By Roy Rasmussen
In today’s mobile economy, many businesses are embracing a virtual business model. The number of U.S. companies that operate using an entirely or almost-entirely remote staff grew from 26 in 2014 to 125 in 2016, according to FlexJobs. A third of global business leaders expect at least half of their workforce to be remote by 2020, according to a survey taken at the Global Leadership Summit. While maintaining a remote workforce has many advantages, there are also some benefits to maintaining a physical office location, even if you use a virtual business model. Here are four ways having a physical location can help you even if you run a virtual business.
In a Cnet article, Transworld Data president Mary Shacklett relates the story of how her firm was helping a credit union client choose a website designer. Transworld’s evaluation revealed that a local freelancer who worked from home did the highest-quality work, but the credit union chose to go with a more expensive option due to a perception that a home-based worker might not be in business in a year. As this illustrates, maintaining a physical office can boost customers’ perception that you are a professional, reputable firm.
Even if renting a traditional office is beyond your budget, you can still give your business a physical presence by renting space through a virtual office service or an office business center that provides executive suite services. These types of arrangements provide you with a physical mailing address along with additional services such as phone answering.
Some virtual office and executive suite services also give you the option of renting meeting space on an as-needed basis, which is another benefit of having a physical location. Having physical meeting space leaves a better impression on clients you need to see for sales presentations, client consultations, or other reasons. You can also use your meeting space as background for filming videos, which will create a better impression of your company for online audiences.
Local Marketing Opportunities
Another advantage of having a physical location is that it enables you to make better use of local marketing tactics. For example, one recent trend in local marketing is beacon marketing, which enables stores to send personalized offers to nearby customers who have downloaded their app. Beacon marketing has proven so effective that one third of the top 50 American retailers rolled out beacon marketing programs last year, according to GeoMarketing.com. Using beacons can enhance your ability to reach specific demographic groups, such as Millennial mothers, a target market where 40 percent of customers can be reached by beacon. Beacon marketing can boost sales by as much as 24 percent, according to an inMarket report. In addition to beacon marketing, other local marketing tactics that can be supported by a physical location include local SEO, geotargeting and networking.
A local presence can also make it easier for you to attract “webrooming” shoppers who compare prices online and then buy locally. Many shoppers prefer webrooming in order to see and touch products for themselves as well as to avoid shipping delays. An estimated 85 percent of shoppers webroomed last holiday season, a number rising to 95 percent among Millennials, indicating why webroomers are an important target market. Having a physical location can allow you to market more effectively to webroom shoppers.
If you maintain physical inventory, it’s a good idea to install security cameras. You can find the best outdoor security camera selection from Lorex, which specializes in cutting-edge high-tech cameras with capabilities such as 4K resolution and the ability to capture details even in low-light conditions. In addition to providing the best outdoor camera options, Lorex also provides indoor cameras you can use for in-store analytics to track buyer behavior and optimize your marketing.
Roy Rasmussen, coauthor of Publishing for Publicity, is a freelance writer who helps select clients write quality content to reach business and technology audiences. His clients have included Fortune 500 companies and bestselling authors. His most recent projects include books on cloud computing, small business management, sales, business coaching, social media marketing, and career planning.