The #1 question small business owners want the answer to: “What can I do to grow my business?” This is a loaded question and it has hundreds, if not thousands, of answers. The short answer is that there is no ONE thing you’ll do that will make your business a success. All your press, your marketing, your business development, etc. is cumulative. Here’s what I mean:
Imagine a moderately popular blog writes about your business, 100 people visit your site. One person buys something. 50 of them leave after viewing 1 page. Another 30 leave after viewing a few pages. 5 of them get on your mailing list and one of them makes a purchase 6 months from now. 1 of them tweets about your brand and 10 of their followers visit your site, 1 of them starts following you on Twitter. Another visitor posts your link on her Facebook wall and their friends visit you, one of them buys something. Another visitor posts about your business on his personal blog.
If you’re looking at raw sales that came from this one press hit you might not be impressed. You only got one actual sale. A closer look reveals that you actually got:
- 1 direct immediate sale
- 2 indirect/delayed sales
- a blog post (which leads to more SEO, more traffic, more fans, more newsletter subscribers, etc.)
- a Twitter follower
- 5 newsletter subscribers
Suddenly that one press hit is a lot more valuable. Now consider that every little thing you do that brings new people to your site — advertising, getting press hits, blogging, cross-promoting, etc. works the same way. Each thing can result in incremental growth of your brand. This is to say, don’t get discouraged when you don’t see immediate over night success, because each small thing is helping you along in ways you may not realize.
Having owned an ecommerce site for a few years now, I’ve seen this work first hand. My site gets orders each day from press hits that went online over a year ago, Facebook, people who subscribed to my newsletter months ago, things I posted on Style Hive months ago, message board posts our fans wrote months ago, etc. After having amassed so many links over such a long period of time, we now consistently get business from work we did months or even years before.
It usually takes several months, if not a couple of years, to really break through as a small brand and consistently see website traffic and sales. This is because each little thing you do is slowly building a presence and a fanbase for your brand. Eventually all the little things you do each day will be working in concert to bring consistent website traffic and consistent sales.
While you can certainly throw a lot of money at your brand and get much bigger much faster, most small brands aren’t in the position to do that so it’s a matter of being slow but steady. As web technology evolves, we’ll probably have smarter and better ways to track long term and indirect benefits of our marketing efforts. As it stands right now, there’s no way to effectively track every little boost your brand gets from marketing. This means you have to track where you can (newsletter sign ups, increases in site traffic, Twitter and blog posts that mention where the author discovered your brand) and consistently invest time and money in the things that attract your target demographic to your website.
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