It is not my intention to insult black business owners or to massively generalize, but to help. A disproportionate number of black businesses have zero idea what they are doing online and I want to offer a little assistance.
Here are six things you must do immediately online:
1. Accept Simplicity Wins
Your market is busy, people are on the go and barely have time to eat let alone decipher the name of your business or your website address. It might play well in your circle to use the number 2 instead of a S, but it makes things confusing for your potential customers.
And confusing your customer base means you will not have a customer base for long.
Simplicity wins because it makes you easy to remember, easy to find and top of the mind. When a customer is ready to buy, whomever is top of the mind and memorable will win out. If they can’t figure out your name, then they will move on to one they can.
Perhaps you have a large marketing budget and figure you are just going to pound it into the minds of your market until they remember you. If that is your situation, then more power to you. Most of us don’t have rock star marketing budgets. We need to keep things simple.
2. Stop Using Social Media Accounts as Your Website
You are being cheap. Let’s call it what it is. You don’t want to pay for a website, so you are “making do” of a bad situation by focusing your attention on your Facebook profile or your Instagram page. I’ve heard it all, “I make most of my money from Instagram, so I may as well use that.”
It is great to exploit the market leverage you have on Instagram and other social media outlets, but you want to own the relationship with your customer base. Think about it. What happens if you focus all your time, money and resources over there and tomorrow they go out of business? Or the next big thing comes along and the people leave Instagram for it?
Don’t act like you still have a MySpace account.
You would be left there holding the bag….when you should be building up your own website and following on your own website or in your email subscription. Yes, it is going to cost you some money, but it is an investment in your business.
Besides, your market expects you to have a website in 2015. Prices are beyond reasonable and the risk of looking less than professional is real without a website.
3. Get out of the 90s with your Website
Many in the black community have a website. Unfortunately, far too many of these look like they are a decade or two behind the times. Your website must be mobile friendly because the majority of web traffic in the United States is generated through mobile technology.
In fact, Google recently updated their search algorithm to account for mobile friendliness. If a website isn’t mobile compatible, then it wouldn’t receive the same search rank of a site that is.
This means tablets and phones are king. You must cater to the king. If your website doesn’t have a responsive design, then it won’t look right on the various different platforms.
A responsive website design means the website is coded to adjust to the screens size to optimize the look and user experience. They are smooth, user friendly and look great on all mobile devices.
This is a must if you are going to have your business interact online. Your website must reflect the brand of your business. People are going to see it and judge your business on this interaction.
4. Actually Communicate with your Market
Embracing technology and this new generation of tools online is great, but means nothing if you are not actually using it to communicate with your market. When someone sends a message via your contact form on your website, do you respond? When you receive an @reply tweet, do you respond? When someone comments on your Facebook post, do you reply?
If not, you better pull your head out of your butt and focus on those people reaching out to you. Commenting, tweeting, filling out contact forms are solid indication this person is actively seeking a solution to their problem and they think your product or service might be just what they need. Thus, they are reaching out to you.
If you ignore that person, they aren’t likely to ever reach out again and will discount your business forever. They won’t refer you or speak highly of your organization.
On the other hand, following up and through with those people taking the time to reach out to you can be very beneficial. You can start to set the tone and branding of your business that you take care of your clients and customers. Right from the start, just by responding to their inquiries.
5. Capture Visitor Information
Everyone that comes to our website, we want to connect with them, exchange some information and have another interaction in the future. To reach for this goal, we must ask the visitor to share their information with us or connect with us on social media.
As you can see from the website, we are asking you to do these very things now. There is an email sign up where you can get a piece of useful information for your journey. You can sign up to become a client. Easy access to the contact us forms. There are links to promotions we are running.
All this in an effort to capture some of your information for us to connect again in the future.
You want to do the same with your website.
6. Educate Yourself about being successful online.
Yes. People are getting rich via the internet, but it isn’t magic and not most luck. These people are educating themselves about opportunities online, taking in the fundamentals and working hard to continuously improve their knowledgebase. You may not have worked with the internet in the past, but you best figure it out for your future.
The internet isn’t going away any time soon. And today, it has integrated into our mobile phones. We have access to it 24/7 and is always in our pockets and purses. If you desire to contact your market, you better get familiar with the opportunities online or partner, hire someone that does.
Take action Black community
I would like to see more black businesses take their opportunities on the internet seriously. It doesn’t seem as if we value the opportunities as a whole and will benefit from minor, but necessary investments of time and money in the long run.