The internet has probably created more millionaires in the past 10 years than any other industry. The unlimited access to a huge, hungry customer base allows everyone from CEOs to teenagers to profit online. When looking for ways to grow your business or add additional streams of income, the internet should be one of the first places you look. Adding an online portion of your business doesn’t have to be scary or difficult.
Growing online depends on your business and your goals. Different online strategies will be more effective for some businesses than for others. Here are three ways to grow your business online. Look at these three options and see which suits your business best.
Reach More Customers in Your Area
This is something every business should be doing no matter what. Consumers are looking online to find restaurants, book hotels, shop for clothes and almost everything else. The phone book is more commonly used as a display of strength than to find local or small businesses.
The first step should be to put up a website. Assuming you have completed that already, here are some ways to reach more customers in your area.
Google + for Business: If your business has a physical location, Google’s new business profile should be one of your first steps. These profiles are usually the first items appearing for relevant search terms in Google. This profile will give customers all your important information: hours, services, location, etc. There are hundreds of other profiles you can create. If you have the time, do it, but none will offer the visibility Google provides.
Yelp, Angie’s List, Other Directories: Depending on what your business does, many consumers look on directories such as these to find reviews, ratings and other information a company before they purchase. Listing your business and encouraging your happy customers to leave reviews can do a lot to grow your revenue.
Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn can all offer you a chance to connect and converse with your customers. While having profiles on multiple social media sites can be beneficial, it’s best to choose one or two options and focus on really building a community around your brand. Social Media is great because it facilitates word of mouth marketing and allows your business to grow much more quickly in that way.
Paid Advertising: One of the distinct advantages of paid online advertising versus paid offline advertising is the ability to effectively target. If your target market is women between 42 and 56 years of age, with a median income of $75,000, who own dogs, reaching that market offline will be tough. Magazine ads, billboards and TV commercials only allow you to target so much. Online advertising has a much wider range of targeting abilities.
Note: Online advertising can be expensive and tricky if you don’t know what you are doing. However, if you carefully watch your budget and do your research you can see a big ROI for your time and money.
Offer your Current Product or Services Online
Many small businesses offer products and services that can easily be offered online as well. My grandmother is a certified Health and Nutritionist Coach. While most of her clients come to her office, she could just as easily Skype with someone across the country. If your service can be offered through a medium like Skype, consider seeking out clients from across the country to grow your income.
Additionally, there are thousands of online market places to sell products. Sites like eBay, Etsy, and Shopify offer the chance for almost any small business to sell their products online. The chances are that whatever your product is there are hundreds of people buying similar products online. You can have your first online customer in under a day.
Add an Online Product
“But I’m a plumber, I can’t offer my services online!” Think again! Even if you own a service based business or sell a product that doesn’t translate well into online sales, you can create a spinoff product to sell online. How many times a month do you think people search how to unclog a sink or how to unclog a shower drain? While a plumber in Reading, PA isn’t going to travel to someone’s house in California, a short video guide could be all that person needs. A video guide for unclogging all household drains is easily worth $15-$20. Sell one a day and you have added another $7000 to your income.
Sites like udemy.com allow anyone to create a course teaching people about anything. If you own a business, you have a set of skills and knowledge that other people don’t have. Teaching people these skills or knowledge can be a profitable addition to your business
Take a look at these and see which one fits best with your business. Can you easily offer your services online? Is there a helpful spinoff product that will provide value for customers? When looking to grow your business, you don’t have to open a new location or even leave the comfort of your couch.