Developing a product or service offering that people desire or depend on is crucial to cultivating a successful business. Sometimes, would-be entrepreneurs focus so much on the thrill and excitement of this challenge they forget to think about and plan for what comes next.

How do you ensure enough customers find you and your brilliant product/service to generate the revenue necessary for a profitable business?

In the past, many product-based companies opened retail stores, after identifying the very best locations with the highest customer traffic. While this certainly remains an option, it’s usually an expensive one. Retail storefronts typically come with high overhead and require you to sign a long-term lease before you’ve even tested the waters to see whether a viable market for your product exists. You may find yourself in a favorable position if the market is strong—or you may just lose your shirt if demand doesn’t generate enough revenue to break even.

With online consumerism on the rise, many companies are increasing their digital sales presence while others are even shifting to a 100% online sales model. A digital sales approach may offer the potential for reaching a much larger audience, but the intense competition also presents significant barriers to customers finding your business.

These simple steps can help.

Optimize your website

If you plan to sell online, you already understand the importance of having a website, but did you know survey results demonstrate that a poorly designed website is actually worse than no website at all? Experienced online consumers simply will not transact business with a company that possesses a bad website, so it is extremely important you develop your digital sales strategy in partnership with professionals who know how to develop an optimized website that is fresh, aesthetically pleasing and user friendly.

Encourage customer feedback

As part of their due diligence process, most online consumers search for testimonials or online reviews submitted by customers who have purchased products or services from you. This is a key component of the validation process.

Facebook, Google and other online reviews enhance your reputation and increase your online visibility, making it easier to reach prospects who are searching for the products or services you offer. If you’ve provided an amazing experience, your existing customers will be happy to write a review or testimonial for you. But, you have to ask. It simply isn’t in most people’s nature to offer up praise without some sort of prompt or incentive.

Engage in social media

Creating a strong social media presence is important too, particularly if your target market includes millennials. Just like with your website, quality counts in a big way. I encourage clients and colleagues to retain a social media management company or employ a social media expert.

Few people are “natural” social media experts, and tackling this aspect of your business when you don’t really have the knowledge or the skill set can actually do more harm than good. Also, as a business owner, you should focus on running your business. Social media management requires a huge time investment–one that you simply do not have the “time” to give.

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