attractive. In the other side, a Recording Studio can leverage the benefits of Youtube to publish the recordings while they can still update their audience with latest album releases on Twitter or Facebook.
As I mentioned in my previous post, social networks may not be required for all business types. It needs a clear plan.
Once you step into the online world, you need to work hard to stay alive. Creating a web site, mobile site or setting up a Google+ page is easy but marketing your materials is a key. You should be aware that everyone works as hard as you do. You are not the only one who knows the tips and tricks of internet. The company or person who gives you consultation, will give the same advises to others because that’s their job. However, there are still things which are completely up to you and that’s the your creativity. The advertisement concept doesn’t change by the media type. The only difference is how to use the unique features of the media to make your ideas more attractive! You should always keep eye on latest news and updates of technology and the way it gets into people’s life to find out what you can do to meet their needs.
As you see from above, separating the main categories from each other is an impossible effort. They are somehow rely on each other. Advertisement can be done as stand-alone or integrated with social networking but with different weighting. You should plan which one has the higher priority for your business and give proper weight to each.