During a series of meetings this past week with potential customers I was repeatedly asked this question. Cindy, “why do I need all of this Web Stuff? I don’t really want to do business with strangers. I like doing my business based upon referrals”.
Many of us who have been in business for a while know the difference between a “warm lead” and a “cold lead”. For those of you who don’t know the difference, it’s just like it sounds. When a friend, or long time customer refers another friend to you, it comes from a warm place. They know you are honest, that you provide a good service for a fair price, and they convey that warm feeling to their friends. A cold lead is someone you are going to have to prove yourself to. And most of the time cold leads come from people we call shoppers. They will call you, ask about your services, take up a big chunk of your time, only to tell you the shop down the street is cheaper. As a business owner I just hate those calls.
A good web site and blog can actually help turn a cold lead into a warm one. If people see your site, then take the time to read your blog, and call you, they have already been converted from a cold lead to a warm one.
Even though our preference is to only do business with the warm personal lead, we are in a different era. Our Children and their children are on some form of electronic device night and day. They use the media method to create opportunities to get together in person.
I want to return to the original discussion here. We will say you still only want to do business based upon a personal recommendation. What will happen? Let me give you an example, say I need a good vet for my dog, Boomer. I am out walking in the park, hanging with my doggie walking friends and I mention I need to take Boomer for shots. My friend Elaine tells me all about her vet, and I think, boy he sounds great. What is the first thing I do? I Google him. If he doesn’t come up on Google right away, I get a little suspicsious. Does that make him a bad vet? No. Does it make him a vet that I will go to? No.
I like to know a little about who I am dealing with, I like to see this person has invested in their business. That they look like they have integrity. I like to see the flavor of his practice, some pictures of his patients and his staff. What his office looks like, and I LOVE reading testimonials from his past and current clients. I am not the only person who does this. Virtually everyone, 60 years old and under checks people and businesses out on the web.
The most reluctant clients work at companies who, because of rigid state and federal regulations, are very hesitant to put out any type of web site. They can literally be sued for having certain facts posted on their site. But, they can have a fairly generic site, advertising what they do, without specific product recommendations. Then they can link to a blog that will carefully talk in more general terms about what they do and how they help people. This way, they are not citing specifics that may cause them problems, but they are also creating a warm entree into future referrals.
No matter what, in this day and age, as my friend Kelley says, If you don’t have a web presence, then you are not really in business.