There are many things you can and need to do to create a solid online presence for your business. But what are the three most basic things you can and should do to get started, the three most important steps you should take to start building a rock-solid online presence for your small business right now?
(1) Focus Your Efforts
The first thing you should do to build a solid online presence for your small business is not run out and build a website or hire someone to design a logo. I know the lure of getting started and getting a website is big. But wait. Do this step first before doing anything else. Unfortunately, most new business owners seek the outer trappings of setting up their business before doing the hard work of figuring who the heck they are and what their business stands for.
Before you do anything, you need to figure out who your target audience is and what exactly you intend to provide for them and why.
Once you figure that out, everything you do, create, sell, write and produce should be targeted to that audience. Start with the who (your target audience or niche), and then focus on one potential ideal client or customer. Create a detailed image and description for this person. Get specific. Don’t stop with their age, marital status, income, geographic location etc. Dig deeper.
What problems are they trying to solve? What is their biggest pain point? What solutions are they searching for online?
How can you position yourself to uniquely solve their problem? What products or services can you offer that will help them? And most importantly, why should they work with you as opposed to your competitor? Why should they purchase your products and not from the guy across town? What makes you special or unique?
This is your focus. This is the focus for your programs, services and products you sell. This is the focus for the copy you write for your website, newsletters, emails, social media sites, etc. This is the focus for everything you do as a business owner.
(2) Clarify Your Business’ Brand
Once you have your focus, you need to translate that focus into visual identity and your brand’s voice.
Visual branding or brand identity is the color scheme, fonts, image style and logo that represent your brand.
Your brand’s voice is the tone in which you write. It is how you write and what you say.
Is part of your business’ brand to be informal, casual and friendly? Or is it more professional, formal and businesslike? These are two very different brand personalities.
The words, message, tone, of these two personalities will be very different as well. So in order to not confuse your ideal clients your brand’s voice should be consistent across all platforms and media, online and off.
After you’ve figured out your business’ branding, then it time to start taking the physical steps to building your online presence.
(3) Get a Website
Whether your business is entirely online or you have a “brick and mortar” business, you’re going to need a website.
Whether you’re doing some or all of your business online or simply building an online presence to promote your business — the hub of that online presence is your business website. In fact, I have said it many times: your website is the most important asset you have in your business. Make certain it reflects your business well.
Make certain it is a professionally designed and modern website. Make certain its design reflects the message and personality of your business. Make certain its design and content is geared towards your target audience. Make certain it is easy to navigate and easy to find the content your potential clients hope to find when they visit. Make certain it presents your business in its most positive and authentic light possible.
Building a rock-solid and authentic online presence should start before you open your doors and build your website.
You do this by getting clear on who you are, what you do and who you serve. You translate and clarify your business’ brand into visual branding and your brand’s voice.
Use this consistently everywhere your business shows up online so that wherever your ideal client finds you, your business and your brand will be in focus, recognizable and credible .