Getting Irish Business Online (GIBO) is a collaborative initiative between Google, Blacknight, An Post and the County and City Enterprise Board announced in 2011 which has the intent of getting Irish businesses online. The package includes €100 of Ad Words which is very useful if used carefully and a free website along with a free .ie .eu or .com domain name. This is a hugely attractive package for companies who may have hesitated in the past due to costs as this effectively eliminates the cost barrier.
This is a great step in the right direction for getting businesses online and anyone who reads my blog will know that I feel passionately that every business should have an online presence. But there are other obstacles that have stopped people in the past that need to be accounted for and thought of.
Fear of Internet Technology
The 40% of businesses that have not gone online to date may not have done so because they are not technology savvy. Many of my website customers once they sign off on the website never touch it, interact with it or update it (even if they have a content management system installed). Now there is absolutely nothing wrong with not being familiar with the Internet and technology. For example I had my front porch painted beautifully by a painter friend of mine recently that would make you gasp the work was so clean and the finish so perfect.
…there is absolutely nothing wrong with not being familiar with the Internet and technology.
Do I know how to paint,?
Yes but I would never get near this quality. Richard (the painter) has never used the Internet and it doesn’t bother him one bit. However if he had a website that was generating phone calls to him and he had someone updating it regularly for him with pictures of his work and special offers (I would add my porch) he would be quite happy. But he doesn’t believe in the Internet and its benefits. I nearly have him convinced but it takes time and we have spoken about it over paint and glasses of wine.
I fear that the perception of this new offer is that once a business is online that all will be well and your business landscape will change. This is far from the truth. I know that this is not the message being given but I regularly have to repeat to customers that 4-5 pages of a website is not going to mean that your phone will be ringing off the hook 2 days after website launch.
Hard to believe if you are reading this on your PC at the moment but there are still many people and even businesses who do not have easy or regular access to a PC . A large part of my role in helping people get online is actually educating the user as to what the site is and how it works froma very high level and setting some of the expectations of success above. Often the site is the short part of the timeline and the longer part is actually interacting, sharing, teaching and in many cases establishing a long term business relationship with the client. Computer or not I don’t assume the person is computer literate.
Seek and You Will Find
A critical measure of success of a website is that it is visible by Google, Bing and Yahoo search engines. This again is not a given and a proper Internet marketing plan that encompasses a tiered approach that includes marketing online and offline and search engine optimisation plan should be considered. This is again an ongoing process and not a dip the toe in the water approach. You need to engage with the right SEO to ensure success and they will help you understand what you can achieve for your budget and goals.
You are a Winner!
I coach sports and when we lose (too often last season) I always tell the kids that the most important thing is that they tried and did their best. This new initiative is one to be praised!. The marketing energy behind it is superb and the backing of Enda Kenny and the above sponsors shows that it is something that will get hundreds of businesses online in the coming weeks and months. I wish every single one of the success but the words of caution above should be kept in mind.