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But Where Are you Located OFFLINE?

Feb 1

I was writing a thank you note to someone who wrote a testimonial for my business. I got the envelope sealed up and needed to address it, so I looked up her website and navigated to the ‘contact us’ page. No street address. There was an email, a phone number, a Facebook page and a Twitter handle listed, but nowhere to send an actual piece of mail.

This has been happening to me a lot lately. I find myself spending way too much time surfing the web, trying to find actual, physical addresses. Why do business owners not include them?

A couple of years ago, you wouldn’t think of advertising your business and not telling people where to find you. Even if you don’t have a brick-and-mortar storefront, a customer might need to write to you. Maybe they want to send a note raving about the service you gave them; or they have a problem and want to return the merchandise you sold them. Perhaps a contractor wants to send you an invoice.

In our personal lives, we are so reliant on email and social media messaging that a mailing address has almost ceased to matter. With websites like e-vite for invitations, flickr for sharing photos, and virtual florist programs for saying ‘thank you’ or ‘I’m sorry,’ the need to send snail mail is fading. The last person I wrote a business-related note to responded my adding a ‘reccomendation’ to my Linked In account. Both my brother & Stephen’s brother texted us their ‘thank yous’ for Christmas presents.

But in business, isn’t there still a need for an address? (I’ll admit, all the invoicing for KWSM is done over email. However, I prefer checks to credit cards, so my clients do still need to know where to send them.) And I list my address for one very important reason: I want potential clients to know that I’m local. Perhaps that’s not important if you’re a huge mega-company and you have locations all over the country, but I don’t hang out with many of those business owners. The people I know are mostly small business owners, serving their community with just a few locations. Can’t it only be a benefit to let the people you are serving know that you are a part of their community, too?

I would prefer to support a local business. And more importantly, I would prefer to do business with someone who I knew how to find. As much as I love social media, I still believe old fashioned mail is more reliable. (How many times have you heard: ‘oh, gosh, I don’t remember getting your friend request.’) And as much as I admire my friend as a business woman, my frustration over trying to mail her something has pushed me almost to my breaking point. I can’t imagine feeling this way as a customer who needs attention.

Katie is President of Katie Wagner Social Media. Before opening the agency, she spent more than 15 years as a journalist, working for CBS, ABC, Fox, CNN and National Public Radio. Katie works with clients across the country and is a popular public speaker.

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