If you are a small business owner in North America in 2018, you are undoubtedly feeling the pressure. And likely very confused.

Every day you are bombarded with messages about online sellers coming to steal your business, large competitors adopting “omni-channel” strategy and reports of your imminent demise.

At the same time, you are told of the opportunities presented by social media can level the playing field. How Facebook will save the day….no make that Instagram….or is Twitter the right vehicle? Maybe LinkedIn should be your go to.

One thing is certain, if you try to follow all of the advice out there, you will undoubtedly have to work full time on your online strategy, leaving little time for what you do best.

Not to worry, though, there are steps to take that are not overwhelming and that do not require much management. These are foundational steps that can help you to set the building blocks for a more cohesive online/offline strategy.
Here is how you can get going:

  • Take care of your online findability: register with as many search engines, maps and review sites as you can in order to maximize your footprint. This is the best way out there to ensure that paying customers who are looking for what you offer TODAY can find you and make their way over to you instead of to your nearest competitors.
  • Get customer feedback: Once those searchers become visitors and/or clients, get their feedback. The Voice of the Customer has never been so critical. Get their emails so you can market to them, solicit their feedback with a simple survey and encourage them to write online reviews, especially when you know that their experience was a positive one.
  • Use that feedback: Use that information as constructive criticism. Improve. Use the emails to send out promotions and to stay in touch with your clients. Don’t bombard them, but send regular useful information to them. Send them insider promotions. Referral bonuses. News about new developments. Be selective but consistent.
  • Add in a data component: Use the data you collect from your listings and reviews to understand more about your prospects. Who are they? Where are they coming from? What keywords are drawing the most traffic? Build a profile of your best prospects. Tag them as your low hanging fruit
  • Paid social: Target the low-hanging fruit with Facebook or Google advertising using the data you have collected. Monitor the return on investment.

There are several services out there that can help you through this process. Some that are completely hands off and some, like ours, that will walk you through these steps and guide you.

In some cases, the annual cost can add to be less than the value of one new customer.

Either way, the only thing that you cannot afford to do is nothing. The cost of doing nothing is far greater than the small expense of getting the basics done. Start now. Your business depends on it. And work with a team that hears you.