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Many studies have been done that prove consumers rely heavily on the Internet to find the goods and services they want. However, they aren’t relying solely on a company’s website for information. In fact, they’re often using many other resources first before they ever get to a company’s website. Social media and online directories are popular places to look for advice, reviews and recommendations from others.

For example, let’s say Yvonne posts a question on her Facebook page asking her friends where the best place to buy furniture would be. Several friends respond, and three stores are mentioned as highly recommended. Yvonne then does a search on Google using the terms <best furniture store in [city, state]> to see what others might be saying about these three stores. Store A’s website appears near the top of the search results but nowhere else on the first page. Store B’s only appearance is in an ad on the right side of the page. Like most people, Yvonne doesn’t pay attention to the ads. She focuses on those in the organic results instead. By contrast, Store C shows up several times on the first page of the results, including the top spot. This happens to be their Google Places page. (By the way, the Google Places map on the right side of the page covers up Store B’s ad when Yvonne scrolls down the page!) Clicking on this link, Yvonne finds a lot of valuable information about the store, including location, hours, specials, customer reviews and video clips highlighting the store’s special collections.

By now it’s pretty clear which store is most likely going to get Yvonne’s business. While Store A and Store B may be great places to buy furniture (after all, they were recommended by friends), Store C knew the value of being visible in all of the places where potential customers are likely to go. Their Internet marketing plan included more than just a great website design. It also integrated online videos, search engine optimization, and local directory optimization. Did these things cost them money? Of course they did. But they’ve also seen a substantial increase in sales that more than paid for the online marketing. The other stores may have saved some money in the short term, but how much money will that end up costing them in the long term?

If you have comments or questions about this article, please direct them to Ken Morrison, Managing Partner of Morrison Video Productions, LLC in Graham, NC, at ken@morrisonvp.com. Morrison Video Productions serves the cities of Burlington, Chapel Hill, Mebane, and Greensboro as well as Alamance, Guilford and Orange counties in North Carolina.