As of this writing, there's been a few commercials by certain technology
companies offering small businesses a free website submitted to all the search
engines if they subscribe to a service plan.
I noticed the first one on a late night/afternoon infomercial, then several
weeks later a more nationally known brand presented their version. These ads
seem to suggest that assisting small business with online marketing is becoming mainstream.
What struck me was how, back in the spring of 2008 (when the trees were blooming and the birds singing) one of the Internet Marketing experts told us about this. And even he confessed that it was a ripe obvious opportunity he had until then overlooked.
In various blogs and forums I've since come across the occasional entry by
someone who mentioned helping small businesses get more customers through the Internet even earlier than the epiphany of that IM expert.
Recognizing opportunity is an awesome thing to me.
Perhaps this will serve as validation of Internet Marketing and what it can mean
for your business, or perhaps you prefer stats...
Based on a survey of 2000 people conducted by Gregg Stewart (15miles.com) and Gillian Heltai (comScore.com) the number of people searching online for data on businesses _first_ (i.e. not excluding offline search) increases as the age bracket gets younger, ranging from 56% for age 55+ to 81% for ages 18 to 34.
For an idea of what I mean take a look at this article:
"Stewart and Heltai added that most consumers rely on multiple info sources."
"Only 14% of people who start at a search engine when looking for local businesses [end their search there]. Cell phones and social media are still small, but they’re growing as secondary sources of local info."
"69% say (more likely to use a company if you can find their info on a social
Additional stats reported for how businesses are found on social media and the
importance of reviews and ratings
It has undoubtedly increased the credibility of IM experts like the one I mentioned. It's also a wake up call to learn more and continue gathering data from similar people studying the landscape, whether established expert or aspiring.