So should your business have a website, even if your business is small and sells products or services you don’t think can be sold online? My answer in 1997 is the same as my answer today: Yes, if you have a business, you must have a website. Without a doubt.
For any business – local or international, you can have a website that acts as a salesperson, on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Your website can give so much more information than a simple business card or brochure can.
One of the great things about the internet is that it has leveled the playing field when it comes to competing with the big boys. You have one shot at making a good first impression. With a well-designed site, your little operation can project the image and professionalism of a much larger company. The inverse is also true. I’ve seen many big company websites that were so badly designed and hard to navigate that they completely lacked professionalism and credibility. Good for you, too bad for them.
These are the obvious reasons why you need a website:
People expect it.
In this day and age, people simply expect you to have a website. Any business without a website looked at negatively by a growing segment of the population.
So I don’t care who you are or what your business is, you need a website. I found my dog groomer off the internet.
A website means that you are in business. Branding is a way to differentiate your product, service or company from its competition, and create loyalty. The content of a website, its style and tools such as newsletters allow for many ways to differentiate yourself, make the visitor feel good about you, and build loyalty. More worrisome: if you do not do this, a competitor may snatch not only your prospects sales, but also their loyalty away from you with their website! Eat, or be eaten!
Update Information Quickly.
You can update or change your products and services easily and at low cost. If you have produced “paper” catalogs, brochures, sales collateral’s, you know how difficult and expensive it is to change them. With your Internet site, changing anything is a simple and inexpensive process.
The Internet is being used on a regular basis by millions worldwide with more “connecting” every day. Many of the new users come from countries around the world. They want to buy the “latest and greatest” products. With the Internet they can become your customer. How much do you think it would cost you to advertise in the Times of London, the Tokyo Daily, and Moscow Today? Compare that to the cost of a website. The information you provide on your website is instantly available to every one of these users.
Professional, well-written website is like a perfect sales person. You can have samples of your work, customer testimonials, why someone should do a business with you, helpful hints, before and after pictures, etc. It’ll put you ahead of competition. A DJ, a realtor, an accountant, a lawyer with a nice website can very quickly rise above his or her competition.
Success does not come from doing one thing right. What you need is a marketing mix, and a website can be a powerful ingredient. Mentioning a website in a radio, TV or print ad may just be the thing that wins people over – especially if the online experience feels similar to the offline communication.
You may not need large website at first. But I recommend every business have at least one page with the following information:
- Business name
- What you do
- How to contact you
This single, solitary page puts you way out in front of your competition. It also gives you the benefit of being seen as a real business.
Here’s the exception to my rule: It’s actually better to have no website at all than to have one that makes your business look bad. Your site speaks volumes about your business. It either says, “Hey, look, we take our business so seriously that we have created this wonderful site for our customers!” or it screams, “Hey, look, I let my 12-year-old nephew design my site. We do not care about presentation – oh, and we have no money either. Good luck finding anything! We simply don’t care.”
Your website is an important part of your business. If you want to be taken seriously as a professional, you need to look and act the part.