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As a local business owner, it easy to feel threatened by the Internet. What if all your customers start shopping on line, you might think?
A few years ago I was at a meeting with other local business owners, just before a wedding expo.
The florist was complaining about an article in the paper, talking about how to buy things like rose petals on the Internet.
After listening for a few minutes, I asked how many of these business owners had a website. Out of about 20 people, I was the only one online.
The Internet can be a great equalizer for the local business! Your customers are online. Will they find you?
Lets say you're a local dentist, for example. People that used to reach for the Yellow Pages are now looking on Google. And if they find your website, you'd have their undivided attention. You could tell them, through your own words, all about your clinic or office, what to expect, your specialties, maybe some testimonials from other satisfied visitors.
An insurance agent could provide quotes online or by email, automatically, 24 hours a day. People who don't have time to come into your office may send you a message late at night, you reply to it the next day, and you just made a new friend, and a sale.
Think it’s too good to be true?
I used to be a wedding photographer in Seattle. People would visit my website, view all my samples online, read my prices and packages. Then they'd email me to see if I was available for their wedding date, and maybe ask a couple questions. An hour later, the deposit was in my account. Next I would send them a list of information, and they would send it back when they had time. I'd send a list of tips and tricks to help them planning their wedding. Sometimes that worked so well, they forwarded it to their friends who were also planning a wedding. The friends would book with me too! Finally, when I'd go to the rehearsal, I'd have to ask, "Who is the Bride?”
We'd never met face to face.
Here's a quick break down of what is involved getting your business on the Internet: