Now that spring is here, it might be easy to forget that the Canada Winter Games were recently hosted here in Prince George, BC. This was an exciting time not only in terms of the games themselves and the hosting of such an event, but also in terms of how such an event impacts the economy of the region.
Classes were offered, helping businesses properly prepare to greet and serve all the new people in town. But, were their Websites ready? If my experience holds true, probably not.
Click bait? Kinda
While the opportunity to create a Website for the 2015 Canada Winter Games has come and gone, it is a good representation of why a Website is so necessary. Prince George is a transitional city. New workers routinely come to Prince George, or at least come through PG when conducting business around northern BC (and beyond) . Every year (or more often), many new students call Prince George home, for at least a time, at UNBC or other local schools. The Winter Games represent a daily occurrence, just on a bigger scale.
As I’ve talked to business owners in Prince George, all too often I find they don’t see a Website as a necessity, or they are depending on a rough ‘web-presence’ such as a Facebook page (more on that later). Or, worse, they once had a very ineffective ‘Website’ and now consider it a waste of time and money. These people were often burned by high-cost – but nearly zero-effect – offerings by big traditional media outlets who scoured the area with their teams of sales-reps. And sadly, many who do have a Website don’t see it, or use it, in an effective manner. (I’m also guilty of this, but at least I can claim the “shoemaker’s children” excuse, right? 🙂 But I’m not pushing for perfection on this point, just forward momentum. We can all do more with the business tools we have.)
Why a Website?
“I get my business through word-of-mouth.” I often hear something similar when speaking about Websites. The truth is, I currently do too – at least a good portion of it. But this hardly means a Website is unnecessary. Even if most of your customers just walk through the front door, you likely still have a phone. The Internet is not an either/or proposition any longer; it is mode of communication with existing and potential customers.
Rather than simply being an Internet ad, a Website is a form of contact, relationship building, discovery, customer service, image, marketing, business-to-business relations, and a great way to tell your story. Once this is understood, saying there is no need for a Website is akin to saying there is no need for a phone! (Actually, it might be worse than having no phone.)
First impressions really are important
First, note that 80% of potential customers will check out your Website (or, try to). But, as for the above ‘word-of-mouth’ potential customers (the best kind!), consider this: Recent research has measured the impact of perception on referrals. Over 50% of referrals never end up talking to you, because they rule you out before they get that far. Why? They look at your Website (almost 30% cite this reason), check social media, Google you… and decide against following through.
Is it a good idea to be passing up 50% of the best possible method you have to gain new customers, especially when 72% of businesses identify attracting new business as their biggest challenge? If a potential customer – a referral nonetheless – rules you out before even attempting to talk to you, what good is that phone?
Own your Internet presence! or, Don’t build on rented property.
One thing I have been troubled by in the Prince George market, is the number of businesses and organizations who rely solely on social media (especially Facebook) for their Web presence. Why this is such a bad idea will be the topic of a whole other article, but to summarize it, control of the experience and visibility (social media continues to evolve and change, often to the detriment of the ‘page’ owner) and building YOUR audience (site authority, search ranking, email list, user retention, etc.). You need to own the home-base of your Internet presence. Social media then becomes a great tool for driving customers there. And then, while changes to social media need to be watched, they typically don’t make or break your connection to your customers.
Every day is a mini-Winter Games for businesses
Every day, new people come to Prince George. And every day that your business or organization doesn’t have a Website, you’re losing a lot of great opportunity to reach these potential customers. The way businesses prepared to welcome new people to the area should be business as usual. This including having a good Web presence.
cgWerks is a Website design and Internet marketing services firm based in Prince George, BC. Please see our Web Design services page for more information. Also, watch for upcoming articles on why every business needs a website, why businesses should blog, and why businesses should consider a podcast.
Photos: © Depositphotos.com/pressmaster, Depositphotos.com/pressmaster/gubh83