Do I Need a Website?
Suppose you want to open a business. Whether a mid-sized manufacturing company, a landscaping business, or a Mom & Pop restaurant… It’s your lifelong dream.
Let’s further suppose that I own a piece of property that you feel would be the perfect location for your business. It’s in the middle of town, and hundreds of people drive past every single day. The kind of location that comes at a premium price.
I will make you an offer you can’t refuse… I will let you build your business on my land, rent free. In exchange, I only want two things:
- I have the right to place billboards and other advertising on the property at my discretion, paid for by other businesses. Of course, you have my assurances that said advertising will remain tasteful.
- Any buildings, or improvements you make become part of the property, and I own them.
Would you take me up on that offer?
On the web, this is called “digital sharecropping,” and every day, thousands of business owners make the decision to adopt this business model. As a matter of fact, 52% of Small & Medium Businesses don’t have a website.
“Why should I pay to have a website for my small business, when I can set up a Facebook page, or a Google+ page for free?”
That is a valid question to ask. And… digital sharecropping may seem like a pretty good deal on the fact of it. However, there are four reasons why you should reconsider:
A Website is Your Property
Social media should definitely be part of your marketing strategy. However, the owner (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, etc) can change the rules when it suits them.
A case in point: effective January 2015, Facebook reduced the number of people that see your business’ promotional posts.
While the intent behind this decision is a reasonable one, it still highlights the fact that Facebook is in control of what your followers see… Not you.
With a self-hosted website, you own the domain, and have absolute control over all content, how it is posted, and for whom.
A Website Increases Your Believability
I’ll bet you can count on one hand the number of people you know that still use the Yellow pages. How about the number of businesses with a Yahoo, or Gmail address?
Like it or not, when you hand someone a business card, they are looking for a web address, and if you don’t have one, your credibility suffers.
According to this article from SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives),
- 97% of consumers search online for products and services
- 70% compare prices or read reviews
- 88% have been influenced by an online review
- 93% of small business websites are not mobile-friendly, despite the fact that 4 out of 5 consumers use a smartphone to shop
If you do not have a web presence, your business growth is going to stall, if it hasn’t already.
A Website Brings in Potential New Customers
John Wanamaker was (among other things) a Philadelphia merchant in the late 1800’s, and considered by many to be one of the pioneers of marketing. He is credited with the quote “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.”
Here’s where it gets interesting… If you get it right, your website can be the most cost-effective lead generation tool in your marketing toolbox.
Further, web technology allows you to track your advertising costs, measure the effectiveness of every campaign, and know which half of your advertising budget can be better spent on other things.
Your website speaks with your voice, and is on duty 24-hours a day to provide information, and answer questions.
Far more than just an online brochure that says “I am a real company,” a website gives you the ability to engage your visitors, by telling them the story of your busines, and keep them coming back.
A Website Saves You Money
“If I had a nickel for every time somebody asked me that…”
Have you ever heard that phrase before? If not, I’ll bet you can relate to it. How often do you get the same questions from your customers and visitors? And… Human nature being what it is, for every person who asks a question, there are several more who were wondering the same thing.
A website lets you answer your most frequently asked questions, for everybody’s benefit.
A website will also allow you to demonstrate your products or services, provide instructions, tips, and get feedback from your customers. All of this can be done while you are being productive.
If you are a startup, a website is far less expensive than buying or leasing office or warehouse space. And, if you are an established business, a website is far less expensive than the cost of hiring a full-time marketing professional.
Do I Need a Website?
Brick and mortar shopping, particularly at the high end, will never be completely eliminated. However, online shopping is growing at a phenomenal rate, and Amazon and eBay have proven that no matter the product, it can be sold online.
One of the greatest things about the Internet, is that it has leveled the playing field between the startup and the big, established players in most any industry. It doesn’t matter whether you are a one-man shop, or a mega-corporation. If you don’t have a website, you are losing business to companies that do.