Earlier this week, I happened upon a question posted on a discussion board: “Do restaurants need to have a website or just post their menu online, or both?”

The range of answers astounded me. One person (and only one) said neither is necessary, that the Internet is obsolete. One or two said having a menu on a third-party website is sufficient. Some said having a Facebook page is enough, while others said Facebook is unnecessary. And some said both a website and having a menu on that website are critical.

If I’ve learned one thing in more than 30 years in the marketing/communication sector, it’s that everyone has an opinion. The challenge for small business owners is to decide whose opinion is right.

My goal here is to lead you in the right direction. Of course, I think I’m right, but I want to make a case to reinforce my view.

I’ll start by stating the obvious: Our nation’s economy and the way we do business has changed dramatically in the past month. With things continuing to change so drastically and rapidly, it’s critical to use the most effective communication mechanisms possible to engage your existing customers and attract new ones.

That means anyone who thinks the Internet is obsolete is just plain wrong. We’re seeing every day how businesses of all types and sizes have had to quickly adjust to meet the critical demands of doing business in an entirely new way. Many of those businesses – both large and small – are depending on their websites to keep their customers and clients informed. So, whether you run a restaurant, a hardware store, a law firm or a retail shop, having a website that tells who you are and lists your menu or “menu of services” is more critical today than ever before.

As one respondent on the discussion board said, your prospective customers will choose to do business with you not only because you offer what they want or need, but also because of the “why” you do business. That means customers want to know what drives you, your history, what makes you unique and why they should choose you instead of your competitors. This person made a strong case that having a website personalizes the business in a way no other tool can. But having a website may not be enough. Does your website include all the information that will push your potential customers to choose you? What will make you stand apart from your competitors? What else could you say on your website to attract business?

Effective communication requires a thoughtful and multi-faceted approach, meaning one must have a strategy. We can’t depend only on one tool to get a message out, and our messaging must be clearer than ever. A multi-pronged approach that includes a website, e-mail marketing (it’s actually not very expensive!) social media like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and other tools, is the best approach in today’s economy.

The days of advertising only in the Yellow Pages and the newspaper are over. If your business doesn’t have a solid, active and multi-pronged strategy, you risk losing out on a lot of business.

We can help you navigate today’s rough waters. During a free 15-minute phone call we’ll ask questions that lead to some solid answers, whatever type of business you run. We’ll assess where you are, where you need to be, and we’ll discuss how we can help you get there. If you’re already a Five Oaks client, there may be some holes we need to fill. Let’s talk about it so you’ll be in a better position when things start to open up again.

Give us a call at 502-545-1588 to get started. Having a plan is more important now than ever!