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The Small Business Online Marketing Handbook: Converting Online Conversations to Offline Sales by Annie Tsai

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Introduction

The formula for success as a small business doesn't seem to have changed much since the beginning of time: bring a great product or service to the neighborhood (or village), and deliver exceptional service. Not too complicated, right? So if the formula is so straightforward, why are some small businesses failing while others are wildly successful?

Most of us are well aware that technology developments over the past 10 years have changed the way all businesses, no matter their size, market to and interact with their customers. People rarely make a purchase nowadays without securing prior validation from a source they trust, be it consumer rating websites, online testimonials, or simply a conversation with a friend or acquaintance. Consumers have found their voice on the web and are regularly having public discussions about exactly what they like and dislike. Given that my company Demandforce alone has helped its customers generate and syndicate millions of customer reviews for the web over the past several years, it's hard to ignore how powerful the consumer voice is.

This shift toward empowering the consumer voice has dramatically redefined the relationship between the browser, buyer, and seller over time, to the point that it's simply no longer an option to ignore the consumer voice. Businesses that embrace and leverage this shift quickly leap ahead of those that don't. The latter group—those companies that attempt to control the conversation and are therefore unable ...

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