Remember when you had to carry your flip phone, your Walkman (or in my case a first generation iPod), and a camera? Heck, maybe you even had a contact book and a calendar in your truck too. That was less than twenty years ago.
Now, everything is in one device that's slim enough to fit in your back pocket. And, the technological advancements don't seem to be slowing down.
So what does that mean for your business? A traditional job that requires actual interaction with people and their homes; does the internet even apply to you?
Here's the quick answer: it does and you need to start learning fast.
1. The way the world works
Thanks to Amazon and EBay, e-commerce is becoming the fastest way for consumers to shop.
And why wouldn't it be? Everything you need is in your pocket, ready to be looked at, selected, purchased, and shipped.
Of course, as roofers, builders, and architects, what you sell can't be bundled up in a package and delivered to your customer's door the next day. But that doesn't mean you can't make for a more streamlined buyer's journey for your customers.
Offer online scheduling for consultation. Put pricing on your web page. Make an "About Us" or a FAQ page. All these steps, although not providing an actual product, allows your customer to quickly see why your business should be the one they select for a service.
2. It determines your image
Believe it or not, if you don't have a website, people won't take your seriously. Seriously!
With how far the internet has spread, people grow suspicious of any business that doesn't have a website.
To your potential customer, the only way for them to contact you or to learn about your service is through word of mouth or a rare chance they shuffled through their snail mail.
The world moves fast, people don't have time to deal with companies that are not forward-coming with their information.
Having a well-polished website that shares product and service information can really boost your company's image.
3. A 24-hour business day
On average, most people put in a 40-hour workweek.
They come in at 8am, leave at 5pm, Monday through Friday. It's nice, right?
But what do people do on their off time beside watch TV or take a walk? They're most likely searching for projects to do around the house and products to buy.
Meaning, people are surfing the internet during off work hours. If your business up, well, you just missed a customer. Several customers at that.
Even if you're not selling a product, but a service, having a website and being online can keep your business running even while you're sleeping.
4. Where's the cost?
Since we're on the subject of company websites, let's talk cost.
There are some great programs out there that can do all of your sales and marketing for you—for example HubSpot. But if you're searching for a simpler means to do online business, be sure to check out websites like WordPress, Weebly, and Wix, where you can create free websites pretty easily.
5. More information by you equals more customers to you
If I asked you to tell (or sing) me your favorite jingle you could do it, right?
It's probably because 1) you enjoy it 2) you've heard it several times and now it's stuck in your head.
The latter one is me.
The reason it works is because it's constantly being put out there. The more I see Stanley Steemer, the more I look at my carpets, the more I think they need cleaned, the more I think they need cleaned by Stanley Steemer.
Call 1-800 Steemer. Stanley Steemer gets carpet cleaner.
Now apply this mentality to your online presence. The more information you put out there, the more you're seen by potential customers, the more business you'll receive.
6. Save on cost
How much do you think you spend on average sending out "snail mail" promotions?
A lot probably—more than you're comfortable talking about. So why continue?
With your own website and the internet as your tool, start creating more articles, literature, and magazines online. It's free!
7. Go Global—or a least more than just to the next street corner
They didn't name it the worldwide web to be jokesters. Your business has the potential to reach a global audience when you build a website.
Although you might only be able to service customers in your area, having information that is accessible by everyone can boost your ranking and popularity.
Also, you've seen how businesses and products go viral out of the blue—that could be you!
8. Make yourself the expert
When you think of an expert in your field, it's mostly because you've learned something from them, they're popular, etc.
And most likely, the reason you've learned from them is because their information is easy to find and quick to read online.
Because of the reliance on the internet for advice on projects, most customers browse articles, read reviews, and compare products before they ever decide on who they are going to use.
Creating a website and joining the interwebs is the best way to get attention to your company, where you can provide information about your services and products, and convince your potential customers that you are the best on the market.
Even if you feel you're technology-challenged, its a good idea to start learning the basics and building a successful website for yourself and your business. There are plenty of resources, tools, and videos that can help you along the way.
But of course, we're always here to talk. Have a question or need some advice, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.