It’s a competitive world out there and you should try to make the best impression you can right from the start. Nowadays, this means making astute use of online opportunities to maximise your business reach. When your operating systems are fully in place, including gearing up for handling online sales, you can begin to get the word out about the unique offer your business is making. Here are a few tips to get you started.

Put your house in order

Before you start a new marketing campaign, check to make sure all your tech systems are safe and secure, particularly if you expect sales transactions to flow in once your business is under way. There are a few bugs about that allow hackers access to vulnerable systems, so make sure you are protected against them. 

For example, the Heartbleed vulnerability affects OpenSSL, which is the technology that is designed to help protect your online information. When you shop on the web, you will often see a lock icon that indicates that your personal details are protected; however, some websites using SSL are flawed and in some cases your private information is available to others. There’s no way to tell if a website is vulnerable unless you own it, so if you’re planning to set up an online retail business and offer facilities for financial transactions over the internet, make sure your system has been checked and verified using one of the available test tools.

Define your target market

Your London base offers opportunities at a number of different levels. You may, for example, want to operate a business strictly at local level – for people living and working in Camden, say, or Wimbledon. Depending on the nature and scale of your commercial operation, you also have an option to trade citywide or even nationally. Many businesses find that going online also provides exciting new opportunities to market and sell their goods or services worldwide. It’s important to identify your likely customers early on, ideally while you are setting up your enterprise, as this will help you target your marketing accurately. As your business grows, you should regularly revisit this part of your marketing strategy to ensure you are still on track in terms of the spread and reach of your customer base.

Set up your website

Essentially, your website is your shop window, so be sure to make the best possible use of it to display your goods or explain and illustrate the services you will be offering. If you decide to embark on a blog, make sure you regularly update it – remember that people who follow you will want to see that you’re knowledgeable about your business and keeping up to speed with the latest trends in your particular field. If you read and follow other people’s blogs, you are more likely to collect a few of them as followers along the way.

Have intelligent conversations

Using social media is now a given for successful entrepreneurs. Your customers will want to have conversations with you, and it’s vital to respond promptly when they do – especially if someone is dissatisfied or making a complaint. There’s a saying in the restaurant business that for every customer who complains, there are ten more who don’t – they just never return and are likely to tell their friends about their negative experience. This is the kind of publicity you don’t want or need for your new business, so address any problems as soon as they arise with the aim of making your customers feel that they are listened to and that their concerns matter to you.

All the steps you take when designing your website and using social media will spread the word about your business and help you to demonstrate that you are offering value for money and a quality service. Don’t forget to keep a watchful eye on how your technology is coping, however, as increased traffic and trade may put a strain on your original online resources. In particular, pay attention to the security of your site(s) and be vigilant about any new threats that may appear from time to time in the shape of viruses or other vulnerabilities. As more and more businesses move their operations online, there are an increasing number of opportunities for fraudsters and hackers to cause harm. Enjoy your new business as it grows and flourishes, and stay watchful when it comes to online problems.