Claim victory in the overhead costs battle using online platforms.
If you plan to make the internet work for you in 2012 and have no plan, you will fail. If you didn’t plan yet, start now because by 2014, 53% of total retail sales (online and offline) will be influenced by the Web as consumers increasingly use the Internet to research products before purchasing. (Forrester, March 2010)
Within the business community it is mostly understood and agreed that the internet is the best platform to link consumers to suppliers and that online components are vital for the life of any business. Even so; many businesses still do not understand the internet as they should and therefore are reluctant to proceed aggressively. Fact of the matter is that a majority of business out there still see the online as one additional line on the expense side rather than the income side of the general ledger.
Grab a pen, I’m about to shed some light into this and save you some headache.
The internet employs the same business principles you know and practice. What changes is how you apply the rules to the online and the tools we use to measure the results. And since the company action and visitor reaction is instant the outcome can be measured quickly.
When utilizing the internet across various channels, the foundations of the online components must be developed properly. The first task is designing the online platform as a mechanism to decrease offline overhead costs. In the now ancient times of web 1.0, information is what the consumers expected, web 2.0 introduced social media components and in 2009 we entered into the web 3.0; the interaction age. Consumers ask the business owners to mimic the office interaction in the online platforms. This is an opportunity no business can refuse to capitalize on. While maintaining the physical office requires paying rent, other overhead costs and employees, the virtual office has no rent, opens 24 hours, 365 days, no utilities and no other traditional overhead costs. The physical office will act as the idea engine for both offices while both offices will aggressively promote your service and product reaching more clients and allowing you to reduce overall overhead costs and subsequently increase profit margins and income.
Do you need to be online as consumer demands? Maybe not! But, a Razorfish, 2008 study indicates that 61% of people rely on user reviews for product information or research online before a purchasing decision is made. In the last 3 year this number has increased to 75%. Therefore for those who like to stay in business and grow there is no choice.
If you must be online start small but do it right.
First, figure out your story in the online market without constructing a mythical tale. Recognize your identity, what you believe in; what is your unique selling point, what you want to be known for, why should consumers interact with you and how consumers should remember you. Test it, embrace that and bleed it all over the net, from your website to social media to your office conversations. Have one unified clear message.
Second, study your office overhead costs. Establish your overhead factor percentage (Overhead factor is equal to the entire cost of sale divided by overhead fix costs plus 100%. We discuss overhead factor at length in our Cbil360 blog and in our by weekly 2 hour workshop “DigitalMadeAffordable.com”) and put in place online methods that will allow your online activity to reduce your overhead and thus enable you to be more competitive.
Third, when you enter the virtual space, establish clear objectives supported by headline messages, copy and visitor interaction components. Establish rules for visitor engagement, and engage the user emotionally and genuinely. You can’t only talk to them, have a platform to talk with them.
Fourth, never forget, while you can have a million visits, each visit is unique, each visit represents a potential client who is searching for “What can you do for me?” Each visitor will become positive or negative “word of mouth” about your company in his/her community.
Fifth, start now. Don’t wait.
64% of consumers have made a first purchase from a brand because of a digital experience such as a website, microsite, mobile coupon, or email. No other medium has so impacted—or altered—the traditional marketing funnel in this way. (Razorfish Digital Brand Experience Study, 2009.
It’s a question of survival and every business small, medium and big shouldn’t underestimate the possible outcome.