The end of the Yellow Pages, or why you need a website.

“As a wine retailer/winebar/restaurant, do I need a website and how do I make good use of it?”

Before answering the questions, keep in mind I just read a local newspaper article saying that 85% of people who receive the yellow pages never open it and proceed to (illegally) throw it in the garbage. (Recycling companies are required by law to take them). Think about that — the big yellow book, which from 1915 to 1997 was pretty much the only way to find a business of any sort, is now just landfill fodder. And the phone companies still try to charge for ad space in that dinosaur! Okay, back to the questions…

To answer the first question (Do I need a website) the answer is a screaming, jumping, fist pounding YES! You need a website like you need a phone and a sign in front of your establishment. It’s that simple. It’s how people will find you and decide to spend money with you. More on what constitutes a good website in another post. Onto the next question:

I’ve casually asked four customers this week what their website address is.

  • One scrawled down an old-school address like http://www.freewebsite4u/mywineshopname or something like that. Obviously a late 1990’s attempt at a website and unfortunately I’m sure he paid the ‘bargain sum’ of $299 or more for it. Sad part is he’s still using it.
  • One handed me his business card and said “Oh, it’s right there. Or just Google our name and we pop right up.” (or just Google “wine retail saint paul mn” and their name is right there).
  • One said “I don’t need a website. Haven’t needed it before, so why do I need it now?”
  • One said “We’ve been thinking about a website” (what? since 1999?)

Guess which of the four has seen in-store sales rise over 17% every year for the last four years?

A website is today’s equivalent of your grandfather’s yellow pages listing – it’s how your new customers will find you. Simple as that. Anybody reading this blog is obviously web-savvy enough to understand this. But it’s taking it to the next level that is so important: You have to make sure people find you before they find the competition. Lucky for all of us, Google is the clear choice for search engines and their interfaces are so powerful that entering the information once will immediately point people your way when they type in your store or restaurant name.

Go here (the ‘Adding a business to Google’ page) and relish in the fact that NOBODY of any sense pays a monthly fee for a yellow pages display ad (or radio ad, or television ad).

Read Seth Godin’s books for more info on 21st century marketing … it’s a great starting point for understanding ‘Web 2.0’.

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