I have been going to the same hairdressers for thirty years. When I started going there, he had a thriving business but last week, to my astonishment, he told me that he is selling his business because he can no longer earn a living from it. He has an excellent reputation.
He has a nice looking shop in a busy position. He is based in a very prosperous area with plenty of potential customers. I was at a complete loss to understand how he could have let his business fail so badly. So I went home and Googled him and suddenly the reason for his failure became blindingly obvious.
A Google search for hairdressers in his area revealed that he did not appear until halfway down page three. His position in the Google Directory was thirteen out of fourteen competitors. He had only one Google review – a one-star rating from someone complaining that he charges full price for children’s haircuts on a Saturday. To all intents and purposes, he is invisible.
Without an effective online marketing strategy, your business is probably going to be for the chop!
Then I looked at his website. It must be ten years old and it is terrible. There is no information about his experience and the experience of his team which is his key selling point. In fact, there is nothing at all to answer a potential customer’s unspoken question, “Why should I come to you?”
There are no testimonials from his many loyal and happy clients. There is no video. There is no facility to book an appointment online. If you want to send an email, you have to type in an antispam code first which means that most people won’t bother. If he put up a big page on the web that said “XXX off” he could not do a better job of deterring potential customers.
IT’S NOT JUST HAIRDRESSERS…
I see exactly the same problems with so many of the estate agency businesses that I visit. All too often, they were set up before the internet became important and the owners simply haven’t moved with the times. We read so much in the trade press about the march of the online agents but the reality is that we all have to be online agents now. If you don’t have an effective eMarketing strategy, 5-star Google reviews and a modern and effective website, it doesn’t matter how good your service is, you simply won’t be invited to pitch to potential vendors in the first place.
IT’S UP TO YOU!
This is simply too important to delegate and every business owner and branch manager must take responsibility for ensuring that their online presence is up to the required standard. There is no need to have IT expertise. You just need to look at your business and your competitors through the eyes of a prospective client. Start with a Google search for estate agents or letting agents in your town and postcode. Where do you appear? How does this compare to your competitors? If you are not on page one, you may need to consider experimenting with a Google pay per click advertising campaign. If you do this, it must be set up and run by somebody with specialist expertise in this field. If you try to do it yourself, you are almost certain to lose money.
Where do you appear in the Google Directory and do you have at least five 5-star reviews? If you do not, you need to get some as a matter of the greatest urgency. Do you have any poor reviews? If so, you need to get some more good ones so that they are forced onto page two.
Next, look at your website. It needs to be designed to appeal to vendors and landlords, not applicants. You must also be aware that 50 per cent of all visitors will have left within eight seconds so you must communicate your message quickly using pictures as well as words. Imagine that a potential client asked you to explain why they should instruct you in eight seconds. What would you say? Whatever it is needs to be conveyed on your home page.
It’s too late for my hairdresser. He will, to his dying day, be convinced that he was forced to sell his business because his greedy landlord put his rent up. The real reason that his business failed, of course, is that he simply did not keep up with the times. Make sure that you do not make the same mistake with your business. Make sure that you improve your online presence before it’s too late.
Adam Walker is a management consultant, business sales agent and trainer who has worked in the property sector for more than twenty-five years. www.adamjwalker.co.uk