As a web designer and SEO person I get the privilege to work closely with a lot of small business owners. I am also privy to watch many of them burn up a lot of money on traditional forms of advertising before they take care of what is, in my opinion, the most crucial aspect of putting themselves in front of as many new (as well as current) customers as they possibly can.

Of course I am talking about your online presence!

I know that I can’t make decisions FOR my clients – or anyone else for that matter. And it is human nature to not want to be told what to do anyway! That being said, though, I believe I can make a damn good case for having any small business owner consider placing 90% their efforts at getting new (and keeping current) customers by improving their online presence. Not necessarily ignoring traditional advertising…but putting it in its rightful (costly) place – which is 2ND…a distant 2ND!!

Your Business’s Online Presence Is Crucial

Although your small business’s website is far and away the most crucial piece of this puzzle, it isn’t the only piece which is why I usually use the term “online presence” rather than just “website”. Your business’s online presence also includes the various forms of social media you use (or should use) and any other means of putting your business in front of people’s faces when they browse the internet.

So WHY Does The Internet Trump Everything Else?

Well for starters, there’s this:

Maybe this is obvious to you and maybe it isn’t (although I can’t imagine how it wouldn’t be) but the ridiculous amount of time people spend staring at their screen of choice ALONE is reason enough to shift your efforts mostly away from the old dinosaurs of traditional advertising.

Don’t believe me? Check this statistic:

The average person in the UK and America spends approximately 24 hours each week online!

A little sad, maybe…but it is what it is. And, as a small business owner it’s something you really need to “put in your pipe and smoke”, so to speak.

Your Business’s Online Presence IS Targeted Marketing!

The rage these days is “targeted marketing” – and for good reason! No, this isn’t a lesson on that concept or on customer avatars or anything of the sort. It’s so easy for me to chase squirrels and I am not about to do that here and now.

That being said, if you are NOT familiar with targeted marketing and customer avatars I highly suggest you do your homework because it will be well worth your time. To give you a BRIEF synopsis, the trend is to focus your marketing efforts only on the people who are LIKELY to be interested in what you have to offer.

Here’s a quick example: Pay attention to the ads that are in the beginning of any YouTube video you watch nowadays. Tell me they don’t understand exactly WHO is watching the video and what that person in interested in!

In fact one of the new catch phrases in the online marketing world is:

“If you market to everyone, you market to noone”

With that in mind, let me ask you this:

How much more “targeted” can you get than having someone jump up and down and practically scream at you:

“I am looking for your kind of business! Right now! I would like to buy something from you and give you my money!!”

Well, this is exactly what people are doing each time they search for a product or service in Google!!

Let’s take a really simple example. Say you own a hardware store in Kalamazoo. Joe Smith, who lives in Kalamazoo just broke his hammer and so he whips out his phone and does a quick search for hardware stores in or near Kalamazoo.

Now, if you’re the owner of a hardware store in Kalamazoo and a savvy small business owner you have a website for your business that is nicely optimized for the phrase “hardware store, Kalamazoo” along with lots of other ways people might search for your business in a search engine. If you’re REALLY savvy you likely have an Instagram account and a facebook business page too.

You as the Hardware store owner essentially led Joe Smith right to your hardware store by having your online presence properly set up. Maybe Joe even bought a wheelbarrow while he was there too! Who knows!?

Can you think of a more elegant example of targeted marketing? I can’t.

But Wait! I’m Not Done Yet!

We’ve seen how a proper online presence is essentially a very sleek form of targeted marketing – but this is FAR from the only reason to focus your efforts online first and foremost.

In order to drive my point home further, let me give you a few points to consider.

Point 1 Concerning Your Business’s Online Presence: Time (Duration)

The first thing Id’ like you to consider is time. Specifically the life span of certain forms of advertising. More specifically how long any form of traditional advertising you buy into will actually exist and then compare that amount of time to a well crafted web page, blog post, social media post etc.

Let this next point marinate in your gray matter for a minute:

Any page you create, article you write or action you take on website will be there FOREVER. Forever. Or, until you decide to take it down.

What Does This Mean?

Well, consider our Hardware store example. if the content on your hardware store website is well crafted that means that from the moment you publish your page or post it will be available for Google to return to some potential new customer INDEFINITELY. I can’t stress this enough.

Now compare that with radio. Compare that with television. Compare that with print. All these other forms of putting your business out there are only there for finite amounts of time. EXTREMELY finite amounts of time.

Do you honestly think that, out of the goodness of their heart, the radio station manager is just going to decide to play your ad for you one second beyond what you’ve paid for? Same goes for a TV spot. Same goes for a local magazine or newspaper!

But your web page / Article / Social Media Post, etc. will live forever. You can potentially get new clients based on any of these things – forever!

Point 2 Concerning Your Business’s Online Presence: Cost

So, that radio ad you purchased in the above example. How long did that run? 3 days? A week? And you paid, say, $400? $700? Who knows? Somewhere in that ballpark. Say, for example, you got away with your radio spot on the cheap end of things and maybe you paid $400 for a blip in time which HOPEFULLY was profitable for your business! Let’s be honest though, as we BOTH know, not 100% of radio spots ARE profitable.

Now, compare these things to your website. Again, going back to the earlier example, that page you created or article you wrote – you know the one that will continue to serve as a resource for your business INDEFINITELY and UNTIL THE END OF TIME (cough) – how much did that cost you to write? Nothing. Yes, you could correctly argue that your time is valuable, I get that, but you see what I am saying. Or maybe you paid a freelancer $100.00 to do the writing for you? I still say, “big deal” because a hundred dollars for a piece of content that could bring customers to your door FOREVER is a pretty sweet deal – at least in my book.

Point 3 Concerning Your Business’s Online Presence: Sustainability

With traditional advertising, unless you’re independently wealthy and you’re just running your small business for fun, there HAS to be a limit to the dollar amount you spend on advertising somewhere! Meaning you can’t continue to run $500 radio spots, $500 print campaigns and god-knows-how-much if you’re playing for television ads – forever. There has to be a point when you say enough is enough and these finite advertising resources just begin costing far too much.

Contrast that with your website and online presence. Except for the initial cost of having the website built (a one time fee) and the yearly cost of hosting the site (nominal), there is absolutely NO LIMIT to the quantity of content you can add to your website. There is no limit to the amount of effort you can put into getting that site to rank more favorably in the search engines. None.

And that’s just your website. Google also “indexes” (keeps track of) your social media business pages – meaning that Joe Smith in our example above could have just as easily seen a result for your Hardware Store’s facebook business page when he got his Google results back!

In Summary

Are you seeing where this is all going? I know this is a rather long article, but I see it as my job to help the small local business owner, who isn’t always internet savvy, aware of what she/he is missing out on if they are not taking advantage of what essentially boils down to (almost) FREE and (incredibly) targeted marketing!

If you take the time to do this correctly, it can and WILL trump everything.

Is there a lot to learn. Sure.
Do you need to know it all to get started. Not at all.

And, if you doubt the wisdom contained here, just take a look out your window and ponder the people who walk around like this all day.

And then consider what you are doing at this very moment!

I rest my case!

I wis you the best of luck once you decide to focus your efforts where they will best serve you and your business!