There is no such thing as an un-viable business these days. The Internet doesn’t change the fact that we’re human beings and still need people to fix our appliances when they break down or need to hire a chimney sweep so Santa can bring us presents in December. It does, however, change how people find our businesses. That’s the difference.
If you’re in an offline business and complain at all about how the Internet is killing your business, you’re doing it wrong. Here are 3 ways you can right this wrong:
1) Have a website
It’s 2012 for goodness sakes. There are kids in the world that don’t know any other means for research than by using the Internet. How do you expect them to find you? A stroll?
Please note: a Yellow Pages listing and/or ad is not enough. It’s great that if people look for you, you have lots of results leading to your business, but a website of your own is integral to your off and online existence.
If people search for your company and can’t find you. It’s over. That means they’ve already found someone else.
~ How to Get a Website, Like Right Now ~
1) Go to instantdomainsearch.com and pick a relevant, available domain name.
2 a) Sign up for cheap as heck web hosting service to get the job done.
2 b) Use a service like Tumblr so you don’t have to pay hosting fees.
2) Offer a phone number AND email address
Are you so rich that you don’t want customers contacting you? I didn’t think so. So there’s no if’s and’s or but’s on this one, let alone any excuse why you don’t have both an email address and phone number posted on your new-found website. Some people love the telephone, others hate it *points to self*. Some people love email, others prefer the phone. Get it?!?
If you just so happen to be a one-man/woman show, buy one phone line with an answering machine. All you have to do is record a fancy business message and BAM, your work is done. Heck, you don’t even have to answer it, you can just check your messages. How difficult is that, really?
3) Using Aol, gmail, yahoo and hotmail email addresses
This is one of my biggest pet peeves in the entire world, universe maybe. Why? Simply because it’s so easy to get a custom email address and it makes a huge difference; to 1) branding 2) perception 3) relevance.
Your email address should be relative to your business name. Why? Because any old shmo can sign up for any gmail, yahoo and hotmail addresses they want. If I wanted to be SearsCanada@gmail.com I could be. I’m obviously not related to the company Sears in any way, nor do I even venture in their stores, so what makes me an authority with an email address like that? It doesn’t.
If you don’t know how to get a personalized email address, here are a few solutions:
a) Google lets you do it for free (see the word trial, click on it)
b) Web hosting services usually provide one or two for free (GoDaddy for example)
c) Pay someone $5 to set it up for you via http://fiverr.com
d) Hire a professional geek to do it
e) Ask you kids or your friends kids
If your business is located in a developed country and you don’t have an online presence, you will fail unless you move online too.
If all that wasn’t motivating enough for you..