Do we really need a website?

Do we really need a website?

In today’s world a website is a business essential. A website provides customers a chance to ‘discover’ you, because it’s the place people go to research and compare businesses and its products or services. Technically, your business will not fail just because you are not on the web, however, if your customers are unable to quickly find detailed information about your product or services offerings on the web it can negatively impact your bottom line.

It is important to remember that being on the web is not just about selling more. A web presence allows you to retain current customers, and as any marketing expert will tell you; retaining current customers is significantly less expensive than obtaining new ones.

You may feel you have all the customers you need, or that your business niche is too small to require a web presence. Remember that the largest lead generator for your business is word of mouth. Utilizing social media applications ads an almost real time online ability to leverage that word of mouth from your satisfied customer base.

Your best investment ever?

The first question we receive, more of a statement really, is, “My business can’t afford a website.” Instead, customers choose out-of-the-box turn key websites from directory services like GoDaddy, Intuit, or Yellowbook. We understand the draw of these bundled packages. As business owners the less we spend on marketing the better our books look.

Unfortunately, like most things in life, you get what you pay for. Do these template out-of-the-box websites provide a viable ROI for the limited investment? No. Does your web presence have to be expensive? No.

Yes, you will have to spend some money, but it is one of the best investments you will ever make. You will have to budget for a once-off web design fee and then a monthly web-hosting fee, but in return you get a permanent yet flexible marketing tool. Compare your web costs to what you would pay for a few radio spots (and who knows if anyone will hear it or had enough time to write down your phone number!) or a once-off newspaper ad (once it’s gone, it’s gone!) and even if you use newspaper advertising wisely, repetitive advertising will cost a lot more than your website.

Return on investment

For those who are into numbers, check out http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm

For a more qualitative assessment, let’s weigh the pros and cons of having a website, starting with the benefits of course:

  • A website defies geography. No matter where your clients are, they can reach you.
  • It is tireless and works like a dog – 24/7, 365 days of the year.
  • It lets your customers in: You can use your website to ask customers for their opinions, while you can blog about your latest and greatest product.
  • It respects your pocket. It is cheaper and far more flexible than other advertising mediums, and changing its looks doesn’t involve a long-winded production process.
  • It saves trees. Although it is always a good idea to augment a good website with other marketing tools, it does cut down the need for more traditional marketing like printing large volumes of literature.
  • It is everyone’s friend. People can shop and compare without having to find parking at five different stores while trying to keep the kids to stay calm!

As for the disadvantages: Apparently there are none really. But don’t take our word for it; google it, and see for yourself!

Do not try this at home

So we have pretty much established that businesses and websites are apples and oranges.

But there is an important caveat: When it comes to your web presence, less isn’t more. And just any old website will not do. Your site IS your business. It reflects your image and your brand and tells your customers who you are, what you do, and what you sell. It must look good, grab attention and entice people. If it is badly designed and hard to navigate, if the writing is bad or the colors clash, it is not going to do you any favors. Remember, you are on the web to charm and disarm not to disturb and perturb!

So once you have decided to invest in a website, follow up this wise business decision with a commitment to hire a professional. You want your website to be a true reflection of the passion and pride you feel for you business. Nothing less will do.