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  1. #1
    SitePoint Zealot
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    Question What's the best way of convincing small business owners

    to obtain a website and (hopefully) use your services?

    Also, how can you convince them that web designers AREN'T rip-off artists? I never thought people would think like that. What am I missing?

    I used to do work for an non-profit organization...they already knew me and looked at resume, and I was brought on board just like that. Small business owners, such as a barber...
    they were skeptical.

    What are their fears?
    Last edited by samsoner; Mar 8, 2009 at 12:08.

  2. #2
    SitePoint Zealot
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    ask them what stops them! I mean a barber that says no, does want to spend the money, or doesn't understand what is involved, or doesn't understand the cost (be that high or low), thinks that he has enough customers already, .... take your pick!!!

  3. #3
    SitePoint Enthusiast MSWD's Avatar
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    I think it has a lot to do with your representation of yourself (or your company) Do you have things that make them feel comfortable enough to do business with you?
    • A company web site
    • Business cards
    • company email address
    • references
    • brochures
    • a snazy proposal

    It's your job to make them feel confident that you can acheive their goals!

  4. #4
    Serial Entrepreneur
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    Your best clients will be the ones that want your services, not the ones who don't. Why are you spending time on a client who doesn't want your services when there are so many others who might?

    Heresy alert: some businesses just do not need a web site for their external marketing.

    I wouldn't go searching web sites looking for a barber; I would look instead at one of those neighborhood ad bundles that show up in the postal mail. So you are already starting behind the eight ball, since you are trying to convince him to change his external marketing strategy away from something that's working to something that probably won't.

    Every business needs an external marketing strategy, but not every business needs a web site for that strategy. I have a client that does $80 million in yearly revenue and has a web site that's nothing more than their printed material put online and is only used to confirm to clients that they exist at all. I have another that does several million in sales and has absolutely no web presence, because his clients wouldn't look there for him anyway.

    Figure out which clients really NEED a web marketing strategy and focus your selling on those.
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  5. #5
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    It is important to have testimonials and a professional image, you cant beat word of mouth recommendation.

  6. #6
    Follow: @AlexDawsonUK silver trophybronze trophy AlexDawson's Avatar
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    If you offer them what they want, they will come. You should ask people who initially show interest but decide against this what made their decision and perhaps you can barter with them or if it is a wider problem, resolve this so that it will not happen again by improving your services. Just look professional, act professionally and make sure to cater for your clients needs and you should be fine.

  7. #7
    SitePoint Guru mattymcg's Avatar
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    There were some good tips in Miles's SitePoint Tribune newsletter yesterday:

    In fact, in the space of a few hours last week, we built a one-page site that lists 13 reasons you should embrace the Web. It's a succinct 13-point manifesto on why we believe the Web adds value to any business.

    We then sent a link to this page to our newsletter subscribers, local journalists, and all our recent prospects.
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  8. #8
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    best way to attract small business owner is to collect contacting information of relevent client from business directories and contact them via phone or post email containing proper business leaflet

  9. #9
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    About barber / hairdresser and similar businesses:-)

    It is easy to convince small business, that a simple site - one static page with opening time, phone number + e-mail form is not more expensive, than bunch of papers inside junk mail.
    Even, after adding simple script for updating the opening times, it will still be very cheap.

    There are people, who just do not read ads, they are ads-blind, they refuse to get ads into their mailbox, but when they look for service, they start from internet.

    There are many services, where people book visits. From the business owner point of view, it could be easier to process some not urgent e-mails, once or twice a day, than run to phone, leaving an actual client, only just to reserve time for 3 days later.

    Have you been in kitchen, when suddenly phone rings?
    Imagine: leave something, perhaps take down fire, wash and dry hands...

    About rip-off art... It is probably easier to ask client to takie 100 photos of things or people in his/her workshop or office.
    Just crazy shooting session. It is sure, some will be perfect.
    Perhaps it is even easier if you use one paid hour to do it yourself.

    Good luck :-)

  10. #10
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    Small Business can realize some marketing benefit from a website . A website can be used as an online business card, simple information for customers in a hurry like trying to locate the Business address to put in their GPS or call for an appointment.

    Offer them a quick professional template and low cost hosting

  11. #11
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    The problem is that many business owners don't comprehend the full value of a website. They value things like telephone service, business cards, signs, vehicles, and service-oriented equipment because they feel that these things are necessary if they are to make money - even though this does not always prove true.

    What I recommend is not selling them a website, but selling them on the benefits of having a website. Offer solutions that will aid in them making money...A barber/hair stylist, for example, may benefit from an online scheduling system - a website where clients can log in, see available time slots, and add themselves to the schedule. You can even go so far as to allow "pre-payments" via credit cards/paypal. The benefit - time spent doing those other things (collecting payments/bank desposits, answering the phone, scheduling, etc.) can be spent doing more-productive work...making money!

    Of course, even this may not work for all budgets and business models, but it may help them to see the practical value of websites. And who knows...they may recommend your solution to another business owner!
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  12. #12
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    If you’re talking about an e-commerce website, convincing should be relatively easy...

    In the real world find me a shop that is open 24 hours a day 7 days a week 365 days a year, that has sales staff working to their best every day all day, where you have an accountant who keeps the books and prepares accounts on time perfectly and constantly.

    A shop that always keeps it’s self spotlessly clean and does not require cleaners, and where all the workers work for free. This shop must also be able to be so close to someone’s house; it is effectively IN their house, and not just that one person’s house but everyone’s house in the world (that has the internet).

    This shop must also have a team of staff to analyse information of its customers, when they visit, how long they stay, what days are most popular, what months are most popular, how much the average customer pays, what the ratio of people walking into the shop to people buying from the shop is, where the people are visiting geographically, what advert attracted them into the shop, and possibly more.
    The shop needs to have a team of people that will re-price all items in the shop in a split second as soon as the shop owner decides to change the price of something.

    It needs to be so good to those with disabilities such as people that are blind, that the shop will send a taxi to pick them up and lead them into the store, and then show them around and tell them about all the products.

    Now find me a shop like that in the real world that costs under £10,000 a year to run! If you can't, then maybe you should consider an e-Commerce website.

  13. #13
    SitePoint Guru
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    Show them the web sites of their competitors! and explain to them why they should do less or more than what you are presenting...
    fash

  14. #14
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    2 things - show them their competition and some them a sampling of keyword research to demonstrate how many people are searching for the service

  15. #15
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    Their services and products are always available to be viewed 24 x 7 365 as well, even if they are not and ecommerce site. So when their regulars store is closed, they can still be promoting. Also, it will allow customers to easily compare and consider them. It really is good to let them know that it is a part of their overall Marketing approach

  16. #16
    SitePoint Wizard spence_noodle's Avatar
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    The best way to convince any business owner who don't already have a website is the money side. Not how much a website, web host and domain name costs but what benefits a website can do to a business either locally or on a global scale, business depending.

    Show them Google maps and how to include their business for free and the potential gaining more customers, just one way to expose their business to the world.
    "Don't you just love it when you solve a programming bug only to create another."

  17. #17
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    I suggest you compare it to a yellow page ad.

    Most small local businesses don't need a complex fancy web site but even a single page site is better than none. A lot of people do their searching via the web rather than in the physical yellow pages. Those that have a url to reference have an advantage over those that don't.

    It needs the minimum of what is on a large yellow page ad: hours, products & services offered, contact info, and directions/map. If the business has brochures, etc. that info can be added either as html or a printable pdf or both.

    Back to the physical yellow pages. You can add the url to a small listing or large ad. Any traffic you get from those are definitely people who are looking for what you are offering.

    I came across a registrar site the other day that just began offering hosting. They offer web space for a small static site plus a domain name for $35 a year. Compare that to yellow page ad costs and it is definitely a bargain even with the cost of the original design and an annual design update included.

    Make sure you keep growth in mind when you make the original design. I can see a section with before and after photos for the barber shop. A page of kid's first haircuts would be fun too. Profiles of the barbers/stylists.

  18. #18
    You Bet Your Life...Really lerxtjr's Avatar
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    No matter what you do, you won't make everyone happy. So stop trying. If they don't have a website by now, they're probably stuck in their ways anyhow. It's not your job to convince them; it's to provide them with a solution when they're ready. There are plenty of business owners that are "ready" so focus on them.

  19. #19
    SitePoint Guru
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    Quote Originally Posted by samsoner View Post
    to obtain a website and (hopefully) use your services?
    If you're not naturally good at sales, then team up with somebody who is.

    And ditto above, why waste your time trying to sell somebody who doesn't want your services in the first place?

    Quote Originally Posted by samsoner View Post
    Also, how can you convince them that web designers AREN'T rip-off artists? I never thought people would think like that. What am I missing?
    Compare your rates to lawyers and put things in perspective. Most lawyers charge 300-500 per hour to fill out some paperwork for you. And all businesses need a lawyer (unfortunately).

    Quote Originally Posted by samsoner View Post
    I used to do work for an non-profit organization...they already knew me and looked at resume, and I was brought on board just like that. Small business owners, such as a barber...
    they were skeptical.

    What are their fears?
    Investing something that they feel will not be a good return. Can you convince the barber that he/she will get more business by hiring you? That's the only thing that will sway your average small business owner. If you (or your sales partner) cannot make that case, then you are not likely to sway them. Forget them and switch your focus to realistic prospects.

    Honestly, I don't think a barber would benefit much from a web site. They rely on neighborhood, walk-in business more than anything. Most of which knows about them simply because they are locals who need a hair cut. Not because of SEO or superior web design or my favorite... 'I am a real coder who uses CSS because...' - as if that means something to a barber.

    Take your past 'success stories' and make a dossierre or presentation, which focuses on increased profits for the client as a result of your work. In other words, talk dollars... that grabs the attention of a business owner. If they still call you a rip-off artist or whatever, move on. Not everybody you approach will turn into a client.

  20. #20
    SitePoint Zealot Cassidy's Avatar
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    Don't try to sell them on the "Web Site" if they don't see a need for it. Show them how a web site is going to increase their business. Once they see that, all you need to do is convince them that you are better at implementing it.
    Last edited by Cassidy; Mar 21, 2009 at 20:58. Reason: jb
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  21. #21
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    Offer freebies of a chance for them to redo site design in case it does not come out accordingly as planned. You must also gather all testimonials you can to convince them to take you in for the job.
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  22. #22
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    I think you must add to your site that able to choose your clients to buy online shopping.

  23. #23
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    to convince them try to give them idea and advantages they will gain and also the disadvantages

  24. #24
    SitePoint Enthusiast MarketLeverage's Avatar
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    Statistics and results. Do you have, or can you find, case studies of businesses that went online and how their sales increased? That will probably the most concrete way to prove that a web site, and the design, matter.
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  25. #25
    SitePoint Enthusiast RunCompanies's Avatar
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    Show them that facts, show them how Google gets billions of searches each day for locations or services, then show them how they get 0% of those customers because someone else is stealing them away. Show them how their competitors are getting XX% of Traffic and turn-overs, basically prove to them it's like the phone book or paper cards. Customers need information, and the internet is the most used way they will get it or find it--.


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