The Internet has inherently changed the way people interact. Transactions that used to be carried out in person can now be conducted over the web and, with the introduction of such online facilities as banking and shopping, the need to queue up on cold winter days, or to observe shop opening hours, has all but been removed.
Now, individuals can have immediate access to an online world that is always active. It is possible to meet new people virtually, open up a business without leaving home, order and pay for groceries, apply for a loan or research almost any subject – 24 hours a day.
And, with reports that online consumer spending is continuing to increase year on year, Internet social networking sites are gaining in unprecedented popularity and many new businesses are choosing to operate solely on the web, it seems that almost the whole world is online. It is, therefore, a smart idea for businesses to ensure they have an online presence.
This is especially pertinent for small businesses, since they usually lack the monetary resources available to larger companies; but the Internet offers a cost-efficient, hugely effective medium through which to market any products and services.
Due to the convenience of avoiding crowds of people and the ease of having products directly delivered, many choose to shop over the internet. Indeed, online shopping is a popular pastime for those with Internet access, with people searching for everything from electrical items to clothing and food.
Additionally, due to the very nature of the internet, and the fact visual aids like photographs, video clips and podcasts can be employed, it is possible for companies to communicate a variety of information to a vast audience.
For example, it is possible to view an entire fashion collection online, compare the make and models of different washing machines, or search for a new car. In this respect, the concept of window shopping has radically altered, since it is now possible to ‘window shop’ without leaving one’s computer desk.
Many may feel that in order to have a successful online presence, a business needs to employ the use of a web specialist to design the perfect website and a marketing consultant to create a strategic online marketing campaign. Whilst these things can be advantageous, the majority of small businesses do not have the available funds to carry out such activities.
Online directories can therefore be a great way for small businesses to have an effective online presence without having to spend thousands of pounds investing in a website. And, with the introduction of such features as videos and photographs, it can be easy to create a strong identity.
Because of their size, and the generally small amount of available funds, small businesses need to be creative in their thinking. Small business marketing, however, with a little bit of foresight and strategic thinking, can be cost-effective to execute and lucrative in its financial returns.
Bian Salins is the Managing Editor of BT Tradespace — an online community where businesses can advertise and sell products & services and everyone has the opportunity to shop, chat and share their opinion.