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QotD – Can This Company Benefit From The Net?

Today’s Question of the Day is based on “a reply by Jeff Ginsberg”: to our “Tuesday QotD”:
bq. Next time you go into your local convenience store, restaurant, bar, jewelry or even Uncle Johnny’s Snake and Drain service ask yourself…do these guys really need a web presence or a better sign in their window telling you their hours of operation or in Uncle Johnny’s case, a more up to date fridge magnet?
Today’s question is:
bq. How _could_ Uncle Johnny’s Snake and Drain Service use the Internet to grow its business?
Add you insights below…


  1. Ken Schafer - One Degree
    Ken Schafer - One Degree August 18, 2006

    BTW, I’ll accept “it can’t be done” if that’s what you truly feel, but let’s rise to the challenge here!

  2. Dana
    Dana August 18, 2006

    Absolutely! Local search is the key for small businesses such as Johnny’s. Get a website (doesn’t have to be big), get listed under Google Local, optimize for some key searches, possibly have some local PPC, and then watch the customers find you!
    I have one local client (flyer delivery, two cities only) who’s doing this quite well. His 4 page site drives in thousands of dollars of new business a month, just from search results.

  3. Rohan Jayasekera
    Rohan Jayasekera August 18, 2006

    Someone who discovers a drain problem that needs professional attention may well Google “drain [city-name] 24-hour” or something similar. Uncle Johnny’s would presumably like to show up in the results.
    As for the (mentioned in the post) window signs that list hours of operation: when I’m at the window I can see perfectly well whether the place is open or not; I don’t need a sign. The information is actually intended for use when I’m *not* there and want to know whether it’s open, or when it will be open so I can schedule a visit. But how many people memorize the hours or write them down or record them in their PDAs? Each retail establishment should have a (findable) website that lists its hours, as well as a recorded phone message, so that potential customers can get the info when they need it.

  4. David Dougherty
    David Dougherty August 18, 2006

    It can and should be done. I don’t see how it could possibly hurt the company.
    We no longer look for information through traditional channels. I liked Ken’s comment in the original post regarding the yellow pages – to the recycling bin – I would have done the same thing.
    There are several drain cleaning services and plumbers online as is, and there are several directories for these listings.
    I agree with Dana (sort of). I don’t suspect that there would be a high level of online competition in this industry. I doubt that site optimization has even entered the equation, so a clean and simple site submitted to some FREE directories and local listings would do just fine. However, although I don’t know him personally, I think that an SEO or PPC campaign may be a little beyond what Uncle J is looking for.

  5. Ken Schafer - One Degree
    Ken Schafer - One Degree August 18, 2006

    David said:
    “I think that an SEO or PPC campaign may be a little beyond what Uncle J is looking for.”
    It might be beyond what Uncle J is thinking, but I’d say it’s probably more effective than fridge magnets.
    Some of you hotshot SEM folks help me out here…
    What if J came to you saying “I clear blocked drains in the east end of Toronto for homeowners, apartment buildings and offices. I don’t think search marketing can help me so I’m going to spend $3,000 this year on fridge magnets and a small yellow pages ad. Convince me that SEM is a better way to spend my money hotshot.”
    Imagine he’s your uncle-in-law so you’re not looking to sell him on your services, just give him the best advice you can. And he’ll be around the Thanksgiving dinner table with you 10 years from now, so you can’t bullshit him!
    How would you respond?

  6. johnwen
    johnwen August 18, 2006

    Wow, J has just given the nephew-in-law the key words for SEM. I don’t know how many fridge magnets $3000 words will buy, but when you factor how many impressions the fridge magnet will get and the competition from your kids’ drawings, you may as well stick the magnet in the basement on the floor drain.
    With so little competition online SEM makes a lot of sense. I suspect that the cost would be quite small to buy the right words. It’s about generating qualified leads 24/7 – the net is open 24/7. The website should have lots of real testimonials. Like referrals,they are as good as gold. In fact, he should get donate his services on a Holmes on Homes episode and get listed on their website of contractors. Also get listed in local directories and search engines, such as or kijiji – drive the traffic to J’s “snakes in a drain” website.

  7. Ken Schafer - One Degree
    Ken Schafer - One Degree August 18, 2006

    John says:
    “snakes in a drain”
    Ha! Brilliant!
    OK, now we need you hotshot Word-of-Mouth marketers to build Uncle J a no-budget viral campaign.
    “Get that motherf**kin’ snake in that motherf**kin’drain!”
    Any photoshop wizards care to work some wonders on that? I’ll add it to the post if you send me something good!

  8. Dana
    Dana August 21, 2006

    Coming back late on this, but I’ll tell you that the flyer guy I mentioned in my earlier comment spent less than $3k on his SEO/PPC over the past 3 years.
    “Snakes in a drain” – nice!

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