The World is Your Oyster… Online

8 May

Business has always been about communications. If you set up a business you need to get a customer or two to get started, and that involves a sales process. In the very old days, business was done very locally, with friends as a start point for the first sale. Then the improvement in transport allowed people to move goods further, and the sales people could go to the next town on the back of Dobbin.

The arrival of rail transport changed the world of business. People and goods were shifted around the country at unheard of speeds. Thomas Cook invented the package holiday, moving people from place to place, W H Smith realised that you could put papers on the train, and then sell them to the people getting on the train at the stations.

This shrinking of the world continued with road and air transport. The ability to talk to people around the world arrived with the telephone network. Fax machines amazed office staff as they saw documents made digital.

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And then the internet arrived.

Perhaps the biggest change since the railways, the web has changed things completely. People can buy anything from anywhere in the world, as a number of e-commerce retailers in Northern Ireland have proven. Online, customers can buy products and services, can compare prices, can read about the company, the people, the service, and other customers’ reviews.

But businesses can also stop thinking about their current sales geography and start to think about how to sell to the audience that is looking for their products. Companies that sell in Northern Ireland can now easily sell in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, and this is just a start point, as selling further afield is also possible. By making the on-line presence visible, and the web site content attractive, inviting and engaging, you can put your brand on the shopping list of lots of people that until the advent of the World Wide Web, would never have come across you or your products!

Add in the social media channels, and deliver rich, varied, valuable and creative content to keep your brand visibility strong, and you will be able to build a customer base that sells for you by sharing the content and increasing your brand profile.

But it also works the other way round…

Customers that would have bought locally are seeing offers, prices, brands and companies that are competing for their business. The battle ground of the web is becoming more sophisticated. Understanding the synergy between search, social, digital advertising, and the need for fresh engaging content is the challenge. But get it right and the world opens up to sales, partnerships, information and welcome to the exciting world of international business.

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