Sunday, February 22, 2015

Does My Small Business Need a Website?

When was the last time you used a phone book to search for a product or service? The convenience of internet searching means fewer people are using printed books to find products and services.  So how does a consumer find you?  How do you advertise your products or services?

The success of small business is the heart of the American economy, yet so many small businesses do not have websites.  Today the internet is the number one source where consumers look for anything and everything.  Consumers are continually searching the internet for products and services and many times judge whether or not to do business with a company based on a business’ web presence or… lack of.
In my recent internet search for a local service provider, I found that many small locally owned businesses are not advertising on the internet.   In my attempt to find a local service provider, I googled some related key words for the service I was looking for, but didn’t get many valid results.  I then asked around the community for recommendations, and again visited the internet to check out the recommendations I had been given.  I found some very poor attempts at websites, but surprisingly most had no web presence at all!  However, I did find a few businesses that actually had very nice websites that provided the information I was looking for – i.e. location, services offered, experience, and contact information.   In the end, I decided to contact the businesses that made the investment into establishing a professional online presence primarily because it demonstrated their credibility.
A website may be your first chance at making a good impression on a potential buyer.  A website gives your business credibility, it shows that you are committed to your business and the customer is important to you.  Many times customers are more willing to do business with you because you have a website.
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?  YES, without a doubt, if you have a business, you should have a website.
Nowadays, there is very little that can’t be sold over the internet.  Millions of shoppers are online, purchasing everything from books to computers to cars to real estate.  Although you don’t want to put all your marketing efforts into selling your goods online, if your product is an easy online sale, you should certainly be considering it.  At the very least, you should have a web presence so that customers, potential employees, business partners, and perhaps even investors can quickly and easily find out more about your business and the products or services you offer.
A website is a very valuable marketing tool and is actually a very inexpensive form of advertising.  It allows you to offer much more information about your products or services than other forms of advertising.   You can make changes to your website at any time, add photos, special pricing, publicize events, etc.  You can build relationships with your consumers via your website by sending emails and newsletters to advertise sales, special offers, and communicate other important information to your customers.  A website is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week supplying information about your business to potential customers.  At any time you can see how many people are viewing your website, what pages they viewed and how long they stayed on your site.
You need to have a professional-looking website to be taken seriously.   Since many consumers now search the internet for information before making a purchase, even from a brick-and-mortar store, your site may be the first chance you have at making a good impression on a potential buyer.  With a well-designed website, your small business can project the image and professionalism of a much larger company.  No matter the size of your company, if you don’t have a website you’re losing business to other companies that do.