How to Bring Your Business Into the Digital Age

Create a sustainable positive online presence

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Many people believe that the best way to find customers is to look for them or do it the old-fashioned way by picking up the phone and calling them. That’s a mistake. In the digital age, customers from around the world should find you. And they can, provided you create a sustainable positive online presence. Let’s take a look at how it’s done, but first, see if you find yourself in the following examples.

If you do, you better get digital now.

Is This You?

You run a landscaping business and all your customers are within a 10-mile radius. When somebody needs his lawn trimmed or bushes re-potted, he picks up the phone and calls you. Once in a while you hear a story from a client that he read something nice about you on Facebook but you wouldn’t know because you don’t use Facebook and never intend to.

You run a fifth-generation family-run private-label food company and all your customers have been with you for decades. Not too many in the industry can make that claim. Customers know a handshake means more to a deal than any formal contract or tweet. Besides, who has time for tweets?

You run a handyman business that focuses on interior remodeling with an emphasis on kitchens, bathrooms, basements, flooring, painting, finish trim and repairs. Everybody in the area knows you on a first-name basis and raves about your work to others.

Emails are a distraction to you because all of your business comes to you via cell phone referrals. One of your clients asked if you get business off LinkedIn and you respond with, “Are you kidding?”

The secret to billions of customers finding you online is to build a world stage comprising of a website, blog, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest accounts.

Social media isn’t just for teenagers looking to get out of doing homework. It has real business implications as well. Your social media and networking presence will allow you to broaden and deepen existing relationships, attract new prospects around the globe, build thought leadership within your industry, create strong brand awareness and grow your business. 

Map Out a Digital Strategy

Here’s an example of how you can map out your digital strategy. Assign someone to champion the cause—that champion can be you. Let’s say you are the handyman we talked about earlier who focuses on interior remodeling with an emphasis on kitchens, bathrooms, basements, flooring, painting, finish trim and repairs. What might you do to bring more customers to your business?  

At the very least, setup a Facebook account (www.facebook.com) because it’s easy as 1-2-3 and a lot of folks use it not just for business but for sharing family activities and, ahem, major updates or improvements going on in their lives. Post once a day on Facebook about something positive that takes place at your business. Next, set up a Twitter handle (www.twitter.com). Be consistent with the name you use for each online account.

For example, “Frank’s ABC Handyman,” because you want search engines to know it’s you. Post a couple of useful articles in your industry to keep people up to speed on home improvement matters. If that’s not too much to handle, then push the envelope further and get on Google+ (https://plus.google.com/) to reach those users and finish off your digital presence by joining Pinterest (www.pinterest.com) and Instagram (www.instagram.com). All of these platforms are free to join and should be used in concert regularly to keep your content fresh and engaging. 

I have intentionally avoided talking about a website (costs a little bit of money) or a blog (many are free). The reason is I don’t want to overwhelm you, yet I’ve always felt a website and blog are the real meat and potatoes to a strong digital presence.

So if you are ready for that too, dive in at Go Daddy (www.godaddy.com), Wordpress (www.wordpress.com) or Blogger (www.blogger.com) and get started. At some point you might want to also consider creating a couple of videos on YouTube (www.youtube.com). It can be as simple as someone videoing you when you install flooring—shoot a before and after scene. 

The goal on all of this is to start and keep sharing warm and fuzzy stories about your capabilities. As a handyman, how else will customers beyond your backyard find you? Now it’s up to you to get digital and conduct business with the world. Who knows? It may end up that someone in Australia contacts you via Twitter and wants to consult with you for an hour via Skype (www.skype.com) about how to install window trim in an old Australian farmhouse. Bill him accordingly and don’t forget to establish an account with Skype (it’s free, too)! With all these ideas, that’s how you’ll grow your business across borders and increase revenues and profitability at the same time.  

Note:  I talk the talk and walk the walk ... find me on Facebook, Google+, blog, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram and at my website

Photo Credit: ohad*