Posted on December 28, 2009 by Dan Blank
At their best, businesses are a mix of courage, inspiration and practicality, resulting in the creation of something unique, something needed, and something that puts smiles on people’s faces. At their worst, businesses exploit customer needs with inferior products and ruthless practices, skimming off “value” that rewards the few, while depleting the resources of the many.
When considering ways to grow your business online, you are left with two choices:
- Leverage new tools to enable customers to meet core needs.
- Spam as many people as possible with the hopes that X% of them will click on an ad or buy your product/service.
Today, let’s focus on how an established business can begin thinking about the web and social media in ways that can enable the goals of their customers, and establish your own brand as a powerful presence online.
Every time I walk into a coffee shop, a dry cleaner, a local franchise, or drive by a strip mall or office building, I consider the needs of these businesses. Regardless of their makeup, their market or their history, most have similar needs & purpose:
- Find new customers
- Grow the value of their existing customer base
- Identify even greater efficiency
- Explore new market opportunities
And I understand why these businesses are more concerned with the customers walking by their storefront than those doing a web search for “Coffee, Madison, NJ” in Google Maps.
But that doesn’t mean that an opportunity to serve customers and expand your business does not exist online. The sooner a business realizes this and begins taking small steps, the sooner they will realize the fruits of their labor, and get a step ahead of their competition.
- How they find businesses.
- How they research and judge products.
- How they manage their personal and business finances.
Each of these processes is moving online. If you are waiting for them to tell you this, then you will be acknowledging this shift too late.
Likewise, there is a new competitive landscape – a fight to engage with your market online, to serve their needs in integrated and easy ways. Will you wait and wait until these changes are so solidified that you feel it is “safe” to make a move, long after others have finished the land rush and worked to establish relationships in the lives of your customers?
Focusing on the Right Opportunities
So why aren’t more small and medium sized businesses jumping into the online space to build their brands, engage customers and edge out the competition? And for those who are, why do many of them devote so few resources and execute so poorly? Well, for most business owners or managers, their days are filled with execution – trying desperately to keep up with the many processes and opportunities that they feel will lead to immediate business growth.
While this thinking can take many forms, I can understand why some tactics give the illusion of immediacy: that handing out flyers on the corner 50 feet away from our door would be time better spent than learning about search engine marketing.
It could be argued that this responsibility falls to a sales or marketing manager, assuming the business is large enough to have these roles. The issue becomes this: in all likelihood, the existing business structure rewards old behavior and meeting old needs, and is unsure of how to value new processes, new customer behavior and new sales channels.
We Grow Media: Helping Businesses Build Their Online Brand
I am launching We Grow Media to help businesses realize business growth through online media and marketing. My goal is to offer practical ideas and strategies that a busy manager can implement in small and meaningful ways within their organization.
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