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When was the last time you used the yellow pages or phone directory for finding an address or telephone number? Do you have a phone directory around the home or at work? As the distribution of the iconic yellow pages decreases, more and more people are turning to online directories if not simply typing in what you want in Google.

There are many sites such as yellowpages.ca which is an online version of the paper copy that is now used to prop open a door, move a computer monitor to a more comfortable height, or to beat out a confession from a suspect (I have been told that phone books don’t leave tell tale marks). While having your telephone number and address listed is all fine and good, would you seriously choose that over a link to a companies website? Why pick up a phone and call, or get in your car and drive when you can simply click to find your answer. If you can’t find your answer then you can reach out and touch someone but at least the chances are you won’t have to.

Companies such as Microsoft, Google and other giants spend millions on their web presence. You don’t need or what to spend that much, but how much do you really need to spend? A fully functioning website can cost several hundred dollars up to a few thousand. If you have a small business, do you really need a website featuring video, presentations, a full catalog of services as well as up to the minute news? You might, but there again you might not.

What do you really need to have an online presences?

If you are a small business or even self employed, perhaps you don’t have a huge budget, or a need for a much needed website but you need something to help your potential customers find you. What if you could have a one page website, with all your details, a brief list of services, all your contact information as well as a map, even have a couple of pictures for say, 100 dollars a year? That would be a large double double a week. Would that sound good to you? It is assuming that you already have your own email address and that you don’t require a domain name. A domain name is something like yahoo.com. Most are only about 10 dollars but if you are looking for a popular one, it can cost you hundreds if not thousands of dollars. So if you don’t need to have a website address that says ‘rickspianobar.com’ and instead are quite happy with ‘rickspianobar.the main hosting domain.com’ instead, you can have a webpage setup pretty quickly.

Makes you think doesn’t it. For just 100 dollars a year you could have your own webpage that could display all that you have to offer and help you find more potential customers. Of course if you happen to want something a little more big time, you can always get a fully functioning website for a few hundred more but even at that price, can you afford not to be online?

Drop us a line if you want to know more about doing this.

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5 comments

  1. Nathan- I am very interested in the web site article you posted. I have a small buisness called Garage Shop Woodworking that I think could really benefit from this. How do I go about learning more and getting started- Thanks- Larry

  2. There are so many online services for small business these days, it makes it easy to get online.

    Every local company should have listings on Google Places and Yelp. And if you’re proud of your service, encourage customers to post reviews; hand out a card with the URLs to make it easy for them to build up your credibility.

    You can create a loyalty program with Punch Tab or Punchd, use Tungle, (a Canadian company), to let customers schedule their own appointments, use MailChimp to manage a mailing list, all for free.

    How about using Zong to accept payment by phone if you’ve got an on-the-road business? Or Payvment to accept payment on a Facebook page? Or manage documents with Google Docs, Proposable and Billable.me?

    There’s lots more that can be done; visit me at the library if you’d like more info

  3. Larry. I will email you as soon as I get time to take a breath lol this week is crazier than Charlie Sheen on a good day.

    Peter. I should have included you in the article, your knowledge on this topic is enough to help anyone successfully gain an online presence.

    Anyone else. I would definitely speak to Peter before making a decision but you would like to talk to me about what I am looking to do, please do.

  4. Hi Nathan,

    I just started an online gift shop with my wife and we are looking for ways to advertise our online presence. Any ideas…

    Thanks
    Art Cooper

  5. Hi Art,

    If I may, I have a couple of comments.

    If your gifts are handmade, you might want to look at Etsy. They’ll let you create a custom page within their site as your own ‘store’. Ponoko is getting a bit industrial with 3-D printing but that’s another option.

    Online marketing is a whole other beast. Like any marketing, you’d start by defining your brand, having at least a mission statement, (what you do), and a value statement, (what you believe in/value), will help you make decisions about what makes sense to promote your site.

    Hopefully your website is well-designed; poor design has been shown to undermine confidence or purchasers. You should also check your site for search engine optimization, (SEO). There are people who do this full-time but a couple of the more basic tweaks you can find online, (meta content and keyword optimization/frequency), will help.

    Beyond that, it’s all about getting good quality content out on multiple channels, (e.g. Facebook, a blog, Twitter, a YouTube Channel), to generate traffic. If you can consistently create good quality content, (maybe a video of how something is made, for example?), your audience will find you.

    If there are usergroups or other websites that you can post on, it’s a good way to build credibility. You never say “And shop at our website” but you can usually include a signature, (www.mywebsite.com), and as your comments add value for people, they’ll naturally be interested in visiting your store.

    For promotion, a Facebook Page, (people get profiles, organizations and objects get pages), is pretty much essential. You can look at Payvment I mentioned above or Storenvy to transact from your Facebook page. You can enhance the look with MiPro Apps or Pagemodo. Shortstack isn’t free but it lets you add tabs pretty easily.

    You can build an audience on Facebook fairly easily through friends and, again, good quality, useful content. If you want to spend some money, Facebook ads give you excellent control about who sees your ads you can be sure that they’re being seen by people who’ll be likely to be interested in them.

    That’s a REALLY high-level look. Again, if I can help, you can find me at the library.