When looking for a business – whether product or service based – the days of pulling out the clunky yellow phone book are over. Most people now head to the World Wide Web via computer, tablet or smart phone to look up what it is they desire.
You log into your favourite search engine, type in what you’re looking for and a bazillion options pop up. Most people don’t go past the first page….actually most don’t even go past the first few choices that are displayed. So what makes you stand out?
Our society has changed in that we don’t want to take the time to pick up the phone, call a business and inquire about what it is we’re after. We want the ability to have the information readily available, 24/7 without having to engage another person. Finding prices. Searching products. Even booking service calls and appointments is available online for some businesses.
I sat down with Allan Fine, a business coach in the fields of internet marketing and social media training. Since 1995, Allan has worked and lived in Calgary, AB as an owner and entrepreneur. Since 1982, he has owned businesses and studied under many of the great marketers of our time. Owner of Executive Edge, which Fine started as a fitness company, it now provides services in life and business coaching for small and medium size businesses.
Fine says that one of the biggest mistakes that business owners make is that they don’t have a website – and even worse than sometimes not having one, is having a poorly designed one. “Stats show that in North America, 50% of all businesses have no website – no online presence. People say they don’t know how to build one and the half that do have one don’t have any social media programs and aren’t marketing online properly. The guys that are savvy enough to do it and say ‘let’s spend the money and do this’ are the ones that are successful and the ones that aren’t doing those things are going out of business wondering why they have no business happening”.
Fine also says that during a recession, it is very important to still spend the money to build a website if your business does not have one. “It may be difficult to part with that thousand or so dollars to build the site, but if it gets you more business and gets your name out there, it’s worth it”.
Profitworks did a report that stated 93% of business purchase decisions start with a search engine search. “In today’s world the place where most people in most markets go is to the internet, specifically a search engine like Google, Yahoo, Bing. These search engines are the big three (in that order) and account for over 90% of all searches. Google is by far the biggest with about 6 of every 10 searches. To learn more about the market share each search engine has go to ComScore. With 93% of business decisions starting with a search engine search that means if you don’t have a website, you are only selling to 7% of your market. That is right, you are reducing the potential size of your business by 93%. I would suggest that the same statistic for consumer purchases is lower but still very high, especially for larger ticket items. The larger the item, the more research and shopping people will do. My guess is probably 40-50% of consumer purchases start with an online search”.
It’s also felt that not having a website can make potential customers not take your business seriously. The Profitworks report went on to say, “If in today’s age you don’t have a website there is a good portion of the market that will not even consider you as an option when they are looking to buy. I know personally if I am dealing with a supplier I am looking to purchase from and they don’t even have a website I pretty much write them off as an option to buy from and my view of that company is diminished to that it is a company that is very poorly managed. With this viewpoint why would I want to purchase from a company like this? Based on my experience most people think similar to myself. There are some people that do not hold this same thought but I would guess that probably 80% of people have bad opinions of companies that don’t have websites”.
Executive Edge owner, Allan Fine, went on to say that the key components to a well done website are, “When you want to find a trustworthy business, you’ll pick the one that has a website. It speaks to their credibility. A poorly done website is worse than not having one. If it looks like it’s from 1980 and there’s rainbow colours everywhere…then there’s twenty five businesses with great websites…who do you pick? It doesn’t have to be super expensive either”.
Fine says that for a couple thousand dollars, great websites get built every day. “When you’ve already shelled out money to start and build the business, marketing, location, etc.….what’s a couple thousand more to build a website. It doesn’t have to be this super expensive, $20k or more website, just something that speaks to people when they look at it and makes them want to do business with you”.