Welcome to The Pivot Pod, where we’ll figure out together what’s next for small business. Hosted by Frances Cook, with a new expert on each episode. Today it’s the best ways to start reaching customers online.
One piece of advice that’s dished out over and over again is that businesses should work around Covid-19 restrictions by embracing the digital, online world.
Now to be clear, I totally agree with this; but at the same time, it’s not that simple.
It can be intimidating for those who haven’t done it before. Many are worried about getting it wrong, or spending lots of money at a time when every dollar counts.
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So on The Pivot Pod I had a chat with Blake Ramage, creative director at The Artistry Online, who’s used to helping businesses spring into action on this issue.
Ramage said you could get some quick wins in the bag by registering your business with Google and Google Maps, so it would pop up while people were looking for other things online.
It makes it easy for people to stumble across your business, particularly through Maps, where people will often do things like search for a cafe in their area.
Setting up pages on Facebook and Instagram can also quickly increase your online presence.
The most control and customisation will come, though, when you set up your own website.
Ramage said for a website, you first needed to think about why you’re using online tools. That will focus your thinking for which tasks need to happen first.
“To use an analogy, if I’m going to cook a delicious meal, I don’t just stand at the fry pan and hope for the best.
“I’ve got my ingredients selected, I’ve got my recipe laid out, and those are the building blocks on which a great meal lies.
“A website is like that as well. One place to start is the content you want to have on your website.”
Ramage recommends taking the time to think about who your customers are, and what they want. That will also help you decide on the best methods for reaching them, rather than trying to do everything at once.
“I wouldn’t take a machine gun approach of just putting up as much content as you possibly can.
“I think having customer personas in front of you as you post, or write, or whatever you do, is really important so that you’re reflecting your brand well.”
Ramage said many of the first steps could be done yourself as a business owner, by simply giving it a crack, or by watching YouTube tutorials.
After that, you would need to decide if you wanted to spend time or money.
He said it was an option to teach yourself how to use simple website builders like Squarespace as a DIY option.
But if you found it was taking up all of your time and leaving you nothing for the business itself, it might be time to hire someone.
“We are obviously a supplier, but there are a lot of companies in New Zealand that offer services across a range of budget options,” he said.
“One of the things I’d really recommend is looking at different providers’ portfolios. Money is one thing, but getting something that really resonates with your business is another.
“You don’t want to end up in a situation where you’ve paid some money, but what is being produced doesn’t resonate with you. A key way to tell that is through a portfolio.”
The social distancing restrictions from Covid-19 may have accelerated the move to online, but that trend was already in full steam before the pandemic.
So learning digital skills now is an investment in an area you’ll be using for years to come.
Listen to the full interview, with many more tips, on The Pivot Pod here.
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