At the Milken Institute Global Conference, Human Business Works President Chris Brogan spoke with SmartBrief editor Mary Ellen Slayter about the importance of an online presence for small businesses.

Brogan offered tips for small businesses looking to ramp up their marketing plans.

  • Get a website and establish yourself online. Brogan said 60% of U.S. businesses are not online in any fashion — a huge mistake in an age in which most people rely heavily on search engines to find information about businesses.
  • Invest in modernized Web design that’s optimized for search. Many businesses are still relying on techniques from the 1990s, including Adobe Flash — which isn’t recognized in Google’s search algorithms.
  • Facebook doesn’t constitute an online presence. Brogan compared businesses that rely on Facebook pages as their “website” to people who would call a hotel room their “home.” Like a hotel, Facebook doesn’t allow the complete customization you would find in your home — plus, it can kick you out whenever it wants. Facebook is where you congregate fans and reach out to them, but a website is where you establish your identity, Brogan said.

For more, view Brogan’s interview.

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14 responses to “Chris Brogan, on the reason every business needs a website”

  1. Sandy Barris says:

    By the way, if it’s OK with you I’d like to add that no marketing plan or marketing calendar should be set in stone!

    If history has taught us anything, no matter how effective your plan may be, chances are, it will have to be altered at a given time; due to what your competitor(s), clients, future clients or suppliers are doing.

    Here’s the kicker, don’t feel as if you have to be a psychic.

    Don’t feel overwhelmed at the thought of needing a business and marketing plan so flexible that it takes away from the overall aim and goals that made you ‘hungry’ to market your particular business, product, service or idea in the first place!

    No doubt about it, there’s an easy way to be sure that you can continue to have success in the future – if you just start off with flexibility in mind!

    The best way to do so is to have a marketing plan and marketing calendar that is flexible and built to adjust itself when the time comes to do so.

    To Your Continued Success,
    Sandy Barris
    Fast Marketing

  2. Al Hess says:

    Nice basics for small businesses to always remember, i.e. websites are critical in any business marketing plan and search behavior magnifies this need. Yet, if there is an opportunity to market within a business's social space, then the surge of FB apps will provide this opportunity. Social marketing will be more than just monitoring reputation and being 'social', and a FB business page can be a second website. Businesses need to market where their audience is, and FB is the destination a business can size this new opportunity.

  3. Tripp Clarke says:

    I'm shocked that 60% of US businesses are not online. I would be very curious to know the breakdown of that group, i.e. small local community businesses that don't see the benefits, old aged businesses that don't see the benefits, or businesses that have thrown in the towel. Could there possibly be a group that simply does not believe the digital era has arrived? And I don't mean this as a dig. I remember meeting with businesses in the mid 90's that were skeptical but today??

  4. James Debono says:

    Facebook is dominating traffic right now and should be considered as one element of a marketing budget but as the article correctly points out it should not be the only point of contact with your customer base. The article suggests "Facebook is like a hotel" and "it can kick you out at any time". Yes it can and more important than that; staying with the hotel euphemism, it can keep all your belongings, your laptop, your suitcase, your clothes etc……if Facebook decides you have broken the rules it can close you down and keep all your business contacts. Is that a safe environment to be conducting business in?

  5. Rob says:

    Yes very well put, I would say that those figures are pretty accurate too. Small businesses do not have to pay an arm and a leg to upload a quality professional looking search engine friendly website.
    At… you can learn to build and maintain quality business websites in just 1 day.

  6. Chris, great comparison about Facebook being like a hotel room and calling it home. I'm so zoned in on this and struggle with small business understanding this countless times a day. It is astonishing the number of small businesses without a website and how many are in denial. The ways we market aren't going to ever go back. To not have a website, it literally to be losing business. Glad to hear a nice voice of reason back up the fact that Facebook does not cut it when it comes to a serious small business presence on the web. Great article – thank you!

  7. Doug Pruden says:

    Chris – I think what is happening is that many small businesses are entering the party a bit late. They see all the coverage about Facebook and either: a) assume that company websites are somehow now passé, 2) are attracted to the shiny new toy – the social media networks, and 3) perceive that creating and maintaining a viable website is more complex and expensive than a Facebook page (something it appears any teenager could do in their spare time).

    I like your hotel analogy. I wonder how managers of small businesses that think they can grow with just a Facebook page behave themselves. Do they really find companies and make purchase decisions through Facebook alone? Or do they also use search engines and visit company websites?

    Doug Pruden
    Customer Experience Partners

  8. Kevin says:

    How come we accept the "fact" that half of companies don't have a website, yet we believe all the surveys that say 90% of SMBs have a Facebook page?

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