How do you find stuff nowadays?
Whether you’re looking for where to buy the best digital camera for under $500, or the best toaster for under $50, where do you look? I’m guessing that, if you’re like me, you’re searching online.
According to Nielsen Media, 82% of consumers and small businesses use internet search engines to find out about local companies. Hardly surprising, in today’s digitally-connected world.
How Can They Find You If You Don’t Have A Website?
But the research goes on to say that a mere 44% of small businesses have a website. Most of the companies surveyed directed less than 10% of their marketing budget towards online activities – search engines, optimization, blogs, email marketing and the like.
Based upon the types of small business marketing inquiries we receive, there seems to be a endemic feeling that certain businesses don’t need a website. Just this morning, I had a conversation with a small business owner who was reliant on her business Facebook page as the only online property for customer interaction.
I asked her why she didn’t feel it necessary for the business to have its own website. She explained that since all her customers were on Facebook, it made more sense to have a Facebook presence than a web presence.
Without going down the road of inquiring why she thought one thing cancelled-out the other, I asked her what would happen if Facebook changed their minds? Supposing Facebook started charging every time someone viewed your business page, or mandated that businesses spend a minimum amount on Facebook ads in order to have a page at all, for example?
The answer was, predictably, silence.
A Multi-Platform Online Presence Is Essential
Putting on your eggs in anyone’s basket is a dangerous thing. Putting the future of your business in the hands of Facebook is tantamount to commercial suicide. Whether it’s failing to block fake ads designed to manipulate opinion, or just changing the way users see branded content, Facebook’s already shown its colors on more than one occasion.
But I’m not singling-out Facebook. The very fact that this small business owner has decided her entire target audience is on Facebook just shows how poor her marketing strategy is.
I don’t care what you’re selling, your customers are not all in one place.
Moreover, the vast majority of customers don’t search for businesses on Facebook. Sure, searching on Google may bring up your Facebook business page. But when customers don’t find a website for your business they’re going to be disappointed at best. At worst, they going to think your business is too cheap to spring for a website.
Stop thinking of a website as being simply a place where you can talk about your business, product, or service. The purpose of a site is far more than that.
Before people will buy from you, they need to trust you. A well-designed, well-structured website will help you build credibility for the business. There doesn’t need to be much on the site, you don’t need to spend much. You can even push site visitors to your Facebook page if that’s what you really want.
You Need To Be Where Customers Expect To Find You
The point of a website is as much to give the business another online customer touchpoint, as anything else. Whether you deem all your customers are coming from Facebook or not is irrelevant (and wrong, I bet you). Customers expect a business to have its own site. If that’s what they’re expecting, that’s what you should be providing.
If your buying habits have changed, it’s an odds-on bet that your customers’ habits have changed too. Yet your company has little-to-no online visibility and you’re doing nothing to change it.
It’s no wonder you feel your business is losing out to the competition. Because it probably is.