An interesting thing happened to me the other week that became the catalyst for this article. I was responding to an e-mail inquiry who had requested that we contact him with additional information on one of our products. Before I wrote back to this person I wanted to learn more about his business, so I did what 70 percent of Americans do every day; I Googled his company. And to my amazement, this rather sizable, regional producer did not have a web site. I looked for over 10 minutes and finally found the company phone number, thanks to the online Yellow Pages and Manta.com.
Why did I find this shocking? It’s amazing in this day and age that the same person I received an e-mail from (who obviously found it by searching for our company on the internet) did not think that others might do the same when looking for his company. I then went a bit further by asking our Customer Relations Manager to see how many of the contacts in our database had a published web site… I was floored. In our 13 state territory from West Virginia to Maine, we have collected over 2700 names associated with 1400 companies that include almost every ready mix producer, as well as products and pre-cast operators. Our estimated guess shows that only 55% of those companies have some type of organized web presence.
Think your customers aren’t looking for you on the web? Think again. The yellow pages are dead. The consumer’s first preference is the internet when looking for phone numbers. Most B2C companies and retail stores have created online versions of their brick and mortar businesses. Ready mix producers and precasters should be no different. Obviously our consumers don’t buy online, however many use your websites for gathering product information, locating your plant to see its proximity to them or for something as simple as finding a phone number. A factor several savvy producers and precasters are exploiting in their overall marketing strategies. Mobile is the newest rage. What does your site look like when someone pulls it up on their Android, iPhone or Blackberry?
A very slick example of a mobile app: a calculator application courtesy of Chaney Enterprises in MD
What else can a potential customer learn about your company when they visit your site? Information like hours of operation, number of locations of your company, years in business, customer testimonials, types of trucks, number of employees and many other pieces of information that potential customers might want to know when making a decision to purchase goods or services from you. The possibilities are endless when it comes to what can be put on your site to inform potential customers about your company.
Putting up a web site is relatively easy and can be done in-house or through one of literally hundreds of web site developers. If you’re not on the web, the decision is simple, find someone on staff that tinkers with the web and has built his or her own site or better yet, hire an experienced developer. Once your site is up, you have now created a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week, 365 day a year billboard for the entire world to see. Current estimates put the number of internet users at over one billion. Oh, did I mention that once that Web site is up its almost free? Internet domain providers can get your url registered and host your site for pennies a day, truly a bargain compared to any other form of advertising.
OK, so you were an early adopter who’s had a web site for many years and you think this article wasn’t written for you; think again. When was the last time you bothered to update it? Web sites get stale very quickly and need constant attention if they are to effectively draw potential customers to your business. We’ve all had the experience of pulling up a site only to see out of date info or even worse; expired pages and bad links. Visitors to your site expect fresh info and plenty of it so don’t skimp when it comes to content. Here are some thought starters in addition to those mentioned above for those of you that need a little inspiration.
- Online Volume Calculators
- Live Weather Radar
- Info on: Curing, Finishing, Color, Mix Design, Benefits and use of Fiber
- Online store to promote to promote sales of Tools, Rebar, etc.
- Community Service Projects
- Public Relations Opportunities
- Newsletters for employees and customers
- Calls-to-Action to encourage visitors to contact you
- Landing Pages-Special Offers or Discounts
- Blogs about customer projects
- Pictures or videos of your plant and personnel
Having a web site is important; having a website that provides useful or interesting info is even more important. If you want to see what is important to your customers look no further than your competitors’ web sites. Let’s face it, it’s very competitive out there, and any advantage that you can create is extremely valuable in your arsenal of tools. The web is often the most overlooked source of advertising in this industry. For some reason many of us think that the web is only for e-bay, Amazon or online dating.
It’s pretty simple to put a basic site together, www.GoDaddy.com , www.1and1.com or www.networksolutions.com all provide a tremendous amount of resources for you to get started. If you don’t have a web site, make it a priority. I can assure you that you are losing business to your competition. The longest journey begins with the first step. If you have a web site, make a commitment to keep it fresh by dedicating a specific amount of time each month on your sites content. Show pics of your customers’ projects, your facilities or interesting articles. Everyone loves to look at pictures. Co-promoting your customers’ business is good for both of you. They’ll appreciate your support and it will strengthen your image in the industry. So stop thinking about it and go sell some concrete on your website!