The ability to
target online users by geography has improved, and it's a lot cheaper now.
Local advertisers can now be sure that only local eyeballs will see their ad.
The targeting capabilities and options are endless. It's also become more
affordable for small businesses.
For example, here's
an offer from one of the geotargeting companies.
For less than $10
per day, you can drive traffic to your website and build leads for your
campaign to local audiences or to our entire audience.
range from $304 per month to $2,535 per month.
range from 25,000 impressions per month to 200,000 impressions per
IT'S PRACTICALLY FREE
It's so cheap to
have a website now, why wouldn't you? You can get a domain name for $10, get a
build-it-yourself website (more about this later), and you're in business for
as little as $19.95 a month. Compare that to the outrageous prices
charged for yellow page ads, which can range in price from $1,000 to over $100,000
Combine this with
the fact that a growing percentage of the population is turning to the web for
information every day and you have a powerful marketing tool. And as I
mentioned earlier, there are tools available now that will allow you to build
your own website just by pointing and clicking. So you no longer
have to pay a web developer hundreds or thousands of dollars to get a
great looking website.
These aren't tacky
looking cookie-cutter websites -- they're very professional looking, and
actually look better than a lot of websites built by
"professionals." And as your business grows, your website can too --
add new pages, a message board, email marketing, ecommerce capability and
more. You can add any or all of these features quickly and easily...all at
the click of a mouse.
IT'S A GREAT COMMUNICATIONS TOOL
The Internet is the
ultimate communications tool - fast and cheap. You can use it to communicate
with suppliers, resellers, and of course, your customers. Some uses include:
coupons by email, reducing direct mail costs
feedback through email or feedback form on website -- it's quick and it's
easy, so you're more likely to get customers to participate
information or announcements
newsletters with useful information and special offers
brochure or catalog online, reducing printing costs
businesses, simply putting their catalog online has saved them thousands of
dollars a year in printing and mailing costs. Of course there will always
be people who want printed catalogs, and not every customer will have email.
But in terms of
cost, you simply cannot beat the economics. To follow up with 1,000
customers through direct mail will cost $340 or more just for the postage...but
with email it's virtually free. And being able to interact directly
with a customer on a regular basis is priceless.
TO MAKE CONNECTIONS
There are lots of
business people online, including people from your local community.
People from the same communities have a way of finding each other online...
and as always, it's not what you know, but who. Just as you
might pass out your card at a local chamber meeting, you can do the same thing
online with your signature file - and a lot more people will see it.
It's also a lot
more time-effective than face-to-face networking. Rather than driving
somewhere and sitting through another boring chicken dinner, you can get
online and meet prospects and colleagues at any time of the day or
And you can develop
a reputation very quickly online, adding to your credibility and opening even
more doors for yourself - all without setting foot outside the house.
TO SERVE YOUR LOCAL CUSTOMERS
A website can be a
worthwhile investment even if it's just an electronic version of the Yellow
Pages: street address, phone number, business hours, forms of payment
accepted, contact information.
happens if you move, or your area code changes, or your hours, or anything
else that's printed in the Yellow Pages? You know the answer to that one.
But a website is
dynamic -- information can be updated at any time, plus you're not limited to
2 or 3 lines worth of information. Plus there are so many ways to interact
with your customer, which is a lot more interesting for them and potentially
very valuable to you. Here are some very low-tech examples, very easily added
to your website:
Frequently Asked Questions or FAQ, is a popular term on the Internet. And
in real life, there are always questions you hear over and over
from your customers. These are the questions people have about doing
business with you, and you certainly want to make it as easy as possible.
Why not save everybody some time and post often asked questions - and
their answers - on your website?
Polls - Invite your customers to give their opinion about something of
interest. For example, a business that caters to parents who home school
their children posed the question: "Which question are YOU asked
the most about home schooling?" This question is relevant
to the target market and something they most likely have experienced. It
invites them to participate and along the way, give their opinion about
But most important to the business owner, it can be a source of incredibly
valuable information about the customer - and it's free. It
also makes your website more interesting (as long as the poll changes
Coupons - What better incentive for someone to visit your website than
to save money? Customers love getting a bargain, and the great
thing about coupons is the customer usually has to buy something to
get whatever goodies the coupon offers.
Your coupon will especially motivate the prospect that was already
thinking of doing business with you. If you're using a website building
tool, it can easily be added at the click of a mouse, and unlike a
yellow page coupon, you can change it anytime. These are a few simple
examples, and this list can easily be expanded: order status, press
releases, product information, a searchable product database. Again, the
possibilities are endless.
TO GET PUBLICITY
needs exposure, and one of the best kinds is media attention. If your business
is something new and different, send out a press release that
includes your URL -- you could get written up in the local paper. Even an
ordinary business can get media coverage if you can come up with the right
angle - perhaps a follow-up to a previous article? A human interest story?
The media is always
looking for interesting stories and if you're creative enough, maybe yours
could be one of them. And what better place for the public to get more
information than from your website?
Perhaps you could
sponsor a local event, or do some volunteer work. Your business will get the
credit, along with a mention of the website URL. The more places the public
can find information about your company, the better off you'll be. In our
increasingly wired society, having a website makes it easy for more people to
get information about your company. And they can get it more quickly and
BECAUSE YOUR CUSTOMERS ARE ONLINE
Did you know that
40-48 million adults went online last year looking for local content? The
average local user is college educated, makes good money, and likes shopping
online. They are more likely to make purchases than non-users of local
content, either online or offline.
market is every business owner's dream. As more local information becomes
available online, people are starting to look at the Internet as something
useful instead of a passing fad. Consumers are getting online in record
numbers, resulting in a critical mass of local users in top markets, and
spreading across communities of all sizes. Chances are a number of your
local prospects and customers are part of this desirable demographic - and
that number will only increase.
SO IS YOUR COMPETITION
percent (78%) of all U.S. small businesses are connected to the Internet, and
nearly 50% will continue to maintain active, purposeful Web sites this year.
Analysts at www.emarketer.com have predicted that 72% of small businesses will
engage in e-commerce by 2002, racking up an impressive $230 billion in total
Maybe you think
nobody in your industry is using the Internet. But I guarantee, whatever
your business, one of your competitors is successfully using the
Internet to promote their business...perhaps not locally yet, but it's just a
matter of time. If your competition is there, you should be too.