For the past year I’ve enjoyed working with local business owners here in Oregon, showing them how they could have a modern, cool website without spending a lot of money. In truth, I’ve been shocked at the prices that other companies have asked for essentially the same thing I offer. Not that I’m “all that”, but more that most companies are bloated with overhead, stuck in the old-school way of doing things, and really just charging what the market will bear.

When we started BFR, we did it because we realized there were so many small business owners who simply couldn’t afford a good site, but needed one desperately. To be honest, the smaller your business is, the more important it is to have a solid website and social media presence. Think about it: A big company has dollars to spend on advertising and marketing. They can buy that newspaper ad, or send out mailers wide to thousands of people, just in an effort to “get in front of” prospective customers.

You (assuming you are a small or medium business owner reading this…) don’t have that kind of money to throw around on a gamble. But there’s one thing you can do that doesn’t cost a lot: Use the internet! We all think of how people use social media, and that can become a valuable and powerful tool to drive potential customers to your business. The best thing is that it’s free to have a social media presence! But that’s not entirely true. It does take time and planning.

If you want to use it for business, you need:

  • Frequent, informative posts
  • Daily interaction with potential customers
  • Research on what your followers like, read, enjoy

and most importantly…

  • A plan on how you intend to use social media to drive customers to you

It’s not enough to just randomly post things. You need to think how posting on social media is going to reflect on your business. Random posts about unrelated content and posting personal (and potentially controversial) comments can do more damage than good. Remember that with Facebook in particular, it’s easy to blur the line between your business presence and your personal presence. It’s best to keep things neutral, fun, entertaining, or your innocent comment might backlash on your business.

But a plan means sitting down and outlining who your ideal customer is, what they like (other than your shop/product), what things they comment on and Like. This is like a roadmap to appealing to your customer, and it’s just a matter of sitting down, doing some research and figuring it out.

As the title of the article says, none of this is rocket science, but despite the fact that small businesses could benefit the most from free or cheap promotion via social media and their own website, what I’ve seen over the past year is a total disregard for the power of an online presence. It’s unfortunate, because it’s so easy once you get into the flow of it, and can pay off quickly, if done right.

I could go on for days on this topic, but let me end with this thought:

Never think of your business as a small business, and don’t treat your online marketing plan as an after-throught. You may think that your reach via website and social media is only the immediate area around your business, but don’t forget that the internet is worldwide. What you say on Facebook can potentially be seen by millions of people. Because of this, your reach, if you want it, can be much, much wider than you are probably considering, and this means reaching customers far outside of your area.

It’s true, it’s not rocket science, but using your online resources correctly can certainly launch your business into the stratosphere.¬†And if you haven’t considered the possibility that you could grow your company beyond your local surroundings, then you’re missing out on a great ride.