Does the old adage of location, location, location still hold true for storefront businesses today? Or do these businesses need to add to their physical location with a professional online presence. I can answer that in one word, yes. I’m still a believer that a great location can make or break a business, I also believe that a great online presence won’t overcome a bad location, but I strongly believe that having a strong online presence will give any location a boost and in most cases give you a competitive advantage over your competition. I’m not suggesting you have to have a knock your socks-off online store or even offer online shopping but rather have a professional website that communicates what you sell, the brands you sell, your hours, how to contact you, what makes your business unique, and the experience someone can expect while shopping in your business. If you are a restaurant or tavern, your hours, your menu, how to contact you, the experience someone would have if they would patronize your establishment, how many beers you have on tap, and so forth.
I live in a small resort community where we have several really nice retail shops that sell everything from mountain gear to outdoor apparel to guitars. We have great restaurants and taverns too. Some of these businesses have a professional website that meets the requirements listed above, but others have nothing or if anything, a facebook site. Some of these businesses are sponsors of my Red Lodge Songwriter Festival. When I go to link their logo posted on our website there is nothing to link to except the occasional facebook page. What a missed opportunity.
Many tourists research their destinations prior to going where they’re going, and become familiar with where they’ll visit long before they ever leave home. They become familiar with places to eat, where to drink, where to buy new gear, or buy the latest Red Lodge sweatshirt. Creating awareness of your brand will increase the chance they will visit and buy from you first.
Having a URL for your business and a website allows you to be found on the web. It also allows you to connect to other websites and vice-a-versa. Connecting to event sites you sponsor, the websites of the brands you offer, the chamber of commerce site, and others will increase your SEO and the opportunity for people to find you. As an example, someone may be traveling through or staying in Red Lodge and in need of a new raincoat. They might search on their cell phone, “raincoat patagonia red lodge”, that business or businesses that have a good website with the name of the brands they carry and the type of products they offer will come up in the buyers search. If you sell patagonia raincoats you will come up towards the top. It’s not hard to guess where they’re going to buy.
A professional website does not need to be a capital or labor intensive investment. There are a host of do it yourself platforms that enable you to create a very professional websites for a few hundred dollars and a few hours of your time. You will need photos of your business, preferably taken by a professional photographer, but yes your iphone is better than nothing at all, and possibly some stock photography, which if your town is similar to Red Lodge our local Chamber has hundreds of photos to choose from. Here is a list of several web services that are inexpensive and have lots of do it yourself templates to choose from.
- Many, many more.
I use GoDaddy for hosting my sites and WordPress as my web platform. WordPress allows me to control my content and has lots of options to add commerce, video, photography, blogging and other features should you decide to invest the time.
It takes a consistent effort to keep up with your website but not necessarily a lot of time and it will be one of the best return on investment you can make. If you don’t know where to start or would like a FREE one hour web site consultation or review of your online presence please give me call. www.bearttohbiz.com. 406-690-5988, firstname.lastname@example.org