5 Myths Keeping SMB Marketers From Creating an Online Presence
Myths keeping SMB marketers from creating an online presence can harm their business. In today’s information age, consumers expect a great deal of availability in exchange for their business. It may have once been just fine to exist offline only, but that time has long passed. Now, at the very least, your business needs an operational website with basic information; ideally, it will also have robust and optimized online presence capable of educating and engaging current and potential customers.
It may seem like a no-brainer to some, but believe me, I understand why many businesses are hesitant to undertake the effort of building and maintaining an online presence. After all, I work in eldercare, an industry you might never expect to go digital — given the audience we serve. That said, I’ve been thoroughly converted. I have come to understand that the excuses businesses use to shy away from social media and the like are mostly myths.
Here are five myths that keep businesses from investing in building a presence online, and how reality contradicts these beliefs.
Myth 1: My Target Audience Isn’t Online
Like I said, my company serves the health needs of seniors. This isn’t a demographic often associated with social media or the Internet, so you might think establishing a presence online would be a waste of time and money. But you’re likely mistaken.
Reality: Nearly every demographic is online in some way, from the youngest generation to senior citizens (50% of people aged 65-plus are on social media). Internet access is expanding every day to reach new people, countries and regions across the world. Whatever your audience is, it’s likely they or someone close to them is online.
In eldercare, for instance, we know that our demographic isn’t just seniors, but their families and adult children. To use another example, if your business makes baby food, babies aren’t really your audience; their parents are. And if you provide health service to the underprivileged, not only do a good percentage of vulnerable populations have web access, but anyone who seeks to promote your cause. The odds of someone Google searching your organization is high, and whether or not they are your direct customers, you will lose out if they can’t find you.
Just as importantly, potential partners, investors and recruits are all online. Failing to reach them could make or break the success of your endeavor by stopping these vital connections in their tracks.
Myth 2: SMB Marketers Don’t Need Web Presences
According to a 2016 report, 46% of small businesses in America didn’t have websites. While a small 12% used social media in place of a website, about 32% said they declined to establish an online presence because they didn’t think it was relevant to their industry.
Reality: These days, a web presence is relevant to every business. Whether you are B2B, manufacturing or hyper-local, people will search for you online and make decisions based on what they find. If a quick Google search yields nothing, or worse, something negative, that decision likely won’t be in your favor.
As it is, 81% of consumers perform online research before making a purchase. The more information you have available about your business, the better prepared your customers will be to make an informed decision to choose your service over that of a competitor.
Myth 3: My Industry Is Too Boring for Social Media
Having a robust web presence means keeping social media profiles active and engaging users with useful and interesting information. But what if your industry isn’t exactly exciting? Companies may feel inclined to shy away from content creation and promotion if they think what they have to say won’t be compelling or cool.
Reality: Not every business is sexy, and that’s okay. Mine certainly isn’t, and it would be silly to try to be! The reality is that consumers aren’t looking to be excited by brands; they are looking to be informed. Research suggests that written articles are the most engaging form of content — followed by videos and images.
A blog is great for several reasons; primarily, its educational value. Use simple language and rich media to create quality content that solves problems your customers may be dealing with. Besides helping customers, regular, quality content will also help your website rank higher in Google searches.
With some creativity, even “boring” businesses can be interesting and engaging. Outside of educational content, consider spotlighting star associates, new initiatives, or sharing fun photos of your team at work or special events.
Myth 4: If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It
What if business is doing just fine, or even exceeding expectations? You may think that you’d be better off continuing to prioritize what is working instead of tackling a new project. After all, why fix what isn’t broken?
Reality: If your business is thriving without an online presence, first of all, congratulations! Unfortunately, present-day success is not a sure-fire indicator of stability or future performance. With the Internet’s ubiquity, you’re still missing an opportunity for even better business. But you’re also leaving a vulnerability that could turn things around pretty fast.
A business with one negative on the first page of search results, for instance, risks losing 22% of its customers. This percentage doubles if you have two negatives. Sadly, that’s all it takes — a single bad review or negative press coverage could break. Having an online presence allows you to control your narrative online, counteract bad press or reviews, or (if you’re consistent) suppress bad results with more relevant, positive content.
Myth 5: An Online Presence Isn’t Worth the Investment
It’s no myth that web development, social media management and online marketing can be costly — especially if you’re hiring a team to tackle the job. But is it worth the investment? Some businesses don’t seem to think so.
Reality: There are many affordable and effective solutions for business large and small that are looking to establish an online presence. With 24/7 access to information on your business, a credible, mobile-friendly site that draws users in, a friendly brand persona, and other opportunities for improved customer service and sales funneling, the business benefits outweigh any potential sunk cost.
Remember, there’s a spectrum of online presence; it starts with a credible website and only gets better from there.
It’s the 21st century, and the world is online. If you’re not there too, who’s to say what else you’ll miss out on?
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