97% of consumers search online for local businesses (source: Google). This is a stunning statistic and demonstrates clearly how people nowadays look for information and seeks solutions to problems online.
The days of the phone book and Yellow Pages or Golden Pages being the first port of call for consumers looking for contact details for local or national businesses are well and truly over.
Perhaps the phone book will endure, perhaps not.
But if you fast forward ten, fifteen, twenty years you will have increasing numbers of people heading into middle age and beyond who know of nothing else but “Googling” for information, sharing photos and major events in their lives on Facebook, commenting on the latest news and controversy on Twitter and perhaps searching for a job on LinkedIn.
Gavin O’Reilly was ousted from Independent Newspapers this week and one of the principal criticisms (leaving aside the personal animus between personalities) was that he really didn’t have a sufficiently well thought out strategy for “online”.
“Something is happening here but you don’t know what it is, do you Mr. Jones?” (Bob Dylan, Ballad of a Thin Man, Highway 61 Revisited)
Rupert Murdoch is attempting to put the genie back into the bottle by introducing more paid for access to the content on his newspapers. Whether he is successful or not remains to be seen but my money is on this strategy being a massive mistake.
Regardless of whether you consider this inexorable sea change as a good or bad thing, if you are a small business owner you should be concerned with only one thing-getting your business, your offer in front of as many interested eye balls as possible.
Consider this: when the 97% of consumers who search online for local businesses are searching where do you think they look?
Where would you look?
The Google search engine? (My money is on this one)
The New Paradigm
All of the above indicates a new paradigm in how people obtain information, how they find “stuff”.
It would be a mistake though to think that selling your business, your products and services requires a complete departure from a fundamental principle of doing business since God was a boy.
Doing Business Online
The key to doing business online is to get your stuff in front of interested eyeballs. In the same way that footfall is the key to retailing in the “real world”, traffic/visitors are the online equivalent of footfall.
It is a different venue but the principle is the same. If you get your offer in front of enough interested visitors you will do business.
The corollary is also true though..
Without traffic to your website it is a useless adornment to your business.
Think electronic tumbleweed blowing across your site.
And a waste of electrons.
And they are free.
Cherchez La Femme
Alexandre Dumas coined the phrase “cherchez la femme”. It means look for the woman implying that in every case of inexplicable or irrational behaviour by man a woman was the root cause.
Other pulp fiction novels will tell you to “follow the money” implying that if you find who is to gain most by the crime committed then you have found your culprit.
Keep this at the forefront of your mind when you are deciding on how best your small business can benefit from internet marketing and getting your business in front of the 97% of consumers who search online for local businesses.