Canadian Adults are Online but are You Reaching Them?
Since I’ve started my consulting business, my biggest surprise about small business marketing is the number of small businesses that are not active online. What I mean is, the small business may have a website that hasn’t been updated in years, or they have dormant social media accounts that don’t have recent postings. What’s worse, I’ve also seen businesses that have NO website and NO social media accounts.
Of course, the type of business you have may very well determine whether you need to have an online, or digital, presence. But I would argue that a small business can no longer expect to be as successful unless they have an active online presence. Going online is no longer about appealing to potential customers, it’s also about appealing to other stakeholders like potential investors and potential employees.
In 2017, a Pew Research Centre study found that 91% of the Canadian adult population use the internet occasionally. At the same time, 71% of Canadian adults also own a smartphone. Social media use is also very high among Canadians: 68% of adults use online social media networking sites. The US and Canada lead the world in terms of internet use, smartphone ownership, and social media use.
Interestingly, many small businesses are not leveraging the power of the internet. According to a GoDaddy and RedShift Research small business study in 2015, 59% of small businesses (defined as having 1-5 employees) in several countries, including Canada, do NOT have a website. Which means that there are lots of missed opportunities for small businesses.
Your Clients Aren’t Online…but You Still Need to Be
A lot of companies argue the reason they aren’t online is because their clients aren’t online, they usually get their business through referrals, or they aren’t big enough to have a website. I would argue that’s too narrow of a view because they are assuming that the only business goal is to acquire more clients but there are many strategic reasons for having a digital presence.
Ultimately, your business goals should determine whether you are online or not. Even if your potential clients are not online or if most of your business comes from referrals, you may still need an online presence. If the company’s goal is to attract top talent, then an online presence could play a big role in staff recruitment.
For example, an established Vancouver area accounting firm with more than 5 employees, has little to no online presence since they started almost 10 years ago. The majority of their clients come from referrals and they’ve successfully grown year after year. In recent years, their focus has been to attract top accounting talent and recruit students who need work placements as part of their accounting studies.
If you have a business goal to recruit more high quality staff for your small business, reaching these potential staff members will require you to have an online presence, especially if these new hires are Millennials.
But if their business goal is to recruit more staff, most of whom are Millennials, how are they reaching them if they aren’t online and don’t have a dedicated website that focuses on selling their firm as a desirable workplace? When LinkedIn conducted a survey in 2015, they found that Millennials primarily go to company websites, social professional networks like LinkedIn, and online job boards to find a job.
On top of that, they are more likely to use mobile devices to look for jobs compared to other professionals.
So if the accounting firm’s business goal is to hire more Millennials and the firm has little to no presence online, they are not reaching the full talent pool. One of the ways that the accounting firm can translate their business goal of recruiting high-quality staff accountants into a marketing goal is to use their website and their LinkedIn account to establish a better brand reputation amongst potential employees. To take it one step further, the firm can also use their website as a portal for prospective employees to apply and look at potential job opportunities, instead of using an expensive recruiter and or only posting to university job boards. Overall, having a digital presence means greater exposure for the firm to their target market of Millennials.
Being Online is Part of Your Marketing Strategy
Although it’s nice to think that some companies don’t need to be online, in reality, it’s much harder for a small business to survive without one. If you only look at the percentage of adults who are online, there is no question that a small business owner needs to make sure, at a minimum, that they have a website.
Before the internet, a company brochure and business card was standard for any small business.
Now with the internet and social media, a regularly updated website is the bare minimum that a small business needs to have. Without a website, it looks like your business doesn’t exist.
Even without considering statistics, your business and marketing goals will determine whether you need to have an online presence. Your marketing goals could centre around attracting a particular target market and this target market will determine the type of content you put on your website as well as which social media platforms you are active on. However, without a proper business or marketing strategy in place, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to effectively leverage your online presence to get the best return on investment.
Let Us Help You with Your Marketing Strategy
Ideally, you need to translate your business goals into marketing goals, and from there, develop a comprehensive marketing plan. Within the marketing plan, a clear marketing strategy, both online and offline, should be tailored to your small business.
If you’re unsure of how to translate your goals into a marketing strategy, whether you need to be online or not, or how to make yourself visible online, contact us to schedule a FREE consultation call.