Home Forums Marketing mastery Are you one of the 65% of Aust. businesses w/out a website? What’s stopping you?

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  • #1067126
    The Copy Chick
    Member
    • Total posts: 963
    JaneB, post: 83627 wrote:
    I have a nephew who is a carpenter and is very web savvy. But he doesn’t have a website. When I asked him why he looked aghast and said that he had all the work he could handle.

    Lots of small businesses are quite happy being small.

    If things are good, that’s great. I hope the work keeps up for him.

    There probably are some businesses happy to stay small, but I’m not sure they’d make up more than half of Australian businesses. I guess it’s the sheer number that boggles my mind.

    OneArmedGraphics, post: 83631 wrote:
    Hi Anna, just interested to know where the 65% figure came from?
    Regards,
    Robbie
    This figure came from a report by The MYOB Business Monitor which is a national survey of Australia’s business owners (and directors) conducted quarterly.

    I’ve also had a similar number quoted by the Nat. Broadband rep who will be taking part in our seminar.

    onsiteTECHS, post: 83654 wrote:
    Interesting discussion. I see your point that some small businesses are busy enough without any online advertising, but that’s presuming that websites are only there for attracting new customers. Often these small businesses who are too busy to take on new clients, are also too busy to take phone calls from current or potential clients who often only want to know the answer to a question that has been asked hundreds of times before – having a website would give them an opportunity to have a FAQ and a clear description of their services and possibly even a status entry that explains that they’re not taking new customers at the moment due to overwhelming demand – that then gives them the opportunity to devote their full attention to their current paying customers.

    A website doesn’t necessarily need to be about selling more or finding more customers, it can just be an excellent form of communication.

    Totally agree with you John. There’s definitely scope to take customer service the next level (and really reinforce positive WOM… especially with online testimonies!).

    Meanwhile, I had a meeting with a client today who win most of their work through tender processes, so their new site won’t be for attracting new customers – but it will act as a showcase for their business, let prospective contractors view past and present projects, and display their accreditations, etc.

    It’s just as much about adding value for the consumer as it is the site owner.

    Jenny Power Web Design, post: 83670 wrote:
    Unless a business owner already has an understanding of what a website can bring to their business it’s very difficult to convince them. Small businesses will spend $2k on local newspaper advertising that lasts 6 weeks but they can’t see the value in a $2k website that will last years with very little ongoing cost and (if done well) bring in more customers.

    This will be part of our approach; to show a comparison between what ‘X’ amount will get for your online dollar vs your offline dollar. Hopefully it helps.

    Sarah Marie, post: 83710 wrote:
    Such an interesting discussion! I don’t think 10 years ago we would be this passionate about the importance of being online. Which makes it concerning for those wanting to be in business for the next 10 years. Will your target market change as new generations look for your product/service? Will they be younger, savvier? More likely to discard those not online for fear they are unprofessional, backward, ‘behind the times’?

    Unless I have absolutely no choice, I won’t use a business without an online presence. Why would I when their competitors are giving me all the info I need at my fingertips?

    But hey… great discussion! :) Loving everyone’s different thoughts and opinions.

    #1067127
    Cesar
    Member
    • Total posts: 591

    Considering the industries you specialise in, your posts tend to seem somewhat bias as you are trying to enforce that every business needs a website, (same scenario with social marketing.) From my perspective I accept that in certain industries it is of paramount importance to have a website, but there are other sectors that can establish successful businesses without the need of one, now and in the future.

    Being “Big” does not necessarily mean you are a “Success”. There will always exist successful small businesses without websites, social marketing and so forth.

    What you will find, as is the case now, you will have millions of websites in “Limbo” on the Internet space doing absolutely nothing and serving no purpose. Even though Australia is behind the rest of the world in terms of the Internet, there are still small businesses Globally operating successfully without the use of a website in regions where Internet is more advanced than ours.

    A customer base can always be built by focusing on exceptional customer service which promotes word of mouth recommendations. This will always exist no matter how advanced the online world becomes.

    BTW, we already are an online world!!!

    #1067128
    Dougyboy
    Member
    • Total posts: 13

    It is indeed a startling statistic. I love your initiative of assisting those who have not taken the plunge.

    We find some clients that present themselves to us can be unsure and sometimes even fearful of representing themselves online. As stated in one of the previous posts the learning curve for a novice website owner can be quite daunting. For some the electronic world is not their expertise and they are unaware of what materials or steps they need to take to achieve a successful website and clueless to the benefits it can bring to their business. Others have had an attempt or two in setting one up but have not been successful usually due to poor planning or a bad experience with a non-professional.

    My key thoughts for your audience are:

      State the obvious gains they will get from a website & I do mean obvious
      Describe the many functionalities a website can perform for them
      Ask them to think about what they want their website to do or achieve for their business
      Send them on a journey to make a solid plan
      Once they have a plan; hire a professional

    Douglas

    #1067129
    The Copy Chick
    Member
    • Total posts: 963
    WAHE, post: 83777 wrote:
    Considering the industries you specialise in, your posts tend to seem somewhat bias as you are trying to enforce that every business needs a website, (same scenario with social marketing.)…

    Being “Big” does not necessarily mean you are a “Success”. There will always exist successful small businesses without websites, social marketing and so forth.

    For those small businesses who already have a well-established customer base that works on WOM, a website may seem superfluous… but for new businesses trying to establish their customer base, a website seems the most logical place to start (at least to me, and yes, I may be biased..!)

    I also agree “big” doesn’t equate to “successful”, but the point I’m trying to make is that for any business, more and more of their customers and competition are going online. Eventually offline businesses will find themselves being left behind.

    WAHE, post: 83777 wrote:
    What you will find, as is the case now, you will have millions of websites in “Limbo” on the Internet space doing absolutely nothing and serving no purpose.

    And I’m willing to bet most of these were set up by amateurs many years ago. Of course they’ll show no ROI and seem pointless. They are pointless.

    Just like a bricks and mortar store, you can’t just build it then leave it; it requires ongoing attention and the occasional “refit” to stay fresh and relevant.

    WAHE, post: 83777 wrote:
    A customer base can always be built by focusing on exceptional customer service which promotes word of mouth recommendations. This will always exist no matter how advanced the online world becomes.

    I’m not suggesting you set up a site and forget about focussing on customer service. I’m advocating to make your site PART of your customer service and make it even easier to spread positive WOM. With online testimonials from happy customers, I don’t need to personally know them to hear their great experiences with you – I simply Google your name.

    Dougyboy, post: 83884 wrote:
    It is indeed a startling statistic. I love your initiative of assisting those who have not taken the plunge.

    Thanks :) You’ve also made some great points in your post.

    #1067130
    Cesar
    Member
    • Total posts: 591
    The Copy Chick, post: 83935 wrote:
    but the point I’m trying to make is that for any business, more and more of their customers and competition are going online. Eventually offline businesses will find themselves being left behind.

    To say that about every type of business would be incorrect. As an example would be your local butcher, fruiterer or mechanic who have an established loyal clientele and would make no difference in having a website or being left behind by their competitors now or in the future.

    Unless your website is on page #1 in the search engines your only focus to keep your competitors at bay is to make sure your customer service is one step ahead of theirs.

    The Copy Chick, post: 83935 wrote:
    And I’m willing to bet most of these were set up by amateurs many years ago. Of course they’ll show no ROI and seem pointless. They are pointless.

    Never assume, because there are numerous professionally built websites online serving no purpose at all. Reason being that websites require ongoing maintenance which many busy business owners do not have the time to do so. Paying someone to do the SEO and Adword campaigns correctly can be quite a costly exercise, something business owners are not informed about when having their website built and why I would not recommend the following offer to the inexperienced.

    Unless your industry relies purely on a successful website, I’m certain if small business owners were informed upfront about the true costs, time and effort to maintain a website they would think twice before getting one built. The first question that needs to be asked, does their business sector need one?

    I don’t buy biased opinions…

    #1067131
    The Copy Chick
    Member
    • Total posts: 963
    WAHE, post: 84124 wrote:
    To say that about every type of business would be incorrect. As an example would be your local butcher, fruiterer or mechanic who have an established loyal clientele and would make no difference in having a website or being left behind by their competitors now or in the future.

    I don’t disagree with some of the examples you give, but I would be hard pressed to believe they make up the 65% of all offline businesses. That’s why I think there’s a lot of businesses who might be getting left behind because they’re not getting online.

    It’s these businesses we’re trying to reach and help.

    And I still believe it’s as much about adding value for the customer as it is for the site owner. There might be two butchers in the same town (much like mine), but if one was offering recipes, online specials, hints & tips on preparing or storing different cuts, online ordering, etc. as a customer, that’s the butcher I’d be using (even if he was more expensive).

    It may not make much of a difference to the butcher or his business, but for customer with a full time job and a family, things like that could make all the difference in the world.

    I guess I’m just looking at the “need” from a different POV.

    WAHE, post: 84124 wrote:
    Never assume, because there are numerous professionally built websites online serving no purpose at all. Reason being that websites require ongoing maintenance which many busy business owners do not have the time to do so. Paying someone to do the SEO and Adword campaigns correctly can be quite a costly exercise, something business owners are not informed about when having their website built and why I would not recommend the following offer to the inexperienced.

    Unless your industry relies purely on a successful website, I’m certain if small business owners were informed upfront about the true costs, time and effort to maintain a website they would think twice before getting one built. The first question that needs to be asked, does their business sector need one?

    I don’t buy biased opinions…

    OK, I can agree there may be professionally built sites achieving very little, but it would seem that would be from a lack of strategy (like anything, if you’re not clear on what you’re trying to achieve and why, you’re likely to be doomed to failure).

    As far as costs, I really don’t see why the ongoing costs should be a huge expense. Hosting can be quite cheap, and with a little education (which is what seems to be sadly lacking) there’s no reason for owners to keep forking out for expensive SEO/marketing campaigns through an external agency.

    It’s really not about strategy ‘A’ being better than strategy ‘B’ and having to choose between the two… it’s about having all your strategies integrated to give yourself the greatest chance for success.

    Meanwhile, I’m not endorsing the free MYOB sites. They may have generated the report quoting 65%, but similar figures have been cited elsewhere. I was just curious as to WHY so many businesses remained offline and what could be done to assist those who weren’t sure how to go about it, or the benefits it could bring.

    So far the all feedback has been really helpful and I hope we can use it to really help those who feel they could use the assistance.

    For those who are happy to keep on keepin’ on… I wish them every success.

    #1067132
    John C.
    Member
    • Total posts: 439
    WAHE, post: 84124 wrote:
    To say that about every type of business would be incorrect. As an example would be your local butcher, fruiterer or mechanic who have an established loyal clientele and would make no difference in having a website or being left behind by their competitors now or in the future.

    I think this is only true for as long as the current generation of older, less tech savvy customers keeps frequenting those local businesses. The sad truth is that our population is ageing, so many of the current, loyal customers that these local businesses deal with won’t be around in 10 or 20 years.

    Younger generations are becoming more and more dependent on the internet for every aspect of their life, and they are less loyal to brands, stores and employers – they will go wherever they think they are getting the best deal (whether that for them means price, convenience, uniqueness, etc is an individual thing), so as business owners and employers it’s important that we all at least consider what those new customers and employees want (now and in the future). I believe strongly that these Gen Y and Gen Z customers will want to be able to look up a stores – opening hours, contact details, stocked brands, stock levels, waiting times, etc, – online before they leave their home or office, because they’re busy and don’t want to waste their time hanging around in stores.

    A friend of mine, who is in his late 30’s, recently told me that his local barber shop installed a webcam and published it to his website – my friend loves it, because now he can log on and quickly estimate how long he’s likely to have to wait when he gets there, and only goes to get his hair cut when it’s going to be a quick painless experience. A barber shop is arguably one of the least technology dependent industries you could think of, and most of them rely on WOM and repeat business, but this shop owner has stepped outside the box and used technology to provide a service to (some of) his customers that they probably didn’t even know they wanted but are now hooked on! The technology is cheap and easy to install with little ongoing maintenance or expense – as Charlie Sheen would say… Winning!

    WAHE, post: 84124 wrote:
    Unless your website is on page #1 in the search engines your only focus to keep your competitors at bay is to make sure your customer service is one step ahead of theirs.

    If aiming to stay only one step ahead of the competition means success, imagine what aiming to stay 10 or 15 steps ahead could accomplish! Every little bit helps, and I think a website and other online services are more than just a little bit of help to todays businesses of every kind.

    Cheers,
    John

    #1067133
    SalenaKnight
    Member
    • Total posts: 604

    Not answering your OP, but putting my 2c in….

    I REALLY rely on websites, even if it’s just to give me the place’s opening hours and contact number.

    My life is chaotic, and I’m often the only person in the shop. And, of course, everyone else’s shops are closed when mine is. I need to know if I can dash there between close of business and kindy pick up, or if I can just call them and order over the phone.

    The pizza shop referred to earlier – I don’t expect to order online, but I do expect to be able to see the menu, price list and call and order. I hate having pamphlets lying around.

    The tradie, I’d love to see examples of his/her work, testimonials from happy customers. I more confident of calling and asking for a quote if I can see these

    The butcher/fruiterer (who really should be looking at home delivery, but I digresss). I’d love to see what’s in season, maybe have a few recipes and of course, opening hours.

    I’m sure I’m not the only person in Sydney that wants to plan where they need to go in their day. Having a website allows a customer to process that information.

    Back to the OP – I simply think that a lot of businesses have ‘always done it this way’. We recently offered to give our old commerce site to my SIL’s boss, who sells gifts/jewellery/accessories. SIL was happy to upload stock and write content, but the owner ‘couldn’t be bothered’ picking orders off the shelf during the day, in case they oversold (despite being seriously affected by the current downturn in retail). My mind still boggles at this!

    A lot of older business owners just do not see the need, and as previously mentioned, they are just not aware of how much today’s society relies on the internet and the potential ROI. I love the idea of showing how their $5000 investment in the YP could be compared to a website etc.

    It’s all about education…….

    Sorry for the ramble *blush*

    #1067134
    Cesar
    Member
    • Total posts: 591

    “I love it when a plan comes together”

    Please keep the biased opinions coming, at least I can accept that for certain businesses it’s essential having an online presence, whereas for some other successful businesses it is not, now or in the future.

    The key point of this exercise once the research has been presented, is to ask the the question, does that business sector truly require a website and online presence? That is a decision the business owner must decide, not you on their behalf.

    You can’t “Shove” an idea down someone’s throat just because you see value in it, it’s up to the owner to decide whether it will benefit their business or not.

    I would like to remind you once more, that we already are a savvy online switched world with numerous successful businesses operating now without websites.

    #1067135
    Alex Honey: Int Design
    Member
    • Total posts: 151

    Hi all

    I’ve just read this thread end to end.

    So great to see so much intelligent ideas and
    observations.

    I tend to think that what a lot of businesses really need
    is a marketing plan. How else can one asses all the bases
    are covered in the marketing cycle?

    It would also allow a business to define whether and when a site
    would be relevant for their business… plus the message to put
    on the site.

    I also agree that for some solos a site could be unnecessary. Case in
    point – none of my exceptional tradies have sites and yep a couple
    even use hotmail addresses but when we’ve talked about it they say that
    being too public only gets them the tyre kicking enquiries and
    they’d rather have less jobs but bigger jobs and avoid working

    for the end user thus cutting out the hassle factor.

    #1067136
    Cesar
    Member
    • Total posts: 591
    Alex Honey: Int Design, post: 84177 wrote:
    I also agree that for some solos a site could be unnecessary. Case in
    point – none of my exceptional tradies have sites and yep a couple
    even use hotmail addresses but when we’ve talked about it they say that
    being too public only gets them the tyre kicking enquiries and
    they’d rather have less jobs but bigger jobs and avoid working
    for the end user thus cutting out the hassle factor.

    Perfectly said Alex, and as I have been saying all along not every business person sees a need for a website. In regards to a marketing plan, that would fall under the initial research in deciding whether there is a need for that particular person or business for an online presence. As per your example, a lot of tradies prefer to carry-out contractual work on a bigger scale than having to deal directly with the public and or tyre kickers.

    #1067137
    John C.
    Member
    • Total posts: 439
    WAHE, post: 84144 wrote:
    “I love it when a plan comes together”

    Please keep the biased opinions coming, at least I can accept that for certain businesses it’s essential having an online presence, whereas for some other successful businesses it is not, now or in the future.

    The key point of this exercise once the research has been presented, is to ask the the question, does that business sector truly require a website and online presence? That is a decision the business owner must decide, not you on their behalf.

    You can’t “Shove” an idea down someone’s throat just because you see value in it, it’s up to the owner to decide whether it will benefit their business or not.

    I would like to remind you once more, that we already are a savvy online switched world with numerous successful businesses operating now without websites.

    Hi Cesar,

    I guess you’re implying that the comments from me and others on here suggesting that all businesses can benefit in some way from being online are biased. You’re right – everyone’s opinions on all topics are biased in some way – they’re biased due to our past experiences, our education, our morals, our upbringing, our technical knowledge, and yes, sometimes, by the fact that we sell a particular product or service. This doesn’t mean that all of us allow our biases to rule our comments and suggestions and prevent us from having a valuable two-way discussion.

    I sell IT support services and products, and almost every day I recommend against my customers buying expensive products and services that they’ve seen or heard about, that would result in extra income for me, if I don’t think that purchase is in the best interests of my customer. I’ve never recommended against a business customer getting a website, because I honestly feel that every business can benefit from having their own website – that doesn’t mean their business isn’t already successful, or that they couldn’t continue to be successful into the future without a website, but I think that there are benefits to having a website for all businesses and their customers even if they have to look at it a little differently to most other businesses.

    You’re absolutely correct that the ultimate decision about whether to pursue a website or any other tool or service lies with the business owner. I do think that it’s their customers who will ultimately decide whether a website would be valuable for them though, and customers can and will talk with their wallets if they feel your competitor has an advantage they were looking for.

    Business owners, including me, ask people with expertise in particular areas to advise them all the time. I would never try to “shove” the need for a website down anybody’s throat, but I would happily and with a clear conscience tell them about the very many possible benefits that having a website could potentially give them.

    WAHE, post: 84144 wrote:
    I would like to remind you once more, that we already are a savvy online switched world with numerous successful businesses operating now without websites.

    That’s what people said about steam turbines, cars, planes, trains, telephones, radios, computers, the internet, mobile phones, etc, etc, etc. It’s what people like you and I will be saying about the new-fangled things the kids bring out in 20 years time. Change is scary and unpredictable, but exciting and full of opportunities at the same time. Not everyone needs or wants to take advantage of it right away, but that doesn’t mean there’s not value in it.

    Thanks for your comments on this thread – I’ve enjoyed the conversation!

    #1067138
    The Copy Chick
    Member
    • Total posts: 963
    Alex Honey: Int Design, post: 84177 wrote:
    I also agree that for some solos a site could be unnecessary. Case in
    point – none of my exceptional tradies have sites and yep a couple
    even use hotmail addresses but when we’ve talked about it they say that
    being too public only gets them the tyre kicking enquiries and
    they’d rather have less jobs but bigger jobs and avoid working
    for the end user thus cutting out the hassle factor.

    Interestingly I had a solo fencing contractor several months ago (who came through the web designer I share projects with) wanting a website exactly for the reasons you mentioned. He didn’t want small clients – he was chasing the big fish; government and private sector contracts.

    To present himself as a contender at this end of the scale, he understood the value of a professionally designed & written website. By showcasing the scale of jobs he had previously worked on, it’s unlikey anyone wanting a cheap fence down the side of their property would be giving him a call.

    Of course, this relates directly to what you were saying about effective marketing. Businesses need to determine what they’re trying to achieve and why. Like any marketing exercise, you don’t try to be all things to all people; you choose your niche and market to them.

    #1067139
    Beautician
    Member
    • Total posts: 180

    Have you seen this month’s My Business?
    They have an article on why people choose to do business without a website and who are going great guns.

    One, a personal training business said that word of mouth more than catered for new business.

    Another, who sold fragrances, said it was a cost issue and that Etsy more than attended to her selling needs.

    Me, personally? I don’t think I’ll be using a traditional website as such when my business is up and running. This is mainly due to cost but, to be honest, apart from a homepage giving particulars, I really don’t think I need one. A friend has offered to code up a WordPress platform for me so it’ll be more of a blog as such.

    With this in mind, I have purchased the domain name and have squared away Facebook, Twitter and other media platforms away with regards to registering my business name in its various forms. I will also ensure I have a mail service that utilises my domain name as the email address. Gmail, Hotmail et al look very low brow on a business card. Which is ironic given that a lot of ‘fancy’ websites I have seen have a Yahoo, Hotmail or Gmail account as their contact address so they’ve spent all that money getting a presence and have blown it with a tacky address. It’s like wearing a Versace dress with a pair of slippers you picked up from Target.

    #1067140
    Cesar
    Member
    • Total posts: 591

    In the event some of the 65% of Australian businesses without a website do decide to have one built, please don’t be a nuisance and avoid the following.

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