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Small Businesses and Online Marketing – Is It Really Necessary?

Many small business owners at some point in the past 10 years, sincerely believed that they did not need to marketonline. Nowadays, most of those small business owners have given in and gotten a website at the very least but that is just about it. Do they give thought to search engine optimization? What about branding or even offering a platform for e-commerce. How about using social media to engage customers?

“Traditional” business owners may see these things as fads or time wasting pursuits. True, these things do require a bit of time, money and effort. However, the professional and more up-to-date marketer sees the obvious benefits. Why though do views differ when it comes on to online marketing? Is it really necessary for small businesses in this day and age, or is it possible for small businesses to stay afloat and thrive minus the online strategy?

Why views differ?
There are a plethora of reasons cited by traditional business owners to support their claim that online marketing is not necessary or doesn’t really add much. Not all business owners who don’t see the need to market online have the same reasons.To be fair, some of the supporting points they raise bear merit, but others can be easily set aside when the facts are carefully considered.

All my customers are offline.

Businesses that gain their customers through networkingandexisting partnerships often believe and adhere to this statement. While this is true, they fail to consider the fact that the reach of their existing marketing strategy would have to be offline if they are marketing offline.Putting things into perspective, of the 5 billion searches on Google daily and the excess of 1 billion active users of Facebook, even a few must have some interest in your business.

My business doesn’tneed more customers.

This reasoning is a bit difficult to argue with. We all know that thereis always room for improvement. True, you may not want to have the added responsibility that goes with expanding your business. It’s great if the customer base you have is satisfactory and profitability is at the point where youhavenoreal interest in growth. However, you need to be sure that you can depend on those customers to support you in the long run.

Marketing onlineisn’t effective for my business.

If you have attempted marketing online before and were not successful or not as successful as you expected, that doesnot mean that marketing is the problem. Rather, the issue could lie in how it was designed or executed. Don’t for once think it is a small business thing, it happens even to the best. What you need to do, is to improve your strategy,pursue new channels, secure new partners, broaden or better focus your target and increase the accuracy of the data you use.

Online marketing is a fad

Online marketing is definitely not short-lived. Types of marketing online or off can be fads. However, most of the established fields of online marketing have survived for over a decade. Instead of fading away entirely, they may change their form. That still is no excuse to avoid joining in to get your share of the patronage.

Online marketing is too costly. The approach that we take to marketing may cause us to see it as another expense. However, marketing is an investment. If you do it properly, you will get back way more than you put in.

I don’t understand it. Not understanding online marketing now doesn’t mean you won’t ever understand it. Research is so much easier with ready Internet access and online communities that can and willassist you to understand. Otherwise, you can hire an agency orcontractorto provide designing, execution, and management services with regards to your campaign.

Having broken down most common objections, here’s why you need to jump into online marketing sooner rather than later.

Consumers Expect You To Market Online.

Generally, when we first hear of a business, most of us will immediately search the internet for a social media page orwebsite to either learn more or find out if such a business really exists. Stopping in for a visit doesn’t cross our minds. Neither does searching a phone book (unless it’s online or an app of course).By default we and by extension, people expect that you to have a website; if you don’t, this casts doubt on your legitimacy as a business or you get relegated to the bottom of their list of available options.

Bottom line: Consumers expect to find you at least mentioned somewhere. Reviews and listings in online directories are good. A search engine optimized website and blog are even better. Couple that with a Facebook page and pretty soon you’ll be thinking e-commerce.

Online Marketing is Always Available

Continuing on the above point, let’s say persons were willing to call your business or even stop for a visit. Unless you are a 24-hour business, you can’t always be available. That’s where your online presence picks up. Customers can still be engaged and get some questions answered while you remain undisturbed. If they forget to visit your physical location, let’s say, to find out the products you offer, your online marketing strategy can do that for you wherever they are at whatever time they want to know.

Keeping Up With or Staying Ahead of Your Competition

Not every business owner will share your reluctance to develop and execute an online marketing strategy.Who knows if your competitors aren’t capturing your more tech-savvy customers?What about “robbing” you of your prospective customers and giving a better first impression to just about anyone in search of businesses like yours in yourlocality. If they already have, every day you delay an online marketing strategy of your own is one day for them to increase their lead.

Rate of Change

Change and trends are usually the biggest factors in determining what will work. Technology is readily accessible and it is used without a second thought. Reliance on online services and stores is also on the rise. Dependence on the Internet increases with its speed and the improvements on mobile devices and dependence on physical structuresare on the decline.Consequently, as time goes by, online marketing’s importance increases consistently. You may not see it now but what of next year. Remember this investment is long-term.

At the end of reading this, you may still not think you need online marketing and you may be right.If you don’t have any kind of online marketing going, you are blocking your potential and maybe even setting yourself up for collapse in the future. Your business may be doing well without an online presence; this doesnot necessarily mean that you are better off. You won’t regret your attempts at online marketing.

Anna Ray