CEO: Web important to businesses

Lisa Baker, the chief executive officer of Mymarketstreet.com, speaks during a Sept. 26 Greater Shelby Chamber of Commerce luncheon at the Pelham Civic Complex. (Reporter Photo/Neal Wagner)

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

The chief executive officer of an online business promotion company encouraged local businesses to manage their web presence and target their messages to specific customers during a Sept. 26 Greater Shelby Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

During the luncheon, which was held at the Pelham Civic Complex, Lisa Baker, the CEO of Mymarketstreet.com, shared tips to help local small businesses draw more customers and better their bottom lines.

Baker said 2012 is on track to become the first year more customers learn about a business by searching online for a service or keyword, rather than a business name.

“If you want to sell more widgets, you have to have a narrowed focus,” Baker said. “You have to know where the people who are buying widgets are and craft a specific message for your goals.”

Many small businesses in Alabama do not have an online presence, which prompted Baker to found Mymarketstreet.com, she said.

“I got tired of not being able to find local businesses online,” Baker said. “I encourage businesses to use the free tools that are out there.”

“The majority of Alabama businesses can’t be found online because they aren’t online,” said GSCC Board Chairman David Nolen.

Mymarketstreet.com, which is partnered with the Greater Shelby Chamber, offers business owners the means to set up a business website for free, and offers other services, such as frequent website updates and marketing, for a fee.

Baker also encouraged small businesses to take advantage of free social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. She said many social media sites automatically keep track of where web traffic is coming from, and said business owners can use the information to more directly target their marketing efforts.

“Social media, if used correctly, is one of the best tools to interact with your audience,” Baker said, noting the sites also give business owners a chance to converse with and gather feedback from customers. “Whether you keep it to the basics or use advanced tools, every business owner needs to be able to manage their presence in front of their target audience.”