Gone are the days of the Mom-and-Pop corner store, where everything you needed could be bought for a song from shelves stocked with various items, all in their proper places: from nails to navel oranges.
While these small shops utilized the most modern forms of product distribution available to them in order to keep their customers happy and business booming, this way of doing business just doesn’t work anymore.
But even though times have changed, the need to keep up with technology hasn’t – and if your business isn’t online, it’s losing customers every day. People are increasingly relying on the Internet to learn about new products, services and retailers – and if you are doing business, you need to be promoting your brand online.
Online Brand Promotion 101
Forget the spam emails, the companies who offer to spread your website around online forums for a small fee and anybody who wants to sell you on online marketing packages they aren’t willing to explain. Online branding is a simple process, but it requires effort and consistency, as well as time to really get the attention of customers who are floating in a sea of information. Don’t give up if you don’t see results right away, the most successful online branding campaigns take time and patience to establish.
Start with a basic website. Even if you aren’t ready to jump into eCommerce order management, it’s vital to have a basic website that tells customers the story of your business and what you have to offer. Make sure to include your address, telephone number, store hours and any other important information, like your store policies on merchandise returns. The more information you can give your potential customer, the better.
If you want to take orders from your website, you’re going to need to go a step further. Businesses looking to delve into eCommerce are going to need something a lot more complex, with a minimum of an online product catalog, shopping cart and checkout system. Make sure you understand the order fulfillment process and have done a few dry runs before your site goes live, or you may have a lot of frustrated customers on launch day.
Set up a blog. A blog is a great way to show your customers how much you know about your industry and tell your company’s story which can help build your brand. Use your blog to answer common questions, explain difficult concepts and showcase the benefits of your products or services. Don’t be stingy – give out some free advice and your customers will love you for it! When they are ready to buy, they’ll be more likely to remember you and the helpful advice you gave. With each blog post, you’re sowing seeds for future sales.
You can also add Search Engine Optimized (SEO) keywords to help customers find your blog and site more rapidly. Keywords are common phrases that people use to search the web – and if you use the right terms, your business will show up higher in Google’s results. Use caution with keywords, though, because too much of a good thing will get you penalized by Google instead of rewarded.
There’s a lot more that goes into promoting your brand online – so be sure to read part 2 of this series.