This article was originally written and published in October 2010. It has been edited and made current.- M Schuett
Get to know the internet
I’m going to make a statement that will send shivers down the spine of long time business people. It’ll cause concern and disagreement and it will do so primarily because it will cause all business people to rethink and renew how they go about maintaining their business.Word of mouth advertising doesn’t work any more. At least it doesn’t work without a little help. But fortunately help is available.
Many longtime business owners have always relied on word of mouth advertising as their vehicle to drive home to them new clients. They worked hard to provide good service and a good product and relied on customers to tell others of how wonderful they were. Word of mouth advertising was the best marketing conversion tool they had.
For many or most of these businesses recent years have seen a drop in business. We’re in a national recession (or technically, WERE) so a drop in business can be expected, right? In the mind of the old-time business person all they need to do is hang on and keep providing good service and the economy will bounce back and things will be good as new. But as we emerge from this significant economic slow down anyone who relies only on word of mouth advertising is going to be disappointed to find out that their business may never bounce back to where it was and may eventually suffer enough lack of new business that the business as a whole will fail.
When a referral for a business service comes my way more often than not I’m given little more than a person or companies name and maybe a phone number or a location of business. In determining whether I use this referral my first step is to look them up…on the internet. If out and about my Galaxy Tab tablet computer gives me instant internet access and I punch in what info I have into a Google search
. If it can wait until I’m home (or if I’m there already) I do the same. I take the referral information I have and conduct a Google search for the business or service referred.
Now pretend with me for a moment what happens when that business or service cannot be seen or found in my Google search results.
1. Do I call that business anyway?
2. Do I conduct another search using keywords I think might bring the referred business to Google’s attention?
3. Or do I click on a link to another business who has caught my eye in the Google search results?
Option number 1 happens seldom. Option 2 occurs with more frequency. But when it does I’m often still left unsatisfied. Option 3, in which I begin the process of taking my business elsewhere happens more often than the others and with increasing frequency. This process is repeated by normal Americans everyday. And every day business with no internet presence lose that business to those who have an internet presence.
Word of mouth needs a hand because the process I just described is so easy for everyone. Google searches at home or at the office and now out and about on your smart phone or tablet allow all of us to quickly check on all referrals to determine their validity and whether we want to take the next step and call them.
Websites can be the answer to your lack of search engine results. Even a small and undistinguished website can be found by Google. But if you don’t have the time or money to develop or maintain a website, or if your site doesn’t come up first in a Google search the above stated scenario can be repeated.
Word of mouth advertising needs a hand.
Image via CrunchBase
When you open a YouTube account for a company profile video, or a Facebook Fan Page, or a Blog on WordPress or similar site, or you Post a profile page on LinkedIn.com
Image via CrunchBase
you can spend zero dollars and only a small amount of time. But the results are instantaneous and the problem of having zero internet presence is solved immediately.
Besides the business and social media sites mentioned above, there are an ever increasing number of directories on the internet that may already have some information on your business. But a lot of that information may be wrong and may be minuscule. Sites like Citysearch, Manta, Merchant Circle and others are out their with your information; but unless you claim them and expand on that information they are not likely to appear high in a Google search result. Claim them, and even if you have little else on the internet you can at least count on being found on a first page Google search when someone types in your specific name.
So here is what you do to help your word of mouth advertising. Get a presence on the internet. Start by conducting a Google search for yourself or your business or both. Visit every link in which your information appears; and don’t stop on the first or even the second page. Claim the pages you find with your basic business information. Usually its little more than a name an address and a phone number. Claim it by clicking on the link on the page that reads “Business Owner?” or “Is this your business?” or something similar. Then follow the steps to fill in the information it asks. If it allows you to upload photos, then upload photos. If it allows you to upload video…you’ve struck GOLD. Upload a video. No video? Get one.
Fill out all the information completely and thoroughly. Then move on to the next search result, and repeat the process.
Lastly, if typing your name and business produces nothing on a first or even second page Google search result. Do nothing else until you have opened a Fan Page on Facebook, a Google email account and business profile, and a free LinkedIn and Biznik account.
Now you’ve done THE MINIMUM. Now you’ve given word of mouth a fighting chance.
Thanks for visiting. Comments are welcome.