As a small-town business owner, you think everyone in your area knows your name, and that’s likely true. But what happens when new families arrive and out of towners come to vacation, visit family or attend an event and they don’t know where to go shopping or get services?
Nearly one-third of small businesses still do not have a website. Let’s take a look at three of these businesses, all located in the tiny community of Anytown, USA.
Bill’s Auto Repair
In business for over 20 years, Bill’s Auto Repair has been the go-to place locals depend on for vehicle maintenance. Bill places an occasional print ad in the Anytown Advocate newspaper, but mainly depends on word-of-mouth for new business. “We’re busy enough, so why do anything else?” says Bill.
Recently, he noticed his service bays are no longer full each day and the repair shop up the street that can’t match Bill’s service seems to pick up more customers – many with out-of-state license plates. Bill wonders if the business downturn is temporary or a reason to be concerned.
Katie’s Flower Shop
Everyone in town knows Katie. Her floral store carries the freshest flowers, all grown locally. She creates unique flower arrangements and is known for attention to detail that’s second to none. Katie buys a radio spot or two before Valentine’s Day but does little other marketing or promotion. “I just don’t have time to think about that,” she says.
In the past, her phone never stopped ringing and her three delivery vans were always moving. But things have changed. Her sales numbers are down and while she hasn’t seen her local competitors advertising more than usual, she wonders what they are doing to gain a competitive edge.
The gourmet burgers. The legendary fried chicken. The secret-recipe sweet potato pie. No one does a home-cooked meal like Abby and that’s why her small restaurant in the town square has been packed every day for years. She advertises on the local TV and radio stations, mainly to show support for the local community and her restaurant has followers on Facebook.
Abby personally greets her customers and knows almost everyone that visits her cafe. But the restaurant industry is highly competitive and she’s ready to explore new ways to attract more customers.
What do all of these small-town businesses have in common? None of them have a website or an online strategy. Let’s review how online marketing makes a positive difference.
Even if your business is well-known in your local market, a website is necessary for serving current customers, attracting new ones and keeping your company top of mind. Bill, Katie and Abby will all benefit from a good website that offers:
A virtual handshake with customers.
Nearly 80 percent of people research a company online before visiting a business or making a purchase online. Your website is often the first impression customers have about your business. It adds to your business’s credibility and solidifies you as the local leader. It quickly tells online visitors who you are, what you do and where you are located. You can update online visitors about sales and new products or services. A website also makes it easy for customers to contact you when you prominently feature your address, phone number and email address.
An effective way to attract more customers.
Over 200 million customers use their smartphones to search for local businesses. Remember the out-of-town cars Bill saw at the competitor’s shop? Those customers couldn’t find Bill because he didn’t have a website. Here’s how it works: SEO keywords help your business to appear in online directories like Google, Yelp and Bing. So when out of towners are searching for help on their smartphone, they’ll find your business first.
A showcase for your products and services.
Even when you have a brick and mortar location, your website lets customers browse your store before they visit or contact you. This is perfect for Abby who can quickly and easily update her site with the latest lunch specials and dinner discounts. It gives new customers a reason to try the restaurant and existing customers reminders to keep coming back. Think of your website as a natural extension of your store location.
An online store for customers.
When you have a website with eCommerce options, customers can buy your products online. This is a great solution for Katie to sell her shop’s fresh selection of flowers. Locals can place orders without leaving their homes and out-of-towners can contact her from anywhere in the world and purchase arrangements for local delivery. This also means that Katie’s store never really closes – she can make money even while she sleeps.
A vehicle for building brand awareness.
As the hub of your business and brand, your website connects all of your marketing efforts. Running ads in the local newspaper? Be sure to include your website address. Active on Facebook and social media? Link your business posts to your website. Look at it this way: a website solidifies your brand, complements all of your current marketing efforts and gives you new and exciting ways to promote your business online.
No matter how established your business is in your local market, a website keeps your brand relevant and competitive. Whether you need a new website or want to enhance an existing one, Web.com makes it easy. From a do it yourself website builder to custom website design services where we build your website from start to finish, we have everything you need. We also offer social media and eCommerce resources.
After working with over 3 million small businesses like yours, we’ll do more than help you start a website – we’ll help you build your business.
Products mentioned in this blog post include: