Two recent articles explain that if you're a small business owner without an Internet presence, then you are not even close to alone. You are also playing ball with one hand tied behind your back.
This piece in Entrepreneur notes that 62% of small businesses do not have an Internet presence. And this is, as the author also notes, insane: "Establishing and maintaining a web presence is incredibly cheap and easy these days. And web advertising is much more powerful than most traditional print or broadcast advertising in that it enables the business owner to engage customers in a two-way conversation and gain valuable feedback on their products and services." The fact is, being on the Web is incredibly cheap in absolute terms. In relative terms--as compared to paying for more traditional advertising and marketing efforts--it is unbelievably, almost impossibly cheap. The piece goes on to offer some awesome tips for getting started. The whole thing is worth a read.
Meanwhile, a New York Times piece focuses on one specific type of Web presence that small businesses are beginning to exploit: social-networking sites. These, remember, are cheap, even free. They allow businesses to craft their own marketing content. And they are an incredibly efficient way to reach a desired niche.
Take BizBox, which is not exactly a small business, but same principle. We have a Twitter (follow us!). it has helped us to attract readers and pageviews, and has also proved helpful at various points when we have sought out interview subjects, or answers to questions. Additionally, we frequently will submit blogposts to BizSugar, a (free) social-networking site in which users post articles or blogposts that they think other small business owners and entrepreneurs would be interested in reading.
The additional point we'd make is that the Internet, and especially social-networking sites--where pouring in extra resources and money really won't help you--are, at the very least, great levelers, and at the most, actually specifically advantageous to small businesses. You ignore them at more than your peril. Ignoring them is fundamentally antithetical to the whole concept of smallness. And smallness is a concept worth embracing, because compared to the big guys, it's the one thing you've got and they don't.
American Express OPEN brings you the latest insights from noted business authors and experts in our special promotion with Slate BizBox.