Volume 8, Issue 6 - November/December 2006

Independentís Day

Internet Marketing
by Marc Anderson

The only thing certain in life is change. We talk often about the need to pay attention to the big picture in addition to running your business. In the past 12 months, a fundamental shift has emerged that necessitates the independent shop owner understand the big picture and get on board with the change. Itís called Internet marketing. 

This year, 62 percent of the U.S. population is online and 40 percent of all consumers now use the Internet to shop for goods and services. Online advertising will go from $8 billion this year to $16 billion in only three years. Almost everyone (78 percent) uses it.

The bottom line is that as consumers shift to the Internet, the auto glass replacement industry must shift marketing dollars to the Internet. If you are not on the Internet, you will lose jobs to those that are.

Within one short year from now, the Internet will represent a threat comparable to steering for independent shops today, and an even greater challenge. Hereís why. As a ďsmallerĒ shop, even if you have gross revenue in the millions and multiple locations, you cannot compete, cost effectively, on the Internet with national companies. You can have a nice Web site that will drive some traffic. If every little market had its own Internet, you could compete, but that isnít how it works. Because the whole country is the market for all Web sites, the costs to be prominently positioned in the organic listings on the first page or by paid advertising for search engines are structured accordingly and prohibitive for most companies. 

IGA has new programs designed to help small companies utilize Internet marketing. See www.iga.org for more information about the program. 

Marc Anderson is the executive director of the Independent Glass Association (IGA), headquartered in Eden Prairie, Minn. 

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