Moving your business online

For most businesses, success begins and ends with the customer or client, and the more the better. That being said, the biggest key to success is finding these people or businesses, or, if you are lucky, helping them find you. While a nice storefront, a clever marketing campaign, or personal referrals are all ways to bring in work, moving your business online may expose your service or product to more potential clients or customers than everything you've been doing combined.

As a solo attorney in a competitive market, part of my daily challenge was figuring out ways to build a client base and keep it growing. I was in a small office, which was perfect for a small operation, and I was happy with the volume of return business and referrals. But, I really wanted to reach a larger pool of potential clients.

Moving Online

By moving my presence online, and focusing my marketing efforts there, I was able to accelerate growth much quicker than I was prior to building a web presence. Before jumping at the first web developer's offer, or creating a site yourself, it's important to take a few things into consideration to make the most of your move online.

How will people find you?

Even before the site is up and running don't hesitate to include your web address on letterhead, business cards, marketing materials, etc. Once the site is up, the hope is that your web address is sitting on someone's desk when they find themselves in need of your product or service. Putting some effort into finding a memorable web address will help as well.

Next, consider including a blog or a section for newsletters or articles on your site. Everyday millions of potential customers or clients go to a search engine when they need something or have a question. By filling your website with information about your business or industry, you can put yourself in position to come up in web search results and, hopefully, be the site an interested web surfer clicks on to make a purchase.

Making the Sale

Depending on the type of business you operate, you'll have to determine how visitors to your site will purchase your product or service. For me, I urged visitors to contact me via email or telephone to set up a consultation. This works best for services that are not conducive to an online purchase. If you sell a product of some sort, especially if it's able to be shipped to the customer, you will need to look into setting up a service with a credit card company. Credit card sales can be made for services based businesses as well in the form of prepayments or credits.

Typically, you'll have to meet certain requirements to qualify for credit card transactions, which are required by the vender. Requirements often include customers that are at least 18 years of age, that are U.S. Citizens, among others. Shop around for the best deal, which are typically set up as per-purchase fees. Remember, each transaction fee is going to cut into the profit margin on your product. By maximizing your site's traffic and minimizing the fee, you'll make up the difference in no time.

Read more by Mark Vansetti.

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