Recently I needed to order a custom neon sign. I searched the web and found several companies that could do what I needed. I used an online form on one of the sites to ask a few questions, and sent e-mail to a couple of others. The answers came back via e-mail, and I chose one company over the others.
I went back to their website and I was very surprised to find that the company is located in my town, just a few miles from my business!
I had them make the sign, and I was very happy with the results. But the important lesson here is that I found the business via the Internet. I never saw their ad in the chamber of commerce newsletter or their listing in the yellow pages; I didn’t even consult those resources. It was just a lucky coincidence for me that this company was local (because shipping neon signs can be expensive).
I’ve learned that I can save a lot of money by searching the web for my business needs. My flyers are printed in Florida; office supplies are shipped directly from one of the big online companies; tools come from a company in Washington, and so on.
As a purchaser of goods and services, my business can take advantage of the very best deals anywhere in the US!
But it’s equally true that as a provider of goods and services, my business must now compete with others all across the country.
That means several things:
- As I small business, I need a good Internet marketing plan and an effective website.
- I need a compelling value story that will lead customers to choose my business over the hundreds of others they will find on the web.
- I need to use my website to get new customers and retain my existing customers, which may require me to rethink my entire business process.
It’s easy to ignore these challenges when you are faced with all the day-to-day challenges of running your business. Some small businessmen think they are immune to Internet competition. Just remember – that’s what your local bookstore might have said before Amazon.com.