Thoughts After Coffee Connection Presentation – Three Steps to Grow Your Business Online

Last Friday (September 6), I spoke at the Coffee Connection networking session, sponsored by the San Leandro Chamber of Commerce and headed by Jan Woycheshin.  My topic was “Cutting Through The Confusion – Three Steps to Grow Your Business Online

Coincidentally, a Coffee Connection event is the same event as it was  in 2011 when I began networking with the business community in San Leandro.  It's a great event with a lot of energy and good people.  Local business owners and community leaders were packed into the San Leandro Chamber offices, in the soon-to-be dedicated Dale Reed Conference Room.

I'm not a natural speaker, but I had a lot of fun with this presentation.  It makes a presenter's day when the audience gets those audible moments of realization (A-Ha moments), and there seemed to be a few of those.  I'm glad that people took away some insights that they could use, and I've listed a few of the best ones below…

Essentially, there's three major steps to growing any business online:

1. Understand Your Customers
2. Establish Your Online Storefront
3. Create Raving Fans / Build Your Representation

Contrary to the ideas of some SEO experts, people don't want to find a business because of a general Google keyword – they want a problem solved. They don't care that you're the best plumber in the San Leandro, they want to know that you have 24/7 availability and will return at no charge if the problem isn't fixed.  Branding is great, but only if it turns into a customer solution.  You spend some time to think about how your customer will find your business.

Secondly, they have to know where you are.  Over 50% of people who search on mobile devices want to do business with local owners, but 90% of small businesses aren't set up to be found on iPhones or ‘Droids50% don't even have websites.

If business websites are optimized and mobile-friendly, over 50% will actually visit a storefront and make a purchase, while almost 40% will use their phone and call. Those are most likely higher percentages than what you've gotten for typical paper ads or by passing out business cards.

This is why having a marketing, and mobile friendly website is so important.  It is your hub to attract people who are online and on their mobile phones.

The easiest way to get a customer is to have an existing customer repurchase.  How do you do so?  Make sure you consistently contact them and provide value when you do.  This may be vital advice or tips for your customers that you provide as an email newsletter.  It could be to use social media after getting customers to ‘Like' your Facebook page, follow your Twitter account, or get updates via LinkedIn and Google+.  Or, perhaps you can use SMS text messaging to send short offers and coupons to your clients.

It's a good idea to have these things in place so that your raving fans can talk about you to build your online reputation.  By “pushing content” out to subscribers and customers, you are staying “top of mind” so that when they do need your products & services, they will remember to contact your business.  It also makes it extremely easy for them to forward your content to their friends and connections.

By having multiple places where people are can leave admiring message, talk positively about, and review your company, you have a higher chance that other will find your business and want to do business with you.  You need to follow up with them.  So, getting the cycle of being connected with your customers accomplishes a lot to build your business.  If you provide good content for them to read while they browse around your website, they'll contemplate buying from you again. Isn't that the best part of business?