Volume 11, Issue 2 - March/April 2009

Building Business in 2009

by Mike Jones

Itís never too late to make a resolution for the New Year. With todayís economic conditions, I can think of no better time to focus on improving your business and building your brand online. This year, it is critical that you conserve cash, improve productivity, and invest your marketing dollars wisely to ensure a positive return. If you stick to one of the following five New Yearís resolutions your business can capture the consumers searching for your business online. And more importantly, you can overcome the challenges ahead to emerge stronger than your competition. I plan to delve into each of these in detail in future columns, but for now, hereís the list, so you can get started early.

1. I will get in the game. The Internet has gone from being accepted to being essential, yet only a few national players dominate todayís online market for auto glass services. In fact, 79 percent of online consumers visit only three websites! As with any good promotion or marketing campaign it requires commitment to deliver results. That means establishing a budget, defining your goals and objectives, and dedicating the resources to focus on the details and drive the desired results. 

2. I will engage online prospects. Most websites are merely online company brochures. Content is king, but your goal is to increase sales. Does your website have a clear call to action? From your in-depth understanding of your customers, make sure the online content is truly meaningful to the user. How can you encourage customers to interact personally with your company and brand online? Each customerís experience should lead him down a pathóa path that ends in a sale. 

3. I will leverage the trust Iíve earned. In todayís market there is a confidence crisis. Consumers are conserving cash, just like you are, for fear of what the future may hold. They canít afford to spend money with a company that they do not trust. Capitalize on your good reputation and community involvement in your marketing messages. Activate your loyal customers and word-of-mouth recommendations with an e-mail campaign, online blog or customer review section on your website. 

4. I will focus on results and ROI. Online marketing is the most accountable and measurable form of marketing and advertising today. Data should dictate your next move. Use web analytic tools to determine who visits your site and what messages work and donít work. Then test, test and re-test. Because web marketing is real-time, it provides an inexpensive way to experiment and come up with creative ways to close business. You can implement a new tactic or promotion and see results quickly. If an idea is successful, immediately test a slight variation of the idea to see if you can outdo the last one. If something is going to fail, do it quickly and then move on.

5. I will seek expert advice. I know this sounds like a sales pitch, but it is not, really. If you do not know what you are doing online, find someone who does. Expert advice is available for free on the Internet if you have the time to do the research. Or, by working with an outside firm you can focus on your business while experts with digital marketing core competencies help you close online business. Internet knowledge and expertise will ensure your online marketing budget is spent effectively and not wasted. 

Mike Jones is the president of GTS Services in Portland, Ore. Mr. Jonesí opinions are solely his own and not necessarily those of this magazine.

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