Business

Get Online Week: Getting Strategic

Objectives Strategy graphic

Just as ignoring web and social media opportunities could be a serious mistake, rushing out and jumping into the first thing that presents itself could also be a big mistake.

You need to look at all stages of the strategic planning process and decide what your needs are and how potential solutions work for you. Not how they work for the shop down the road.

Your audience

Be clear about your target audiences:

  • Who they are
  • Where you can find them
  • Who influences them
  • Who they influence

Listen to what they are saying. Contribute to their conversations. Don’t just spam them with irrelevant messages. Communicate with them, don’t just talk at them.

Your brand

Your brand is more than just your logo and housestyle, it includes the very values that made you go into business and what you offer your customers and how you communicate with them. You need to be clear about your brand before you create a website or dip into social media.

Marketing mix

Don’t just think of online technology as promotion — it can affect, and may be able to leverage, all aspects of your marketing mix.

Here are some thoughts — just some thoughts. What could apply to your business?

Product

  • Are there new products/services you could deliver
    with the benefit of online technology?
  • Or deliver existing products and services in better
    ways?
  • For example, if you are a small retailer you may not
    be able to compete easily on price but could you perhaps offer post-sale support using email and Skype and stealing a march on your bigger competitors?

Price

  • Can you use IT led solutions to reduce marketing
    costs to make your product/service more competitive?

Promotion

  •  Are you paying for door drops, Yellow Pages and traditional media? Do they work for you? How do you know?
  • What do customers feel about your business if they
    try to find you online and you’re not there? Do they lose
    confidence/trust?

Place

  • Small businesses struggle to operate the long hours
    now expected in the retail sector. Your website is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and you don’t have to be there.
  • Online media also reach much further than just people
    walking past your front door. Could you be reaching out further for new business?  Are your competitors reaching into your traditional ‘territory’?

Processes

  • Online media can be invaluable for collecting data on
    your prospects and customers. What processes do you have/need to exploit this data to generate more sales and stay within the law?
  • How do you store, access and share your company information — are you aware of the many free ways you can create an ‘office on the move’?

People

  • How do you get training and keep your skills in
    online technologies and techniques up to date? If you are not up to date, will you be able to recruit and retain the best staff to give your business a future?

Physical evidence

  • Web and social media analytics can provide insights
    into who is looking for your business and what they want to find that you won’t get elsewhere

How many friends and likes do I need?

There’s a fallacy amongst some social media users that the aim of social media is to collect as many ‘friends’ on your profile and ‘likes’ on your page. It’s true that in search engine rankings high numbers can be a bonus. But having too many friends/likes can be a drawback too.

If you’re an international brand, numbers count. But, if you’re a shop in Leytonstone which realistically is never going to draw its customers from more than a few miles’ radius, suddenly collecting hundreds of followers from Australia and Greenland isn’t really going to prove very much. In fact, they’ll mess up your statistics as you try to monitor if you really are becoming more successful online. Worse still, if they start posting or emailing you they will take up time that you could have spent making money. So be wary of those who promote numbers: it’s quality not quantity that counts.

Leigh Horton
LDH Marketing
www.ldhmarketing.co.uk

Blog articles in this series

Look out for these blog articles which I will be producing during 15-21 October 2012.

Starting out with social media
Setting up your first website
E-publications and other ways to get online
Getting strategic
Some free ways for Leytonstone businesses to promote themselves

See also these new pages:

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Get Online Week logo

This week is Get Online Week

Get Online Week logoAbout Get Online Week

After just over a year of running this site and associated Facebook and other social media sites it’s become clear how many businesses in Leytonstone have little or no online presence.

Yet with this horrible recession, many retailers finding their business dipping during the Olympic/Paralympic period, and the competition posed by Westfield, few businesses can afford to ignore the growth of online marketing and the increasing use by the public of the internet and their mobile phones as their first port of call when they are thinking of shopping.

This week is Get Online Week 2012. I have no connection with this organisation but it seemed a good time to run a series of blog articles on how businesses can get online to coincide with this national initiative, even though nationally the initiative is primarily aimed at individuals.

Get Online Week 2012 runs from 15-21 October and is organised by UK Online Centres. UK Online Centres is all about ‘Helping communities tackle social and digital exclusion’ and enjoys cross-party support — it’s funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills through the Skills Funding Agency and is headed by the former Labour Schools Minister Jim Knight (Lord Knight of Weymouth).

Get Online Week 2012 is now in its sixth year, and this year it aims to encourage people to do more online, and get more out of computers and the internet.

There are 8.1 million people in the UK who are offline, and 14.5 million who don’t have the skills to make the most of all the internet can offer, helping them to save money, keep in touch with friends and family, learn new skills and find work.

For businesses a lot of online facilities are very cheap or entirely free. A lot are very easy to use. A lot help to damage the environment less. The technology will keep changing but it is not going away.

I will be focusing this week on business, but many of the blogs I produce could apply equally to local schools, charities and other organisations.

More and more central and local government services are being delivered online but the number of people who are getting left behind is quite shocking and worrying.

I do acknowledge the irony that the people who most need this message won’t be online reading this blog!

However the best form of publicity is word of mouth and word of mouth has to be generated somewhere.

So I would urge anyone reading this blog who knows someone who isn’t online, or is struggling, to pass on the message on and let them know where they can get help.

Leigh Horton

More information from UK Online Centres

This information is provided by UK Online Centres, please contact them, not http://www.leytonstonetoday.net with any queries or requests!

• If you’ve never used a computer or the internet before, or know a little but want to know more, you can find your nearest Get Online Week event to get a helping hand by calling 0800 77 1234, or visiting www.ukonlinecentres.com/centresearch.

• If you know someone who you think could make more of their life online, why not find a Get Online Week event happening near them (call 0800 77 1234 or visit www.ukonlinecentres.com/centresearch to find out more), or help them get started by visiting our learning website — www.learnmyway.com.

• If you’d like to help people get online you can become a ‘champion’ and give an hour of your time: http://champions.go-on.co.uk/giveanhour/thanks.

Blog articles this week

Look out for these blog articles which I will be producing this week.

Starting out with social media
Setting up your first website
E-publications and other ways to get online
Getting strategic
Some free ways for Leytonstone businesses to promote themselves

See also these new pages:

New business page

The Olympic and Paralympic Games were a huge success but many businesses have not yet seen the benefits and some have seen their sales dip.

I have therefore added a new Business page of useful links for Leytonstone businesses and people looking to become self-employed, such as PRIME. These are not just organisations in Leytonstone but borough and London wide as well as some key Government Departments. Contact me if you know any more.

Free listings

The page includes some links to directories where shops and other businesses can be listed for free.

Please share

Please share this information and if you’re in a local shop mention it to the shopkeeper — many local businesses do not appear to have websites or even Facebook and Google+ profiles.

On the day after the first 4G contract was announced and with mobile phones increasingly being used for accessing websites and shopping, businesses can’t rely anymore on customers just passing through and traditional advertising media.

A website like this one costs nothing for the software and there are no monthly hosting costs, just a few £s a year for the domain name (‘www’ address) — and time. There are other very low cost options too.

Facebook is free. Twitter is free. YouTube is free. Google+ is free and there are many other free Google services to help promote business. The more businesses that have websites and are using key social media, especially Google, the more Leytonstone and Leytonstone businesses will appear in search rankings — everyone benefits.

Opportunities and threats

E11Chart illustration onlyWhen the Olympic Park reopens there will be huge opportunities for Leytonstone, but for businesses who are not online it will be a huge threat. Many people in Leytonstone now have access to some of the fastest broadband in the country.

So let’s get Leytonstone online!


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