They’re all small business owners.
When I spoke with them about their business, they all had one common question: “Why is having a website such a big deal?”
Most people asking this question smile and nod when you tell them they really need a website, but most of them are thinking, “This person is trying to sell me something I don’t need. I’ve been doing fine for the past 10 years. Now this whippersnapper comes along and thinks his little internet thing is the next big revolution? I don’t need that. Never have, never will. Been doing fine without it.”
Well, they’re right, to a certain extent. The people I’ve spoken to have managed to be successful in their business. Many of them started with nothing 10 years ago and they’re still around running their business today.
And frankly, we ‘net-savvy people do talk about the virtual world and technology like we really can’t imagine how those businesspeople ever managed without it.
But these people really do need the internet. Should you ever be in a situation where you’re trying to explain to someone why getting online is a really, really good idea, tell that person this:
People Don’t Use the Yellow Pages Anymore
When was the last time you hauled the business directory off the shelf and looked up a business when you needed one? I’m betting it’s been a long time. The last time I needed a plumber, I looked one up online. The last time I needed the phone number, I looked online. The last time I went to a restaurant, I checked online for a menu before calling to make reservations.
If you’re not online, people won’t be able to find you – period. The majority of searches for new businesses, especially local businesses, take place online. The best damn plumber in the world might live in my town and be working in the building right next to mine (which, as a matter of fact, he does), but unless I knew him personally, I wouldn’t know it. He doesn’t have a website. And he doesn’t show up on Google Maps.
People Have Become Lazier
We’re the instantaneous generation. We want to know what we’re getting before we go to the trouble of getting in the car and driving five miles to find out. We want to see a website that shows us pictures. We want to hear about what we’re in for and be able to find reviews. We want to learn more about the people we’re going to hire services from.
We don’t want to have to call to ask. We certainly don’t want to drive out there and risk being disappointed. Going all the way to the home renovation warehouse the next town over only then to find it’s a complete pigsty and that the selection is really lousy?
No sir. An internet search is free and requires no effort. We make choices where to buy, what to buy and who to buy from before we even leave the house.
People Believe No Website = No Credibility
A few people I know are very good businesspeople. They’re awesome to work with. They have good stuff in their store. They get along without a website just fine. There’s certainly no reason to assume that a business isn’t good just because it doesn’t have a website (unless the person is advertising some sort of web-related service, in which case it’s a warning flag).
But think about an online dating site for a minute. You must have heard that people with pictures on their dating profile are 90% more likely to be contacted for a date. Not having a picture doesn’t mean that person is ugly. But it could. And we’d rather choose a person with a presentable photo versus someone who might be a better match.
The same goes for business. Not having a website doesn’t mean that you don’t have a professional business. But that’s the assumption most people make.
Think about it: You’re looking for a therapist. One friend refers you to someone who only has an email address, a generic address like firstname.lastname@example.org. Would you search online for Anne Potter before writing her an email? And if you didn’t find her, would you do a few searches for other therapists before contacting Anne?
Most people would.
Small businesses need a website, even if they’re never going to use their website for blogging or selling or anything of the kind. These three reasons aren’t an exhaustive list, either. They’re just the beginning as to why getting online is a must.
Can you think of other reasons?