The Dangers Of The Internet
The deeper I get into the world of digital marketing the more I’m surprised at how much many people have come to rely on the internet as a means of promoting themselves and their business, often to the exclusion of other, proven forms of marketing.
I think it’s worth remembering that for centuries businesses have grown by word of mouth and personal contact. Delivering a great product or service is still the best way to become rich and famous, even in the age of Google and Facebook. I don’t want this post to come across the wrong way, but it is still true that the vast majority of businesses are local – in fact, most businesses can’t effectively deliver their products on a global scale.
I’m in the midst of restoring an old race/ski boat from the 1960s, and I spent quite a bit of time researching different types of fibreglass and looking for suppliers. One of my local boating stores wanted twice as much for resin as I could buy it for online. The local boating store is set up to provide in-stock service to people who walk in their doors. They sell and service boats – and you aren’t going to ship a boat across the country for service. Their road to success is going to be paved not with Google ads, but in delivering excellent customer service and in being visible in the community – positioning themselves as experts. They could sell resin at cost to try to earn my business, but why? The online suppliers buy in bulk and have excellent shipping rates. There is no reason for the local stores to try to compete with that for a small dollar item.
On the other hand, they had better have the little things in stock that I need. Kill switch lanyards? Oil? Lube? Life jackets? Tubes? Tow ropes? If, on a Thursday or Friday, a boat owner realizes his weekend is in jeopardy because his wakeboard binding is broken, he will not have time to order parts over the internet. If the local store has a fair price and has the items in stock – they win.
Yes, targeted online ads will benefit the business – maybe a 100 mile radius from their place of business. Yes, Facebook can benefit the business. But so could setting up a water truck at the boat launch and offering to pressure wash everyone’s hull when they pull the boat from the water. Or offering wakeboard clinics on the weekend free of charge to their customers, or maybe just hitting the lake with coolers full of ice cold water and handing them out to boaters.
It’s often the little things that make the biggest difference in the business world. Remember that.