If you’re interested in growing your business, lowering overhead, and potentially increasing the size of your audience, there’s no better option than taking an offline business and introducing it to the online world. But with so many different considerations, it requires a finessed approach.
In this article, we’ll explore some of the practical things to think about as you transition your company online.
3 Tips for Going Online
The internet has destroyed many of the barriers to entry that previously existed in the business world. It’s no longer possible to jump through many of the legal and financial hoops that previously existed in the business world. As long as you have an idea, a small budget, and a willingness to learn and create, it’s possible to build an online business.
Historically, starting a physical offline business required thousands of dollars in overhead costs – particularly if you planned on selling physical goods (which required a building, supplies, in-stock inventory, signage, employees, etc.). Today, you can launch a full business – whether you’re selling a product or a service – without needing thousands of dollars, a physical storefront, employees, or very many materials or supplies.
As ForwardAI notes, “Start-up and overhead costs are relatively low and you can start implementing zero-marketing strategies through online advertising and social media from day one. Furthermore, the transaction process between your business and customer can be done in a matter of seconds and you have the flexibility of doing your business in terms of time and location.”
While the opportunity for going online is certainly here, it’s up to you to take full advantage of it. Here are several helpful tips for moving your business into the digital world:
1. Get Clear on Your Message
The very first step is to get clear on what your marketing message will be. More specifically, what is your brand’s identity, who are you targeting, and what sets you apart from other competitors who already exist in this space?
At the heart of any good online brand, you’ll find a Unique Selling Proposition (USP). This is a simple statement that describes what makes you stand out from everyone else. A good USP usually includes a niche/audience, a specific desire that you can help them achieve, and a specific pain point that you empower them to overcome.
The basic template for a USP is as follows: “We help [NICHE] achieve [DESIRE] without [PAIN].” For a sporting goods company, it might look like: “We help high school and amateur athletes compete at the highest level without paying the highest prices.”
It’s important for you to get clear on what your USP is. Once you have it, leverage this USP throughout all of your marketing to create consistent messaging that resonates with your target audience.
2. Build Your Presence
Armed with a specific idea of your message, you need to build an online presence. This can include any or all of the following: website, social media profiles, profiles in online directories, an email list, PPC advertising, and/or digital content (YouTube, blogging, podcasting, etc.).
When building an online presence, it’s easy to become infected with Shiny Object Syndrome (SOS). This is where you constantly get excited about new opportunities, technologies, techniques, and strategies. And rather than establishing deep roots in any one area, you constantly jump around from one shallow idea to the next. You get distracted by “shiny objects” that make bold promises.
When building your online presence, the best thing you can do is remain focused. If you’re building a website, put 100 percent of your focus into building a website. Don’t worry about anything else right now. And if you’re interested in social media, focus on a single platform – like Instagram – rather than six different sites at once.
3. Focus on Customer Experience
When the Houston-based property management company Green Residential decided to move their presence online several years ago, they made the smart move of creating an online portal for their clients (and their tenants) so that everything could be managed in one streamlined location. This helped create an organized and cohesive customer experience (CX) that keeps people happy and loyal. Let this be a lesson for you and your business.
If you’re going to take your business online, you better make sure you get the customer experience element of the equation right. Otherwise, you’ll have a difficult time acquiring and retaining customers. Whether it’s an online portal, around-the-clock support, or an easy digital interface that’s intuitive for your customers to use, CX is everything!
Set Your Business Up for Success
Just taking your business online doesn’t guarantee success. There are still plenty of steps that must be taken. You’ll also find new challenges as it relates to generating exposure and developing long-term relationships with loyal customers. Having said that, the opportunities far outweigh the challenges. Now’s a great time to get focused and to benefit from the advantages of growing your business in the digital world!