Brick and Mortar

Brick and Mortar
Written by Bob Osgoodby

In the online community, an actual physical store is often referred to as a "Brick and Mortar" business. Those involved in an online business are competing with these establishments, and often wonder why they don't succeed.

A "Brick and Mortar" business has several distinct advantages over an online business. First, they have a sizeable amount invested in their business, and most likely won't "fold their tents" and disappear during the night. If you ever have a problem, you know where they are. You can hop in your car and meet "face to face" with the owner or manager to resolve the problem. Finally, you can actually see the product you wish to buy.

If you hope to compete with them on the web, you must create a level playing field, and there are four building blocks which you must be the foundation of your "virtual" store.

The first building block, is a real email account under your own domain name. This is a good first step. You have taken the time to register your domain, and pay for own web space and email address. This is far different where a person takes a few minutes to get a free email account. Although not terribly costly, it does show a stronger commitment.

The second block is your own web site. If it is a decent site and looks professional, this shows a further commitment. Forget the sites that you create yourself by filling out a template. They look like amateurish, and do very little to enhance your image. If you can't create your own web site, spend a few hundred bucks and get one done by a pro. Don't forget - the "Brick and Mortar" establishment has spent many thousand of dollars in creating the proper buying atmosphere for their prospective clients.

The third block is contact information. This includes your name (or a business name), physical address, and a telephone number. There are many arguments for not providing this information, and I guess I've heard most of them. "I may get crank calls during the night when we're asleep" is often heard. If you list your business hours and turn off the ringer on your phone after hours, I doubt if you'll have that problem - an answering machine here can go a long way. People like to deal with people, and if you don't provide contact information, your chances of success will dwindle.

The fourth building block is a merchant account. This is probably the hardest thing to impress upon someone. They will argue that it is too costly, the fees are too high and an individual can't get one, none of which are true.

First - go to your county offices (or whoever handles this in your region) and register a business name. After you get that, go to your bank and open an account under your business name. If you have a letterhead, a business card or other such evidence of being in business, you can get a merchant account. The only thing you may need is your web address with your business name. You can get a merchant account completely set up for about $500 with competitive rates charged by the credit card companies.

This last building block is extremely important. Even if someone doesn't use that service, it clearly demonstrates that you are in business, and not operating out of the "trunk of your car" as if in a flea market. You are now on a level playing field with a "Brick and Mortar" business.

So you may have invested a thousand dollars or so. A "Brick and Mortar" business can have hundreds of thousands invested. If you are not prepared to invest in this business, the outcome is pretty well preordained.

It is estimated that 95% of all online businesses fail. At the same time, others are doing very well. If you want to be in the first group, forget the four building blocks - you don't have a chance.

Does doing all this guarantee success? No, of course not. You must still run your business in a businesslike manner. But it does give you a "giant" advantage over someone who has not built their "virtual business" on these four building blocks.

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Bob publishes the free weekly "Your Business" Newsletter Visit his Web Site at http://adv-marketing.com/business to subscribe. As a bonus, get 40,000 FREE E-Books from Larry Dotson, when you visit http://www.ldpublishing.com

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