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Kind of a daunting title, no? But it’s actually shocking how often I see this happening, and most times without the business owner even realizing it (or perhaps just choosing to ignore it).

Okay, story time!

The other week I met up with an old friend of mine over coffee, who is doing pretty big things in the marketing world. After the normal “How’s business?” chat, he got onto telling me a little about a client of his that had just opened a new Skateboard / Snowboard shop in the area.

Awesome, I thought. We could definitely use more ‘Mom & Pop’ type shops like that around these parts, especially with the surge of huge strip malls and over sized plazas on what seems like every other block these days!

He went on to tell me that this client of his was looking for the whole she-bang, marketing wise. From a website, to marketing tactics, to promotional items, you know, ALL of it. He assumed that to hit the ground running with this new venture, these were the absolute most important things required for him to succeed.

Sure, sounds like he’s on the right track, doesn’t it? I mean how are people going to spend money at your shop if they don’t even know it exists. Seems legit.

Except, here was where he slipped up.

On one of their first official meetings, my marketing friend drove out to the actual physical location of the skate shop, to go over things with his client. The first thing he noticed the instant he pulled up to the shop was how run down and grungy the place looked. Both outside and in. Completely beat up. In need of everything from new paint to new products, and probably even a few full bottles of Febreeze to get rid of that smell. (Did the people before have a whole gaggle of cats living here?! )

Priorities, Priorities

As we continued to chat, my friend went on to explain that as much as he loved working with this gentleman, he really felt like the client had his priorities out of whack. He felt he was completely missing a key factor.

That key factor was that it wasn’t going to matter how much fancy, shmancy marketing and promotion he did, once potential customers rolled up to a shop that looked (and smelled) like that. You can bet they were going to do a full 180 and high tail it straight back out of there. The place was a dump.

So where are we going with this whole Skate Shop reference? Well, I’ll tell you.

This is the EXACT same scenario as a company trying to run a business online with a terrible, outdated, dumpy looking website. You know the ones I’m talking about. The one’s whose sites have been slapped together by a neighbour’s, cousin’s, ex-roomate who once made a webpage for someone back in the day. Yeah, those ones.

It won’t matter how awesome your marketing tactics are, or how cool your logo looks on that coffee mug, if once you get someone in the door (or, in this case, to your website), they immediately have to question the validity of your business and whether they want to even DO business with you in the first place.

First impressions matter

Especially on the web. Especially if your business relies on selling your potential customer on a service they can’t physically come see in person at that exact moment. (ie. Campgrounds, Cottage Rentals, Yoga Studios, etc.)

It’s far too easy for your potential customers to research someone else who is offering the exact same thing you offer, and has a much more appealing site to display that product or service from.

Who would you choose if roles were reversed? That clean looking, easy to use site with fantastic photography that makes you really feel like you know what you’re getting? Or that site with the navigation links that don’t work, who have made it next to impossible for you to find their contact info and that ‘Made for free with *insert free website maker name here*’ tagline at the bottom of their site. That gives you confidence doesn’t it?

Exactly. It’s an easy choice.

Make yourself stand out by showing your quality, and don’t give them any reason to look elsewhere.

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