Several decades ago, a common observation in marketing was that the three keys to success for a consumer-facing business were location, location, and location.

The physical site of a storefront dictated visibility, accessibility, and convenience. It was everything.

Location, location, location today equates to a business’ physical location, Web site, and mobile site.

To compete successfully today, almost any business, large or small, has to have effective, well-designed, easy-to-find, and convenient virtual locations.

In fact, the sales reports from the 2012 holiday shopping season indicate accelerated migration toward shopping and purchasing online rather than in-store.

While this is a challenge to businesses that have been overly dependent on traffic to a physical location, it also opens up a global market for many small businesses whose products or services do not geographically restrict them. So today the old adage takes on new meaning, which represents revenue-generating opportunities for your media company.

While most media companies had no stake in real estate to capitalise on the physical storefront marketplace, today we can be the “brokers” to the virtual marketplace. And many of your clients — in fact, many businesses in your market that are not your clients — need help.

Check out studies on how businesses invest in virtual marketing. They are spending far more on Web site development and hosting than they are on Web advertising. And SEO, a design/development investment to drive organic search, trumps SEM, paid search “advertising” for savvy Web marketers.

If you are simply out there selling impressions and search, you are not even competing for the bulk of your customer’s budget.

Innovative, nimble media companies are already exploiting this opportunity to expand their service portfolio to their advertising clients. They are offering Web design, hosting, and optimisation services.

In my career as an account executive, I often used the analogy with clients that an ad in the newspaper should be given the same attention to eye appeal and incentive/invitation to enter and shop as a store window on Main Street or in the shopping mall.

Too many businesses failed to generate solid results because their ads were poorly designed or failed to provide a sufficiently enticing offer and did not generate store traffic and return on investment.

The same analogy can be applied to Web and mobile sites. Not having a site is inexcusable. Having a poorly designed site is the virtual equivalent of not putting a sign with your name on it on your physical store and leaving your store window empty.

You are there, but no one can tell who you are and what you are offering.

Yet, even today, a significant minority of small businesses have no Web site at all. My experience indicates that about half of those need help to repair or replace their poorly designed and poorly executed Web sites. What’s more, they know it and welcome a trusted, credible resource with affordable, effective solutions.

And the explosive growth of Web-enabled mobile devices dictates that businesses cannot rely on their traditional Internet Web site to serve the virtual customer.

Recent statistics on search indicate that mobile search is on the brink of overtaking traditional search in total volume. The reduced screen size of smartphones versus a computer, coupled with the interface options (touchscreen, stylus, mini-keyboards) and the nature of mobile interactions (on-the-go, multi-tasking consumer), requires a second, specially designed, mobile-optimised, virtual storefront.

Media companies, particularly newspapers, mostly operate phenomenally successful Web and mobile platforms of their own. They have the “credentials,” the expertise, and the sales staff to become the preferred provider in their markets.

Are you capitalising on this revenue opportunity in your market?