This column first appeared on RimoftheWorld.net on August 31, 2009
My first experience as an entrepreneur dates back to 1974, when my best friend, Lori, and I opened a lemonade stand. Typical, I know. But our approach was not. You see; we lived on a pretty quiet street in Englewood, Colorado. After our first two days in business, we realized that the only regular traffic was the mailman and my father.
Not content to wait for customers to come to us, on day three, Lori and I took a more aggressive approach. We decided to sell lemonade door-to-door. You might be surprised at the relative success of our new strategy. Since this was 35 years ago, admittedly a much simpler time, not only did most people answer the door and take pity on us by forking over 10 cents a glass, most of them probably actually drank the beverages they purchased.
Ever since, I’ve been a staunch proponent for assertively pursuing market share. I guess that’s why I went into advertising. It’s also probably the reason I was so quick to jump on the Internet bandwagon. No matter whether Al Gore helped invent it or not, I believe Cyberspace to be the single most important invention for business since the coffee break.
While it was once necessary to set up a physical shop in order to be taken seriously in business, the “must have for business” in 2009 is an Internet presence. Not yet convinced? Consider the following:
According to the World Internet Usage Statistics website—
- 251,735,500 Americans (73.9% of the population) have access to the Internet.
According to a report released by Nielsen Research—
- Among Internet users in the United States, 94% have shopped online.
- Globally, 875 million people have made at least one online purchase.
- Two-thirds of the world Internet population participates in social networking or blogging sites.
According to an article posted in the April 2009 issue of NZ Business—
- Today more than two thirds of new business enquiries begin online.
Remarkably, at our Lake Arrowhead marketing and public relations’ agency, Mountain Marketing Group, we still spend a considerable amount of time trying to convince our clients that their business success is closely tied to the presence they allow us to help them establish online. And Lake Arrowhead is no Mayberry RFD.
I think the reluctance to embark on an Internet marketing campaign is tied to fear.
- Several wonder about the potential Return on Investment.
- Some worry that they will lose touch with their existing customer-base if they start courting buyers online.
- Many are intimidated by the sheer number of electronic advertising and social networking platforms that are available.
- A few are still waiting, maybe even hoping, that the Internet craze will pass.
With this column, I hope to alleviate these fears by shedding light on how easy, effective, and necessary it is for business owners and non-profit directors to get busy online. Not just for beginners, we’ll also highlight industry tips and trends designed to improve Internet performance for seasoned Internet pros.
This week, let me assure you that, like it or not, the Internet is here to stay. So why not embrace it? Learn about it? Exploit it? If the thought of setting up your own website is daunting, consider taking advantage of the plethora of free platforms waiting for you to enter a unique username and password. Even if you’ve hosted your own interactive website for years, these sites offer valuable back link opportunities, which drive Search Engine Optimization. We’ll cover back links and SEO in the weeks ahead.
Far less time-consuming to create than an original website or even a blog, these free directory listings help define your organization’s online persona because they are credible, established accounts. So even new businesses and non-profits included on them are immune from what’s known as the Google Sandbox, an otherwise unavoidable waiting period every new site must endure before Meta Crawlers recognize their existence on the Internet.
There are dozens of available free, directory sites. But these are the ones I recommend:
Invest a little time online today to list your company, business service or non-profit in the free directories, above. As some unaccredited author once wrote, “A journey of a thousand sites begins with a single click.”
Until next week, I’ll be Bowling for Business