Online Optimisation Of An Offline Business

A business owner has to get their marketing right. And for offline business owners that means Online Optimisation of an offline business. The results of their business are what puts food on the table for their family and a roof over their heads, maybe even keep other shareholders happy. It has to get done, it has to produce results and that means that every potential marketing opportunity has to be grasped even if the high street business owner feels uncomfortable with online marketing.

Offline Businesses

That applies to every business. Yet as online marketers we often don’t appreciate the myriad additional time-gobbling tasks that the owner of an offline business is confronted with.

High street businesses

Everything physical, from buildings to furniture and fittings, inventory stock to staff all produce regular, routine problems to be dealt with as well as unexpected crises cropping up every day.

The marketing effort on which the success of the business depends lies somewhere in this maelstrom of daily activity and if the business is still operating when we get to talk to them about their marketing then they usually have to be doing something right to survive from day to day.

However, while they might be doing something right to keep their heads above water offline, yet very often it is precisely because of this lack of time that the business owner ends up neglecting the whole online market sector that could multiply their revenues many times over, be easier to manage and operate 24 hours per day.

Business owners usually understand that marketing is the lifeblood of their business. As Alex Mandossian once remarked; “If you are not spending 95% of your time marketing your business then you are doomed to failure.”

Yet their circumstances don’t allow business owners enough time even to learn what’s involved online – never mind to actually implement the strategies which could release the additional online potential of their business and ultimately make their lives so much easier.

So why do we think that online has so much potential for bricks and mortar businesses?

Online Marketing Potential

Think about it. The average bricks and mortar offline shop has physical premises and, by definition, sells goods and services to customers who visit their shop ~ or they deliver those goods and services to the customer’s home or premises. That means that they have a catchment area of maybe 20-30 miles radius. About as far as you or I (‘cos we are their prospects don’t forget) are prepared to drive to do some shopping.

Their prospects living within that catchment area are aware of their business offer only if they have been exposed to it through conventional, old school methods. The ones that are keeping their business ticking over from day to day.

But the world is moving online.

  • Smartphones and tablets are now outselling conventional PC and laptops.
  • The power of these mobile devices is increasing;
  • the speed of internet connections is increasing year on year;
  • and people wants things easy and they want them now.

So if your business does not appear on their mobile screen at that critical moment when they are looking for it – then your business is invisible and somebody else gets the order.

Even for prospects searching from their PC or laptop from home, if you are not top of the pile of their local search results then you don’t exist. And the search engines are increasingly delivering search results that are local to the searcher because these are the results that are most relevant i.e. within that comfortable shopping trip distance.

This is why Google, in particular, is paying so much attention to local businesses. If your business is within the local area of the prospect then you are more relevant to that prospect than another business offering the same products but located several hundred miles away.

So let’s come back to why are offline business owners losing out? Usually, it’s a matter of time. Although the whole process of selling remain the same whether offline or online if they do not have the time to translate their offline method to an online process and then understand how to use the intrinsic advantages of the internet then they are going to lose out.

This leads to a sense of exasperation and frustration and the common plea that ‘I’ve tried online marketing but it doesn't work for my business’.

How wrong can they be? The fact is that:

  • there’s nothing special about any one business. There is only one business model and their business is different only in their head.
  • they have not tried it at all. They put up a website and hoped for the best. Closing down sale

Just like those sad looking shops that you drive past from time to time that you just know are:

  • in the wrong place
  • selling the wrong products
  • in the wrong market..
business closing down sign

..and eventually the ‘Closing Down, Everything Must Go!’ signs go up as another local shopkeeper bites the dust.

Unfortunately, us ‘marketers’ are too often to blame for this state of affairs. Constantly banging on about the newest, latest fad that we immediately label as a ‘strategy’ it might well achieve a few percentage points improvement in results – but only if the business is doing the basics right in the first place.

We, and our offline business customers, have to achieve the basic 80% fundamentals of the 80/20 rule before we start going for the extra 20%.

The trick for every business owner is to work methodically through the steps necessary to build a solid business. The great thing about the web is that everything is incremental.

Build a good system once and it is there forever. Publish good content once and it will continue to build your reputation forever. Plant your stake in the ground and claim your online space and it can be yours forever.

I’ve put together this graphic to help off-line business owners understand this process better. If you own a bricks and mortar business then just click on the image to take a closer look.  Start with green, move on to the blue and finish with the red where you probably have to start paying people because it starts getting complicated.  But before then it is all manageable in-house with a little common sense.

And give me a call if you would like to discuss this further.  

Bruce Bird

Bruce is an Internet Business Consultant and specialises in Local Search Marketing i.e. ensuring that local, off-line businesses get found online by their local prospects who are most likely to become their customers.

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