I rememeber 1999 like it was yesterday. Y2K, the world coming to an end , the whole thing. As an eager young Internet enthusiast I recall all the time I spent telling everyone who would listen about the virtues of the Internet. Mostly about how it would transform the way business would get done. My enthusiasm and eagerness to share usually lead people to respond with "Yeah...whatever".
Now its 2008, and what I wouldnt give to be able to run into some of those people and say something like "Yeah...whatever".
As a full time Internet marketing person I still cannot believe how many small business owners STILL don`t believe in the Internet. I mean really, No website? No email? What?
Ok Mr. Small Business Owner....why not? Here are the most common responses:
1. No one uses the Internet to find my type of business.
2. I only deal locally.
3. I dont sell things online.
4. The Yellow pages work for me.
5. I dont have time to build and maintain a website.
Now some of you reading this would maybe agree with some of this. So here are just some of the reasons why Internet marketing makes sense for almost any business. Did you say "almost any"? Yes I did. read on....
Last month I got a call from a guy who sold tractor parts. He was located in Kansas somehwere. He wanted to know if I could help him with some "Internet stuff", he was referred by his grandson who is an insurance broker client of mine in Kansas City. I asked him to tell me about his business...."Well see, I sell tractor parts, mainly used stuff I pull off other rigs, Ive been in business for 45 years" he went on, "I dont know why I need the Internet, but my grandson thought it would be a good idea". Ok great, so I asked him to tell me about his clients and how he generates business...."People who have tractors that are broke call me". Classic. He went on to tell me that he could service an area of about 100 miles because he was too old to go any further. He also told me that there are about 40 ranches located within that 100 mile radius. Here is an example of someone who just simply does not need the Internet. (unless you know someone who will ship tractor parts nationwide for under the cost of the part itself). The interesting thing is if you go to Google and search tractor parts there are companies doing this very successfully, its a whole different business model. This person is the exception to the rule, but if he had a 10,000 sqft warehouse full of tractor parts, it would be game on!
Here is why your small business needs the Internet:
1. People search online all the time for all sorts of services. Here is why I believe this (besides the statistics), Most people spend most of their conscious day at a job. Now, I used to work at an office with over 100 people in it. If I had a need to find a service like, I don`t know, a chiropractor for my aching back. Would I run around my office looking for the book that is yellow? Wait to get home and rummage through my junkmail or pennysaver? Hope I get a telemarketer to call me offering back pain relief? NO. I know that there is a big beautiful computer with access to Google on it...I would try that.
2. Local people want local companies. The number one goal of most search engines is to provide good quality local results. If I search for a chiropractor in my home town (San Diego) and all I get is chiropractors-r-us results for big national chiro companies, I`ve wasted my time. By focusing locally you can reach many people who had no idea you existed and the wonderful service or products you offer.
3. You dont sell things online? Do you sell things through osmosis ? Does the flyer you just handed out accept credit cards? Lets face it, you are always selling whatever it is you offer. I have many successful brick and mortar type clients that benefit from their online activity. I believe that if you had a website that only had your name, phone number and directions to your shop, you could be succesful. Many small business owners are afraid that they need a website that is flashy and has a ton of content and blah..blah...blah. The truth is, most consumers just need to know that you are reputable and offer exactly what they are looking for.
4. The big fat yellow book works for me. About six months ago I went to my local grocery store and saw a huge pile of "FREE" yellow books stacked outside the store. Yesterday I noticed that the big stack of books had magically turned into two big stacks of books. Now let me just say, as a marketing person I believe in any type of effective marketing. If the book that is yellow works for you great! But the fact is it probably doesnt work as good as it did before. One word...... yellowpages.com.
5. I hate to say this but anyone can build a website these days. If you can compose an email and ad an image to it..you are a webmaster and dont even know it. I know of more than one big firm that will give you a free website with the registration of a domain name...cough..godaddy....yahoo..cough. With their website builder programs that are free..yes free..you can literally have a site up and running in an hour. And they are easy enough for my 9 year old son to work with. (He is available for freelance work).
The bottom line is just do it. Once you get your feet wet you will see that its not so hard and hopefully, maybe someday you will get big enough to need services like mine or my able colleagues who post on this site. Go get it!