Everyone talks about Marketing but what is it all about? Marketing is a jigsaw made up of many different pieces and includes activities such as Advertising, Promotion, Branding, Public Relations, Social Media, Digital and Traditional. No one piece works alone and needs to be put together in just the right way.

Some small businesses believe that they simply cannot afford to compete online. This could not be farther from the truth in today’s digital world. From working with clients, I often hear some of the following

“I’ve always been meaning to go online but I don’t know where to start”

“I know I should make more effort with Social Media, but I have so much going on it’s hard to find the time”

“I only have a small business, why would I need to go online, I put out flyers when I need to”

“I set up a website a few years ago, but I haven’t done anything with it since”

“I’ll do something down the line when I’m more set up”

Truth is you may have a small business that is tipping along but if you are avoiding embracing going online you are missing out on so many opportunities. You cannot guarantee just because you have a shop on the main street that people will come through your door and if they do, is there enough footfall to make your business profitable?

Your customers are already online, in January 2019, 87% of Irish customers admit to searching for a product online before visiting a physical shop. People now expect that you have an online presence. It is where they can gather information, read reviews and get a sense of who you are. They have already formed an opinion of your business by this and if they cannot find you online, you lose credibility. If they can’t find you, then they will find someone else providing the same product or service and you have lost business.

Your competitors are sitting there waiting to take their business. You need to be aware of your competitors and what it is that they are doing online. You can learn from them also, what works and what does not. What are they doing that is working? Can you do it better? You can only do this if you are proactive.

If they can’t find your site online because you don’t have a website, or it is years since it’s been updated, and Google isn’t ranking you then you won’t even make the shortlist.

Simple questions like

  • where you are located
  • what your contact details are
  • what your opening times are

These are the things that everyone looks for online You need to be accessible to your customers. Mobile usage is always on, so people have access like never before. Your website is available to give information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Creating a website means your business is working even when you are closed. People can get the information that they need and be ready to visit your store the next day.  Therefore, you need to have a strong online presence. Customers can send you emails, make purchases or get more information any time that suits them. You can attract a new type of customer that didn’t know you existed until they found you online.

By engaging with your customers online you can gain a deeper understanding of what it is that they are looking for, build relationships, trust and build a community. More people are likely to buy from you if they have had a pleasant experience in the past. The new era of Customers Services is online. Customers now expect a reply from you within one hour of posting a query or complaint on your social media. You could create a far more loyal customer if they started off as an unhappy and you were able to deal with the problem for them. The trust has been earned, as they know if something goes wrong, you are on their side and will rectify the problem. It will also encourage people to post if they have had a pleasant experience as well as recommending your company to friends and relatives.

You can run surveys to see if a new product or service would be something that would be worthwhile and by interacting you could offer something that you never thought of, but your customer wanted. With this type of information, you can gain an insight into your customers’ needs and your business can grow and become more profitable.

Digital Marketing is also so much more cost effective and can give you a clear understanding of where your money has been spent. You now have the ability to reach a far greater audience and compete with larger companies on a smaller budget.

Traditional marketing is still a powerful medium and has its place in the bigger picture. When traditional marketing was the only platform available however, it was marketing to the masses and was hard to see where your money was being spent and what return you could get. This has changed with the digital space that we live in today, giving you much better return on your investments enabling you to target your “ideal” customer.

Whatever your budget, digital marketing gives you the chance to compete and gain lifelong customers. The opportunities are there for everyone, if they are utilised in the correct way can be game changing.