Hans Muessig, of the University of Minnesota Extension Service, offered some tips to local business owners on “Doing Business On-line”. He noted that many retailers have doubled their business using the internet and that people in the hospitality and service business have also substantially increased their income over the internet.
The internet has enabled the global economy Muessig noted. In fact, 80% of business over the internet is now conducted from places that are so remote that you can’t buy a newspaper there. Although this new reality creates challenges, it also creates opportunities.
According to Muessig, 80% of people use the internet to research purchases. While 42% of businesses have a website, 33% of these are essentially unusable; they are static pages without basic contact information. Bad websites fail quickly, research indicates that your website has 45 seconds or fewer to secure the potential customers’ interest.
Among Minnesota tourism attractions, only 59% are on the web, yet potential visitors are increasingly using their computers, and their smart phones, to make travel and entertainment decisions. Muessig stressed the importance of communities having a single web portal that leads to all of the community’s offerings and options.
Muessig noted that residential and commercial location decisions are also increasingly made based on the community’s quality of life, package of amenities, and internet connectivity. What the community communicates about itself, on the internet, can greatly contribute to its economic success. Muessig reminded the group that most economic growth comes from existing businesses and so supporting these businesses must be a priority.
When thinking about your internet-based marketing plans, Muessig suggested studying your competitors. However, the first priority, he advised, is getting your business on the Google Places map.
The workshop was the first in a series of three. Upcoming workshops will be in late April and late May. Watch this website, and our Facebook page, for more information.