Good morning, internet fans! Ryan Perry, Simple Biz Support. Today is Thursday, March 23rd, it is Internet Marketing Thursday. This is a weekly broadcast or show that we do, Virginie Dorn with Business Website Center and I, around various types of digital or internet marketing. Today, we’re going to start a three-part series around web design for your local business. If you happen to be a national business, this really isn’t going to be catered to you. However, if you’re a local business where typically your clientele comes to your location, maybe upwards 20, 25 miles, this is going to be a perfect series for you. Let me introduce Virginie Dorn with Business Website Center in Petaluma. Good morning, Virginie.
Good morning, Ryan. How are you doing today?
RP: I’m doing great. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a show last week. You weren’t feeling very well, but from the looks of it you’re looking much better.
VD: Yes, it’s much rosier as you can see of the pink. Yes, bronchitis, still it happens to all of us. I think this time of sickness reminds us how good we had it most of the times. So I’m back.
RP: It’s one way of saying, “Hey, you need to take a break.”
VD: Yes, indeed.
RP: Alright. So we’re going to start off this three-part series. Specifically, we’re going to talk about the nuances of web design for local business. There really is a big difference between what the look, the feel, the content, the images, pretty much everything that goes into the website for a local business versus somebody that’s trying to play on a regional, national, or even international basis.
VD: True. And it is almost, not difficult, but something to really put your thought process in is to truly connect with your local audience on a visual basis, but also on a textual content basis. And a lot of local business, they just want to put out there their services and products and they forget about fundamental element, which is to connect digitally to your audience. And the only way to do that is to understand who your local audience is and how to cater to them online. So I think first and foremost is to define the area you wish to target. Is it your city, your county, or perhaps your region? And once you have established that geographical area, then you have to look at who’s living there? So some idea I give to my customers is to go to the Census Bureau, census.gov for instance, where you can find some great information about the type of people that live there, how old are they, are there more men than women, what kind of income do they make and that type of things. So again, here we are defining the local area.
VD: After that, you want to describe what you sell, products, services and what sets you apart from all the local competitors. And finally, you want to look at, again, we always talk about our target audience. Within that local area, who is your target audience? So define it as clearly and as precisely as you can. Once you have all these defined, the area, the demographic data, the target audience and your product and services, try to connect all of these together. And that’s when we can start talking about the website design that truly connects to a local audience.
VD: And we can get into it. So, number one, you have to have a website. I don’t care if you live in rural Alabama. Everybody expects you to have a website, and it has to be well designed. This is the expectation nowadays. Again, it doesn’t matter what you sell, it doesn’t matter where your business is located, clients and prospective customers have that expectation of a well designed website. If you have an ugly and disorganized website, the whole process is, “Well, if you can’t provide me with a well designed website, well perhaps you cannot provide me with good quality services and products.” So that’s how people will think, not knowing that perhaps you are the best out there. So again, a well designed website is key and having a website of course.
RP: Yeah, definitely. And I think part of that on the whole design side is also realizing that a lot of times the website might be somebody’s first impression of you. And a lot of times, I’ll get push back from business owners that’ll go, “Yeah. But you know what? Most of my new leads are referrals. And so I’m not really… I don’t want to invest money in my website or I don’t want to put that much money in my website to make it look nice.” And the problem with that is that, even if it’s a referral, people are still going to do some research normally to check you out, see what’s going on. And, yes, people are still going to buy from you based on that referral, but it could affect your referability in the sense that, if Joe referred 10 people to you, maybe only five of them call you after looking at your website ’cause the other five are like, “Ah, not so good.” And then if we take it a step further, if Joe referred five people to you and five of those people went, “Oh, Joe, you gave me a bad recommendation,” based on your website, you’re not only hurting your reputation, but you’re also damaging the reputation of the people that are referring business to you.
VD: That’s so very true. And let’s take it a step further. So you have to have your website look good, but also has to have that local flair that again connects to that local audience. So once you understand what their likes and dislikes are, what the expectations of the local people are, you want to try to include local imageries and photograph again because digitally you don’t have an opportunity to talk to them. They go to your website. It’s just a screen to them. But if you can see, for instance, here under Wine Country, you can see vineyards and local monuments that relate to you, and it builds also that credibility that indeed you are a local business understanding the local flairs, and you support the local community, and then you live among them. So those photos of… Even if your products are not necessarily from the local area, perhaps you sell tires, you still are a local business living among them. And having those local images are very crucial in building that digital bond with that prospective customer.
RP: Yeah, and I think that from the imagery side can vary from location to location simply because I know in Sonoma County, where we’re both at, local means a lot to people. If you come in and you don’t change your phone number, and you don’t have a 707 area code, that’s going to be a turn off for a lot of people. So local imagery that says, “Yes, I’m a local shop,” means a lot to people here. Maybe downtown LA, it’s not the same. However, we still want to connect with people at an emotional level. And so I think being local for local business is always important. However, some areas are going to be more important that other areas. And so if you’re in one of those areas like Sonoma County, you definitely want to make sure that you have that local flair because you’re going to lose business by not showcasing that.
VD: Again, true fact. And there are some organization like Go Local, where you can associate yourself with and could wear their brand on your website to again show your appreciation for the local community and your acceptance and you can be a part of here. Also, you want to have a clear presentation of all the information. You mentioned a local phone number is important, but if you have a brick-and-mortar location where you welcome customers, it’s important to make sure you have that local address posted very visibly, and maybe directions to it. So again, anything that can be local is great. Even the team page, you can take it a step further. So if you have a team of people that are present in the community, most likely they live here, maybe they live a nearby town, maybe tell them, they went to Paloma High School or anything again that has a little local connection will help, not just visually, but also in the text. So think of any ways you can do to incorporate this little local elements throughout your webpages and that will help you again showcase yourself as a true local company.
RP: Alright and the reason why we’re doing all this, I think I touched on it a little bit before, is it’s that emotional value. A lot of times, people will say, “I had two choices. I could do a business with A or B. They both pretty much offer the same product but I went with A or B over here simply because I felt more comfortable with that person.” And your website needs to have that comfortability and that comfortability is going to be different for somebody who’s selling, I don’t know, what’s the… Selling yarn or something versus somebody that’s selling a corporate good or service. That look and feel needs to be unique to your specific product, however, that local part of it definitely needs to be there.
VD: Yes and having a locally flavored design doesn’t mean you’re old-fashioned or really dated website. There is a really good balance between a fresh, modern design and again a locally-flavored website design. It is possible to have both and in places like ours, where we’re surrounded by wineries, your website sometimes would look like a winery, but nonetheless there are a way to incorporate pictures of grapes, of vineyards, or even the hills throughout the pages and make it very much of a local website, therefore building that emotional connection much stronger with your prospective clients. So just think of it. That’s the thing about describing ours, we’re not giving you all the answers, it’s for you to… And maybe in 10, 15 minutes to say, “Yeah, maybe, I am a local business, 99% of my business is done within 20 mile radius. Maybe I do need to take another look at my website because it looks very sterile and it looks like it could be in Utah when in fact I’m in California.”
RP: Right, and not just look at your website, but also look at your competitor’s websites because your prospects are doing that. They’re judging you against the other websites that are out there. And not that we need to go into mobile, but you also want to makes sure that you’re mobile friendly. So checking your website out on a mobile device versus your competitors and see if there’s a difference there also.
VD: Yes. And next week, we’ll be talking more about mobile designs for local audience, which has different nuances, again for you to think about when you redesign your website.
RP: Alright, perfect. What’s next on the list?
VD: Well, truly, that’s about it. It’s the visual impact today we’re discussing about, those local images, those little bits of information, even the color scheme of your website. Your website might be red, but there are ways to include the local colors and you should live in a certain community, you know what I mean. And so not just have a pretty website, but subtle website that truly connects digitally 24/7 with the local audience. So, let’s recap: Define your area, understand who lives there. Understand what you’re selling and what sets you apart from your competitor. Understand who your target audience is. And with that clear understanding, you develop a website design that has that local flair and will help build that bond with those prospective clients online.
RP: Yeah. Perfect. And part of doing that is that if you’re watching this webinar in New York, then maybe finding a graphic designer or web designer in New York is going to be a better option for you simply because those people are going to understand your needs a lot better than somebody from Texas or California. We think a little differently, I assume, than people in New York. So, you’re going to get those subtle design nuances from different regions of the country.
VD: Yes, indeed.
RP: Yeah. Perfect. Alright, next week is we’re still going to stay with the local theme, web design for local business. However, we’re going to specifically be talking about mobile device and some tips and tricks on how to make sure that not only your website is mobile friendly, but how can you optimize the design aspect to get higher conversions. And again, how do we… It’s really about creating a trust or a bond, that emotional connection. Virginie, as always, I appreciate the time and energy that you put into the show. We’ll see you same computer, same screen, I assume.
VD: Yes, next week. Take care.
RP: Perfect. Alright, everybody, that’s it for today’s show. We will see you next Thursday, 9:30. Take care.