I have wanted to create a post about Google Apps since I started writing posts for this blog. I have had a hard time organizing my thoughts on how to communicate what this exactly does for you, a small business owner, because of the many and varied things it offers. If you are like most people when you think of Google you think about searching and then maybe GMail, their free email service. Both of these are free Google services while Google Apps costs money, so why would you want to pay for what you can get for free? It is a good question and one that you need to answer for yourself.
I will start by saying Google Apps provides a large suite of integrated services that combine together to give a consistent and broad presence to your clients and prospects. When debating to pay for these services, $5 per user account per month, or opting for Google’s free separate services consider this.
While doing business we exchange emails to use for communicating. When this email, their business email, is seen as email@example.com I immediately get an impression. Just as when you meet someone for the first time, in the context of selling your product or service you have is an expectation of how that person should look. How they dress, the vehicle they drive, the business location and its presentation. This impression immediately says, I’m a small business or a sole proprietor. I have a professional back office to support me and many other things. Suppose instead I see an email address for the same person as firstname.lastname@example.org. Now I know your website, I know the name of your company. When I try to remember your email I know it. I think that you have taken the time to setup and pay attention to other details. Which often means you will be a more reliable and stable business. Remember these are signals to the prospects and clients you support.
In today’s world having a website is required. People need to know how to find your phone number, or address or how to contact you. They may need to know your hours or a list of services or prices. It’s not just marketing but customer service. Now you see I have strayed into customer relations and marketing. Every business has these whether they admit it or not.
Google Apps gives you websites. Note that I have written that as plural, sites. Once you pay for the service you can create an unlimited number of websites off of your main domain name. So you can have
www.smithandsons.com, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org etc
There are literally dozens of main line services and hundreds if not thousands of 3rd party services available in Google Apps. I will touch on these in future posts but setting up for email and website with your domain is often worthwhile. Comparing to 3rd party hosting services, which costs minimally $10/month plus setup and website construction along with setup of email accounts. Compare to Google Apps $5/month per user and which is cost-effective. If you need more than a few email addresses you will need to see the value proposition in paying for 10 or 20 employees email addresses. The value is still there but the analysis will need to wait for a future post.