Small businesses must increase their online presence. Some do but some, unfortunately, don’t! Businesses, for which having a strong online presence isn’t important, always find an excuse : no time, no money, no privacy or don’t believe in online marketing. In 2011, there is no excuse to not have a decent online marketing presence. Website, social medias, SEO, Blogs, Pay-per-Click, etc. are important tools and it’s necessary for companies to do it and to do it correctly. Businesses could increase their sales by learning more about online buying process, customers buying trends and marketing.
Recently, I experienced a very strong distortion between my online buying process and the quality I received from the chosen company. Sports are part of my daily life and I always try to reach new limits. A few years ago, I decided that kite surfing will be my new activity. As it’s quite a new, dangerous and expensive sport, taking a class is necessary. There are not many kite schools in Canada and customers’ appreciation of a class depends on the teacher, weather, equipment, and students’ progression. Learning the sport isn’t cheap: 250-300$/ 3 hours class and it takes many classes before being confident and able to kite surf without any help.
I had a teacher in Quebec City that I liked; I found a new teacher when I moved in Alberta and I was confident to be able to learn with him as fast as I did back home. The teacher I chose, let’s call him Bob, had an updated website with lots of information about the sport, plus an e-commerce section. Bob’s company is on Facebook and has more than 270 “Fans”. Bob updates his Twitter feeds every week to inform the kitesurf community about weather conditions and the best spot to ride based on the weather. On kitesurf blogs, Bob’s name always shows up as being a reference for kitesurfers in the area. Based on the online evaluation I made, I thought Bob would be the best teacher for me.
Last summer, I took my first class with Bob and I had the worst kite surfing experience ever! It was so bad, that I wasn’t sure that I really wanted to continue learning the sport.
The other day, I looked for other schools’ website (same websites I found a year ago). I browsed the website of a company that is really not up-to-date and the company isn’t on Facebook or Twitter. I had very little information about the teacher, his background, the equipment utilized during classes. Even if I had no information and I wasn’t expecting much, I decided to write an email just to know if the company still exists (most people won’t even go that far). I was amazed because an hour after I sent my email, I got a very positive and friendly email letting me knows that I could have a class this coming Spring. I jumped in and finally, the teacher gave me an enjoyable and safe class.
Of course, my first recommendation to him will be to improve his website, and to be present on Facebook and Twitter in order to have more clients. His presence on the Internet does not reflect the passion and attention he has in delivering a quality service. The first impression he makes online is just not good enough.
Please, owners of small businesses, if you are passionate and confident about the service/product you offer, show it online, it will be rewarding. It will help you a lot to compete against second class competitors who are having it too easy right now because they understood the power of the Internet before you did.