My desire is to provide helpful and thoughtful information about all aspects of doing business. Feel free to share your comments, experience and insight!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Is Your Business Internet Presence A Well-oiled Machine?

When a vehicle is in top condition & running great, it is often said it is like “a well-oiled machine”. Can you say the same of your business Internet presence? I define “Internet presence” as any place on-line where your business information, brand or image is represented. From your website, to search results and Internet ads to social media – all of this plays into how your business is presented & viewed on-line. A “well-oiled” Internet presence requires several components...using a car analogy we’ll review the four most important.
  1. Website = Engine
  2. The basis for any on-line presence must be a website. Opinions vary on this greatly in the age of social media, blogs, etc. but I believe the best and only place to be in complete control of your company message, brand identity and business information is your company website. It is the core & center of everything you do on-line. Just like an engine is the core of the vehicle & it is involved in every function of the machine, so is the company website the center of an Internet presence.

  3. Search Engine Optimization = Chassis
  4. Although the engine is the core of a vehicle, without a chassis, that engine can't be taken anywhere. In that same thought, a business website is the center of a professional message but if it is not optimized to do well in search engines, the message never goes anywhere. Search engine optimization allows the website (and really all on-line communications) to do more than sit and wait. It gives the on-line message the framework to actively attract business.

  5. Marketing = Wheels
  6. Marketing efforts are what give a website and other areas of the Internet presence the ability to really move. Internet marketing creates the opportunity to increase visibility of a company message and move traffic to and from the various on-line activities. It could be paid advertising or have no monetary cost at all, but the interaction of your marketing message on the Internet will give greater return for your efforts.

  7. Social Media = Super Charger
  8. If we consider marketing to be the wheels of the 'well-oiled machine' then we now consider social media to be the super charger of the Internet presence. With social media use hitting all-time highs, it only makes sense that a business profile on Facebook, LinkedIn or even YouTube can be a powerful & valuable asset. Generating daily, weekly or even monthly interactions on social media sites has proven to be an exceptional way to increase a business Internet presence.

It is worth saying that an engine can be started, a chassis can be formed, a wheel can roll and a super charger can be built all independently of the other components in our analogy. However, it is only when they are all put together correctly do they make the vehicle function as intended. And the exact same goes for our on-line components. For a business to have a "well-oiled machine" of Internet presence, all of the components mentioned - a website, search engine optimization, marketing & social media - need to be a part of the plan, be implemented correctly and work in coordination with each other.

Consider how your business information, brand & image exist on-line now...and commit to taking steps to make it better. Let's get your Internet presence running like a well-oiled machine!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Barcodes For Small Business Marketing

With the explosive growth in the use of smartphones & other mobile devices, there comes new opportunities for small business marketing. None is more intriguing right now than the use of barcodes.

Known as mobile tags / barcodes, action codes, 2-dimensional barcodces or QR (quick response) codes, these little pictures are starting to show up in all kinds of places...from billboards to business cards and everything in between. They have been used extensively in Japan for several years & have been very successful. So what are they and how can small business benefit?

To start, these barcodes are generated using special programming. Contained within the picture that you see is information that instructs a computer application what to do & where to go. So a smartphone, tablet or other mobile device scans them (using the camera of the device, an application & a mobile Internet connection) and information is automatically pulled up on the device. These barcodes can be created to lead devices to text, photos, videos, websites and more.

A good example of this is being used in the real estate market. A house that is for sale has a special sign out front with a mobile barcode on it. An interested home buyer drives by, stops and scans the sign with a smartphone. Instantly, information is available on the buyers cell phone about the house - maybe the listing on the real estate's web site, maybe a video of the house interior, maybe details about the asking price - the potential is virtually unlimited.

So small business has new opportunities to reach customers with mobile messages. A good example is a QR code that leads mobile devices to a coupon or special deal. This QR code can be included on printed brochures, business cards, print advertising and even a storefront window. Not only is the business marketing to customers with traditional methods, they are engaging the growing mobile market. It is easy to see that the possibilities are endless!

The excitement of new possibilities should be tempered with cautious optimism. Technology is moving at a rapid pace and each new advance requires some adjustment time. While more consumers are becoming familiar with the QR codes, not all mobile users associate them with action. So while it is a good idea to consider how they might be of benefit to your business, don't pin all your marketing plans & hopes to this single aspect of technology.

Watch for more posts in the future about suggestions to implement QR codes and creative ideas for small business to use the barcodes alongside current marketing strategies.