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Why local businesses need to be online

This week we decided against having a business feature on our blog but instead decided that after our previous post, we’d delve a bit deeper into why even small local businesses need to have an online presence in order to stand a chance of surviving in the modern world of business.

It’s no longer a choice…

Internet marketing

(Maybe a snapshot of code isn’t exactly what we mean, but we are talking about the internet. Which doesn’t have to be that confusing.)

Business as we previously knew it has all but disappeared… gone are the days that people asked their neighbour for a recommendation for a builder to do the new conservatory… gone are the days of pulling out the yellow pages every time you needed a taxi.
These days the internet is king. We can search for any information within seconds and receive files, money, or messages with the click of a button.

So why are some small businesses still ignoring ‘the king’?

As IT professionals by trade we come across businesses every day who have only recently adopted computer systems, while depending on a customer base made up of long-term local customers who like their directors, are ageing fast.

Relying on word of mouth and lifelong customers is a great strategy for organic business growth and shouldn’t be neglected. But in the new digital age, it’s simply not enough to build a real sustainable business.

Ahead of the curve, or dropping off the edge…

digital marketing curve

Our recent blog post on the site from a local digital marketing agency highlighted to us just how important it is that local businesses get online before it’s too late.

Being ahead of the curve doesn’t mean spending thousands on a flash new website, a social media management agency and expensive paid ads. It can be simply setting up a Google business listing, or ensuring that your website is up to date with your latest offer and can be found by the people in your local area.

and what if you don’t have that basic setup?

The answer to that is simple. How are your next 10 years of customers going to find you? The next generation of consumers, business owners and even builders is going to be a lot different to the past 50 years.

They’ll turn to the web to find new suppliers near them instead of travelling all the way across town to use the same shop their family has used for 20 years.

For the cynics out there, this does seem very disloyal and harsh but it’s a product of the digital age. Which means instead of arguing over the moral implications, small local businesses should be looking to improve their online presence.

The starting point…

starting out in digital

If you’re a small business owner then by now you’re probably thinking, ‘Great, we get the idea but where do I start?’

Without being biased we recommend you start your search by reading the recent post on Brown and Emery from a local digital marketing expert at Brick Digital here. He goes over digital marketing in a lot more detail but for those of you who either can’t afford to hire an agency yet or just want a point in the direction just read on.

Google My Business

We’ve all seen it. You hit Google and search something like curry house near me… then pops up a map with plotted points along with 3 businesses near you who fit your search phrase.

These are called Google business listings and you should have one! This is the simplest thing to set up and can be done here.

Business website

Maybe you have one, maybe you don’t. But this is a necessity in the modern day, although you can get away with just having a Google business listing as stated above.

But a business website is a major trust factor for nearly all people these days. There is no need to invest thousands in a flashy website as nowadays you can get a simple site set up and hosted online for less than 200 pounds. Try out somewhere like GoDaddy, buy a domain then use the WordPress hosting to get online with hours with a pre-set template.

Social Adverts

Facebook and Instagram. The only social media platforms you NEED to know about as a small business owner.

Without a high-tech expensive agency, you can use both platforms to set-up simple adverts that will be shown to people in your area, all based on their age, sex, interests, hobbies, and type of internet usage.

To get started you can find lots of information online but for a fast simple set-up watch the video below: (more useful tutorials can be found on YouTube)

As a local website, we fully support all small business in and around Watford & London, so we don’t want this article to appear as a scaremongering tactic. However, we did want to stress the importance of getting online for small business as a way of future-proofing your business!

Don’t forget to bookmark our site and pop back weekly to see our updated articles.