Ever since Websites for business first became fashionable, small and medium business owners have commonly treated them as an unpleasant expense – a nuisance at best – that they’d just assume wasn’t their problem. After all, these are people who work tirelessly on retaining the customers they already possess, right? The last thing they’re interested in is pledging time and money to some nebulous idea that their brochure, repurposed on the internet, is going to unleash a floodgate of new leads and customers. And they’re right. By itself, a Website isn’t the point. Often small and midsized businesses only think of a Website as important because everyone else has one. So really, they’re not remotely certain of a Website’s value and don’t understand what the ultimate goal is anyway. So the thought of a Website truly being a lead generating opportunity amounts to little more, in their mind’s, than some flimsy scheme that even worse, probably doesn’t even apply to their industry.
I have been working with these people on their Websites since around 1997. As a matter of fact, even in 2012, in an internet marketing climate well past the tipping point, I find that I continue to sell the value of a Website more often than I do the actual exercise of building one.
But where some Website purest might grow weary of the eternally provincial skeptic carefully minding the till, I prefer to revel. I actually rejoice. I get excited when I’m helping internet marketing greenhorns find their legs.
Remember, it’s easy, I’ll confess, to assemble with other tested marketing nerds and sing loudly our fight song, validating one another’s relevance with each stanza. The social Web is yours! You’ve earned your spot on the totem and that’s that. And I agree; you have. But remember too that even now, with your infinite internet marketing knowledge, you once knew nothing of the magic of internets and stood on the shoulders of those before you. And while you could quickly point to your unquenchable thirst for knowledge as the impetus for your brawn in the space, we all learn at different tempos and are inspired to do so by different forces.
Small and medium business owners are seldom at home with their families. They save and save and save to afford that Caribbean cruise each year. They’re not all jet setting to and from high-ticket lead gen conferences, mixers and pitches either. Some are just plugging along. They’re sometimes scared and nervous about change and they all watch their wallets like foxes watch the chicken coup.
Remember internet marketing sage, sure the small business owner needs to understand that a Website can be more than an internet version of their tired brochure. But you, not them, need to ensure you’re delivering that very message with their sensibilities in mind. Scoffing, rolling your eyes or much worse than both, giving up on the least ready in the room is as much a testament to your inabilities to adapt as it is your buyer’s. It might even be the very same mechanism entirely.
A Guru knows as much about a thing as she does how to teach a thing. So go get yours! But balance your zeal with patience. You can be proud of your rank – of your authority – all while propping up the squeamish buyer in the room. Now that’s a guru I’d buy from.