Management Article: Using the Internet to Build Your Business (#1 in a Series)
It seems that a good part of my consulting nowadays is with small business owners who want to use the Internet to grow, almost always a smart move. Most of these entrepreneurs are not getting a good ROI for their investment in Internet marketing. Mostly, they are not getting results because they are spending their money in the wrong places or spending it inefficiently.
Six Assumptions that Will Doom Your Internet Marketing Effort
- “I need to create the right look and feel for my brand on the Internet to attract traffic.”
Most business websites are created by web designers who are generally best at creating graphics and trying to evoke the right feeling for the visitor. Many of them have very limited knowledge of the website content, which is crucial to getting your visitors to place an order or make an inquiry. Many of them do not have enough experience in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) which is crucial to getting visitors to your site from search engines, such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Web designers want to talk about your brand. What they need to focus on is what makes your customers inquire or buy and how the website can powerfully transmit those messages to visitors. How many of your customers would say the word brand if I asked them why the buy from you? Please note, your brand is important, but it won’t matter if you don’t get the message right and if you don’t generate traffic. Getting relevant traffic, by which I mean visitors who want what you are offering, is the #1 overwhelming goal, not a creating a “pretty” site.
- “I don’t need to create specific measurable goals against which to evaluate the website.”
This one is a killer. If you don’t have a goal for your website, then you don’t have a means to hold your vendors accountable. Should your website be producing one new inquiry a day? Should it produce 20 orders a day? What is the goal of your Internet marketing program? Who is going to do what to get to that goal? When is it going to happen?
- “My web designer is going to help me market the site and bring visitors to it.”
Nothing against web designers, but I don’t rely on them to create the plan to market the site. Every entrepreneur who plans on using search engines to deliver traffic to sites needs to know enough about web design to be sure that the designer is not doing anything that will adversely affect the site’s ability to get good rankings for the terms customers use to search for products in the category. There are mistakes that your web designer can make because he or she does not know how search engines work that are costly to fix. We can help you ask the right questions to ensure a search-friendly design if you are going to rely on the search engines for traffic for your site.
- “My website is just another one of the operating expenses of my business.”
This mindset hurts entrepreneurs a lot. Think of your website, not as an operating expense, but as a capital expense. Think of it as buying a tool that will help build your business. You will stay focused on how much it will do to build the business. It’s a tool and how much you spend developing that tool should be based upon how much it can realistically produce for your business over its life span.
- “If I build it, they will come.”
Building a successful web presence and a successful web marketing strategy takes time. It takes forethought and commitment. Many entrepreneurs underestimate the time and effort required to mine the Internet for prospects and clients. Even so, done properly, Internet marketing can be among your most cost effective sources of new business.
- “My web designer understands my business and my strategy and he or she will make sure the site reflects my business goals.”
Not usually. Not without a lot of input and involvement from the person who cares the most about your business. Make sure that your web designer and web developer build a site that is connected closely to your business goals and that you have a plan in place to make sure that every dollar you invest in growing your small business on the web produces a decent ROI.
If you are not making these six assumptions about your web marketing, you are already on the right track.
But, let me do you a favor. I have a tool that can score your site to see how many of SEO best practices are being followed on your site. I will be glad to send you a free report on your site and to give you some free advice about ways to improve it.
The bottom line is, regardless of your business—make sure you are managing your online reputation. Stay tuned here next month for some simple tools to help you manage the online reputation of your business.
Remember only you can make business great!
Ron Sturgeon, founder of Mr. Mission Possible small business consulting, combines over 35 years of entrepreneurship with an extensive resume in consulting, speaking, and business writing, with 3 books published and 2 more expected in 2012.
A business owner since age 17, Ron sold his chain of salvage yards to Ford Motor Company in 1999, and his innovations in database-driven direct marketing have been profiled in Inc. Magazine. After the repurchase of Greenleaf Auto Recyclers from Ford and sale to Schnitzer Industries, Ron is now owner of the DFW Elite Auto suite of businesses and a successful real estate investor.
As a consultant and peer benchmarking leader, Ron shares his expertise in strategic planning, capitalization, compensation, growing market share, and more in his signature plain-spoken style, providing field-proven, high-profit best practices well ahead of the business news curve.
Ron is a web expert, but he is also an expert in helping all types of small businesses become more successful and more profitable. He has helped owners in industries from restaurants to law firms with a wide variety of business issues, including sales, promotion, production, financial measures, business strategy, and planning for startups. Whatever your unique challenges, Ron can help you.
To inquire about peer benchmarking, consultations, or keynote speaking, contact Ron by calling 817-834-3625, by emailing rons@MrMissionPossible.com, by mailing 5940 Eden, Haltom City, TX 76117, or online at Mr. Mission Possible.