If you are a small business owner without an online presence – utilizing some combination of a website, a blog, a newsletter, and social media – then you, like a T-Rex, are a dinosaur. The same holds true for those with outdated websites that are hard to navigate, that don’t include areas for interaction, and that are missing social media tie-ins.
A website must be a living, breathing thing; not something that, once created, sits there collecting dust.
Websites are today’s equivalent of “setting up shop” to do business. They help customers discover your existence and potentially employ your services. The Internet is the first place people look to find out who you are, what you offer, and why they should consider you to fulfill their needs. Without a way to research your business, their only option is to contact you directly. This takes away the customer’s luxury of gathering information before being expected to give it.
Blogs – short for “web logs” – are articles written by you (or someone from your company or organization) to provide unique information for, and demonstrate your expertise to, your customer. Blogs are a great way to provide something of value to your customer that they may not get anywhere else. It’s important to remember that blog posts should never be used for sales pitches, and should be kept short to increase readership (300-500 words).
Newsletters traditionally served the same purpose blogs serve today – sharing content-rich articles, but via snail mail or email. Today’s newsletters, however, are evolving to embrace the blogging counterpart. Fresh, new content is no longer a necessity. A consolidation of blog post excerpts still bring content-rich articles to your audience via email (an audience which may not follow your blog). The legwork of writing has already been done.
Social Media, like a newsletter, spreads your information to a larger audience. People may already feel overwhelmed by the amount of email they receive, and don’t want to add even more by subscribing to your blog or newsletter. Facebook and other social media sites, like LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter, are doubling as news sources for interested readers. Your content can be shared and passed along to new readers that you’d otherwise have never reached.
If you make your content available in multiple formats to suit the various ways your audience may wish to receive it, your chances of extending your reach and your customer base will increase. What you have to offer is important. It would be a shame to lose a reader – and a potential customer – because you weren’t available where they were looking to find you.