Have you ever wanted to take your business to the top and sell it for $50m? Or maybe hold on to it and dominate your industry nationally? Here’s how you do it:
I know this seems crazy, because I am only a small outfit myself. However, my medium-long term goal is to take stakes in small businesses and increase their online sales dramatically in their local area. I would rinse and repeat, setting up shop and increasing sales in many local areas, until it turns into a national, or at least a multi-state, beast.
It is easier than you think
All you need is an effective online strategy and a small budget. Believe it or not, but more than 60% of all business is generated online, and this figure is growing every single year. That doesn’t even take into account people that came to your website and then decided to pop into your shop. So the true figure is estimated to be at 65%-75% of all consumers.
#1 – Web design, web design, web design…
The key obviously lies with your website. You website needs to convert visitors into prospects. I would start by redesigning the website so that it has a conversion rate of roughly 20%. Most websites have a conversion rate of less than 3%. That means they need to invest 7 times more into online marketing to get the same result. Now that is why most people give up on SEO or other forms of online marketing. Imagine spending $10,000 per month generating traffic, when you could be spending $2,000? Such a waste!
#2 – SEO Marketing
Now that the website is generating 7 times more leads than your competitors, I am going to start increasing the local traffic coming to the website through SEO marketing. Link building, blog posts, on-page optimization, correct anchor text distribution, local reviews etc. SEO is such a vast subject and even though I get hugely excited about it, I have to stop there. What and how I do it is in other blog posts.
Basically, I will be doubling the local traffic that comes to the website over the course of 3-4 months, sometimes less. Leads will continue to climb and you will start dominating your local market.
#3 – Local Reviews
I mentioned this a little number in the ‘SEO Marketing’ segment above (wow, segment sounds fancy), but it deserves a paragraph of its own. I would gather all the testimonials customers bring to the business, if they don’t have any they should start collecting them, and I will drip feed them into 8-10 different review sites across the internet for that particular store or office. Therefore, if anyone is searching locally, the chances are improved that the person will come across their grateful customers. This gives you instant social proof and increases the odds dramatically of making a sale.
#4 – Pay Per Click
A lot of business hate PPC, especially small businesses, because it is expensive and doesn’t yield much. However, if you website converts traffic effectively, it becomes an incredible tool. Just think, now your small budget has multiplied itself by 7 by redesigning the website, PPC is 7 times cheaper. Also, by just focusing on customers searching locally, you are spending much less. Each customer = a potential referral + repeat buyer. So even though it costs you $2+ per click, that click is easily worth it.
#5 – Social Media
Everyone always raves and rants on about Social Media, but to be honest, you don’t really need to spend much on it. It is mostly for brand awareness. However, ensure that you keep updating Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus with your announcements and content. Google and Bing love this, but more importantly, you will invest a lot into it once you are a bigger fish and it helps to have a history.
Rinse & Repeat
Now that you have dominated your local market by, implementing the 5 mediums of online business generation I mentioned, it is time to move on. You will, in all seriousness, be generating more business than you ever have. You might even put a few competitors out of business. Now you need to move on.
Hire some new staff, train them up, then move some of your existing staff to a new office in a new location. For your existing staff, this could be temporary, because relocation is rarely something people want to do. Promise them a nice bonus for helping you set up and train the new regional team.
Once you have your new office you can start doing the same thing as before. Create another address in your review directories as well as your website. Then, simply start the whole process all over again.
Start Small – End Big
This is an organic growth strategy that doesn’t require any kind of loan from the bank or money raised from the outside. I personally love this approach, because it is easy to keep a handle on the business and it is very low risk. Start by setting up in cities, then large towns, then move on to another State.
- Don’t bother with towns or area of less than 100,000 people. It is way easier to break even in bigger cities.
- Don’t be worried about taking on your competitors. 99% of business don’t do online marketing the right way. Beating them is easy.
- Don’t forget about the important of continued investment in marketing. Most of the big companies got where they were because of effective marketing when they were small businesses.
I will be trying out this exact strategy on a business in the near future. So feel free to call me in 3 years time to ask me how it went.