So the earth did not rumble with the enormity of the announcement that there is yet another internet/website building firm in York Region. Why did we create a company that seems to have plenty of competitors in place already?
A couple of reasons. The first - in a recent comscore study on local business search trends - 70 per cent of consumers go online first for local business information. In exploring the merits of Newmarket and area's nearly 9,000 businesses just over half of any type of web presence. A staggering 45 per cent do not - and that presents a great business opportunity. (http://smallbiztrends.com/2010/10/key-takeaways-from-the-2010-local-search-usage-study.html)
Second - while there may online - appear to be plenty of companies around to build websites - they are generally too expensive for most small businesses to engage them. Having built websites in a corporate environment I was blown away by the range of pricing available for the same service. Inevitably I would get around to asking why a company was worth all the extra cost and there rarely was an answer that didn't hover around 'experience, 24/7 coverage, top notch service'.
Those are nice platitudes but when it comes to building a website - the raw materials are not titanium, wood and concrete (if they are you are using the wrong company). It all boils down to labour and what that company feels is a price the market can bear. When I hear small companies boast they only spent $5,000 on their website I wonder what the web company did with the $4,500 after they spent the actual $500 in labour really needed to build most simple websites.
Now don't get me wrong - if you are a big bank, go open that vault and spend the money. Millions of people are keeping their banking on your website and need the security and experience to keep their information safe.
But a local restaurant, hardware store, tire shop or bistro does not need the firewalls, back up fail safe hard drives on a server farm near the arctic circle and a staff of ten on stand by in case there are problems.
What we are trying to achieve by being a local web company is help local businesses improve how they display themselves to potential customers.
We will also be working with clients to help cheaply shoot photos or video of their businesses and also help incorporate important social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook. While most business owners can lay claim to having an account for both - how they are used and what audiences they are exposed to can have a huge impact on the goal of attracting new customers.
One of the new services we are introducing to the local real estate market is video tours of homes. Just as slideshows were ground breaking ways of displaying a house online fifteen years ago - now a well produced video with voice over is a much cleaner and transparent way of displaying a house for sale.
I will be making regular posts on my blogs using real examples from the Newmarket, Keswick and Aurora business community. Giving kudos to those who are doing a good job - and also pointing out where some companies are falling short reaching the local consumer.
If you would like me to provide a free audit for your website - drop me a line with a link - and I will take an unflinching look at what you have. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org !
Next article - we will look at how to use Facebook for something other than looking at your embarrassing college pictures.