How the “If You Build It, They Will Come” Mindset is Paralyzing Local Businesses

Shoeless Joe Jackson

How Shoeless Joe Jackson is NOT helping your local business.


Local businesses have a big challenge today.

Since most small businesses have websites, a simple online presence doesn’t cut it anymore. The market doesn’t care if you have a website. It’s almost like having a phone number…everyone has one now. If you boast about your new website, your prospect secretly asks, “So what!?”.

Do you remember the 1989 movie Field of Dreams? In the film, Kevin Costner‟s character, Ray Kinsella, is prompted by an unknown voice to build a baseball field in the middle of his farm. The voice said, “If you build it, he will come.” Kinsella built a baseball field and his childhood hero “Shoeless” Joe Jackson came.

The Good Ole Days: Mid-Late ’90s

Once upon a time, you could throw up a website and people would visit you. Potential customers would call you simply because you were online. The reason for this was simple. If you had a website, you were better than 95% of your competitors…because they weren’t online. Altavista, Lycos, and other search engines would serve up your website in their results because there wasn’t much competition. In other words, if you built a website, prospects came.

That is no longer the case. Nearly every business is online. The cost of entry is low, technology is cheap, and expertise is affordable. That translates to every Tom, Dick, and Harry business owner getting their small business online. You may not know much about the internet, but your competition does. Prospects no longer stumble upon your site. If you’re a local business and you’re not actively promoting your site, your competition is quieting eating your lunch.

Gone are the days of easy traffic and easy money on the internet. Online competition is here to stay. That counts for local businesses too.

How to Fix: “If You Build It, They Will Come” Mindset

This mistake is rooted in NOT understanding your competitive landscape. Your competition understands where prospects reside: online. Your competition is on the internet and learning how to market there. They‟re testing out online marketing that you‟ve only heard about: blogging, pay per click advertising, social media networking, email marketing, and a host of other methods to attract new business.

Local business success now depends on internet marketing. Problem is you can no longer throw up a website and expect results. You must market your business online. Getting a website is only part of the competitive battle. After you launch your site, you’ve only begun to fight.

For your business to make it in today’s competitive landscape, get educated. You can start by reading blogs like Local SEO Guide, David Mihm, or Duct Tape Marketing. These guys will help you to start down the road to local business online marketing success. However, the easiest way to lay the foundation was to attend online marketing seminars.

Whatever you do, learn how to do business on the internet or hire someone who does. Your business need these skills to survive.