Even as we discuss the tremendous advancement happening in the online world, it is hard to believe that the small businesses have hardly entered the picture. Even as the number of businesses going online is increasing each passing day, there are still millions of small, brick-and-mortar store owners who are still depending largely upon the traditional word-of-mouth marketing methods. There is surprisingly a huge chunk of individual/small business owners who are reluctant to go in for a comprehensive digital strategy.
However, the picture is set to change. Individual professionals like doctors, lawyers, fitness experts, architects etc. are increasingly becoming aware of the power of making their presence online. According to Ely Dahan, professor of marketing at UCLA Anderson School of Management, this is a period of great transition for small businesses. Until now, small businesses owners relied on the Yellow Pages to get found. To get a larger stream of customers, entrepreneurs opted for bigger ads to be placed at the right spot. However, today even the most traditional business owners are now gearing to go online.
The Stage is Set
This transformation has been brought about largely due to the changing consumer trends. According to a study by BIA/Kelsey & ConStat, about 97% of the consumers depend on the online media to research about products and services in their local area. This is an unprecedented figure and calls for action even for the small business owner.
Apart from this, tech, digital and web design companies are also helping small businesses realize the online potential by presenting a whole lot of other statistics and analysis. Giant companies like Google are also getting into the fray and convincing small businesses and even offering them free websites.
It is the difference in sheer volumes of traffic and enquiries generated by the digital medium that is making the difference. Even a decent enough profile on a portal like Yelp can help in generating a steady stream of customers as compared to a newspaper classified. Consumers no longer refer to the Yellow Pages to look for the most reliable movers and packers in their neighborhood. They simply search online and if they don’t find your business, they simply move on to the one that gets found.
Though, it will still be too early to completely switch over to online, the smart thing to do would be to have the right mix of online and offline. Although most small businesses are not willing to have exhaustive online budgets, the fact that they feel convinced to have an online presence itself speaks volumes about the imminent change.