Practical small business advice: Forget the Internet
by Jeffrey Dobkin
No, you don’t need a great website. What jerk told you that you did?
Sure, lots of people live on the Internet. Geeks. Computer nerds. The skinny geeky, computer nerd kid in school you wouldn’t let sit at your lunch table who now drives a Bugatti Veyron. Large companies who have the time and personnel. And… some of your buddies who hope to one day make a lot of money, somehow.
And you? You’ve spent thousands of hours and… and…nothing. Nada. No money – or not enough to live on and keep your cat well fed at the same time.
Is the web a viable way to earn a living? Sure. If you have the time and the talent. Then, add more time – because everything changes rapidly. Every time Google draws a line, you’ll need to jump and don’t worry – they’ll tell you how high.
Then, be prepared for every pundit in the world to tell you how to succeed online. Unfortunately – they all point in different directions. You have to separate the truth from fiction. The good advice from the bad. Good luck with that.
Here’s what you’re doing wrong, and what to do about it. And don’t call me a pundit. OK, you can call me a pundit, but just not to my face. This is prudent advice from the heart because there’s no bullshit involved and I’m not trying to sell you anything.
First, go back to your old ways.
You were making money before, weren’t you? You still can. Remember how you made money to old fashioned way, you earned it offline? Yea, that still works. Head back there. Do it that way.
So what about the Internet – because it isn’t going away. OK, here’s the lowdown. Yes, get a website. Even a lousy one. It’s OK, really.
You actually do need a website. You just don’t need a great website. A one pager will do fine. More pages if you can, but if not, that’s OK too. List your company. Show a few of your products and services. Offer a white paper, then you can be different, too — just like everyone else. Make it simple. Keep it simple.
And show a big phone number.
Go back to the basics. Show your company name. Offer a few helpful articles on your specialty so you have some SEO possibility. Because today, you actually do need a web presence. And show a big phone number.
You need to be there, so you can be found. What you don’t need: Flashy stuff, multi-pages, order pages, video, rotating images, and a huge SEO budget.
You can have an email sign up list, but that’s not a dire necessity if you’re not mailing clever things to those that don’t care on a regular basis. What you do need? You do need to show a big phone number. Get the message?
You see, your website has one purpose: when customers or prospects need to find you, they can look you up on the web, and call you. That’s the purpose of your website.
You’ll build credibility with a small site and that’s all you need — so that people can see you there, see you are real, and call you. You’ll have better credibility with that than with a big site that’s mediocre.
Turns out the web is a pretty good telephone book. And that’s what most people use it for – to look firms up – see if they’re real. Then… call them.
That’s why you need a big phone number. Because the real “Objective” of your website is to make people call you. It’s the start of every purchase order, the start of every serious inquiry; and it’s the real bottom line of every person who needs real information and then wants to do business with you. They get it by phone.
Why struggle, spending time and money and trying like hell to get onto the first page in web searches? Ain’t happening. What is there – a dozen slots on the first page? And how many people in your industry vying for them? You can stop counting at 75,000. Let them spend the tons of money and time on getting top ranking (unless you have tons of money – then gimme a call and we’ll talk!)
Really. With your budget, why bother? Use your company name as your URL (web address), and open your site with a few words about your product and services – and use your company name a few more times. Then go back to the real world and make money like you used to, and stop worrying about the web, Google updates, and SEO stuff and how it isn’t happening for you. Stop whining, and stop wasting so much time and effort.
With a small but clever site, people who search for you will find your address and phone number right away. People searching for your business will find you in Yelp, yellowpages, and any of the multiples of shitty review sites that will describe your business by name and location and give you good reviews if only you’ll pay them – like some of the better business bureaus.
As long as you have a big phone number on your front page, you’ll provide an easy way for potential customers and clients to call you – which is all you wanted in the first place, isn’t it? Really.