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In 2015, every Small Business NEEDS to get online!

Every Small Business needs a siteCompared to traditional marketing methods, it’s relatively inexpensive and easy to kick into action. And, if you want you can pass it all over to someone else to build and maintain it for you. Yet more than 35% of all Australian small businesses still don’t have a website. With statistics revealing that 92% of people in 2014 were searching online for products and services, there are a lot of small businesses that are missing out on potential customers.

Small business owners who don’t have sites generally believe that a website won’t do anything for them, they think it will cost them too much or claim that they just don’t have the time for one. However those who have moved their businesses online can easily show naysayers that by including websites in their marketing plans, they have improved their bottom line, saved on marketing costs and, importantly, exposed their business to a wider audience.

Take a look at the three examples below. These are not your traditional online types but each can still take advantage of a customised online presence:

Office Supplies

A small stationery supplier in a regional town can still grab a chunk of the online market away from the big boys – without breaking the bank. Now, they may not be able to compete with stores such as Officeworks on price, due to the sheer bulk purchasing of the chain stores, however they can exploit and utilise one huge advantage – simple convenience.

Imagine that you require stationery supplies delivered to your door and – you want them now! There is no way you will receive next day delivery of any of these supplies in a small town – even if you pay for the premium postage. What if you could log into your local store’s website, make and pay for an online order and the goods were delivered within the hour (free of charge) to your business door?

That would certainly level the playing field in the local store’s favour. Cost vs convenience – I know which one I choose when I need something fast.

Bed and Breakfasts

A small B&B in regional Queensland has one small cabin for bookings, overlooking the beautiful Goldsborough Valley. With only one cabin on offer, traditional advertising makes it very hard for potential guests to call up and find available dates. With a website however, all bookings can be moved online.

Site visitors can view a calendar integrated into the site that displays available dates, potentially booked dates (that have not been confirmed) and dates that are booked-out. The site owner can easily keep track of upcoming bookings and contact new bookings for confirmation.

Plus, these bookings can be made 24/7 – no need to answer a phone.

Example: http://cairnsgwaybb.com/

Agricultural Services

Up here in beautiful North Queensland, we have a multitude farms with all varieties of produce year round – tomatoes, bananas, coffee, pawpaw and, of course, sugar cane to name just a few. Whilst most of these farms can benefit from getting online, like Liverpool River Bananas and Madella Coffee have, it’s the support agencies that work alongside these farmers that could really improve their services with an digital presence.

Growers Associations such as Burdekin Productivity Services supply their members with the latest information, weather and crop reports as well as industry news via a well-maintained website. No more group emails, phone calls, costly printed reports or newspaper articles – the association can update their sites daily at no cost (other than employee time) to ensure that their members are completely up-to-date with their industries information. For even more interaction, Association sites could incorporate forums and blogs allowing its members to converse and share their own information.

http://bps.net.au/

Regardless of the type of small business, more consumers than ever before are searching for services and products online using smart phones, tablets and computers. This upward trend in usage is increasing each day and small businesses without a site may be missing out on their own slice of the online pie. Even those who have a site may be missing out if their current setup is not utilising all the various options available to it.

Is your small business taking full advantage of online possibilities?

 

 

 

Make Twitter work for your business

Make Twitter work for your businessA huge chunk of the Social Media focus, especially in business terms, is given to either Facebook or LinkedIn. Poor little Twitter is often seen as the outsider. However, if you are looking to build your credibility and influence in the online world, there can be quite a bit of power in those 140 characters. The trick is to wield that power in such a way that you can build a following that works for you.

Below are a selection of tips that the small business owner can use with (and around) Twitter to create a following that will drive customers inbound to your website and ultimately, your business.

Tip #1 – Become a Tweeter worth following:

  • Whenever you are tweeting, be sure to post a variety of information that is relevant to your target audience. Create a mix of links, quotes, latest news, blog titles and retweets so that your followers can expect something a little different each time.
  • If someone follows you on Twitter, repeat the favour. As soon as they hook with up your Twitter, check out their profile and click their FOLLOW button. You may need to jettison them sometime in the future but, who knows, they might have an audience that you can reach into.
  • Always use hashtags to help your followers and potential audience find what they are looking for. With over 6000 tweets being sent out every second, hashtags allow followers to keep their Twitter viewing relevant.

Tip #2 – Get Visible

  • As detailed in the previous tip, searching is a great way to find other Twitter users in your industry’s area. Use this to seek out KPI’s (Key People of Influence) and industry commentators that you can follow. Two upsides for this trick: you’ll often find great content to retweet or repurpose for your own followers and, you may just score a “celebrity” follower – giving your own tweets more exposure (“Hey, guess who follows me now?”).
  • Don’t pretend to be the only source of information on Twitter – retweet the posts from others that you have found useful. The original poster will notice this action and may follow.  Plus your audience will benefit from someone else’s experience that you share.
  • For maximum exposure of your Twitter efforts, be sure to publish your Twitter tag everywhere (@RustyMango). Put it on your business cards, banners, signage, web sites and any traditional advertising so that you can get the Twitter conversation started.

Tip #3 – Act Strategically

  • Make sure your site has a Twitter FOLLOW button. If your site is built on WordPress, there are many excellent plugins that can help (https://wordpress.org/plugins/twitter-tweets-button/) or, alternatively, manually code the button into your site https://about.twitter.com/resources/buttons ). Your site designer can help with this.
  • Offer value to your Twitter followers with the occasional voucher or coupon – exclusive just to them. Roscoes Piazza in Innisfail does this on some slow nights (“Guess how many boxes are stacked in the store tonight. Closest number wins a free family pizza!”)
  • Twitter only allows a maximum of 2000 people that you can follow at any one time. That is quite a hefty number however, if you find yourself going close, make sure that you unfollow anyone who doesn’t follow you in return. Of course, make an exception for those on Twitter who provide you with worthwhile industry-specific tweets that you can pass on.

To keep a handle on all this Twitter action, use browser add-ons like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite. These two “programs” will allow you to tweet, monitor your account, view retweets of your content and provide an easy way to regularly work on your Twitter campaign.

Make it a habit to tweet/retweet every day – it will keep you abreast of worthwhile content and information from around the web and help to establish yourself as an industry leader in the eyes of your followers.  

Rusty Mango Design

Rusty Mango Design