What we’re going to talk about today is a question that we get a lot with small and local businesses that are trying to make a comeback in 2021. After what was a rather rough year in 2020, how do I launch my business into the online world? There are five key steps for any business to take when they feel like (1) I need to get into the online world, or (2) I need to be better at doing business online.
If you are a brick-and-mortar store and you have not yet really thought about how you could do better business online, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic, this post is for you. If you’re a business that does all of your business online or you’ve already been doing it for several years, this post is still applicable to you.
So here are five steps that we say to any business before they launch into the digital universe.
Get Your Domain
Step number one seems obvious, but it’s important to get your domain. So what is a domain? For example, www.BigRedJelly.com, or your URL. It is your identity on the internet. There is only one of those. There’s only one BigRedJelly.com. When you buy your domain, you have now reserved that turf on the Internet. It is priceless. If you are thinking about going into doing business online or you’re saying, gee, I’ve been meaning to get a website or I might want a website in the future, first things first, go get a domain.
They’re not that expensive. Most domains can vary anywhere from $15 to $25 a year. It usually depends on if it’s a common name. If you’re to go look for a domain that’s thebusinessattorney.com, that’s probably going to be thousands of dollars. You have to get creative with it. But surprisingly, most unique domains are very cheap. Many people say, “Wait a second, this isn’t per month? This is per year?” That’s right. It should only be a couple of bucks a month.
You can go to digital.bigredjelly.com to find your perfect domain name. It’ll tell you if it’s available or not. It will also show you some variations of your searched domain. The .com might be taken, but the .co might be available or the .org. We recommend looking into that, though. A competitor might have your preferred .com. It might be worth thinking of a different name. This is a great tool to be able to show you what is available. Right from there, you can select the domain of your liking, register the domain and you’re good to go.
Set Up Communication Channels
Moving on to number two. Once you’ve got your domain, go set up your communication channels correctly. We understand that it might be a little overwhelming at first, but once you have your domain, you can sign up for or set up a business email or online storage. For example, instead of firstname.lastname@example.org, it’s just email@example.com. It really does make your email look that much more professional.
When we get business emails, inquiries, or someone wants to do business with us, and it’s still @gmail or @yahoo, it’s a real quick indicator that their business probably isn’t big. It may seem minor, but it is important.
We recommend setting up a business phone number as well. We see a lot of small business owners that are still using their mobile phone number. Here’s why that’s an issue: When you inevitably change to a business phone, such as when you add people to your team and you can’t just keep using your mobile phone number forever, you’ll have to switch to a new phone number. If it’s been several years that you’ve been using your mobile phone number and then you switch to a different phone number, your CEO is going to take a hit and you’re going to have to reprint and redesign so many more assets. So why not go get a business phone number now if you’re serious about your business?.
We recommend tools like Google Voice where they used to have a free version. It’s unique to you. It’s one of the first things we did when we set up Big Red Jelly. We knew we didn’t want to use personal phone numbers. We wanted to look a little bit more professional. So we got a Google Voice number and then I just had to go forward to our personal phone numbers until our team grew. It’s very easy to do. There are a lot of alternatives out there as well.
Control Your Brand
Once you have your domain and your communication channels are set up, take some time to improve your brand. This goes back to number one. Improve your brand and take control of it.
We can’t tell you how much of an effect it has when your email signature, website, business cards, logo, business email, business phone number, even a shirt with your logo on it, all communicate your brand. These little details really add to your brand story. They add to your brand loyalty, they make you stand out and people will inevitably take you more seriously and want to do business with you.
That’s when you can hire someone like Big Red Jelly, for example, or anyone for that matter, to help you design a logo, get a brand style guide. What’s your messaging? What are your dos and don’ts, your colors, your typography, those types of things. Figure that stuff out early so you have consistent marketing and advertising going forward.
Build Your Website
Our favorite topic or one of our favorite topics: website. Go in and get your website created. We’re not saying you have to hire an expert right out of the gate. You can use really easy, affordable website builders like Wix or Squarespace, for example. They are very easy drag-and-drop websites.
If you’re a little bit more skilled, you may use WordPress or Shopify. There’s a lot of really great tools and platforms out there. But when you are ready, we do recommend reaching out to an expert or a team like Big Red Jelly and having a professional design and build your website. It really can take your business to the next level.
Once those steps are done, you might say, I’ve got my domain, I’ve got my email and phone number set up, my brand, overall, I’m pretty happy with it. Now what?
List Your Business
People sometimes will jump straight into the marketing and advertising, but there’s a half a step that a lot of people forget once you have these things done. In other words, your business information is complete. Your brand is there. It looks nice. You’re done with your website. Now, it’s time to list and manage your business. So, for example, if you have a restaurant, you’ve got a domain, communications, brand, and website done, now you should list your business and manage those listings. We recommend for all small business owners that you manage your listings for a while.
So what we mean by listings? If you’re a restaurant, the number one thing you should do is get listed on Google My Business. It makes you show up on Google Maps, Google Search, and local search, and it’s where you manage your reviews. You add your phone number and website link. People can talk about you, people can message you, they can see posts, and so on.
Get listed on Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Yelp, and get listed on maybe some other platforms that would be important for your industry. But if you’re a restaurant owner, we would say the top four to be listed on are definitely Google My Business, Facebook, Yelp, and Instagram, probably in that order.
Once you’re listed, you can go through and add your professional information. Email, phone number, short description logo, that’s all been done. Your brand is on point. Now you have your website and all of these major listings or marketplaces where the people are now. It’s time to just manage those listings.
Right now, each one’s different. Managing your Facebook listing is managing your Facebook page or posting, sharing reviews, etc. but also managing your Google my business listing. This enables you to do a couple of things. Number one, you get to better understand how these platforms work. And number two, it will give you really key insights into who your customers are and how your business should perform online so that when you are ready to start running ads or do marketing or hire an agency, you’ve already got a fundamental understanding of how these platforms work.
When you’ve gone through all of these steps, your domain, communications, brand, and website, it’s time to start listing your business on some really important marketplaces, make sure they look accurate, make sure they’re updated. If you already have your business listed, now’s a great time to go through and do a little bit of a refresh. It’s important for the business owner or a manager to go out and actually list the business on these platforms, get used to managing them for a while, just posting now and then, sharing updates, and so on. Then you can start to market and advertise.
Here’s a quick review of the five steps: get a domain, set up your business communications, control your brand, build your website, and then the list and manage your business on your own, at least for a short period.
Don’t forget to go to BigRedJelly.com/Comeback to download the free guide and you can read about all of these points in more detail and then you can schedule a free consultation with us. Thank you.