Small Business Alert: Get Your Head Out of the Sand and Take Advantage
Google and Intuit Takes a Stand for Small Business
I opened this morning’s paper and was stirred to take action. Yes, newspaper advertising can still work.
Headline: Websites are now free for Oregon businesses.
Sub-head: It’s easy. Really fast. And really free.
The only body copy was a url to visit.
I visited the site and was pleasantly stunned. Google along with , Score, Small Business Development, Portland Business Alliance, MercyCorps and a number of other small business partners in the state have joined forces to help get small business online.
Why? Why would all of these business related partners come together to create such a program?
Because we live in a world where 97% of consumers actively look for products and services online.
Ninety-seven percent, folks! This means a small business without a website are ignored, overlooked, fried. Without a web site, small business owners are totaly invisible to most of their audience. Those without websites have been like the proverbial ostrich with their heads in the sand ignoring all of the obvious signs of how marketing has changed and continues to change.
The Google and Intuit site lists some of the obvious facts:
- Small businesses are vital to America’s economic future; the nation’s 27.5M small businesses comprise half the U.S.
- GDP and create two-thirds of all new jobs.
- Although nearly all consumers look online for local products and services, 63% of U.S. small businesses do not have a website. Research supports this claim.
- The result is many of these businesses are invisible to potential customers.
- Getting online gives businesses the opportunity to find new customers, increase sales and grow.
Inspiring Success Stories for the Doubting Business Owner
To stimulate the small business into signing-up and actually creating their own site, there are wonderful success stories. All of the small business owners featured describe the process as being fast, easy and free.
Best yet? They could see immediate results in their bottom lines.
Garment Exchange – A Texas mother sees a 250% increase in sales after creating her website in one afternoon. Now she can hire some staff.
RD Hamburgers – A family-run hamburger restaurant goes online and finds new ways to reach local customers and finds 10 new customers a day.
Harper Music – A talented music lover gains confidence and doubles her student roster thanks to her new website.
Green Mountain Bee Farm – Vermont bee farmers sell out of honey after launching website. Now they’re making plans to expand.
Matt’s Drum Studio – An entrepreneurial high school drummer taps into success after taking his talent online.
Free Offer is or will be Nationwide
As I study the site more, I discover Google & Intuit plan to offer this program nationwide…not just in my state of Oregon. It is currently being offered in Washington, Georgia, Utah, California, Wisconsin and I assume others. This doesn’t mean that every state is ready to go as discovered when I clicked around the map of the US and see a number of states (including Illinois, Montana, Colorado, Tennessee and New Mexico) visitors needed to sign-up to be notified when the program goes live in their state. You’ll have to see if your state is participating or not.
What’s the Catch? How Do Google & Intuit Benefit?
Yes, Google and Intuit do benefit from this program, but when you think about it, the benefits seem small when compared to the returns to small business owners who take advantage of the program.
1. You need to create a Google gmail account, if you haven’t already. These accounts are forever free, so no sneaky catch here. Once you have an account, there is the possibility either Google or Intuit will encourage you to sign-up your business for a free Google Places account so you can put a Google map on your new website. Again, forever free account. But having more businesses sign up for Google Places means that Google will be better at providing accurate and up-to-date information to searchers.
2. You need to sign-up for an Intuit account and to do so you’ll need your credit card. Why? Because Intuit is offering every business that signs up a domain name, website and website hosting for free for 12 months only. After the first year of free service, you’ll be automatically billed $2 monthly for your domain name and $4.99 monthly for web hosting. That is a monthly fee of $6.99 or $83 a year for a website. Users can cancel the service at any time.
If you already have a domain name through GoDaddy or another domain service, you would only have to pay $4.99 a month or about $60 a year.
The $80 odd dollars that Intuit charges is comparable to what one would have to pay annually for a hosting service. To actually create the site, small business owners would need to make themselves savvy about WordPress (which offers a lot of flexibility and options), but does involve a learning curve. Or they will have to hire someone to do that piece for them, which will probably cost an additional $1,000 to $2,000 out of pocket. Then there are the updates and changes and if the small business owner doesn’t understand how to make these changes to their site, each will cost in the neighborhood of $150 – $250 a pop.
Bottom Line: This effort reminds me of the American Express’ Small Business Saturday effort. Again, trying to promote the value and contribution small business makes in communities across the country. There are clear advantages to participating in Google Places and in creating a website for one’s small business.
There is absolutely no excuse, at least no valid excuse, for any small business not to have a website with this offer. It is FREE! Most of the success stories explain that it only took them an hour to set-up a really cool web site and to start seeing results immediately.
The url for the state of Oregon is: www.oregongetonline.com/now
The url for the U.S. map and to find out if your state is currently participating is: www.americagetonline.com
The Google and Intuit partnership is a really good deal for any small business owner. Any small business owner that is willing to raise their head out of the sand and get a free website for a year and make it part of their marketing efforts.
Are you going to be one of the small business owners that benefits from this offer? Or will your competitors?
Let us know if you decide to take advantage of this extraordinary offer by putting your comments below. Make a commitment to make this happen for your business. You’ll be surprised.
P.S. If you are aware of small business owners who lack a website, you may want to pass this deal on to them so they can benefit as well.
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