I was reading an article in Crains this week about how the number of business start-ups in Manchester increased by 10% in 2008. It seems that despite the economic doom and gloom, and perhaps because of the challenges that the recession presents such as the growing level of redundancies, more people have ventured into entrepreneurship.
Whilst there are endless things to consider when it comes to starting up a new business, including location, business plan, fixtures, fittings, stock etc., etc., one thing that should not be overlooked is how you are going to market your business – both in general and specifically online. Whilst a few years back, all a new business looking to create a website needed to think about was whether or not it looked pretty, a 2009 approach needs a great deal more consideration. Here are a few tips on what a start up business should consider with regards embarking into the online world.
- Market research
- Choose a web partner carefully
- Set up pages and profiles across the popular social media networking sites
Before you look to create a website, you should get a good idea of the standard of your competitors’ websites and to what degree the are promoting themselves online. Get a feel for websites and make a note of websites you like and try to note why you like them. This will make it much easier when it comes to giving a brief to the website designers, making a finished product you are delighted with much easier to achieve.
Remember to seek the opinion of others – ask for objective views of other people’s websites, and find out how people look for the products and services you offer. If people are using search engines to find your products and services, it is important that some sort of search engine strategy is incorporated into your brief.
The company you choose to engage with when it comes to designing the website itself should also be researched very carefully and it is important to remember that cheapest is not always best! The companies you approach with your project should have a whole host of questions for you, and should make a great effort to understand your business and your plans for growth. If you plan to grow your business in the future, any web development company should be talking to you about search engine visibility and search engine optimisation – even if these are not areas of concern to you at the outset. The way a website is built can have a serious effect on the ability of your website to be ranked in Google – so it is important to get the groundwork right initially.
Social media pages and profiles are increasingly being used by businesses to raise awareness and attract new visitors to their websites. Popular social media websites, including Facebook and Twitter, are free to set up and participate in, so can be a great way for start up businesses to spread the word on a limited budget. The really successful social media marketers create an active community with members, therefore creating a dialogue that is rewarding for both parties. The important thing to remember is to reward members of your social networks – if you go down the hard sell route, you will struggle to build a community.