Local Search Optimization

More Than A Website

Steve Wolgemuth | Mar 30, 2013

We sent invitations for our March Internet Marketing conference to several area businesses and were delighted at the large percentage of encouraging responses, even from those who couldn’t attend. But one business’s response in particular wasn’t so positive and it caught my attention. Here’s what it said:

“As food for your thought, my mindset on advertising is: 1) direct calls and visits, and 2) word of mouth.

I like having a website, but incurring costs to ‘do it better’ seem like a waste. Or at least a waste until I’d have time to devote to it, either myself or a staff. And my business, in my view, would need to be bigger to support that overhead cost. So before coming to an event like this, I’d need to either have a bigger business, or see value to it in the midst of my current situation.”

Frankly, he’s right, and I appreciated that he took the time to be honest and to outline his thoughts. If you look at his current month’s time management and this fiscal quarter’s cash-flow, he’s doing the right thing. But doing the right thing for this quarter isn’t necessarily the right move for two years out. As a football player, you have to throw the ball to where the receiver is running.  Today, he may need to look at how consumers are changing and make appropriate budget sacrifices for the sake of future benefits.

I suspect there are other businesses that secretly share a similar sentiment, and it is stopping them from making an appropriate financial and/or time investment in digital marketing. “Nothing is broken, why do any more than just have a website?”

I responded by saying that the world is changing and if he’s interested in being a future success, he might want to think about that. Specifically I advised him that the people he calls directly, visits, and gets from word of mouth from are also checking him out online in increasing numbers, with increasing expectations, and on other platforms (besides his website). The world is changing really quickly and I know it is hard to imagine. In a few years from now (when it will seem like the time to make some changes to accommodate the new marketing paradigm shift) he”ll probably be frustrated that he can’t afford to deal with challenge from competitors who have essentially made him disappear online, those few difficult customers who have left bad reviews, and the majority who have “mobile” expectations for finding and calling his business.

We need to throw the ball to where your target audience is running. That means participating in a strategy to get and to manage positive business reviews. It means thinking about your user experiences on multiple screen sizes (including smart phones), and the many ways customers need to encounter your brand online. It means keeping a broad and ongoing focus on how and where your potential customers would find you online. Smart Internet marketing is no longer just about having a website, it is about building a plan to intersect with a fast changing consumer culture.