Introductions around the room. Gauge where folks are in terms of business development. Gauge where folks are in terms of current web presence, if any.Question posed to crowd. Why is it important to have online presence? Ask folks to jump in. Get responses from 4-5 individuals.
Customers expect it. Web presence establishes legitimacy of business. You will appear out of date or even lose credibility if you do not have online presence.There are inexpensive and free tools for basic web presence, listing on search engines, etc.Online presence will give you access to new clients and will give new clients access to YOU.Presence online as opposed to physical presence can be easily modified, changed, and updated in terms of “look” and content. Once web site(s) and other vehicles are tested, they can be modified as the entrepreneur sees fit. Promotions and new products can be easily added or taken down. Great tool for overall brand management. You can be in control, no requirement to engage costly marketing consultants or firms if you feel confident putting forth content yourself.
Info website: basic information about business, location, hours of operation, products and services, contact info. Can even be one page static site that is where customers are directed if they search your business name online or search for services you provide.E-Commerce: same as info website, but also allows for transactions (payment through services such as PayPal)Blog: e.g. wordpress, write up a daily or weekly blog to update clients about new happenings in your business…or even on a topic of interest that is not direct “selling” of your product, but keeps clients interested and following you.Social Media (Facebook page, Pinterest posting, Twitter handle, etc.)Consumer review (e.g. “Yelp”, etc.)Articles-Create press releases and shop them around to online venues such as print publications with online versions or even community blogs, etc.Note: Search engine optimization-The more platforms you leverage, the “higher up” your business will appear on search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.
See & walk-through handout with step-by-step for Google apps-Considerations for website include the ability to fulfill orders. Entrepreneurs must prepare themselves for additional orders to come through in advance of setting up website so they make sure they are not over-promising on what they can truly deliver on for the moment. Website can always be updated once capacity to fulfill orders is increased/expanded over time.
Webs.com: Free, web-based and email-based file uploadingWeebly: Free address URL, customized templates to create your website simplyMicrosoft office: free web hosting, free for up to one year and then $15 every year after the first year.iPage: good for small business owners and bloggers. Just $1.99 per month.GoDaddy: One-click set up, just $2.99/ month so, another good low-cost option
Offline payment: Clients are directed to call or fax in their credit card information and it is processed through your merchant account. This can be a quick and easy way to get started for accepting client payment!Payment Gateway: Is literally a gateway between you, your client, your client’s credit card provider and your bank. The main job of the gateway is to validate your client’s credit card securely, make sure the funds are available, and get you paid. . Will need to set up an internet merchant account which is different from a regular merchant account because it gives you the ability to process credit cards without the card being physically present for the transaction. Almost all payment gateways require a monthly fee that will be tied to your monthly sales. Almost all also charge a flat fee per transaction. Set up fees can range from $49-$250 and these are one-time expenses vs. the monthly charges to your business. While it seems like a lot, the expense can be offset by the dramatic improvement you could feel in terms of cash flow by expanding your business reach beyond your physical location. Craig’s list can also be a fast way to start selling services online with an offline payment (in person) option.
Blog: : a Web site that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by the writer; also : the contents of such a site. A Web site on which an individual or group of users record opinions, information, etc. on a regular basis.How many people follow blogs here? How could a blog be a useful way to gain online presence for your business? Blogs should be used as an indirect way to promote your products or services. For example, if you have a health food store, you will draw more people to your blog by posting healthy recipes or articles about healthy living (exercise, meditation, etc.) than by having a blog that just lists daily items on special at your store.
Definition:forms of electronic communication (as Web sites for social networking and micro-blogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (as videos)Who currently uses social media for personal or business use? If so, what platforms?Why is social media important or beneficial:-Low cost-Captive audience-Select group/community with similar interests-Easily modified, updated, changed-Great platform for getting news and promotions out to a more narrow group of people who have already engaged with or “liked” your businessQuick note about how to not annoy your social media subscribers-make sure posts are meaningful!
Review sites are tricky. Businesses must be careful as reviews can be damaging or can “make” your business if the overall theme from consumer reviewers is a positive one! You can control this indirectly by encouraging clients that you KNOW had a positive experience with your business to write it up online. You can create incentives such as discounts or promotions to people who provide your business with a positive review.
News is increasingly becoming an online product. In fact, print media is on its way to becoming a thing of the past.Another form of “indirect exposure” online for your business-Articles featuring your business in online media are a great example of getting your business to have an online presence. However, no one will write an article that says, “2 for 1 car wash at Joe’s Car Wash this Saturday.” There needs to be a story. Experiment with a press release. For example, hold a grand opening event or community event to generate interest in your business so that a publication will pick up the story and feature it. Perhaps you even have something innovative that would provide a basis for a story, for example “Joe’s Car Wash moving to 100% organic products in 2013” or perhaps there is a community interest angle…”Joe’s Car Wash Employs 10 people from the Petworth Neighborhood, Keeping Jobs Local.”
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Online Presence: Why is it important?• Current way of doing business andmarketing…Your customers expect it.• Cost effective• Access to new markets (more customers)• Easily updated and modified
Some vehicles for online presence:• Informational website• E-Commerce website• Blogs• Social media• Consumer review websites• Articles in online media
Basic Website Set Up:Free & low-cost optionsGoogle Applications:• Google + Page• Google-Get YourBusiness Onlinewebsite-See Handout• Google Maps
Other web hosting vehicles:• Webs.com• Weebly• Microsoft Office Live Small Business (requireshaving a domain name)• iPage• GoDaddy…And many more! Look around and see what isbest for your specific business needs.
E-Commerce:Accepting Payments OnlineSome E-Commerce Options• A start: “Offline payment”tied to your businessmerchant account• Even better: PaymentGateway Services: Forexample, PayPal,2Checkout.com, or GoogleCheckout
Blogs A blog (short for “web log”) is awebsite on which an individualor group of users recordopinions, information, etc. ona regular basis.Some blog vehicles:• WordPress• Tumblr• Posterous Spaces• Asaph• Squarespace• Habari
Social MediaCommonly used social mediaplatforms:• Facebook• Twitter• Pinterest• LinkedIn• YouTube• Google+!!!For more detail, attend the nextCBS presentation by Jocelyn Tateat 2:15 PM: “Digital Grapevine-Social Media and Your Business”
Consumer Review Sites Some common review sites:• Yelp.com• Insider Pages.com• Angie’s List• Trip Advisor.com• Epinions.com• Open Table.com• Social media sites discussedon previous slide can alsobe used for review purposes
Articles in online media Online media-someideas/where to start:• Print media outlets that arerelevant to your productmay have an online version• Start with smaller onlinepublications that are eitherlocal or pertinent to yourindustry (Elevation DC orCityPaper.com are localWashington examples).Bigger outposts might evenpick up the article!
Other thoughts:• Online advertising is an option, but it seems ashame to pay for online presence when thereare so many free or low-cost options available• Pick one of these options and get onlinetoday!• Which one will you start with?
QUESTIONS?Marla BilonickDirector, Small Business DevelopmentLatino Economic Development Center (LEDC)email@example.com@MarlaBilonickwww.ledcmetro.org