Lessons From Offline To Online Experiences
When you create your first offline business, you begin by developing a business plan that includes thinking about products or services, about overhead and profits, and about advertising and promotion, among other things.
Any offline business, even a lemonade stand, could have its own website. It would be its virtual presence to make it easier to find using the relatively new technology of the internet.
Young people have grown up with that technology, and I still find it amazing that when Im travelling with my son or daughter, they can tell me where we can stop and eat, or where the movie theaters are in a town where they have neve been. That is the true advantage for a brick-and-mortar store to have an online presence.
I have never seen one of my children looking at a phone book, even the ones that are in their twenties. Chances are they never will, and that the way a phone book lists a street address would be meaningless to them who are used to looking at maps.
It Doesnt End With a Website
A relative of mine has a consulting business that started when he and his partners broke away from the company where they worked and a client they already knew well gave them enough work to get started. They didnt have enough work to keep them busy, and in the afternoons they would go to the golf course that was a few blocks away to play for the rest of the day.
Little by little, they got to know the other businesses that shared the building, as well as other business people that frequented the golf course and they began to get business and grow. Other than paying to be in the phonebook, they never advertise.
Eventually, when email became a requirement, they got a one page website that described their business and listed all of their email addresses. Soon they discovered that their site was being scraped for email addresses regularly, and, not knowing squat about websites, they just removed their content and just left the logo on the page. They still have the site, but they use it so that their emails have the name of the business in the address.
Another friend that sells bathing suits, found a way to create his own website using website creators that use modules to build pages. He spent ages trying to create a few modules and never was able to finish the site. At the end, he never renewed the domain mame and lost the website.
There was also a lady, whith whom I corresponded, that had paid thousands of dollars to have an ecommerce site made and was terrified because no one was visiting.
A Website Is Not Advertising
A website is neither advertising nor promotion. A website is a virtual presence just like your offline business is a real presence. You still need to advertise and promote it, just like you would an offline business.
Whenever I talk to someone that wants me to create a website for them, the first thing I ask is, How do you plan to get traffic to your site. If they just look at me with glazed eyes or say, Huh? I start preparing them for the harsh truth.
I believe, based on my own experience with business owners, that they hire someone to create a website just as they would hire someone to design an ad campaing for their businesses. For them, having a website is like buying a display ad on a newspaper or billboard on a major highway, but the two things are completely different in nature. A website is not advertising, and unless you do something to get people to visit it, noone will ever find it.
You dont expect people to walk to you, pull your wallet out of your pocket, get a business card from you and walk away. You have to make the effort to get the business card in their hands. It is the same with a website.
Bringing a Business Online Requires a Business Plan
If you want to have a website that you use for something other than email addresses with you business name, then you will need to expand your business plan a bit or develop a separate business plan just for the online portion of your business.
People need to find you from their cell phones. Observe your children and learn the new reality of business. We may think of their gadgets as toys, but it is their way of life and their future. Prepare for it.
Son takes his mother's offline business, online
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