Business

Online marketing is an important component of a small-business owner’s toolbox

By: Milind Mehere

Today’s small business owner doesn’t have it easy. Between managing employees, travelling and keeping clients happy, small business owners have a lot on their plate. In Canada, a strong economy has allowed entrepreneurs of all sizes to thrive. At the same time, more entrepreneurs mean more competition. For businesses that operate primarily at a local level, staying visible online can be the first and most important step in getting ahead. As competition increases, how well are small businesses keeping pace with the business and marketing side of things?

Besides the day-to-day project management, human resources and customer retention side of running a small business, there’s also the constant demand to find new clients. With so much already on the go, marketing can easily be left to the wayside. As entrepreneurs, small business owners know that innovation and long hours are all in a day’s work, and while local word of mouth has traditionally been the best way to showcase a job well-done, the fact is, referrals often don’t provide enough new work to sustain or grow a business. Consider contractors, who traditionally use advertising and marketing initiatives that include lawn signs, mailbox flyers and local classifieds. While each of these tactics might have their place, they don’t address the reality that the bulk of their prospects are in one place: online. Google (and to a lesser extent, Bing and Yahoo!) are where most consumers find information. From plumbers to accountants to home repairs and major renovations, 86 per cent of all Canadians now head online to find just about everything.

So how do small businesses ensure that they show up in search engine results pages? It starts with a web presence. Just like an entrepreneurial work-ethic, a web presence is now a necessity, regardless of a company’s size. But the mere existence of a website is not enough; if no one can find it, it might as well not exist. Websites must be found, and the best way to do that is to appear on the first page of search results for relevant searches.

For all businesses, getting on that first page is a matter of time and resources, and the reality is that most small business owners simply don’t have the time or skills to build a robust and easily locatable website. Increasingly, companies are turning to a variety of Search Engine Optimization services to boost their organic search ranking, but even then, they still have to worry about creating and maintaining a site. And Search Engine Optimization is only half the battle. Pay-per-click advertising is equally (if not more) important.

What small businesses need is a way to reach local customers in a one-stop-shop format. The process of moving from strategy to design, from website build to SEO and pay-per-click marketing, is not something most contractors can stomach on top of the demands of the business. Working with comprehensive online marketing companies like OutRank by Rogers can help entrepreneurs and small business owners build a web presence and move them up the search rankings—leaving the long hours free for important client work.

A job well done will always speak for itself, but as the world moves online, companies need to empower themselves with a bolstered web presence to make sure that great work gets noticed. Amidst all the details involved finding and retaining new customers, it’s easy to forget that for a small business, the next customer often matters as much as the current one. With an easily locatable online presence that appears at the top of relevant search results, small business owners can help ensure they’re in exactly the right spot when that next customer is ready to get in touch.

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