What's an online presence and why do you need one?

If you search the term “online presence” on your web browser, you are going to see a lot of amazing results. There will be lots of sites dedicated to “how to quit your job and make millions on the web”. Don’t click on these. Look at the ones that explain what an online presence can do for you current business. The business you have spent years putting time and effort into.
Today, your sales and marketing strategy may be combination of things: telemarketing, direct mail, advertising, word of mouth, referrals, or other tactics you use to start a conversation with people who might potentially buy something from you. You probably have a website because you realize its today’s Yellow Pages. And maybe you’ve already decided to leverage the internet to drive more traffic to your business, but now what?

Definition

An online presence is a conversation you want to have with potential customer about why they should buy from you. You want to have that conversation in as many places as possible on the internet to increase the possibility of people buying from you versus your competitor. It’s not a lot different than the conversation you are probably already having in your offline demand generation activities except that are more benfits to having the conversation online.
Here are ten reasons why an online presence is good business:

  1. You can track and measure everything instantly. Unlike a newspaper ad or radio advertisement, you can view elaborate details of who looked at what on your website, press release or blog post and you can see it minutes after you send something out.
  2. You can engage rather than disrupt. Instead of trying to get attention like you would with telemarketing or direct mail, you can start a conversation. When was the last time you answered a telemarketer’s call or responded to a flyer? Disruption is failing. Starting conversations about a topic of mutual interest to you and your prospective buyer gains trust, long term relationships and helps to gain valuable insight about what your prospects care about.
  3. You can be everywhere. You can use your website, a blog, directories, social media, press releases and a wide array of cost-effective online tactics to deliver a consistent conversation about why you have something of value to discuss. They are many ways to slice the conversation from a 140 character tweet to a 12 page “how to guide.”
  4. You can compete. In bygone days, a small business usually lacked the resources of their larger competitors. Now even a small business can access much of the same technology as big companies. You can use auto-responders, accept online payments and even deliver products over the Internet.
  5. You can create niche marketing faster and more cost effectively. If one area of your business is taking off, you can create microsites and specific promotions and web pages to support this area of the business. An online presence opens up all sorts of niche marketing opportunities that never existed before or were too expensive to go after.
  6. You can look bigger than you are. With a professionally designed web site, it’s now easy for a small business on the Internet to have the appearance and credibility of being a large company.
  7. You can sell locally and globally at the same time. Search engine marketing now allows you to have a local presence through Google Local. For those people who like to buy locally, you can optimize your website so that people searching in your community come directly to you. But you can also optimize keywords so that prospects from all over the world can find you.
  8. You can be open 24/7. Think about how you shop for something. Google stats indicate that 87% of buyers initiate their buying process with an internet search. Unlike traditional office hours (9 to 5), that search can be done any time of the day of the day or night. By automating a web site, a business can be open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. No extra staff costs and no overtime rates to pay!
  9. You can speed up time-to-market. It is easy to quickly change promotions or offers on the Internet. Emails can be sent out or you can change a website instantly. Time sensitive promotions such as running contests or product specials can be a good way to attract
    customers.

And most importantly…..

  1. You can listen. An online presence gives you the opportunity to get feedback instantly from the market, listen to what they care about via forums and social media conversations.

If sales is about listening to your customer and applying a solution to a problem then an online presence gives you the ultimate engagement and listening tool. If however, you still want disrupt your prospects with overpowering details about product promotions, then go back to the Google search and click on “get rich quick.” A consistent and value-based online presence is not for you.

Marketing CoPilot