This is the first in a series of short posts about the basics of getting your business online. In it, I’ll cover the questions you need to ask yourself to get started and then expand on each one a little. I’ll also try and point you towards some helpful resources.
So you’re thinking about moving your business online. The first question to ask yourself is: Why do I need to be online? Not every business needs to have a website, or use social media. Some businesses can function simply attracting new customers organically through word of mouth prompted by the high standard of service it offers. This is particularly true of businesses which only have a small capacity to fill and can depend on the repeat business of their customers. Indeed, one could argue that if you cannot keep the customers you already have, then your problem isn’t a lack of online presence, it’s a lack of good customer service. And this flaw will continue to haunt your business once you are online.
Nonetheless, there are very good reasons to take your business online, perhaps you:
Therefore, the first thing that you must understand is why you want to take your business online. Really think about it. In my marketing career I have often heard people justify their marketing decisions on some vague notion expressed as “needing to have a presence” or some other fuzzy thought that’s based on a presumption that advertising in a newspaper or having a website is somehow going to magically create more business – at least more than the activity cost. This is not a very good way to go about planning your marketing, and it is a particularly egregious mistake to make online since it is a ruthless place which can eat a lot of your advertising budget very quickly. Are you sure you’re not just doing this because you like the idea, or perhaps someone has told you that everyone is online so you should be too? Be certain why you need to be online, and what the benefits will be to your business and your customers. You should also take some time to think about the risks, and what you will need to do to make it a success. Doing so will make the following steps much easier, and we will consider each of them in a subsequent post: