Posted August 30, 2011 4:12 pm by with 4 comments

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There was a time when all a local business needed was a phone and an ad in the Yellow Pages in order to bring in customers. Today, 97% of Americans go online to find local services but only 63% of small businesses have a web presence. Why? Because as hard as it may be for anyone who reads MarketingPilgrim to believe, not everyone knows how to build a website.

Then there’s this: “the nation’s 27.5M small businesses comprise half the US GDP and create two-thirds of all new jobs.” SMBs truly are the backbone of our economy and they’re also the ones who struggle the most to remain afloat.

The State of Missouri wants to help, so they’ve partnered with Google and Intuit for the “Missouri Get Your Business Online” campaign.

The campaign offers any small business in Missouri a free, easy-to-build website along with a customized domain name and hosting for year. After a year, the website hosting goes to $4.99 a month and $2 a month for the domain name. The project also walks SMB owners through the process of claiming their Google Places listing and setting up a free business email account through Google Apps.

Jim Heeter, President and CEO of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, said in a recent press release,

“Because more than 90 percent of our members are small businesses, the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce understands the impact that small businesses have on the local economy, and we know that having a Web presence is becoming more and more important to the success of small businesses. Google’s free resources to help get Missouri businesses online represent a significant opportunity for our region. We are thrilled to be partnering with Google on the initiative.”

Those of us who spend a lot of time on the internet often take our skills for granted. But the prospect of building and maintaining a web presence is overwhelming for many and it’s nice to see this offering of help even if it is a little self-serving.

In the past month, I’ve gone online to look for a local store or service provider three times and each time I was frustrated by the lack of information available. In several cases, I had to depend on Yelp listing to find out if a business was still open. With two words in a search engine I can find a store that sells Australian didgeridoos but it takes ten clicks to find a handyman to fix my garage door. That’s not right.

Kudos to Missouri and their partners for taking steps to help SMBs in their area succeed.

  • Keith

    6.99 for hosting and the domain will get many peoples attention. Time for google to print more money…

  • How can 97% of Americans search for businesses when only 80% have internet connectivity? It’s amazing how this “internet virus” syndrome is promoted by internet marketing companies. Yellow pages leads are higher quality and phone calls from directories are climbing. (visit As for the “easy to build” website, good luck. The system crashes as much as you blink and is very frustrating and time consuming. I don’t think many SMB’s have the time nor the patience to make this approach easy. Please give it a shot; I would love to know your experience.
    Bottom line here is not all people find businesses via the web, it’s just another marketing tool.

    • @Terry – Many who don’t have Internet connections use public options like libraries. They find ways.

    • Cynthia Boris

      It is “just another tool” but a very important one. I don’t own a Yellow Pages book. If I can’t find a local service provider on the web, I pass and go on to the next guy. That’s money lost for someone.