Everyone says that businesses needs a website. Every web developer in the city has cold-called you and offered to build you a site. The phone company has attempted to upsell you on adding a website to your display advertisement in the telephone directory. Your nephew has even offered to build one for you. But you’ve resisted, because why do you need a presence on the internet? You don’t even sell a product. You’re a service business.

These are all great questions, but I’m going to tell you a secret. You don’t need a website, because you already have one. In fact, you probably have a dozen of them. Google (a verb meaning, use Google to search for something) for your business name and city. What does your search return?

Woah, there you are.

Google has a listing for your business with your company name and category. They also include your telephone number,
address and a handy little map to help people find you. Scroll down and they might even include reviews that they’ve found written about your business on other sites.

Yelp is one example of a popular business review site, but there are a hundred different sites where your former customers can describe their experiences with your business and your future customers will review their comments before they make a decision to do business with you.

Scrolling down the search results, you might also your business mentioned in other websites and blogs. Has your business ever been mentioned in the local newspaper? Nearly every small newspaper in the country makes their archives available online. When your business was mentioned in print was it positive or negative? If it was positive, congratulations! Those accolades will live on, on the internet, forever. To a lesser degree than a business review site, but not an insignificant one, the article will offer a positive description of your business for potential customers to use when deciding whether or not to trust you with their business.

Unfortunately, though, we all know that bad news is what sells newspapers. Small businesses are disproportionately written about negatively in the press. If your business has had the bad luck of being under the ire of a local newspaper reporter, your potential customers have a negative article to add to their mental image of your business.

If you’ve ever been mentioned in by a local blogger, you know that bloggers can live up their vitriolic reputation. If you’ve ever kept a blogger waiting for longer than they thought necessary you’re probably mentioned negatively online.

My point is that your small business doesn’t need a website. It already has one. It’s not a matter of putting some information about your business out onto the internet like it’s the Yellow Pages. Instead, you need a comprehensive plan to market your offline business online to counteract the ever growing tide of negative reviews your business doesn’t deserve.

I hope that over the next few weeks I can show you how to do just that.

Originally posted by Dane Carlson on January 2, 2014 in Featured.

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