News From Terre Haute, Indiana

December 2, 2012

BUSINESS CENTS: Is your business missing the online, social media boat?

Heather Strohm
Special to the Tribune-Star

---- — Listening to the news this morning, CBS was discussing the holiday weekend retail sales. Online sales for Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend accounted for 10 percent of all sales. While that might seem small, this current buying trend will continue to increase. So, what does that mean for the local small business retailer? You need an online sales strategy. And yes, that also includes social media!

But prior to jumping into that, let’s discuss what is important about your company website and presence. Developing a website is nothing that should be rushed and due diligence is highly recommended. I have listed below some helpful tips.

1. Research your competition — What does your competition’s website look like? What have they done well on their website? What could be improved on?

2. Locate examples of website you like. What do you like about them? Will those ideas and strategies work in your industry and on your site? Keep in mind that consumers like easy to navigate sights.

3. Who should develop your website? Are you going to outsource it to a web development company? If so, what will you get for their fee? Does it include edits? Hosting? Shopping cart?

4. Keep in mind that your website is in essence your store front. Be sure to include special highlights about your company, what is your story, a method to contact you via email, physical address, phone, etc. …

5. Stay up-to-date with your website. The more frequently you update website content, the higher you rank with search engines, and therefore you have a better chance of being located by your consumers.

6. Next, understand what your customers need and want and then identify methods to capture them. An example would be Facebook ads or ads in the sidebar of email tools. Consumers will note that you are becoming more popular in things that “pop up” before them.

7. Do you have a USP, “unique selling point?” Why should they purchase anything from you?

Building and establishing a solid presence on the web is not difficult: but it does take time to learn how to implement a polished website and one that correctly portrays your business and the successful model you want to achieve. There are several companies locally that have established a great presence online. For example, visit or Each website and its content are quite different, but each business has done a superior job at capturing its market and sharing company information in a professional and unique manner.  

Heather (Penney) Strohm is the regional director for Indiana State University’s Indiana Small Business Development Center.