Lately I have really been motivated to help people get over their fears and misconceptions about internet marketing. In my work over the last few years I have come to see a general fear or lack of knowledge when it comes to the REAL VALUE of Internet Marketing for a small to medium sized business. Fortunately, I have been able to talk with a lot of great business owners over the last two years and now I feel like I am fully prepared to ease your mind about some of the misconceptions you may have about internet marketing. Over the next few weeks I will be picking a particular topic and shining some light on it. These articles are not meant for the SEO gurus or the webmasters of the world. They are meant for the woman with the antique shop or the guy with the used car dealership. I really think these next few articles will help those people and get them on the right path to their Internet Marketing journey.
“I get business by word of mouth. I don’t have money to spend on EXTRA stuff like a website.” – Misconception #1
This is where I choose to start because I find this one the funniest as well as the most contradictory. For the most part, the people I talk to know the value of having a website. I really ran into this misconception when I was cold calling business owners without really knowing if they were in the market or not. If you happen to be one of these people, LISTEN UP because this may be the most important article you ever read.
Word of mouth has evolved over the last 10 years. The idea of a marketing plan simply based on word of mouth is a good one. I mean, it’s free and if it works well you know it is because you are doing a good job servicing people. Who wouldn’t want free marketing based on performance? Now, I am not here preaching that word of mouth is dead. It is NOT dead by any means, but it has evolved into something much more complex and only when you realize that, will you be able to take advantage.
The dinosaur version of word of mouth goes something like this: I tell my friend Molly about the pizza place on Colorado Ave. She goes to the pizza place and has a great meal. In turn, Molly tells 3 friends about her positive experience. They go on to do the same and the cycle HOPEFULLY continues. Soon enough you have a great reputation and everyone in the city knows about your awesome pizza. Wouldn’t it be nice if that was still the case? It’s not and if you are getting business this way, then you are sorely mistaken. Word of mouth is now on STEROIDS. Due to the growth of the internet and social media, word of mouth has evolved into a different monster. Now when I tell Molly about the pizza place, she goes to her computer first and looks you up on Google. Hmmm, no website huh? Well maybe Molly will give them one more chance… do they have a Google Places page or Yelp reviews? No… Pizza Hut sounds good. Your word of mouth just slammed into a wall and unless you have some content online, there is no way up or around it. That branch of has broken and you are doing to have to start from square 1 with a new set of people. You may be thinking “Well if my friend told me about a place I would trust them”…You are trusting them! You wouldn’t bother searching the place at all if you didn’t trust your friend, but why would you just go off what your friend says when you can find out yourself in seconds. Most people are “show me” people and they trust what their own eyes see. So, your friend tells you about a place and you simply slap out the cell phone to do a quick search. A good business will have information right there and that “word of mouth” is now VALIDATED by something everyone has access too.
Still don’t see it?
Ask yourself, how many people do you know that don’t have a computer or a mobile device? Of the people who have those, how many have both a mobile device and a computer? Very few of you will be able to name 1 or 2 people that don’t have these devices. Take into account that there are 6 billion people living on this planet right now and you can get a good Idea of the scale that the internet can reach. Another interesting number is 34,000. This being the number of search quarries Google gets per second. People search information, information is normally contained within a …website. We live in age where we have been groomed to feel like we can find anything we want online. Suck rebuilding that engine? Nope just search for it on YouTube instead of stewing over the problem for 3 hours. Having your own website only increases your chances of being the answer to a search. Having anything up there that tells people who you are and what you do is a step in the right direction. There is something there that will answer that “searcher’s” question. It only makes sense that a person is more likely to get the customer by being visible to them when they are looking for your specific services. You can’t do that without a website.
With all this new knowledge can you still say that a website is an EXTRA? Can you still compare it to the 60 inch Flat Screen you got instead of the 50″ because you won some extra money in a poker game? A website is not an extra. If everyone has the internet then every business should have a website. Why would you spend a few grand monthly to rent a building that can be seen from the street by maybe 1000 cars a day when you can spend a grand or two on a website that is accessible to over 6 billion people? Keep in mind that those 1000 cars on the street aren’t necessarily searching for anything, but I can tell you that 34,000 people per second are sitting at their desk searching for something, so why can’t your business be the result?