U-C WEBS' founder Nardo KuitertBy Nardo Kuitert, U-C WEBS
[Published in Minding Our Business, February 2008 for the Centre Wellington Chamber of Commerce]

By now we all accept the fact that global warming is taking place and that it is a process we cannot control or stop. We cannot ignore it anymore but have to come up with strategies to adapt in order to survive.

For the Internet it is the same thing.

It has changed the way that people hear about the latest news, find new employees or educate themselves about (locally) offered products and services. Online people find a wealth of information and even shopping can be done with the touch of a button. The Internet has become a big part of our lives and its growth cannot be stopped or ignored. Businesses will have to adapt to this new situation too if they want to survive. Having a website almost seems to be a minimum requirement nowadays.

Many smaller businesses worry about big box stores, and so they should. Advances of scale allow these big stores to carry a wider assortment at lower prices. Customers respond to that. It is a matter of price and convenience – and convenience is probably the biggest factor.

Convenience, the ability to choose, being in control… these are some of the main reasons why people have moved to the Internet more and more as well. Online shopping is increasing year after year, and people are searching online for local organizations more and more as well. FergusPages.com is a local website that attracts almost all of its traffic from the search engines – from people searching for local information about Fergus, Elora or Belwood. We have seen traffic increases of more than 50% every single year since its inception in 2004!

Yes, a revolution has started. Customers want control and transparency. A website can offer them what they are looking for. I can easily come up with more than 50 Reasons Why You Need A Website. But the most important one is: your customers are searching online – so you want to be found there!

And even if you are still not convinced that you need a website, then you should at least embrace some online marketing – much of which is available for free:

  • Make sure that your profile on the Centre Wellington Chamber website is complete, including a clear description of the products and services that you offer.
  • The same goes for the websites from the Fergus BIA, Elora BIA, ferguspages.com or the township’s website centrewellington.ca.
  • Use free online advertising sites like Craigslist.org, Kijiji.ca to complement your printed ads.
  • Reach local people in locally oriented Pay-Per-Click campaigns in Google, Yahoo and MSN.

This should sound like music to your ears: free advertising! And the fact that it is so easy to come by is an extra bonus! All you have to do is act!

More and more people are searching online, and if they do not find you, then they will find someone else. Again: you may not be online yet, and may not have any inclination of being online anytime soon. But your (potential) customers are searching online. And it will have a dramatic impact on your business unless you adapt to this changing environment.

Nardo Kuitert is an Internet Consultant with Fergus Website Development and Optimization firm U-C WEBS (www.u-cwebs.com). U-C WEBS also offers Internet advertising opportunities on www.ferguspages.com. (link opens in a new window)

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