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Debbie Musick always hoped potential clients wouldn’t ask the question.
But invariably, the Oklahoma City artist knew that when she was speaking to someone on the phone about the unique collage art she creates, they were bound to want to see a sample.
“Do you have a website?” “I don’t really have one,” she would answer. “But I can email you some pictures.”
Now, thanks to of Oklahoma business partners, Musick and other small-business owners are online for free.
Google recently hosted seminar events in Oklahoma City and Tulsa; more than 1,000 businesses took part.
The state Department of Commerce, the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, the Oklahoma Small Business Development Center and the state Department of CareerTech, among others, are sponsoring “Oklahoma Get Your Business Online.”
Details are available at oklahomagetonline.com, and Intuit provides sites for registrants.
“I couldn’t believe it was free,” Musick says. “I got online and looked at all of it, and I couldn’t see any catch to it. I couldn’t see where they were trying to get me.”
The catch is Oklahoma business owners are missing out, according to Google representatives.
Scott Levitan, director of small business engagement for Google, says the company’s internal marketing data shows that 97% of people are looking for local products and services when they search online, but 62% of small businesses in Oklahoma do not have a website.
“Websites are extremely important tools for small businesses,” he says. “For many small businesses, that means they are invisible to people who are looking to reach them. With a website, businesses are able to find new customers and sell more products and services, both here in Oklahoma and around the world.”
Dwight Day was looking for a way to increase his market share. The 62-year-old owner of ABC Childcare, 3905 N. Ann Arbor in Bethany, heard a radio commercial advertising the event.
In business fewer than three years, he knew traditional advertising was expensive.
“We thought this would be an opportunity to get more exposure and more business with minimal cost,” Day says.
He says the training was easy enough for those who aren’t tech-savvy.
“We needed a way for parents to find out about us,” he says. “It’s free for a year, and that’s plenty of time for us to evaluate whether it will increase our market share.”
Participants can get online for 12 months at no charge. Add-ons to increase traffic and capture other data are available. At the end of the year, participants can choose to keep their site for $6.95 per month.
Levitan says the attendees were regular small-business owners trying to get the word out about their businesses.
“They totally get how important it is,” he says. “They use the web every day as consumers.”
Musick says she’s still playing with her new site at debbiemusick.com, but within a couple of weeks had placed a YouTube video showing her mixed-media collage creations to potential customers.
“It’s kind of strange, and it’s kind of fun,” she says. “I’ve been on Facebook a long time and reconnected with so many people. I think that’s magical. I think this is going to be really fun to connect with people who do the things I do.”