Sometimes, living in a rural community can be a bit of a time warp. After moving to my new home from a large metropolitan area, it took some time to get used to a pace that was a little slower, a lot less competitive, and conversations that aren’t 100% work-related. It is great to find business owners who still take the time to talk to clients and develop relationships that go beyond work into the realm of friendship.
It’s great, up until the moment you are trying to find information on small motor repair via Google, and end up looking at a newspaper article from 2014 to determine whether or not there is actually someone in town who can fix your tractor/snow plow.
While the slower pace of small town living is enjoyable, trying to find information on local businesses via websites is nothing short of torture. Assuming you find a website at all, the sites often look like they were created sometime around 1998, don’t function with smart phones, and provide zero useful information to potential clients. It’s maddening.
So please, let me present you with a handful of reasons why you do, in fact need a website:
New Residents Don’t Know You
When talking to people in town, the sense I get is that a website isn’t a useful tool, because, “Everyone in town already knows about my business.” WRONG. New residents to your area don’t know you, and may not have friends or family who could refer them to your business. By not having a website, you are assuming that new clients will magically find you via an accidental discovery or maybe through a print ad.
Bad news – the number of people who read print newspapers continues to decline, while the number of people using Google and other search engines to learn about local businesses continues to increase. So if you are hoping to reach new people, your business needs to engage with the technology they are using to learn about the world around them.
I’m going to use the cliché of “get with the times” here, because it absolutely applies. All you have to do is go into a public space and see how many people are using smart phones. Go into a coffee shop and see how many people are using computers. Ask your kids and grandkids how they learn about new restaurants, events, shops, etc…I can almost guarantee their answer will contain some version of either the internet or social media. And if this is how people are finding information now, your business is completely left out of the loop by not investing in a website. How can people find you on the internet if you aren’t there? It’s the high tech equivalent of refusing to install a phone line because clients will stop by if they want to talk to you.
You Can Reach People Outside Of Your Community
One of the biggest benefits of having a web presence is that you can reach potential clients outside of your immediate community without having to rely solely on print advertising or word-of-mouth. In small communities, it can be easier to see results from website creation and online marketing because competition isn’t necessarily as fierce as it is in larger cities. That means someone from a few towns over may have a higher chance of visiting your business because they found your website.
It Gives Clients A Chance To Sing Your Praises
For those businesses that have a website, and also spend a little time working on local search engine optimization (SEO), you can create a space where your clients can tell others online how great your business is. If you set your company up with Google Business, clients can actually rate your business and share positive stories about their experiences. And the more positive ratings your company receives, the more visible you are online.
True, you don’t need a website to set up Google Business, but it sure helps and will allow you to feel the full benefit of having an online presence.
It’s Not As Expensive As You Think
There are so many options now when it comes to creating a website that there is no reason to let cost stand in the way of progress. Website development costs start at free, if you are willing to put in the effort to create a DIY project. I have worked with clients who have a minimal budget, who have opted to go with website created through a company like Squarespace and hired me to make it look more professional. I’ve also worked with clients who wanted more customization and fancy site features, which pushes costs higher. But the days of a basic website being prohibitively expensive are gone.