August, 1981: MTV Plays its first music video. That video was, appropriately, “Video Killed the Radio Star”. That event changed the way the public chose its popular music by adding a medium of consumption. The rules for success as a musician changed.
August, 1993: Global Network Navigator, the first commercial website, launches on the new fad called “The Internet.”
Both of those events were small (only a few thousand people even had access to MTV when it launched), but they signaled a shift in (cliché alert) the paradigm. If a band makes a video that people love, they can sell more of their music. I am purposefully omitting any reference to the quality of that music… that’s an entirely different blog post.
The internet MTV’d business real estate. It created property literally out of thin air. In traditional business real estate, location and building size are crucial in the success of a business. Now you don’t even have to have a physical address to own a successful business. The right domain name is worth much more than many business properties on busy street corners.
Did the Internet eliminate some of the constraints of business? Absolutely. Did the rules of business property change? At their core, No. Only some of the definitions changed. It doesn’t matter if you only have a brick-and-mortar business property, an online business or both, the basic rules still apply.
Is your business “property” inviting to consumers? If your nephew made your site as a high school project – and it looks like it – people will avoid visiting it just like they avoid run-down strip malls. Many of your internet visitors will never see your physical business, so the only real estate of yours they see is the pixels and text you put in front of them. Make sure your digital business property is appropriate for your potential clients.
That doesn’t mean that you have to have a flashy website, either. The lobby of your business doesn’t have to be covered in marble for you to be successful. It does, however need to be clean, easy to find, and it needs to make sense. Your potential clients will not go through confusing mazes to beat down the door to your business. They similarly will not try and track down information about you that is hard to find on your website.
The critical difference between your website and your physical business address, however, is that you are on your own to create your own success. A mediocre hotdog stand could make a fortune across the street from a busy stadium. A mediocre “hotdog” website will most likely not last, because property created out of thin air cannot take advantage of the proximity to others’ success.
There are ways that your business can be the rock star of the new real estate (the one that doesn’t close at night or on holidays). Just make sure you put as much thought and design into it as you do your building.