As I’ve been researching Oregon related gun businesses, it’s come to my attention that a huge number of them are not well represented by either their own websites and/or social media. In this day and age, if you own a business and don’t have these things down, you’re truly missing out. Although having any website is better than nothing, having a proper website is needed to bring customers to your door. People don’t use the Yellow Pages anymore, they use search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo etc…And in the last decade, social networks like Facebook and Twitter have taken over. A website represents your brand. You NEED to have a valid website and find as many ways to drive traffic to it as you can.
You don’t want a website or have time for social networks? That’s fine, you’re potential customers will find another company who does and that’s where they will take their business. This isn’t my opinion, this is fact. There are some stores who have at least one, if not multiple full time employees who’s only job is to promote the company through social media. At a bare minimum, your business should have a Facebook business page and be posting to it at least once a day. In a perfect world, you would post even more often. This costs you nothing but a little time and a bit of creativity. These kind of activities are key factors in remaining profitable during times like the “Summer Slowdown” that happens nationwide in gun stores. If the customers aren’t coming in, you need to reach out to them. Tell them about any specials you’re having, upcoming events or just let them know what new inventory you received this week…Especially when it comes to ammo. Most people are out shooting during the summer, not buying guns. As you’re well aware, your better profit margins are in accessories etc so you should be letting your customer base know that you have these things available to them.
Many people don’t look at YouTube as a search engine. In fact, it’s the second largest search engine there is. YouTube is outperformed only by Google and guess who owns YouTube? That’s right….Google does. What does this mean for your business? Well, it means that if you took 5 minutes each day and shot a short video about any product then uploaded it to your own channel, over time you would develop a following and your videos would start popping up on regular Google searches too. You can then link your videos and YouTube page back to your own website. Another thing to consider is that you can “monitize” your YouTube channel. To be honest, this doesn’t bring a ton of money unless you build a huge channel with quite the following. However, if even a single video picks up interest, it can pay you thousands of dollars. I consider this “free money”. A few years ago I shot a 55 second video at SHOT Show. That video was unexpectedly picked up by The Blaze and earned enough money to cover all the expenses for a 7 day Eastern Caribbean cruise for my wife and I. My point being, you never know what kind of interest your video may have or the hidden benefits of posting it.
Let’s get back to the website issue. Some of the sites I found were decent but the vast majority of them were lacking key features. Almost every one of them was was still using keyword meta data which the search engines have more or less been ignoring for years now. Several of the sites don’t include the business address or any contact information. How do they expect people to locate them? Sure, I get it….You’re in the gun business and don’t know jack about websites. That’s cool but you need to find somebody who does and be sure they actually do know what their doing. The “I have a friend who’s gonna set our site up when he has time” is almost always a complete waste of time. I’ve got a paintbrush and some paint left over from when the wife painted the kitchen…Want me to paint your car for you?
The bottom line is that no and/or a bad website and no social networking = leaving money on the table.