With the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) we see businesses bringing their marketing activities from offline to online. It is also not uncommon for small businesses nowadays to have zero offline presence, having based all their marketing activities solely on the online market. How do you know if online/digital marketing is necessary for your business?
There can be a lot of factors affecting your marketing decisions, be it the nature of your business, budget constraint, or even labor resource. In the next few paragraphs, we will take a look at 5 key issues which may affect your marketing strategy.
1. Nature of Business
The nature of your business plays a huge part in deciding whether there is a need for your marketing activities to go online. Needless to say, if your business deals with technology or computer software/hardware related products, your presence online is mandatory and expected. What if your business is in the Food & Beverages (F&B) industry? Is there a need for your restaurant, cafe or pub to have an online presence?
The answer is yes. Regardless of the size or nature of your business, online presence is definitely necessary to stay competitive. The decision here is no longer on whether to go online or stay offline, but rather to which extend should you go about doing your online marketing activities.
For instance, if you own a small cafe, there is obviously no need for you to create a SEO optimized website, with full mobile integrated user interface (UI). The return on investment (ROI) will not justify for the effort needed for website maintenance. Instead you want to be looking at specific social media accounts for your business. Building on the example of the small cafe, an Instagram account will be a good choice as it allows for the creation of visuals, be it the menu of the day, latte art, or even the ambience/decoration of the cafe.
2. Marketing Budget
Budget is a huge restraint when it comes to marketing for most businesses. Especially when ROI comes into the picture. Is it worth the effort, time and money? It is no exception for digital marketing. Most small businesses cannot afford to pay a third party for website building/maintenance, let alone hefty online advertisements.
A good way is to use the top-down approach, of planning your marketing activities with the allocated budget. With online marketing, it is also possible to execute marketing activities with the zero dollar policy.
Inbound marketing has been new favorite among businesses for the past few years. The beauty of it lies in the fact that it can drive traffic and convert leads by providing useful information for your potential customers. In contrary to offline/traditional marketing, there are many ways to bootstrap without having to pay a penny. Find out how to approach content marketing with this post: Content Marketing – Are You Doing It Right?
3. Target Market
The understanding of your business’s target market plays a crucial role in helping you to decide on staying offline or going online. Is your business dealing with B2B or B2C marketing? In certain cases, certain industry and culture, the idea of B2B marketing is very much based on offline relationship building and word-of-mouth. Your target market do not simply visit Google to search for solutions. In such case, investing in a simple website, with your company registration license and write ups on your products/services will be good enough to give your corporate clients the impression that you are a legit company. Social media accounts are optional if your business deals strictly with corporate customers.
For B2C, depending on the characteristics of your target market, online presence can be optional depending on whether are they most active online or offline. For instance, if your target market are the older generations, which in comparison, are less tech-savvy, an offline/traditional marketing approach might be more effective.
4. Geographic Restrictions
Offline marketing are restricted to the physical location that your business is based in. Online marketing however, allow you to reach out to a significantly larger pool of audience, without any geographical constraints. You can be marketing to your target market in Asia even when you are physically based in the US. This flexibility is extremely useful especially if your business provides service as a product.
5. Change in Consumer Expectations
Pretty similar to point 3, understanding your consumer’s expectations, behaviors and perceived value is a good measurement to which kind of marketing approach you should be looking at. There is a bare-minimal to which consumers are expecting of businesses. No doubt it depends on the nature of your business as mentioned in point 1. Consumers will not be expecting full running website for a small cafe, but if you are offering a service and other consumer goods/hardware, having no forms of online presence will lower the credibility of your company, and make your business seemingly dodgy.
In today’s context, when we first hear of a business, the first instinct is to look it up online to learn more about it. If your business does not have any website or social media accounts, you will be put at a disadvantage to other competitors who do.
In conclusion, following the development of IoT and technology, consumers expectations are also changing. There is a need for businesses to assess the minimal online presence required of them, to keep up and stay ahead of competition.
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