Saturday February 12, 2011

Business 

Local Business and the Internet

Getting an online presence is only half the battle

Submitted by Terry Holt, Holt Marketing

 

an local small business benefit from having a website? The answer, plain and simple…YES. My advice to any local “brick and mortar” store or service is to have a well-developed website that will be a “cost-effective” part of your marketing strategy.

The first comment I get from some local businesses that have websites: “We never get any visitors so how can it benefit my operation”. My answer is “have you integrated your website into other forms of advertising or promotions?” Not doing so is comparable to buying an advertisement in the local paper, then not circulating the issue.

A website used efficiently can dramatically reduce your “brick and mortar” store overhead and be an efficient form of regular communication with customers, not to mention the opportunity to promote new product(s) or service(s). Trust me, if you don’t start to integrate your website into your marketing strategy… your competition will.

Some keys to website success:

  1. Provide your internet address in all forms of marketing strategy (ex: business cards/stationary, newspaper ads, on your store-front window or signage).

  2. Make your website easy to navigate. (Stats show website visitors will spend an average of a few seconds to minutes on your site. If it is difficult to navigate, they leave.)

  3. Update your material on a regular basis (at least quarterly). No one wants to read last month’s newspaper.

  4. Most important, provide your current customer base or potential customers the ability to communicate through a “feedback form”. Your website has the ability to communicate with your business 24/7. How many times have you planned to go back to a local store to ask a question or get needed information? The website feedback form and your email provide customers with a form of communication “at their convenience”.

  5. Develop a “Privacy Policy” which is easy to read on your website. Building “trust” with your local customer using the internet is crucial. Have you ever considered adding a “Guaranteed Satisfaction” sign to your website?

  6. Make “phone number” optional in your feedback form. Most consumers are leary of posting their home numbers. To many companies have abused the system by selling off current numbers to advertising services.

A well designed website will cut your promotional print costs dramatically providing you additional funding for other marketing ideas. Ask yourself: “How much did I spend on brochures and fliers last year? What was my ROI (Return on Investment)?

You can say a lot more on a website.

Close to 80% of our local consumers actively use the internet — “use it to your advantage”.

You may have heard in the news over the past few days about “Internet Fraud”. Well, I think the media is getting short on “news leads” considering the amount of “fraud” that continues to exist “off the internet” in our day to day life. Canadians have over 37 million debit cards and 72 million credit cards.

Last time I checked, common sense is still free. If you’re worried about purchasing a product on the internet with a major credit card, try using the available “money cards” available by such companies as Money Mart and supported by Master Card or Visa. The card is “only” good for the amount you apply to the card…. no more. The fees are reasonable compared to the alternative. And I WOULD NEVER use my bank debit card on the internet.

Pay Pal is still one of the safest forms of paying for a product or receiving funds. Ebay originally formed PayPal for their online business and we all know how successful it has been for them. Many small businesses use a Pay Pal Merchant account for their online sales with the capabilities of accepting most major credit cards.

One of the “most important factors”; If you purchase something through a Craig’s List ad or any other website… only send funds or product to a “buyers” confirmed address. For example; “I want to purchase your pearl necklace, but I would like you to send it to my daughter in England. I will pay you through Pay Pal immediately and include additional shipping costs. WRONG. This is an ongoing Scam not only on the internet but in newspaper advertisements. Pay Pal or any credit card has a “buyer” option to file a complaint for not receiving purchased goods (at the “buyers” confirmed address) and getting a refund.

The crooks know the only proof of shipment you will have (in the above case) is to the England address … and will get a refund. At one time I worked for American Express customer services and experienced this issue on a regular basis. File away any email correspondence with the buyer. Email has the buyer address, date and time stamp as evidence.

Remember: “Snake Oil” has been sold for centuries and “Florida Swamp Land” is still available.

Support your LOCAL BUSINESS, the backbone of our community.

Continued Success and have nothing short of a Great Day.

Terry Holt

Terry Holt & Associates

Marketing Consultants

www.holtmarket.com  

 

 

 

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