In a few of my earlier articles on OPEN Forum, I discussed the value of an internet presence for your business, from having a Web site to being involved on Facebook and Twitter. Yet, a recent conversation I had with a local businesswoman had me questioning whether these articles were valuable at all.
"I don't see why I need an internet presence at all," she told me. "Almost all of my customers are in this town and it's just another thing to worry about."
In one quick quote, she sums up many of the concerns that small businesspeople have when it comes to diving into an Internet presence. Will the time investment and financial investment in this pay off compared to what I'm already doing? For many small businesspeople, this is a powerful question and Internet promotion seems like a serious risk. It's a time investment as well as (quite possibly) a financial investment with little clarity in terms of results. At first glance, it's not worth the risk.
The advantage of Internet promotion of your small business, though, is that the costs are small and the potential upside is high. There is no financial cost at all to promote your business on Twitter or Facebook, and little financial cost to set up a simple Web site for your business. The only real cost is time, which you can meter yourself.
In a single hour, you can have a Twitter account for your business, along with a Facebook account for yourself and a page for your business on Facebook. From there, maintenance is up to you -- you can easily spend as little as a minute or two a day (on average) to properly maintain both.
If you're a small businessperson afraid to make the leap into this, much as the businesswoman mentioned above, I have one suggestion for you. Give it a thirty day trial. Start a Twitter account and a Facebook account today and spend a few minutes on each one every day promoting your business. Let your customers know that you're on there and provide them with your address. There's no financial cost to this whatsoever (aside from the internet connection) and, if you decide after 30 days that you're not getting worthwhile results from the effort, quit. All you've invested is a bit of your time and, at the very least, you've learned about some of the basic ins and outs of promoting your business online.
Does your small business need an internet presence? No. Is an internet presence an incredibly cost-effective way to promote your small business? Absolutely yes.
The choice is up to you. I challenge you to give it a thirty day trial, then let me know whether it worked out for you.