It doesn’t matter if your specialty is cooking the best Boston Crème Pie the word has ever tasted or distributing Chinese widgets for small town hardware stores. Whatever it is that you do in your business, you can do it online and probably for less expense then you ever could in a traditional storefront.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that you have to be someone who does one or the other. More and more small business owners that are struggling to make ends meet admit that the sales they make online in addition to their offline sales makes a huge difference in their survival. So, what do you need to create your own online presence? Here are a few things to consider.
Website versus Social Media Page
While there was a time when it was pretty much a given that you would need to have a website to have an online store, that isn’t quite true anymore. It really does depend on what you sell and how you sell it. For someone who has a lot of tiny things that they want to sell, it might be better to have a full-blown website complete with software to run a gateway payment site for international sales opportunities.
But if what you are offering is primarily a service, especially a local one, then social media may be the ticket and is faster and easier to set up. Let’s say you offer dog sitting services to folks in the area of Nantucket. That is a business that can simply have a page on Facebook and updates on Twitter with some postings on Instagram of happy doggies.
They can book you directly on Facebook, give you feedback and thanks on your Twitter feed and even follow the cute doggie pics on Instagram if they are real dog fans. You could add a website but you don’t really need it for this kind of business.
But if you have a business importing three thousand types of wingnuts so that a contractor or DYI handyman can find exactly what they want, a website may make more sense for you. You will want to have categories listed, highlight why one wingnut is better for this type of work and maybe even write a blog about the versatility of wingnuts to promote your business. It really is all about what your business does, in the end. But this isn’t the only question for an online business.
Marketing versus Advertising
This may be one question that all businesses have. The answer is that you really do need both, but some businesses do well on one type versus the other. A good example of marketing would be the dog sitter who solicits quotes from happy customers and posts them on social media. That is marketing.
But that same dog sitter may take out a targeted regional ad on Facebook offering a special on the upcoming holiday weekend for folks hoping to head out of town without the pooch. That is advertising, because it is a paid spot, even if it is on social media. What you choose depends on how you want to reach your intended customers.