Are There any Businesses Left Without an Online Presence?
In this day and age we imagine that all businesses, from a large multinational company to a one-person dog walking service, have a website, a Facebook page and a Google Places presence as a bare minimum. The internet is the first place consumers research a company because we assume that all the information we want is there. The number of people using the paper Yellow Pages, or local noticeboards is negligible, and although word of mouth works very well for some types of businesses, it is not the answer for everyone.
I recently found an example of a successful retail business that has virtually no online presence. Searching for the business online brings up a Google My Business result and listings in local directory websites, but nothing meaningful. As there seems to be no management of the Google Places listing there are no opening hours listed, and unless I were to make a phone call I would have no idea whether they were open, what sort of thing they stock or even whether they were still trading.
I decided to look into this further, and having spoken to many people locally about the business it seemed like nearly everyone had heard of it and shopped there at least a few times in the past year. On visiting the business I was surprised to see how busy it was, and how many people commented on the quality of the produce in the time I was there. It is undeniably a popular and successful business, but with no web presence it it slightly confusing how they remain so popular.
Word of mouth and customer loyalty seem to be the main drivers for trade. Many people commented that they had been recommended by a friend or neighbour, and most of those people also said that they would be back after completing their transaction. Additionally, several people mentioned that they had travelled many miles to return to the shop, even passing several other businesses of the same type on their way. The business owner spoke to me about their lack of online presence, citing a lack of time as one reason why they do not invest in online marketing, however the main reason was a lack of understanding about the internet and a wariness about what exactly online marketing entails.
This example is certainly anomalous in the modern world. The business has been trading for decades and has a reputation that spreads far beyond the local area, and so the owner's reluctance to enter the online world is understandable to a point. The fear of the unknown – price, time, how much involvement is needed from the (busy) business owner – are all factors driving the reluctance to enter the online world. That is what marketing agencies are for!
One very useful aspect of online marketing, especially social, that would help this particular business is the ability to communicate with customers regarding special products that week, any changes in seasonal opening hours and the restocking of products that have been unavailable for some time. Customers could also place orders via a website or Facebook page and all these facilities would cut the number of phone calls to the shop and repeat questions, which all take time to answer.
I suspect the business owner holds a view that “if it's not broken, don't fix it”, and this is common among successful small business owners that can carry on without much pro-active marketing. The important thing to remember though, is that although the business marketing model may not be broken, we are not trying to fix it, just improve the existing activities and bring it up to date for the future generations. If your thoughts resonate with the business owner in this example then please get in touch with us to find out how we can make online marketing simple and successful for you.
Tel: 01242 697 692