Is it just me, or are some people just being lazy when it comes to promoting their businesses online. Especially in the case of small businesses, it seems that many are plagued with cutting corners. Recently, I came across two examples of this that really struck me as bad decisions.
The first is an office building in downtown Pittsburgh, which has a huge banner (probably at least 20 feet tall and 5 feet wide) that reads “Office Space For Rent Contact [email protected]”*. That's right, not only did they use a personal Yahoo account for business purposes (which looks very unprofessional), but they also spent a big chunk of money on a huge banner and still couldn't shell out $50 for a domain name and e-mail service. I'm sure they could have gotten a lot further (or at least more considerations) if they did things right.
The second example came today. A few months ago, I had made some calls to see how much it would cost to pave the driveway of our new home. Well, we decided to push the project to the spring or summer, but I still have a few of the companies call me like every 2 weeks to check in. Well, this time they asked if I had seen their photos online. When I said I hadn't, they told me that I could go online to myspace/aconstructioncompany* and see over 700 photos of their work. When I stopped shaking my head, I told them that I'd have to look at them later when I was at my computer. MySpace is for social networking and musicians, not for running a business specializing in construction. In fact, it's such an unprofessional approach that I'm sure I won't be chosing them for any house projects in the future. They really should have their own domain name and site to host these images and talk about their business.
The point is that it's really not that hard or expensive to run your business online in a professional manner (at least presentation-wise…customer service and satisfaction are a whole other discussion). So take the time to do it right, and you'll be more likely to win over customers. After all, if you cut corners there, it leads potential customers to question where else you might cut them.
* Actual e-mail and sites changed out of consideration for owners.