Taking your offline business online
If you own a business that has been promoted and run only in the physical space for years, or maybe even decades, you might be a little hesitant about moving into the online space. There are lots benefits to having an online presence, even when all of your products or services are only sold and performed in person.
Being online helps people find you. They may not end up having a conversation with a friend before they just go online and take a look for themselves. Why not help them solve that problem faster by being front and centre, and readily available. You can't always wait for someone to refer you first.
You can also start to sell your products and services online, with much less human effort. If your products or services can be sold to a customer without absolutely needing a human to book them in, or discuss the customisation of the product, you can sell more products by doing this online, without needing to hire a bunch more staff to sell those items. Think about how that can be done, map each stage, and make it happen.
Sign me up! But what do I do first...?
Step 1: Exist on Google
The first step should be to set up your Google My Business account. This allows you to show up on location based Google searches for people searching in your area. You can show off your business, your opening hours, and also photos of your shop, office, or products and services. Your customers will be able to review your business, which can serve like word of mouth. It will take about 2-3 weeks to verify your business address.
Step 2: Get a website
Next up, it is beneficial to have a website, which is your home base. It's the place you'll have the most control over, so if Facebook got shut down tomorrow, you'd still have your website. This is where you can show off your services, your past work, host a signup to your newsletter, include icons for your social platforms in the future, and most importantly, make sales. Having a website also allows Google to link to you on their search pages outside the map feature.
Squarespace is our preferred platform. It's plans include both the content management system, and your hosting of your website, which can be a hefty added cost. It's also super user friendly. Want someone to build your website for you? Get in touch and we'll let you know where we can start.
If your budget is basically $0, you can set up a website through Google My Business. It's a simple setup, and allows you to show off more than the standard version, but it is very basic compared to paid platforms.
Step 3: Start a newsletter
Most businesses suit having a newsletter. You can retain ongoing customers, let them know about discounts, new products or services and anything fun you have going on. You can educate people and inform them in such a way that they are more included to opt in to your services in the future, much like an infopreneur does, giving tidbits of info for an extended period of time before dropping a new course.
MailChimp and ConvertKit are great platforms for your average business. Chances are if you're just getting started online, one of these will suit you well. Your bill will depend on how many people you have on your list.
Step 4: Get on social
Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and more. There's a lot of places to be, but just start with one. Facebook is the most common, so that's a great place to start for most businesses. If you're an artist, and imagery is more your vibe, try Instagram first. Once you feel like you're comfortable on that one, spread to one more, and so on. Social media helps people stumble across you, helps your customers get to know you better, and helps to validate you as a reliable business.
Step 5: Start working on your search ranking
Whether you choose to start a blog, or just have very detailed product or service descriptions, creating useful content which serves your future customers is a great way for Google to rank you higher than your competitors.