We all have a dream. America’s 25 million small business owners are making their dreams happen. But it’s never easy.
For E.C. Hundley, his dream had four wheels, an engine, and a smooth ride. As the proprietor of Everything Carts in Martinsville, Va., E.C. built a business that custom assembles souped-up, street-legal golf carts. He also sells cart accessories online, and his business now employs eight people. With your dream, some hard work, guile and a penchant for online marketing, you can do something like this, too.
Did you get your business online from the start?
Oddly enough, we started out as a local retail store, and we never thought about taking our business online. After the first 8 months, we were going broke with just one employee, and I figured we had to do something if we were going to survive.
So you took your business online just to keep it alive.
Yes. At that point we had maybe $1,500 in inventory sitting on the shelf, so we started putting some of it on eBay. We then got with a friend who’s a web designer, and he built our website. Since then we have revamped the site about four times to make it friendly for our customers. It saved our business.
How much of your business comes from people finding you on the web, compared to other channels?
Our direct web activity is about 70% of our sales. Most of the rest is via telephone, and we also promote our business via a print catalog.
Tell us about your YouTube channel. What kind of videos do you make, and how do they help your customers?
I help people with installation of the products we sell. Our call volume had gotten really high on some of our products, so helping people over the phone was taking a lot of time. Then I remembered watching a Photoshop tutorial on YouTube, and I thought to myself this is the answer to our problem. So we started shooting a few how-to videos and posted them on our YouTube channel, and soon those calls stopped completely.
Do the videos help you sell more, too?
Yes. The videos also help us earn new business, because our customers can see that we know the products we sell, and they can buy with confidence.
What are your future plans for online video?
With the success we’ve had with the few videos we have done, we have now built a studio just for shooting how-to videos. This way the customer can see how the products are installed and get a better idea of how it is going to look. One of the toughest parts of selling a product online is that the customer usually just gets to see a picture of what they’re interested in. With video they get a better idea of the real look and size. It is the closest thing you can get to seeing, touching, feeling the product.
That’s the real power of video, isn’t it? How hard was it to get started building a YouTube channel?
It was the easiest Internet task we had ever done. It’s pretty easy and inexpensive to make good-looking videos today, too.
The main advantage of producing online videos, especially for an online business, is it makes your business real. Customers need to see that your company has real people behind the website.
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