I hear it a lot. “My business is small.” “I don’t think a small business website even matters.” “Why would a small business have a website?” This is actually an important and frequently asked question in our digital age.
A lot of small business owners think a website isn’t necessary because they don’t sell goods online or don’t generally conduct their business via the internet, however they are doing themselves a grave disservice with this line of thinking. Now, more than ever, a digital presence is a must to compete in the real world.
Phone Books Have Become Passé
Nowadays, very little is done offline. From looking up a company’s address or phone number, to searching out reviews on a business a customer is thinking of patronizing, it almost is always done online now. I do not even have a phone book in my house or office. To be honest, I don’t think I have had one for ten years. It is far easier and more convenient for me to grab my cell phone or iPad, or log onto my computer, to find a company’s phone number and address. And, I know I’m not alone in this.
Sure, you may be thinking, well I still have a phone book. And this may be true, however instances of people referring to a printed book for information (gosh even encyclopedias) is getting rarer and rarer. Just because you may still be doing it, don’t assume the rest of the world is! I can guarantee you that the majority of people aren’t anymore, and as time goes by there will be even less that are.
So, the point I am trying to make here is that an online presence is pretty much a necessity anymore, no matter what industry your business is in, or how small or large your company is. It will allow current and future customers, potential employees, business partners and, perhaps even, future investors to find you quickly and easily.
Presentation Matters Now More Than Ever
A nicely designed and presented website can give a small one or two person company some instant credibility and convey professionalism, while a poorly designed and hard to navigate website, even if you are a larger company, will surely hurt your credibility.
Even worse, in terms of hurting the creditability of your business – advertising a website that takes you to a landing page with ads for other companies on it, or one that doesn’t even exist in cyberspace anymore. For goodness sake, if you are going to advertise a website for your company on your printed marketing materials, make sure you have one readily accessible to your customers and clients when they go there!
I realize that for many businesses budgets are tight, but it is essential that your website convey a professional image, if you want to be taken seriously as a business. So many consumers now search for information online prior to making a purchase or hiring a service company. Even if they will eventually be coming into your business locally and in person, your website is the first impression they will have about you.
If your website looks like it was designed by your 11 year old nephew, unless he has mad skills in typography, design, and advertising and marketing, at such a tender age, you are actually only hurting your business. This is the one scenario where I would say that it’s just better to not advertise online at all. A poorly designed or dated website could, quite possibly, lose you a customer to someone that is looking for a company that is just a “tad bit more professional and with the current times.”
I actually wandered across a website a few days ago that looked like it hasn’t been updated since about 1999. It featured old looking typography, the design was dated, and it had old technology scrolling news bars on it. While I know, because I have been creating websites for a long time, the site featured the latest and greatest web technology back in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, it was in no way set to compete in the year 2014. Even worse, this is a site that I can tell they are actually still using, because I dug around on it a bit and found some updated material posted. But, the average person would have taken one look at the front page of the website and figured it was abandoned at least 10 years ago by it’s owner. Yes, it really was that bad! That made me sad for the company, because I am sure…no I take that back, I know FOR SURE…they are losing valuable income and new clients because of their very poor website.
Blogging Can Give Your Business Credibility
Another important consideration in creating a website is that your competitors are blogging! No, maybe not all of them, but some of them are. And chances are, they are overshadowing the rest of you who aren’t, especially when it comes to gaining new clients and customers.
No matter what business you are in, whether it is plumbing, HVAC, car repair or you own and operate a small pizza parlor, your competitors are utilizing the modern tools available, by having a blog on their website, to their marketing advantage. The more they blog, the higher they are coming up in search engines, overshadowing you.
Also blogging gives them instant credibility. Think about a car repair shop, for example. You car is giving you trouble so you search online and find the websites of two car repair shops in your town. One has a sparse website, with not much on it except for maybe a picture or two of their shop, and an address and phone number to call for a quote. The other is full of super great rich content, with do it yourself tips, and troubleshooting guides, and all kinds of other great goodies that you can read online before deciding to take your car in for work.
Even if both were considered “pretty” sites that caught your eye, which car repair facility are you going to feel better about using? The one that barely told you anything, or the one that walked you through, step by step, troubleshooting issues on your car. Right there online. Before ever even picking up the phone. They have instantly given themselves more credibility as an expert in the field of car repairs. Most people would feel much more comfortable about having them work on their car.
Website Are Important Marketing Tools, Not A Extra Optional Expense If You Have Any Money Left Over
Your website is an important marketing tool for your business. It can be as important as vehicle wraps for local service companies are for marketing. It should be a part of your overall marketing budget, right up there with print advertising and vehicle advertising.
Think about the amount of money you have put into phone book advertising, which has never been cheap, in years past. Or, the amount you have spent to have your vehicle wrapped with advertising. Isn’t it about time to consider putting the same sort of investment into today’s technologies for gaining new clients and offering a portal of communication for existing ones?