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An Open Invitation to All Small Business Owners (can your customers find you online?)

Recently I conducted a telephone survey of 200 local business owners in and around Seattle, WA. I compiled a list of electricians and then Googled them to see if they had any ranking in OneBox. For example: “Electrician Kirkland, WA” and if they weren’t listed I called them. Now I wasn’t trying to sell them anything I just wanted to ask their opinions about online marketing.

After I worked past the initial, “No I’m not interested in what you’re selling” surprisingly they were very willing to speak with me. Of course they all said they knew it was important to be on the internet but what was very clear was (1) they did not fully comprehend how exactly important it is and (2) they didn’t have a clue as to how to start.

Before I go on I will be honest with you, there were a few of them that told me they didn’t like the web, they didn’t want to be on the web and that their business was strictly word-of-mouth. Oh and then they would say, “Yeah we’ve got more business than we can handle.”

Wow. Really? Have you been watching the news, do you understand what recession means?

Please keep in mind, this was the actual owner of the business telling me this. I can understand an $8 an hour employee complaining of too much work but the owner? What business doesn’t want more customers, more sales? Isn’t that why we own our own businesses? I know expansion is costly, time consuming and frustrating but once you get through it; you’re set!

Ok, let’s get back to the owners that proved to be more interested in successfully growing their companies. As I mentioned earlier the two aspects they didn’t fully grasp were the scope of the internet and how to utilize this resource. When I explained that Yahoo recently announced 100 Million local searches (on their site alone) were conducted each month for businesses and services, they took note. When I explained that local online search now exceeds the Yellow Pages (55% to 45%) they really took note. But the moment anything regarding the Yellow Pages came up, so did the issue of money. Almost every single owner would cut me off and say things like, “Yeah I’m spending $400 a month with the Yellow Pages and I’m not getting anything” or “I just spent $2,000 with the Yellow Pages.” My only response to them was, “Yes, you’re paying all that money and I still couldn’t find you when I searched for Electrician Kirkland, WA.” That is my point. Do you earlier this year my father’s small law firm paid $1,000 just to have meta tags added to his website? It’s highway robbery out there and since the small business owners just don’t know any better they end up paying for it. And if they’re willing to pay there’s someone out there that’s willing to charge them.

Once I explained to these hard working men and women (yes there are female electricians guys) that having your own web site and being listed on the first page of Google OneBox can be achieved for as little as $100 a month there was always a pause. I’m not sure if they just didn’t believe me or if a little piece of them died inside thinking of how much money they’ve basically been scammed out of. But bottom line, every single one of them wanted to learn more.

Well as of last Friday they all now have that information and I’m wondering what the response is going to be. They had the weekend to review it and I’ll bet the emails and calls are going to start bright and early Monday morning. If you would like to take a look at what I sent them please feel free and I’ll be sure to update you with the results next Friday, December 19th.

Christian R