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Why Online is the New Offline

If you are not devoting serious resource to developing your online presence then it’s likely, depending on your industry, that you are making a BIG mistake.

Granted, if you have no desire to grow your business, perhaps because you wrongly assume that would necessitate more staff and more stress, then this article need not concern you.

However if you intend to grow your business but you fail to develop an online presence then I predict that your new client acquisition costs will become uncompetitively high (and yes, I know that “uncompetitively” is not a word, but it is now).

And I further predict that will add up to a shrinking market share as well as shrinking profit margins and eventually … extinction.

(please note that in this article I am NOT advocating the abandonment of all off-line marketing activity but rather the re-directing of some off-line resource to building an online presence.)

Case in point: Mike is a friend and colleague. See www.mini-movers.com.au.

He was routinely spending over one million per year on yellow pages advertising with a return of 15 – 20 times the investment. This year he is spending $60,000.

Mike’s competitors continue to pump mega-bucks into yellow pages and appear to be struggling to stay in business.

By contrast, Mike has shifted to creating an online presence with the (seemingly successful) strategic Planning of allowing prospects to “check him out” before going to his website and ordering.

In fact, Mike has set his new(ish) website up with the assumption that by the time people get there, most of them have already decided to buy. So he’s shifted his website’s positioning from predominantly convincing people to buy (there’s still plenty of that) to making it easy for people to order.

BTW, when I say “online presence” I’m not talking about a website. There’s a world of difference between one of those and a web presence.The former is where people go to once you’ve created the latter.

Creating an online presence means that when enough people have an interest in what you do, prior to knowing you exist, they can find you online and be impressed with you and/or your product or service.

Naturally this takes time and patience. It does not happen overnight but you can certainly get started overnight. Or today.

Creating an online presence reminds me a little of my goal to climb Mt Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain. It’s not a big mountain compared to Mt Everest but it’s a tricky little bugger as evidenced by the fact that more people have died attempting a Mt Cook climb than those who have perished attempting Mt Everest.

Anyhow, the climb was a big enough one for me taking five days to climb in, up, along, down and up again. The point is this: of the many thousands of steps that I needed to make in order to achieve my goal it would never have happened without the first step.

Here are the beginner steps for you to consider taking to begin climbing the “web presence mountain”.

  1. Get valuable free content onto your website. Not just an ezine. Something that your ideal clients would love to get their hands on. A special report or white paper with truly valuable information or survey results or similar are a good start. Ask for an email address in exchange for this.

  2. Start a Blog and express yourself. Don’t advertise much. Just let you soul hang out. Have the blog attached to your website. Invite readers to leave feedback as this will allow prospects to see what others think of you and your products or services.

  3. Once a month produce a press release. Use a credible service such as www.WebWire.com. Follow their guidelines carefully. For best effect write something controversial. For example in launching the College For Entrepreneurship we prepared a release about the failure of business owners to generate the income and free time they wanted and the effect of that on health and family relationships.

  4. As often as possible, write a fresh article or re-purpose your blog content and publish it through a reputable blog directory, article directory or any other big resource such as www.ezinearticles.com
  5. Set up business accounts with Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn as minimums. Be active on these and invite feedback, again to create engagement and to generate favorable responses. Post to these places when you do a press release or disseminate an article or blog post.

Make it easy on yourself and get a clever web developer on your side to set a lot of this stuff up. The crew at www.ec2.co.nz set designed and developed the site, blog and Facebook page.

To paraphrase the great and inspirational visionary – and doer – Goethe:

“Concerning all acts of initiative … including creating an online presence … there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless online marketing opportunities and other ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence and Google move too.

All sorts of things occur to help one to build one’s online presence that would never otherwise have occurred.

A whole stream of Tweets issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents including incidents and meetings and Blog back-links, Facebook “likes”, re-Tweets and re-Pins … which no bloke or babe could have dreamed would have come their way.

Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin building a web presence. Begin it now.”

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