From the birth of an idea to its realization, getting a small business up and running requires grit and hard work on different playing fields. Amidst all the responsibilities, managing the daily workflow, and changing hats just to keep your business in the black, establishing an online presence for a brick-and-mortar store may seem like something you can do without – at least for the time being.
This is a huge mistake which many small businesses make right from the start. All too often, they perceive digital marketing as something reserved for bigger companies or more established enterprises, putting it off as an endeavor to pursue later. But there’s no denying it: from SEO for your website to developing a social media strategy and more, digital marketing is an integral part of marketing a small business. No matter the scale or which stage of development your business is in, it’s something you shouldn’t overlook, and here’s why.
Consumers expect an online presence from businesses
“Be where your customers are” – it’s the golden rule of marketing. Your target audience is online – on social media, messaging platforms, community websites, conducting searches on Google, etc. You might be able to reach a number of people with traditional advertising methods, but you’ll still be missing out on the vast digital marketplace.
Most importantly, people expect businesses to have a website where they can find out more about the company and their products. No matter what it is that you offer, you can be sure that when someone has a need for that product or service, they’re not going to take to the streets or wait for a flyer to show up in their mailbox – they’ll search for it on Google. (You probably do the same thing yourself).
And if you’re not there, they’ll have other options to choose from within just a couple of clicks. Even if they’ve found out about you through a friend or a sign on the side of the road, if you don’t have a website, it’s not only inconvenient for your potential customers, but makes you appear less legitimate as well.
You need it to get ahead of your competitors
It’s pretty straightforward – if you don’t have a web presence but your competitors do, you’re pretty much not even in the running. Disregarding digital marketing is one of the major threats to small businesses because they need to build their reputation and work harder to remain relevant as competition swarms. On the other hand, if you build an online presence, even a modest one, you can be sure you’ve already gained a steady advantage over those competitors who haven’t done so.
But there’s more to it than that. In a competitive market, where every legitimate business dedicates a portion of their efforts to digital marketing, you have the opportunity to keep an eye on your competition and learn from them. You can see which strategies they’re using and what seems to be working. Everything from the design of their website to their content marketing strategy to how they interact with audiences on social media presents valuable insights for you to learn from and tweak your own strategy in order to stay competitive.
It widens opportunities for growth
Any business aims for growth, but although it’s a painstaking process, it’s also an aspect where many small businesses overestimate their limitations.
You might be a local business, but you’ll still need a website and a strategy to take over local search. Plus, you’re not necessarily limited to a local audience only. That being said, the only way to truly reach your potential for growth is by crafting a strong web presence and making yourself visible to similar audiences outside of your area.
Now, many small businesses miss out on this opportunity, thinking that expanding their goals and trying to reach a wider marketplace would require plenty of resources too. But savvy businesses find financing solutions to kick off digital marketing campaigns, knowing that the investment can pay off tenfold. For example, once you’ve crafted an appealing and informative website, you can rely on SEO experts to help push your website to the top of Google search results. Not only will this give you significant competitive advantage, but you’ll open your doors to a much wider customer base.
It can help you build brand loyalty and learn from your audience
In an era where the next best thing is always just a click away, marketing has become much more customer-centric. It’s about building credibility as a brand, establishing trusting relationships with consumers, offering impeccable customer service, interacting with target audiences and learning from them.
That’s something that traditional advertising methods absolutely fail to do. And you want to build that relationship before customers walk through your door, as well as nourish it long after in order to keep them coming back. There are several ways in which digital marketing helps you achieve this:
- By offering valuable and informative content on your website
- By cultivating a strong and relatable social media presence which engages your audience
- By interacting with audiences, responding to inquiries, and offering help on any given channel (website, email, social media)
- By encouraging customer reviews, showcasing social proof, as well as by responding with dignity and helpfulness to negative feedback
- By showing your participation in a community and dedication for a cause, etc.
These are just a couple of points, but you see in which direction they’re heading. Moreover, you can always track your efforts and audience responses, thus gaining a better understanding of your target market and finding what you can improve on.
All in all, if you think digital marketing is something you can cut back on for the time being – think again. Marketing is crucial for any business, small and large, but it’s especially important when you’re just gaining momentum and have a lot of growth ahead. And considering the era we live in, we can agree that any worthwhile marketing strategy is going to be digital.