Sunday, February 15, 2009

Local Biz Has Two Minds About the Web

Small Business Not Keeping Up With Online Presence
by Jack Loechner, Friday, February 13, 2009, 8:15 AM


According to research from Webvisible and Nielsen, reported by Marketing Charts, though 63% of consumers and small business owners turn to the internet first for information about local companies and 82% use search engines to do so, only 44% of small businesses have a website and half spend less than 10% of their marketing budget online.

The study uncovers a significant disconnect between the way small business owners act as consumers vs. the way they market their businesses online.

92% of searchers say they are happy with the results they get when using search engines.

Webvisible found that online search and e-mail newsletters are the only forms of traditional media that are growing among consumers who wish to locate local products or services. Compared with two years ago, respondents report they use search engines and email newsletters more, while they use newspapers, magazines, direct mail and radio less:

Consumer Use Of Media Compared to Two Years Ago (% of Respondents)
Media Use More Use Less
Search engines



E-Mail newsletters



Yellow page directories



Local newspaper






Direct mail






Source: WebVisible and NielsenOnline survey November 2008, February 2009

Though less than half of small businesses do have a website, the ones that do are not happy overall with their online marketing. Among those small businesses that have a website:

  • 51% believe both the quality and ability of their site to acquire new customers is only "fair" or "poor"
  • 99% of small business owners are directly involved in the marketing
  • 65% believe it is very important to know where their customers come from
  • Only 9% are satisfied with their online marketing efforts
  • Only 7% of small business owners say their primary marketing goal is to get more visitors to their website

My Take

This is more than a disconnect - it is schizophrenic.

Ninety-nine percent of business owners run their own marketing. They overwhelmingly turn to the Web first when they need to locate a local business. Yet 56% do not have a Web site for their business. Doesn't this seem crazy?

While this is illogical, it is easy to understand. Local business people are busy all day long running their business. And they're putting in long hours doing so. Most don't have time for chamber of commerce meetings or networking groups, never mind updating their Web site or blogging.

Their problem is the Web isn't yet an easy to use marketing weapon. It's a "nice-to-have", but not yet a "gotta-have". Plus, 93% of their competitors who have sites aren't getting the results they could be because they're employing them as Web 1.0 brochure-ware - not strategic marketing tools.

Plus, these businesses are getting word-of-mouth referrals from their satisfied customers, neighbors and friends. They do not see a sufficient incremental return on their investment in time and money needed to design, build and manage another ad channel.

This is where's patent-pending process is crucial - it provides local businesses with all of the benefits of a Web page with none of the hassles. Plus, it allows them to connect with their best source of leads - their real, live network of customers and friends.

In time, the Web will be the leading tool local businesses use to gain new customers. It will be more friendly, more intuitive and more social. As I posted in "Social Media - Getting Local and Getting Real" it will support real, local relationships and provide real, social revenues.

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