In the search engine battle, from a historical standpoint, Google has come out as the undeniable winner. This week we were curious to know more about these two gigantic tech companies' history and trajectory and here’s what we learned.
Before Yahoo! and Google, there were Archie, CERN, and Jumpstation
In 1990, just one year after the invention of the world wide web (www), we were introduced to Archie. Archie was a centralized way to find information online by crawling through an index of downloadable files.
Soon after Archie, we welcomed CERN, Jumpstation, AOL, Yahoo!, and Google. Each one of these platforms offered us their tweaked idea of what a search engine could be.
In only four years (1990-1994) we went from Archie, that could only make the listings but not the content available, to Yahoo!, which was the very first website able to offer their users a collection of pages and not only data.
The rise of Yahoo!
In early 1994 Jerry Yang and David Filo, two graduate students from Stanford University, created Jerry and David’s Guide to the World Wide Web, which was a collection of their favorite websites.
Months later, as their website grew in popularity, they renamed it YAHOO which stands for Yet Another Hierarchically Organized Oracle. Less than a year later the domain name yahoo.com was created and in two years they raised $33.8m after going public.
On “ How Jerry's guide to the world wide web became Yahoo” Andrew Clark writes:
"Throughout the rest of the decade, Yahoo was the undisputed leader on internet portals. When the company went public in 1996, its shares rocketed by 154% in a day and within three years, Yang and Filo were worth $8bn each. Things were going like a dream - until a little known private competitor called Google came along".
By the end of the decade, Yahoo! had positioned itself as a media company and acquired Rocketmail, ClassicGames.com, Yoyodyne Entertainment, and GeoCities. Their stocks hit an all-time high of $108/share in January 2000 and unlike many other tech companies, they managed to survive the Doc-com frenzy.
The new kids on the block
While Yahoo! enjoyed its position as the most popular website and search engine in the United States, Stanford Ph.D. students Larry Page and Sergey Brin were working on a tech company of their own. Their search engine, created out of their dorm room, was called Backrub and later, Google. Their mission was “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”.
In the year 2000 Yahoo and Google signed an agreement to allow Google’s search engine to power Yahoo’s web search. However, that partnership ended when Yahoo dropped Google and returned to using its own technology to power its search engine capabilities.
While many companies, including Yahoo, were letting talent go when the Dot-com bubble burst, Google quickly started to gain traction by hiring those same talents laid off by the other Silicon Valley tech companies at great rates.
Google was the upstart - but it executed so quickly and so successfully that it left the other companies behind.
A force to be reckoned with
Company culture also played a huge part in Google’s becoming a search engine giant. They refused to operate pop-ups and ads form sites they considered to be negative for a very long time.
"More sophisticated techies came to appreciate Google's computational elegance and its willingness to shun the "portal" model that crammed ecommerce down their throats. Within months, Google became one of the most popular sites on the Web - and not long after that, "Google" became a verb." (Josh McHugh on Google vs. Evil)
While Google was engineering the Google File System, which would function as a platform that could serve a diverse range of use cases for all the services Google would offer as part of its future ecosystem, Yahoo persisted in its strategy of acquiring different businesses and services. At the same time, it was laying off thousands of employees around the globe.
Less than two weeks after Google’s Alphabet became the world’s most valuable public company, Yahoo put its core business up for sale. While its search engine, advertising, apps, and maps, Android and YouTube remained under Google, all of the company’s other ventures became separate firms under Alphabet.
Mission and Identity
Google’s message and identity have been clear from the beginning. As it’s stated on their website “Google's mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
This message is front and center in the company’s about page, internal communications and has been described by the company's employees as a guiding principle behind everything they do.
Yahoo! on the other hand, has changed its mission statement several times in the course of its existence. Their website lacks a mission statement and my attempts to find an updated statement were time-consuming. Here’s what I found from indirect sources:
As a leader in global daily habits like email, entertainment, news and sports, we strive to inspire, delight and entertain. By infusing our products with beauty and personality driven by our users, every Yahoo experience feels made to order.
According to a researcher who tracked Yahoo’s press releases, they have changed their mission statement over 24 times in 24 years. It’s clear that Google has nailed its brand strategy while Yahoo got somewhat sidetracked.
Vision and fate
When Google decided to incorporate Alphabet, Larry Page explained that while they’ve “(...) long believed that over time companies tend to get comfortable doing the same thing, just making incremental changes. But in the technology industry, where revolutionary ideas drive the next big growth areas, you need to be a bit uncomfortable to stay relevant”. With Alphabet, they could prompt innovation in other areas without interfering with the vision and mission of Google’s main products.
Yahoo’s executives Marissa Meyer’s description of her vision for the company’s future paints a completely different stance when it comes to steering the company to remain competitive:
"As digital content becomes richer, as search and mail become richer, we need to change what the format of that guide is, as we move to mobile, wearables, TVs, cars, and all the other formats in the future. So to have great SEO Services, we’re focused on search, communications, and digital content, all of which we think are incredibly important parts of that role as a guide, and those are the products that we’re investing in and building on. "
While Google has been clear of its mission and vision throughout time, Yahoo has often been reactive to environmental changes int the tech world. After our research, it’s become clear that Yahoo’s lack of a clear mission has made it difficult for clients to understand the brand’s positioning and Google was not only an alternative but one with a clear purpose and that delivered on their promises.
Written by Dani Rodrigues @ Ingols Digital Small Business Listener! Partner at Ingols Digital @ingolsdigital and Ingols Imports.
How to be found online is a question we are very familiar with! When we started our online business we built our website and waited for sales to happen. We waited and waited and waited, until we learned to develop a clear message, how to leverage social media into our favor, maximize our websites and SEO, amongst other things.
It’s the same for almost every client we’ve met through our digital agency – they have a website that doesn’t rank and has no traffic OR they want to build a website and think that alone will generate leads for their businesses. Well, being found online isn’t as easy as it may seem!
Now more than ever in our time, your website should be your most important source of business. Customers of all age groups are interacting more with businesses today than they were a year ago and. The average monthly website traffic has increased by 13% in the month of March, compared to February, reports Hubspot.
Despite the surge in website traffic and marketing and sales team engagement with the public, the Hubspot report shows there was a lower response to those efforts. “Average marketing email volume increased 29% the week of March 16, while open rates increased by 53% the same week. Across the month, the open rate increased by 21% overall”.
Even though businesses are facing many challenges now, there are also lots of opportunities to boost your business’ digital performance and get you to actually be found online, which is the first step in creating a profitable business.
If on one side potential clients are wary of spending their money at this time, on the other, they are spending more time online and prospecting, exploring their options, looking to connect with the businesses they may eventually buy from. That is a great opportunity to educate your potential clients on your products or services. Offer free content, engage with your audience on your social media channels, and build the connections that will hopefully convert into sales in the future.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR BUSINESSES AND HOW CAN YOU TURN THESE PIECES OF INFORMATION INTO ACTIONABLE STEPS TO BE FOUND ONLINE?
1. MAKE YOUR MESSAGE CRYSTAL CLEAR
Is your message clear? Is it intentional? Having these attributes is key to be found online and standing out from the pack. You can easily do that by narrowing down the scope of the information you put out there! Do this by defining your customer avatar or buyer persona. If you don’t already have a template you can use Hubspot’s free “Make my Persona” tool!
Organizing your potential client’s information with the prompts below will help you quickly build your customer avatar and maximize your chances of making your message clear to your target audience!
2. BE STRATEGIC WITH YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE
Social media can be overwhelming if you don’t have a clear strategy to integrate your message across all the channels you use. Asking questions like “Am I promoting a brand, a product, myself?” or “Am I interested I building a community of like-minded people or potential clients” will help you decide which platforms best suit your strategy to be found online. Consider these steps in order to craft a clear strategy:
3. HAVE A KILLER WEBSITE
As we said before, having a website is no guarantee to be found online! You need to make sure your website is maximized for optimal navigation – you don’t want your visitors to get frustrated because they can’t find what they are looking for! The most important elements for a successful website are:
4. MAKE SEO A PRIORITY
The most important attribute of a website is its capacity to be found online! We see a lot of websites that are great portfolios but are far from being the cash machine any website should potentially be. By making SEO a priority you’re giving your website the best chance it can get to not only be found but to bring in sales! Building your Google ranking through SEO takes time and this is why it’s important to start working on it now!
Google has over 200 ranking factors but some of the most important are:
We hope these actionable steps will help you to be found online and with wok and dedication ramp up your website visits and conversion rates!
Written by Dani Rodrigues @ Ingols Digital Small Business Listener! Partner at Ingols Digital @ingolsdigital and Ingols Imports.
In today’s blog post I wanted to share with you a few tips for working from home in times of COVID-19. The drastic changes we are experiencing today in all aspects of our lives are unprecedented. Perhaps that’s why many of us are having such a difficult time to adjust physically and mentally to this new routine.
Taking care of your physical and mental health is crucial to keep your brain in sharp shape to be able to remain productive in these trying times. At Ingols Digital we have tried and selected a few apps and habits that have made it possible for us to find a good balance between life and business in these trying times where we’re working from home.
Let’s get right to it and dive nose-first into our health tips and prepare ourselves to boost our minds and build emotional resilience to overcome the new challenges we are facing now.
Healthy Habits to support your physical and mental health while working from home:
Keep a healthy sleep schedule
Even though having enough sleep may be seen as a luxury for many, it’s now widely known that sleep is necessary to, amongst others, maintain critical body functions, repair muscle tissue, and support the brain in processing new information. On the other hand, lack of sleep may cause several mental and physical problems, including hindering one’s ability to focus, think clearly, regulate emotions and take necessary action when needed. Moreover, being rested is key to working from home since the bedroom (or the couch) is right there! Chronic sleep deprivation may increase the risk for several health conditions which might impact more intensely people who are already in the group risk for coronavirus due to underlying conditions.
Try a few of the methods here to fall asleep faster!
It might seem an impossible task to keep your mind in the present moment in the age of COVID-19. However, as counter-intuitive as this recommendation may seem to be, Mindfulness practices and meditation might be very effective tools to cope with the uncertainties about the future. Mindfulness meditation practices have been proven to help reduce stress, depression, and insomnia. With anxiety levels rising as people practice self-isolation and see themselves working from home, one mindfulness tool we have adopted (and preach) is the acronym STOP.
S — Stop and notice what you’re thinking and feeling at the moment.
T — Take a breath. If your mind is wandering, paying attention to your breath will bring you back to the present moment.
O — Observe what’s happening inside yourself — are there any thoughts or sensations?
P — Proceed with more awareness of the way your own body and mind behave when you feel stressed, anxious or depressed.
There are several meditation apps available for Android and IOS like Calm, Headspace, Ten Percent Happier and, our utmost favorite Insight Timer.
Establish daily self-care habits
While you’ve been working from home for the past couple of weeks, it’s possible (if not likely) that you have slacked off on the self-care side of life. Such disruptions to our routines like the ones imposed to us due to COVID-19 may make us prioritize the things we perceive as more important and self-care might not come at the top of the list.
Countless scientific studies have shown that self-care (exercise, nutrition, socialization, and so many more things we can do for ourselves that make us happier!) is directly linked to our emotional well-being. Self-isolation means there’s no more going to the gym or the yoga studio, there’s no more happy hours at the pub or bi-weekly salon appointments. However, there are countless ways to keep ourselves active and social from free YouTube exercise and personal care (did anybody say makeup?!) content, home exercise apps, and group video chatting apps that even have games!
If we are lucky enough to be working from home at this time, it’s a great opportunity to include some great self-care habits and rejoice in the fact that we can still be active and chatty despite the circumstances!
The best tools and habits to boost productivity while working remotely:
Collaboration tools have gained huge relevance with social distancing and working from home setups. From synchronization apps, team communication tools, to remote brainstorming tools there are many free options to get the job done without negatively impacting your budget.
- G Suite — think document sharing with chat capability, cloud storing, team and client mailing lists, calendar, video meetings and presentations there a Google free app for all of that! If you or your organization use Google you might want to check their Tips to Work With Remote Teams for all the deets and how to’s! And if some of your contacts don’t work with Google apps, check out their Tips to Work With People Not on G Suite.
- Trello — one of the most used free project management tools in the market, uses can manage everything from their personal lives to their clients and business by arranging them in different categories and boards in this platform that’s available for desktop and mobile app.
- Slack — perfect tools for small businesses and startups, Slack allows remote team members to work together by enabling and facilitating connecting your most important tools in one place while sharing documents, images and any relevant info with your teams.
If you were suddenly required to manage your team from home and don’t have clear remote work policies, you can count on the team at Harvard Business Review (HBR) that have created the Guide to Managing Your Newly Remote Workers with specific, research-based steps that managers can take without great effort to improve the engagement and productivity of remote employees, even when there is little time to prepare. The guide not only covers the common challenges of remote work and how to overcome them but also outlines some of the ways managers can support their teams that are now, all of a sudden, working remotely.
FREEBIE 1. If you got tempted to try mindfulness meditation, for a limited time only, Mindworks has opened its Meditation Fundamentals course so, if you want to commit to learning the basics, this is a great opportunity and place to start!
FREEBIE 2. If you’re interested in mastering productivity while working from home, Mindvalley has released its 5-day free program Productivity For Working From Home!
Remember that while we’re working from home to keep ourselves and everybody else healthy, balance is the key! By taking care of yourself first and making use of some great tools and freebies we suggested here you will be able to make this difficult time a little less difficult!
I often remember the time when we had just immigrated to Canada almost a decade ago and were faced with the decision between spending a few years in school (again) to improve our chances of getting a good job in a country where our credentials weren’t worth much or, putting our entire life’s savings into becoming small business owners.
As many immigrants do, we too chose the small business route even though we had no entrepreneurial experience or practical skills, no network of family, friends, and schoolmates that could help me at the beginning of this new life and career path. The only things we had were the need for this business to succeed (because “life savings” – remember?) and the will to make it happen.
Without having gone to business school and no money to hire experts, we constantly saw ourselves looking for insight in business books. We read piles and piles of books for small businesses, biographies and technical books that we’d get from the public library. We’d spend hours trying to make sense of all the nuggets of wisdom we’d read in all those books and trying to apply them into our business. To this day, almost a decade later, we still head to the public library and bookstores every so often and browse the immense variety of new publications in the field.
A study by Steve Siebold of over a thousand wealthy people found that they all have something in common – a passion for reading. But they don’t just read any books, they self-educate by reading. In fact, “while the rich don't necessarily put much stock in furthering wealth through formal education — many of the most successful people have little formal education — they appreciate the power of learning long after college is over (…)”.
Not many people are as avid as Warren Buffet, who’s said to spend 80% of his working hours reading books, or Bill Gates who reads about 50 books per year. If you’re a small business person like us it probably means you are a master of multi-tasking, a busy bee that doesn’t that much time to devote to reading. However, there are many engaging books that have accessible language and are packed with practical knowledge that can help you elevate your business and your life!
We’ve selected a few of our favorite books that we think entrepreneurs should add to their TO-READ list. Check them out:
1. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey
First published in the nineties, this book brings timeless advice for small business owners that have a difficult time balancing their businesses and personal lives. When we were learning to navigate life in a new country, building a business without knowledge and taking care of a little one, one of the most important takeaways from the book was the idea of a beginning “with the end in mind”. The book’s holistic approach for facing life’s challenges in all spheres was and still is, crucial in keeping us focused and resilient to face the adversities we encounter along the way (hello pandemic).
2. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink
Having a small business requires owners to have a strong will to carry on the many and oftentimes taxing activities necessary to make the business succeed, which in turn, may result in them becoming unsatisfied, unmotivated and unsure of the future of their business. The most important takeaway from this book is Pink’s explanation that human motivation is intrinsic to each individual and extrinsic motivators (any kind of reward - salary, bonus, etc) may have the adverse effect of harming motivation. He proposes that motivation can be fostered with autonomy, mastery, and purpose and those lessons can be applied not only in our small businesses but in all aspects of our lives.
3. The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It by Micheal E. Gerber
It can be scary to start your own business and this book does a great work in making sure the commonplace myths about doing so aren’t the ones to keep you from greatness. E-myth is short for the “entrepreneurial myth” that all one needs in order to succeed is some skill and hard work. Gerber was able to create a step-by-step in the life of a small business, going from the entrepreneurial infancy stage, through the growing pains of adolescence and culminates in a mature entrepreneurial perspective. The most important takeaway from this book for us was the notion that it’s easy to spend a lot of time IN our businesses (which is the day to day stuff) but, to grow and mature into a successful business you need to be able to work ON our businesses (which involves planning and steps towards reaching the next level).
4. The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries
Small business owners are frequently risk-takers, resilient people that decide to take chances and believe in their own potential to create something for themselves. That being said, it’s not a secret that many businesses fail. Eric Ries makes the case for a new approach to how businesses are built and new products are launched. The Lean Startup approach advocates for the adoption of lean processes, agility in responding to customer feedback, collection and use of data as a way to shift directions when needed and adapting before it’s too late. Even though the book is slightly biased towards tech companies, any business can benefit from the processes and insights offered by Ries.
5. Virtual Freedom: How to Work with Virtual Staff to Buy More Time, Become More Productive, and Build Your Dream Business by Chris Ducker
Small business owners usually wear many hats and oftentimes suffer from a superhero complex - they believe they must know how to do everything in regards to their business in order to be successful. While this kind of behavior may be partially necessary in the early stages of a business, it may hinder the owners' capacity to achieve better results - it’s just too much for one person to handle. This gem of a book presents the reader with a step-by-step guide on how to work on their business while hiring knowledgeable virtual assistants to work in their business for an affordable price. These life-changing strategies are not only eye-opening but also potentially life-altering for any small business.
When we first opened our store back in 2013, we had no real plan other than making the business work and, as expected we faced many challenges, many of which seemed insurmountable at the time.
The idea of selling high-end home decor products came from a hobby — we always had an aesthetic appreciation for nice objects and I truly believed that we had a good eye for nice things.
Using our life savings, we set out to start our business. We leased a very tucked away store on the second floor of a beat-up mall in Downtown Vancouver. A big chunk of that money was spent renovating the store and the rest was used to purchase inventory. The process of finding a place, renovating it and having inventory in hand took about 6 months beginning to end.
During the renovation period, we were desperate to work. We had already discussed some deals with a few suppliers in United States and the lack of income was really bothering us — our savings would last for a very long time living in Vancouver!
So, we approached the mall administration and asked if we could temporarily rent a small space with high foot traffic and set up a kiosk. The idea was to have a few of our specialty mugs and vases catch the attention of patrons on their way to the movie theatre. We eventually got a deal with them and were given a 10 x10 square feet space for $200 a month.
Funny thing is that we had zero retail experience and quickly learned that even a small kiosk would require furniture, internet, telephone, POS system and something to secure our inventory when the kiosk was closed.
IKEA was our salvation — we got the cheapest shelves available at the “as is” section and mounted them with wheels. Googled and bought the cheapest POS system which we installed in an old laptop that was placed on a used table we found somewhere. This scrambled and humbling start was how we kicked off our entrepreneurial journey in Canada.
We were so naïve.
No revenue expected, after all, we were running the kiosk temporarily, only until the store was up and running. That was our opportunity to gather experience and have a “feel” for the market. And what a ride it was. We learned some very nasty truths about ourselves:
Nasty Truth 1 — We were horrible in operations
I remember that our first sale took place in an afternoon and the clients (a family) wanted to buy a mug for their daughter. When they tried to swipe the card, the card reader wasn’t working. We couldn’t figure the machine out … and so they just left it for another day. Obviously, they never came back. After they left, I cracked my head trying to figure out what was wrong with the machine and realized hadn’t plugged the internet on it so no transactions would ever go through!
Nasty Truth 2 — We knew nothing about location
We thought the spot we rented for the kiosk was going to be perfect because rent was cheap, and it had good foot traffic. Everyone loves movies and to go to the theater, they had to pass by our kiosk. The frustrating lesson was that lots of people were going to the movies alright, but the public was not our target clientele and we were often ignored. This realization was even more troublesome because not only did we understand the kiosk location inside the mall was terrible, the mall location itself was very bad. We were in the processes of renovating the store we had leased on that same mall and got the feeling that the big store coming up would turn out to be a problem.
Nasty Truth 3 — We didn’t have retail discipline
Have your heard that those who work in retail work hard? And they don’t get paid well? That’s a nasty truth. And we didn’t have this notion coming from jobs related to projects, retail was a different world to us. Being punctual during opening & closing, accurate on inventory, dealing with banks … all these activities were new to us. Not doing them properly or on time, many times we ended up with a massive snowball of problems that caused even further problems in the future.
Summing everything up, this is the outcome from that experience:
The kiosk wasn’t successful — obviously. Sales were always flat and a prediction of what we would see when we finally opened our store. But fast forward from those days of hardship to our current times — we are seeing double digits growth every single year. We work with brands that are distributed nationally in Canada and internationally in the United States. We now have enough family time that offsets the long weeks we had to stay at the store from Sunday to Sunday for the first few years.
How did we do it? How did we overcome our nasty truths? Well, there is a reason we call them TRUTHS — and it’s because they are facts and they hurt. But like any business, we learned to work based on facts and numbers. And if we have them, we are able to make better decisions.
With those nasty truths, we learned to learn!
Now we know how to test before going live. We learned that we must be resilient and disciplined. We learned how to have a pragmatic “problem-solving” mentality. Most of all, we learned that if we are bad at something that’s important to our strategy, we should invest our time and brains to get good at them, especially when they have a direct impact on our business.
Small businesses can thrive during uncertain times
Investing in a small business is hard work especially when you’re bootstrapping (investing your own capital or credit) in order to make it happen! No matter if you’re just starting out or if you’re pivoting like many are now — it requires a whole lot of planning, risk tolerance, and grit but small businesses can survive an economic downturn.
Recent developments due to the COVID-19 spread have left many small (and big) businesses exposed and vulnerable facing the uncertainties of a global pandemic.
And although many economically stable countries have put plans in place to quickly aid businesses, it is still unknown how long those governments will be able to continue fighting this problem while supporting the economy.
As people all around lose their jobs and businesses are unclear if they’ll be able to remain open, many may think there’s no way to succeed. However, even in economic downturns, there’s often room for growth and new opportunities — they are called counter-cyclical businesses.
Many people attribute that success to Ruth Wakefield’s attention to details and outstanding service, in addition to serving delicious meals at her restaurant, the Toll House Inn- which resulted in her creating a great product that leads a market worth over $30 billion annually.
In their article Roaring Out of Recession for Harvard Business Review, Ranjay Gulati , Nitin Nohria and Franz Wohlgezogen found that “(…) companies that master the delicate balance between cutting costs to survive today and investing to grow tomorrow do well after a recession. (…) These companies reduce costs selectively by focusing more on operational efficiency than their rivals do, even as they invest relatively comprehensively in the future by spending on marketing, R&D, and new assets”.
A crisis, at any level, is disruptive. During times of intense disruption, like the COVID-19 pandemic, a few things might help small businesses keep on track and not only survive but thrive. Every crisis is an opportunity to earn the trust and credibility of customers, partners, community, and family by finding ways to help them deal with the circumstances.
It’s important to try to navigate the risks posed by the crisis in a way that will allow businesses to sustain minimal damage and, at the same time, prepare for what will come after the crisis in a world that we are yet to know but will, most likely, be different than what it is today.
There are some immediately actionable responses that are worth applying to both new and existing small businesses at this time but one thing is for sure — rolling out or improving their digital presence is a must! Having an e-commerce website, using mobile applications, and community and social platforms are the best tools to help them better position themselves for growth and or exploring new business models.
The reality for many small businesses is that they don’t even have a website and their objections are most often the same: they don’t understand how to get one and how it could help their business, they believe it’s too expensive and complicated, and/or think they’re fine without it.
However, with the world upended due to possible prolonged quarantine periods and the personal financial challenges most people are experiencing, the consumer relationships will drastically change and these objections will have to be overcome.
Any business, more than ever, needs to be fully discoverable online. Beyond that, they need to communicate to potential clients what their values are, what innovations they are offering due to dealing with the new circumstances, and new ways they have found to serve their customers.
People are looking for meaning in their new relationships and all small businesses should learn to leverage social media to their advantage as it helps spread the message about who they are and what they can bring to their potential clients.
The Salesforce Shopping Index shows that people, especially Gen-Z consumers, look to social channels as an information resource (up to 34%). Small businesses that take these measures, and let consumers know about them through their multiple online channels, will not only bring a sense of hope and normalcy to potential clients’ lives, they will also have the added benefit of humanizing the company and keeping it meaningful.
Some ways small businesses can rise to the occasion and respond to this crisis are:
1) Update any listing to social media and online directories to highlight any operational changes during this time like their store hours or if they now offer delivery options — this applies to Google My Business, Yelp, Trip Advisor, and Facebook.
2) Create or refresh their website — nothing is business as usual anymore. Clients have other concerns in mind when they are looking for products and services now. They are wondering if the business is still open, if a certain product is available or if a service can actually be performed. Websites must be ready to answer those concerns without the client having to ask questions.
3) Create social media accounts to visually and quickly communicate with clients. Happy customers can leave positive reviews, tagging the business or sharing the business’s posts on their feeds, which will lead their circle of friends and followers to eventually hear about the business and be more likely to be interested in trying out the services or products too.
4) Participate in Facebook groups (local or even national) in order to introduce the business to a community that might be interested in learning about the products or services offered.
5) Join online forums for small business owners to have a community of like-minded people that help each other discussing issues and finding solutions. They can prove extremely beneficial in times of crisis as they present an opportunity to fill gaps of knowledge a small business owner might have, get or give advice and have a sense of community. There are several forums both within social media platforms like Facebook and LikedIn, as well as independent entities like Small Business Forum and BizWarriors, amongst many others.
All these and other important steps to remain visible during social distancing times may seem unmanageable for small business owners but they are not alone.
Digital agencies like Ingols Digital have stepped up to support small businesses in the multifaceted task of giving them a consistent and streamlined online presence that will generate leads and can allow business owners to focus on their products and services.
Living and thriving in this crisis will require Small businesses to adapt fast to the digital world. Independent companies will have to take ownership of their new circumstances, as much as possible, and adopt a client-centric attitude, stay in tune with people’s wants and needs at this moment.
Finding creative ways to stay connected and strengthen the relationship with current and potential customers will build the foundation for a continuing relationship throughout and after this crisis.
Placing your small business in the internet is not simply just creating a website with your name, address and phone anymore; although name, address and phone usage this has fully evolved, we will get to this later.
Nowadays, being online is actually establishing a virtual version of your business but without the human physical interaction you would get from a brick and mortar spot.
The essence of any business is to generate money by providing value to someone who perceives this value and is willing to pay for it. So how can you do that without having the physical factor? Challenge alert!
Modern marketing concepts still preach about the importance of price, product (or service), location and promotion. But added to that is the importance of customer experience.
If you can imagine, now there is this new challenge to deliver all these things plus making sure your client has a good time. If you do all this well you can beat your competition and win a good chunk of market share.
What does it have to do with the importance of online presence to small business?
The answer, is simple: The clients are all online and connected, and now more than ever, small business needs to adapt fast so they can cater better their client's needs!
Here are some numbers:
- 69% of Americans Shop Online, while 25% shop online once a month and 50% of those are using mobile devices.
- 63% of Shopping Occasions begin online- when people want something, they go online to research first, prior to leave the house.
- 75% of shoppers expect something new every month
A interesting thing to note is that many customers are leaning towards local products and independent companies (did someone say small business), however they still use the internet to find them.
And because the internet is so open, it gives a chance for small businesses to beat the big guys.
There are so many tools that allow a small independent company to be found by a customer that lives in the same neighborhood that was always interested about their products, but never knew they were neighbors.
Remember when we mentioned about Name, Address and Phone? That sounds like a Yellow Pages directory right? Super Old School!
Well, now Google has enhanced this information and you build Google My Business (GMB) Listings with them
So basically, if you are a tiny Sushi Restaurant and you are located in the small town of Blaine, WA you want people to look for you when they Google “Sushi Restaurant” on their mobile devices when they are staying in Blaine, WA.
Guess what, with GMB management you can make this happen and if properly managed, you can dominate the sushi market at this specific location!
Those are the wonders of the internet and how they can impact the small business model. The tools are so vast, that we will need to go through most of them in baby steps.
On the next following days we will cover a bunch of Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses using the internet.
Because all your clients will eventually be there and having your business listed online does not cost much and it can increase revenue exponentially. Simple.
Our Blog is constantly updated by Dani or Leo. We talk about ways to improve small businesses marketing using tools related to Technology, Websites and Social Media. Yes, we cover some SEO as well!
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