Before the Internet evolved to be the knowledge mine it is today, people had to seek information from a great many different sources, which often meant going to see specialists, or popping into the local library. Now, much of what we need to know about, or want to find out about, is available on the World Wide Web. So people have become much more discerning about the questions they seek outside help to answer, and often even arrive at a specialist with the answers to their questions already in mind.
Who are you going to ask?
Did you know there’s even a website called ‘let me Google that for you’? (Have a squizz www.lmgtfy.com.)
Many people are turning to alternative therapies and remedies for common ailments, or conversely to avoid suffering from common ailments. Using the internet, you can quite easily look up your symptoms and get a range of possible causes. You can then decide which one best fits with how you actually feel, and then look up the remedies that are most likely to make you well again. You then pop to the local health shop (virtual or physical) and buy what you need. While you should get medical advice when you need it, in many cases this is the perfect solution: it saves time and money and empowers you to take both control of and responsibility for your health.
How big is this fad?
This is no short-term irritation. Currently more than 2.4 billion people, of the 7 billion in the world, are online. That’s just over one third of the population of the planet. That’s how many people you are potentially able to reach with your message if you use the World Wide Web for business. Now, of course, you won’t reach all of them since some of them will not be looking for the information you are sharing, however, if you are not online you will not reach any of them. There is no way to avoid the fact that being on the internet gives your company clout that it otherwise doesn’t have.
Imagine you are just a little shop in a small town, but your products and customer service are amazing; by having an online presence you can grow your business exponentially by supplying people far and wide. And you don’t even have to have a big, and possibly expensive, online shopping cart to do that, since people can pay you via electronic transfer. If your little shop is not online, there is even the potential that your market share will decrease, given that people will be able to buy from bigger and cheaper suppliers further afield, in the same way. Increasing your market share via the Web will decrease your product expenditure as you buy more of your product, and you will be able to compete. Even though you are a little shop in a small town.
Being online matters. What matters even more is presenting, and representing, yourself and your company well online. It’s not okay just to have a website; you need to publish regular, fresh articles educating people on the benefits of buying from you, or working with you in whatever way you need them to. You also need to interact with your circle of influence and help them to understand why you sell what you do and why they need it… from you rather than your competitors. But not with a hard sell, by giving them the information they need to make a sound decision.
Grow your influence through relationships based on trust
Trust and relationships are the way to build a successful business and influence is a matter of patience. The more time you invest in your clients the more trust you will build and the more long term your client relationships will be. Repeat customers are golden, that’s a given. I’ve often heard clients say they are keen to get online but are terrified of the technical side of it, of getting it wrong, or of not having the time to dedicate to it. All these are real concerns that can be dealt with by building a relationship with an online marketing specialist. However you go about it, by sourcing the information you need online or by aligning yourself with a specialist, the crux of the matter is: if you are not online you will soon be left behind.
How important do you think it is to have an online presence for your business? Do you think there is longevity for businesses who do not own their piece of the cloud?