Why brick-and-mortar businesses must have a website that sells

Brick and MortarI’ve built websites online for small businesses for over 10 years now and over that time, I’ve often encountered resistance when trying to sell a website package to a brick-and-mortar business.

I can’t blame them really. Up until recently, it was OK for brick-and-mortars to either have a mediocre website or to have no site at all. Most of their business came from foot-traffic, local ads, the yellow pages and word-of-mouth.

In the last few years, something has come along that makes having a great site online a critical part of a brick-and-mortar’s marketing arsenal.

But in the last few years, something has come along that changes the equation and makes having a great site online a critical part of a brick-and-mortar’s marketing arsenal: the smartphone.

You see, the smartphone (such as an iPhone or Droid) are built with a GPS inside. This means that a smartphone and its apps know where its owners are at anytime and based on that, can find certain types of business within a certain distance. For example:

  1. Want a Chinese restaurant within 5 miles of where you’re standing? No problem.
  2. What a taxi service that operates in the city where you are visiting? No problem.

What does this mean for brick-and-mortar businesses?

Bottom-line: the smartphone has become the most powerful free source of local advertising ever devised. It even has its own term: location-based marketing.

People who do not know about your business will make a decision to use your business based solely on your website.

How does this all relate to your site online? Well, most of the smartphone apps that focus on helping you find local businesses also provide a handy link to the website of each business.

Bottom-bottom-line: people who do not know about your business can now easily find you on the most powerful free source of local advertising ever devised and will make a decision to use your business based solely on your website.

Is your website ready to sell?

Comments

  1. Matt- You are on to something here. It really peeves me (or P*^%%s me off 😉 ) when I cannot find a website for a local business. What am I going to do- carry around the Yellow Pages or wade through those google/yahoo/whoever reviews sites just to find out basic info about YOUR business? Get with it folks! Huge business opportunity here as well, I think.

    • Dennis,

      Right there with you! The worst offenders are restaurants – how can you not have your menu online (and easy-to-find) in this day and age when it is so quick and inexpensive to do so?

      Definitely a big business opportunity here, but surprisingly, selling websites to brick-and-mortars is still a tough nut to crack…

      Thanks for stopping by!

      -Matt

      • Matt-

        I agree. Its insanity, not to mention dollars down the drain.

        Dennis

        • Location marketing purposes aside, let’s also look at the all the money that is being left on the table from having a skimpy or non existent website.

          There is a Chinese food restaurant that is right down the street from my house. Hands down, best Chinese food I’ve ever had. Of course this is all relative, but I used to live in Manhattan, and this blows a lot of those restaurants out of the water. Not only is the food delicious, but the atmosphere is incredible too. The owner designed and built everything in the interior. He uses all hard oaks with beautiful finishes and the it is all just so beautifully constructed, that when you’re inside, you almost forget that you’re dining in a small town Chinese joint.

          But when you go on their website, you don’t get that impression at all… http://www.orientaldelightdover.com/

          Besides the crappy design, there are a bunch of problems that I see here. First, a redesign would show all of the beautiful architecture in the location, and give a little history behind the restaurant. (The story is fascinating, the owner actually opened it to help fund optical implant research that one of his other companies is working on. Yup, cyborg eyes)

          There could very easily be an online ordering system that pushes orders to the front (or even directly to their cooks) and can schedule a delivery. There are also a lot of stunning reviews of the restaurant that highlight the food.

          The thing about their website, and this area, is a good number of people never know what they want to eat. We have an overabundance of Chinese Food and Pizza and with them, they rank close to the top for nearly every keyword that has to do with local food.

          I would love love love! to approach them about a redesign, but simply do not have a designer that can help me do it :-/

          • Tommy,

            I feel your pain! I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve tried to pitch a local business to redo their website because it just doesn’t sell them well (though yours seems to be an extreme case!).

            It may amaze many of us online folks, but there is still a lot resistance to operating online in the brick-and-mortar world. There are many reasons, but one thing we have to keep in mind is that it is still possible (though growing more counter-productive) to operate without a managed online presence.

            BTW…I am a HUGE Chinese food fan and my favorite spots are back in the area where I grew up – Long Island and NYC. 🙂

            Thanks for stopping buy and sharing your story!

            -Matt

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  2. […] Why brick-and-mortar businesses must have a website that sells Matt Mannsfield tells you what you already know, updated for the realities of 2010. Follow Matt Mannsfield on Twitter at @MattAboutBiz […]

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  4. BizSugar.com says:

    Why brick-and-mortar businesses must have a website that sells…

    In the last few years, something has come along that makes having a great site online a critical part of a brick-and-mortar’s marketing arsenal. Yes, location marketing is here to stay….

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