Is Your Local Business Holding Up to Your Online Competitors? 3 Easy Tests
Regardless of the industry, today, more than ever before, there exists a massive amount of online and offline competition (the ‘Fog’ if you will) which must be properly addressed in order for your business to survive.
This is particularly true for industries in which your competitors have revolutionized the way business is conducted, making life less expensive and/or faster (possibly better) for customers.
If you do not have the consistent foot traffic you would like to have (or XYZ competitor down is having) then be grateful your doors are still open! It’s time to do yourself a favor and get your arms around the depth of the problem at hand.
These tests are a bare minimum, however, for those of you less technologically inclined, it should be a good starting reference point.
Be patient and follow the steps.
If you are a brick & mortar business owner, the more difficulty you have doing this equates to the greater likelihood that you probably need it the most.
This is not for everybody. Don’t tell me I didn’t warn you if you continue reading.
Disclaimer: My primary objective is to provide local businesses with resources to effectively compete, not to discourage you. Brick & Mortar business owners are MY business. In order to effectively compete, we must first understand the nature of the competition. In doing so, my obligation is to provide straight-forward facts and resources. Necessary self-evaluation is usually not much fun but better now than when it’s too late.
The effectiveness (or presence) of your business’ online existence. Is it actually working FOR you?
If you haven’t noticed how much time your customers are spending on their phones, then do yourself a favor and pay attention. Humans have evolved into mobile creatures and their mobile device is their second brain.
With that being said, a website in and of itself is not going to do a lot for you.
There are many websites out there and if yours is not positioned & designed correctly with the right content and strategically placed throughout the web, it’s not going to be found. In many cases, you are going to be better off not even having one.
Additionally, not only does every aspect of your online marketing need to be congruent with your website, meanwhile directing traffic back to it, but it needs to be responsive (mobile-friendly), descriptive, and original – among other things.
How to check:
(This is just a very basic surface-level method for anybody to check. I provide a much more in-depth analysis in my free consultation but hopefully, this will help paint the picture for those less technically inclined.)
- Pick up your phone (or anybody’s phone). Log out of your Google account (or anybody’s for that matter, but ask permission first). Visit Google and search for your type of business and your zip code. I.e.: if you own a vape shop search “vape shop” and your zip code (vape shop 73118, vape shop 93102, etc… ). If you are a dentist, nightclub, lawyer, smoke shop, tobacco shop, search for that and your zip code. Does your business appear on the first page? Does it appear anywhere?
- Do the same for alternatives for searching for your general business i.e.: for a vape shop try vapor shop 73118, vaping accessories 73118, etc… If you’re a dentist try maybe dental services 73118, oral hygienist 73118, etc… Does your business appear on the first page? Does it appear at all?
- Repeat steps 1 and 2 from a laptop or desktop computer. Does your business appear in the first page? Does your business appear at all? (Search results may vary dependent upon where the actual search is taking place and your device’s local search settings. Search results will definitely vary if you are logged into your Gmail / Google account as your results are personalized to your previous searches when you are logged in.)
- Repeat both processes, except this time, use your city instead of your zip code. Do you come up in the first page? Do you appear at all?
If you’re satisfied with your business’ Google search results that’s great! Proceed to next section.
If not, then you may want to contact me for a free consultation. Feel free to do so now or proceed.
Check Up from the Neck Up
Business owners have more options as to the choice of their product and service providers today than they have in the past.
If your staff is not giving off the good vibes with a welcoming (much different than ‘in-your-face’) attitude then there is a good chance you are feeding your online competitors (or even worse, the ones down the street) with a steady flow of business.
However, local shops DO have the ability to provide some distinct competitive advantages over online competitors including the abilities to:
- Allow customers to experience a more hands-on, personable buying process.
- An experience which is (ideally) more pleasant than clicking around online.
- Provide products or services immediately vs. having to wait for mail delays.
- Accept cash.
- Possibly easier return process.
- From a marketing perspective, get discovered easier and more frequently by local customers – especially when user is conducting a local search. Fortunately, localization has become a priority among the major search engines as they strive to find the most relevant search results for the particular user.
These are real advantages, however, keep in mind that one bad customer interaction will make these advantages less advantageous. Especially, considering online shopping venues have the potential advantages of:
- Allowing for cheaper purchases (much cheaper in some industries).
- Providing a personalized online shopping experience by saving the customer’s previous shopping cart and effortlessly directing them towards the same purchase and effortless cross-sales presentation.
- Allowing the customer to not have to deal with real people whatsoever or drive anywhere to shop.
- Depending on the location of the online retailer, 1-3 day USPS shipping (could become quicker for products if Amazon has anything to say about it). Free shipping in many cases.
- In the medical industry, customers now have the choice of seeing a healthcare provider from the comfort of their couch, via webcam.
With that being said, it is extremely important to make sure you and your employees are able to leave their fights with their girlfriends or their political upheavals at home. Failure to do so is costing you money – possibly in a great way.
How to Check:
- Search your business name on Yelp.com. Are you listed? Are there bad reviews? If you’re not listed then that could be a major issue. If you have bad reviews then pay attention to what the reviewers are saying, contact me and lets start fresh.
- Repeat step 1 with Facebook.com.
- Is having a favorable Better Business Bureau review applicable to your business? If so, are you listed on there?
- Now again with any industry-specific consumer review websites (hint: Google it).
At this point, you should either be lost or confident that you are on the right track. If you’re lost – I can help.
Are you in the same ballpark? Are you playing the same game?
This one I can’t help you out on as much. You opened the business so hopefully, you had a good plan in mind for how to keep your products and services at a comparable level or above that of your local competition.
Luckily, that is not the most important factor for a brick & mortar buyer. They generally want quality, value, and (most importantly) convenience.
Give it to them and you are on the right track.
Lost? There is hope. I am here to help. Call me at 405-496-5073.