View Full Version : Question of the week: Is location still important?
02-07-2011, 08:05 AM
Our business world has changed so many over the last decade and it has me wondering if the old adage "location, location, location" still holds as true as it once did. In a time when social media brings a loyal tribe to your front door and not having a very particular domain name for your site can be mitigated with shorteners and sub-domains, I'm thinking that location does NOT matter the way it used to. But you may have a different idea altogether.
We'd love to hear your thoughts on this weeks question. And don't forget we cover this question and your feedback every week on The Pulse Network (http://thepulsenetwork.com) during Kitchen Table Talks (http://bit.ly/tpnktt), Tuesdays at 2pm EST.
What say you?
02-07-2011, 08:35 AM
It might not matter in the same way, but it still matters. I do not think we should lean on social media as a crutch or a fix-all that will cure your poor business decisions. I think the high-traffic, demographic-proven location for your store, or securing that dot-com.... I think these things still matter. Social media can bring people to your doorstep, but in-person first impressions still mean a great deal.
02-07-2011, 01:00 PM
For the most part, it does not matter to my business as my customers are from all of North America, with occasional international inquiries. However, because you have to show an address for services like Paypal and Newsletters, those that live in your area have higher expectations. They want to see the product, they want to be able to pick-up the product so they don't have to pay for shipping charges. What they locals don't realize is that the way we keep costs down is to not maintain a storefront.
Maybe I should I post a blog and include in my FAQs as to why we choose not to have a storefront and allow people to pick up.
02-07-2011, 02:27 PM
Logically I want to say No. However, for me at least, I think it depends largely on two things: cost and trust.
For service providers like me, I think trust is key whether earned in person or online. The more I can build trust - videos, testimonials/referrals, examples, social media conversations - the easier it will be for clients to trust that I can deliver.
For retail I think it's trickier. Less-so if you have a niche product, perhaps? Indra, it seems you've considered the storefront and decided it's not for you. Chris, have you considered a store-front for Rizzo Tees?
There's the immediacy (and impulse) of being On Location that web stores generally can't compete with; I think I've only impulse shopped via iTunes or Amazon. Beyond that, there are shipping costs to contend with. And if you're not a major retailer, there's a huge trust gap that needs to be addressed before a customer will hand over any money. Some retailers have addressed this gap very well while others have not, so I don't see that competition between physical/online going away any time soon.
02-07-2011, 05:17 PM
@Joe - It might not matter as much to companies that get a significant amount of their revenues from online sales, but it still matters, especially for those that depend on their retail locations. Sure, it doesn't matter AS MUCH, but it still matters enough to make or break a business. By my count there are around 14-15 bars and restaurants within a few blocks of AJ Bombers. That's not an accident. If you think you could replicate exactly the same revenues, starting from scratch in a completely different area (one where you were the first and only restaurant) then you might be able to say it's not important anymore. I don't think the "less" part of "less important" is all that significant, even with the social media gods on your side. Social media is about the incremental dollars you make on top of your traditional marketing base, once you've crossed all of your other sustainability and critical mass hurdles. In my *humble* opinion, for businesses where location still matters, social media will never make the difference between success and failure if location strategy is out of whack.
02-07-2011, 05:53 PM
Joe, while you have many physical locations for your restaurants, would you consider your Social Media accounts additional "locations" for your business?
If one of these "locations" was taken away from you tomorrow, how many customers would you lose contact with until they came back to one of your physical locations?
02-07-2011, 08:06 PM
I love to travel.
I love to plan memorable experiences for my clients using travel as a vehicle.
Considering my thirst and need to visit, inspect and experience the venues I reccomend to clients I remain relatively mobile.
Although I have a mailbox and a phone I have only had direct contact with four clients. All the rest of my business takes place via email.
As long as I have access to the Internet my office is open and ready to service my clients regardless of their location or mine.
02-07-2011, 09:22 PM
I think location is important for businesses such as restaurants. Location can also be important for merchandise items where people want to see and feel what they are buying.
Insurance, travel agencies, speaker's bureaus and other businesses who sell services as opposed to physical merchandise do not need a store front to be successful. In the service industry, follow-up, product backup, and good price are the most important aspect of the business. The good service builds trust that become a currency.
02-07-2011, 09:52 PM
Today, location appears to be important only for the delivery of fresh, tangible products. Most all other products can be delivered, shipped, trucked or otherwise transported.
The new location of today is the corporate website, customer support, or customer relations websites.
Perhaps an easy to find and use website are the location, location, location of today?
Is your company on FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
Does your company have a blog? Is it an easy to find URL
Are these the locations of today?
.... Just a few rambling thoughts ...
02-07-2011, 09:59 PM
I know when we have a booth at a trade show or a table top display at a conference we sponsor, location is very important.
I know having a domain name that SEOs well and brings additional traffic I don't have to find is important.
I know AJ Bombers being on Water Street (even at the end) does not hurt and in fact was and probably still is important to Joe's success.
These are just a few of the things I know about location. I remember reading Trump's first biography wherein I believe he devoted a entire chapter to location. Trump also said that marginal locations can be turned into great ones but that location still and always will matter. I think he's right. I'd much rather have the domain ColorMetrix.com than ColorMetrixTechnologiesLLC.com - it's just easier to remember and easier to type without error.
02-08-2011, 08:02 AM
What great responses for this weeks question. Nicely done. reading them all together, I'm hearing "it depends", which is absolutely true. But you've also said it doesn't matter as much as it used to, and I think that's what I was driving towards. That today's technology allows for location to matter a little less. The B+ real estate location becomes a bit more possible that it once was. Thanks for all of your input. Should make for an interesting show today.
02-09-2011, 11:16 PM
@amysept ..it wasn't so much that I considered being online as the only option. It is a necessity for now both in terms of costs and my own time. I have a daytime job separate from the company and the business somewhat looks after itself with a few customer service calls.
I noticed I should stop posting late at night judging by the typos in my previous post here.
02-10-2011, 03:02 PM
I like the way that Steve says it about the locations of today. When we think location, many times what comes to mind is the physical location of the brick and mortar but how often do we think of location as Steve points out? Your direct url is easy to find but what about organically or even paid? Is it out there enough to be found? The facebook, linkedin, twitter, etc profiles are there but is this where your target market is? Location does matter in off and also online. You have to be found easily or people are not going to come. There are some retail and restaurants here that are a difficult entry and exit and they suffer. Is a blog on a wordpress.com and not self hosted on wordpress.org so people can search to find it?
Location does matter still.
02-10-2011, 08:06 PM
I just came upon this very timely article in the Globe and Mail talking about location.
http://bit.ly/e1Fznn this is a four part series appearing every Thursday this month on small business. Worth watching.
02-11-2011, 04:53 PM
I think location does matter, but what makes an ideal location is shifting. As a marketing and web guy I am much more interested in controlling my costs and time than maximizing web or foot traffic. Case in point, I am working on a start-up with a marketing speaker and the first time I met him was a couple of months after coming on board at a conference in Houston. Neither of us live in Houston! So, my criteria for good location is based on convenience to an airport that Southwest flies out of, a city with minimal traffic, good chambers of commerce and other professional networking events, and a low cost of living. This in turn makes my businesses more stable and better able to weather the rocky start-up phase.
By controlling costs I hope to be able to plow much more money into marketing and promotions much sooner than I would have been able to do living in a less desirable area.
02-12-2011, 11:45 PM
I have to agree with the 'location matters' folks. @Steve, your point about whether or not a company is 'on FB, Twitter, Linkedin' is a perfect illustration of location being important and I believe you are right about it being A new location. Otherwise, why would we spend so much time thinking about the right URL.
In a recent AP article, the founder of Five Guys Burgers Jerry Murrel,l was quoted as saying, "If I were choose between opening in a town with 100 burger places and one with none, I'd go to the place with 100 burger places. People eat burgers in that town," Murrell said. "I like being next to McDonald's."
I do believe that there are circumstances when you can make location matter less. I don't however believe that is the norm. Location definitely matters.
02-28-2011, 10:55 AM
To add a new dynamic to the question of "location" is the aspect of "local". We are seeing more "buy local" campaigns pop up where small businesses opt to purchase their goods and services from people in their immediate geographic area such as their city or county. Small retail owners and small service oriented businesses may initially think it is swell to be selling and buying in a "closed" environment, but how quickly does the market become "tapped out"?
While one can argue "we're all local now," I believe the need for growth will overpower the need for local. And location almost becomes a cost-benefit question—will you get bang for your buck with one location over another?
The new "pick two" decision triangle becomes a "pick two" decision box
If quality is paramount, what is your other most critical factor?
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