Whether your local small business owner realizes it or not, odds are, anyone under 40 years old is searching for nearly everything online. I really can't tell you just how true that is, I just know my own experience. Couple that together with the fact that most people are more frugal than they used to be, and it's easy to understand why small businesses are facing a constant uphill battle. They no longer have to compete with their competition across town, they have to compete with the internet to some extent.

Show of hands, have you ever bought something online, then realized someone sold it locally for a reasonably similar price? I'm just gonna guess that it has since it happens to me literally all the time. I'll be showing off a new "something" and a friend or (more likely) neighbor will ask "Did you get that over at (local business)?" Nine times out of ten, I had no idea I could have just bought it locally. You know why that is? Because businesses in Lawton seem to have a grudge against having a website.

Don't get me wrong, I know websites cost money to build and time to maintain... but after driving all the way to Chickasha for something I later found out I could have picked up four blocks from my house, I was just dumbfounded how I couldn't find it online.

Like most people my age, I'm really internet savvy. We grew up with this technology. And I get the argument... the marketing professional inside me knows that there's no better advertisement than word of mouth... but my generation (and those coming up after us) aren't a word of mouth type of people. Well, until someone feels they've been wronged by a local business, then they shout shenanigans on every website they can find. We've all seen how the internet justice warriors make waves. Nobody speaks as loud as those who feel slighted.

Another crazy trait of my generation is this... We would much rather spend money with the small local business than with a large chain or big box store. That doesn't mean we don't pour hundreds of thousands into the big evil corps, we would just rather not have to. This includes almost everything we buy. Home goods, decor, tools, even food. Ever wondered how Xenials are killing off huge chain restaurants even though they spend more money on food than any other generation? It's because they choose local joints over big chains. Even if a local business is a little higher on the price, that idea of creating a customer/proprietor bond is alive again if the price is within reason. But if people can't find that local business, they won't have that opportunity.

Over the years, I've talked with some of the local business owners about this Lawton phenomenon of absent websites. They keep insisting that being on social media is good enough for them. And that's fine. They should be on social media... but if I'm searching for a specific product, it's not popping up a local business facebook page unless that specific product is the name of the business. And while it'd be awesome to have a store named "Wrenches" that sold wrenches, I'm pretty sure those odds are slim to none.

Websites are cheap, but they're also invaluable. How has this message not gotten through to the business owners of Lawton? People are looking for your business. Make it easy for us to find you. Get a website.

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