Today’s business owners face challenges in promoting their companies that are very different from the ones their parents and great-grandparents faced. Gone are the days of a few local competitors, to say nothing of the days of one general store in each town.
Today’s business world is cutthroat and crowded, full of monolithic online competitors and an ever-changing cast of local challengers. It’s a fast-moving world. It’s so fast-moving, in fact, that the very terms we used to describe the changes of the 1990’s and 2000’s—terms like “information superhighway” and “information age”—already sound hopelessly quaint in the 2010’s.
But we used the term “information age” in the title for a reason. That’s because modern businesses’ many challenges almost all have something in common: the root of them is the increased amount of information available to the customer.
In theory, at least, more information sounds like a good thing. After all, how many local contractors and auto mechanics have slogans along the lines of, “An informed customer is our best friend”? And it’s certainly true that the information age has allowed news about good reputations (and bad ones) to spread faster and wider than they did in the past.
But with all of this information comes a new challenge: being heard. Instead of knowing the names of the two plumbers in town, the modern customer has dozens of choices, from local crews to national chains to the guy from the next town over who isn’t really the closest, but is the first result on Google.
Yes, Google is the source of much of the noise, but it’s also your path to cutting through it. The key is search engine optimization (SEO), a fancy term that just means making your company’s online presence as friendly as possible to Google. With some know-how and some wisely chosen keywords, you can get your company’s website to pop up more often when people search. Of course, it isn’t quite that easy, which is why you can find professionals who earn their living by specializing in just this task. Consider reaching out to one to improve your prospects for promoting your company.
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But what about your business? Is it different? Maybe you rely on word-of-mouth for promoting your company, or you just don’t see how your business has anything to do with the internet.
Unfortunately, no business is exempt from the need to be online these days. In fact, your business may already be online, whether you know it or not. Here are a few ways that the internet is changing business. Take note of the ones that seem most relevant to your industry, and make sure that your company is available in those places.
Yes, these happen online now. Companies like CoupontoPay.com aggregate coupons and deals for customers to find online, influencing their purchase decisions. Are your coupons available online? They should be. And deals also appear through the next item on our list:
Yes, you need to be on it. Your customers certainly are, and having a Facebook and Twitter account will remind those customers that you exist. Plus, it gives you a new avenue for feedback, allowing customers to reach out to you for solutions or venting before they turn to…
Even if you don’t think your business is online, you’re likely to find it here. And a bad review on Yelp or Google can be bad news for your business, so monitor these sites and respond. You can outsource this task, if you’d like.
Customers Google on the go now. Therefore, you want to make sure that the major navigation applications have your location in them. Show your customers you’re nearby, and make it easy for them to get directions from their favorite app.
These are just a few of the most important areas where the internet is changing everything.
However, promoting your company in the information age is as simple as it ever was. You just need to supply information and make it easy to find. Once your customers have the facts, they’ll be able to focus on your business’s reputation and quality. And that will make things, at long last, as simple as they’ve always been.