make the most of your online presence

this post originally appeared in the january edition of the whap wrap, a newsletter put out by a wonderful website for biz mums called support a wahp

promoting biz online.jpg

if you are reading this, i am guessing you are working on building your little biz from home. like most of us, you probably have ideas for promoting, marketing or selling your thing online. but where do you start? should you make a website? start a blog? create a facebook page? join twitter? send out an email newsletter? what is the difference between all of these things? what is the best one for your biz?

this is like your ‘brick and mortar’ shop. it is where people come to browse, check out your prices and purchase items. just like a brick and mortar, you need to make a good impression the first time people visit: be sure your window display is dazzling, make it easy for people to find what they are looking for, have your price tags visible and easy to understand, make it easy for people to make a purchase and receive their items.

if your website is your ‘shop’, your blog is like chatting with customers at the counter. it is where you might share bits about why you do what you do, what you are passionate about, the story behind your products, funny or entertaining tidbits that relate to your shop or your customers, hobbies or common interests you share with the folks who visit your shop. be real, be helpful, be interesting, give people a story to go with the stuff they buy from you.

just like you might subscribe to be a VIP at your favourite shop, offer your visitors the opportunity to sign up for an email newsletter. and just like you might look forward to getting that glossy booklet full of goodness in the post, make your biz newsletter just as special: include sneak peeks at new products, special VIP offers for your most valued clients, helpful tips and advice that your subscribers will look forward too.

you’ve got your shop (your website) so facebook is kind of like having a guy dressed up as a chicken out front waving to customers and handing out flyers and giving kids balloons. it is a way of drawing people inside your shop, letting people know about special offers or contests you have going on, chatting up people on the street and getting them to come inside and like your stuff.

(by the way, facebook should not be your shop. you should really have an website/online store that is separate from facebook, otherwise you are at the mercy of facebook and all of its random changes and numerous glitches. you have very little control of what facebook decides to do next, so have your own site that you control. also, it is more professional. just sayin’.)

twitter is kind of like hanging out at the local pub with all of your favourite customers, supportive friends, fellow little business owners, even a local celebrity or two. you might catch up with a customer, share some ideas or tips with another biz owner, answer a question for someone in the community or maybe just sit back and listen in on the conversations around you. if you were down at the pub you wouldn’t go on and on about your little biz all of the time, that wouldn’t be very endearing. you would connect with people, build relationships, share, learn, listen.... that’s what you should be doing on twitter.

you don’t need to master all of these components at once. add one to your business plan and when you have that up and running, add another... there is a role for each of them and each can add something valuable to your biz. good luck, and have fun! =)

do you have another way of looking at your online presence? can you think of another analogy for these different aspects of doing biz online? i would love to hear from you!