Let’s face it. We’re all consumers. So, what makes us buy from one business instead of another? What’s the motivation behind your buying decisions? Does your website represent your business well enough that you can attract new customers based on your Internet presence alone?
While on vacation last week, we decided to do some minor renovations. Waking up one morning to a forecast of rain for the rest of the week, we suddenly decided that it was time to replace our wall to wall carpeting. We also decided that we needed it done within the week.
The Criteria Behind our Buying Decision
Whenever someone makes the decision to buy, they go through similar steps (consciously or unconsciously). The motivation to buy something may be driven by a need (out of milk) or a desire (that popcorn smells really good). Sometimes we need longer to make the actual decisions of what to buy. For example, if you’re making a major purchase such as buying a car, you may have favorite brands or you may want to conduct research on safety issues and consumer reports. In our case, we had certain criteria that were a major component in our buying decision.
- Delivery/Installation time
From Research to Buying
Since replacing our carpet was not a trivial decision, we weren’t approaching it lightly but we were definitely motivated buyers. (We absolutely wanted new carpeting installed in less than 10 days.)
Not being huge fans of big businesses, my husband and I make every effort to support small local businesses when we can. However, we were under a time crunch and we needed to start somewhere. So, we started our research at the two local big-box stores. (At least the big box stores were still open.) We headed off with questions, looking for free advice and to do to some comparative shopping.
The Little Guy with a Web Presence
After checking out what the competition could do for us, the next step was to do a quick search on the web to find local carpet stores. I Googled on carpet and my zip code and up popped a business called Wholesale Flooring less than 10 miles from our house. I had never heard of this business before. It’s tucked into a mostly vacant mill in the old industrial section of a city that is now struggling for business. If they hadn’t had a website (that was optimized enough for SEO to appear in my search results), we would never have known they were there.
Their website is fairly standard with several pages of information including their about us page. Some people treat their “about” pages as after thoughts but this particular company uses theirs to connect on a personal level. By reading this page, I learned that:
- They’ve been in the area since 1976.
- They’re a family owned business.
- They offer an extensive selection of up-to-date designs.
- They carry a large inventory.
- They pride themselves in the “best customer service”.
- They offer “professional courteous installation:
After browsing their website, we decided they were the local business that we would check out before we made our buying decision. The next morning we were pleasantly surprised when we entered the doorway of an old mill and walked into an updated showroom where we were promptly greeted by a sales associate.
A Victory for Small Business
Within minutes, the store owner was giving us personal attention. After assessing our needs, he escorted us into his warehouse where he showed us a selection that was in our price range and could be installed within our time frame. After offering us a deeper discount and arranging for installation (in 3 business days), he shook our hands and sealed the deal. (We were happy with a better quality carpet than we had expected and installed even sooner than we had hoped.)
As a small business owner/entrepreneur, how do you differentiate yourself from your competitors? If you operate a brick and mortar business, does your website appear in the search results when someone is searching based on their location? What tips do you have that can help small businesses compete?