If you're reading this, chances are you've thought about a website but are second-guessing its utility or value to your business.
It's a perfectly reasonable question, of course: How will a website improve my business?
What is surprising, though, is that this same question is rarely asked of advertising in the Yellow Pages or Local Directories, or of more traditional media such as newspapers and magazines. Because of their 'traditionalism', it seems assumed that Yellow Pages and the rest 'just work'. If that was ever true, it's less and less so.
Google Trumps Yellow Pages
Dollar for dollar, you will get more value from a website than from Yellow Pages or Local Directories.
Traditional paper-based business directories such as these are running all sorts of interference at the moment trying to make this seem less true than it is, but the verdict is in: Yellow Pages is out, Google is in. Consider for a moment pricing: for about $1300, you get an eighth-page display ad in Local Directories. For one year. Alongside all your competitors. In a big, heavy, clumsy book. Yellow Pages costs even more. For the same money, you could have a website that:
- Is as extensive and as informative as you want it to be: you don't have to squeeze your sales pitch into a given space.
- Can be updated as frequently as you feel necessary, which is great for time sensitive promotions.
- Is uniquely your space: you're not stacked alongside your competitors.
- Lets you differentiate your business from your competitors.
- Can grow with your business.
- Grows in value over time.
- Is global in scope.
Additionally, the web:
- Is more likely to be used than Yellow Pages as a search and enquiry tool.
- Is by far the most likely tool to research products and services used by the most cashed-up demographic groups.
- Is increasingly used to verify the integrity of a business.
- Generates word-of-mouth and cloud-crowd endorsements, credibility and testimonials through social media such as Facebook.
- Is democratic: a small business can make as big an impression as big business.
Size doesn't matter
One of the great things about the internet is that is has vastly levelled the playing field when it comes to competing against big business. It doesn't matter if you've got 10,000 employees and a budget of $100,000: a poorly designed website is going to reflect badly on your business regardless of its size or venerability.
Conversely, a small business with a much more modest budget can increase their visual identity and brand integrity vastly with a simple but well-designed and easy-to-use website. No matter what your size (or lack of it) you can project the image and professionalism of a much larger company. Indeed, often you'll exceed that of a larger company.
Everyone gets a prize
It's tempting to cite some old clichés like "you have to be in it to win it" or "you can't win the meet if you don't compete". But, at the moment anyway, and especially for micro-businesses, you really only need to turn up and you're already in the running for the prize.
How? Well, think about the statistics cited above from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. If you're a micro-business, only 23% of your competitors have a web presence.
Put it another way: 77% — nearly eight in ten — of your competitors don't have a website!
That's staggering. I don't know about you, but that sounds like a golden opportunity to get the jump on your competitors and establish a web presence and image before they do. Competitive advantages like that simply don't get handed to you very often.
Even if you're a medium-sized or large business, there's still more than half of your competitors who do not have a website. That's still a fantastic opportunity to grab the lead.
Or, to look at it from the opposite point of view: if your competitor has a website and you don't, you are losing business to that competitor. You don't want that. You want to be the business that other businesses are losing customers to. Right?
A website can save you money
Generally speaking, web-seachers are not window shoppers. If they're searching for a product or service, it's because they've made a deliberate and considered decision to do so, not because they're just passing by.
So, if they're searching for a widget, and you sell widgets, and they find your www.widget.com website, then they are already in a buying behavioural mode. They've done a lot of your work for you: they've researched the product themselves, they've researched where to buy it, they've found a supplier ... most of your sales job is already done. Now assuming that your price is right, chances are they're going to buy. Your savings?
Reduced promotional efforts — your customers find you. Reduced spend on sales and staff training— the customer sells to themselves. Reduced need to carry excess stock — only order what you need when you've made a sale.
No, it's not a one-and-only proposition
I am not suggesting that you put all your promotional efforts solely into the web and be done with everything else. There are specific times and situations when specific promotions or media are more suited to your needs. The point I want to make, though, is that you should, at the very least, have a simple web presence such as one of our starter websites so that customers, potential business partners, suppliers and perhaps investors can quickly and easily find out more about your business and the products or services you offer.
So ... any website is better than no website, right?
Ahh, no. It's not enough that you have just any website. You need a professional-looking site if you want be taken seriously. Remember, your website may be your first chance to make an impression on a potential customer, so it's vital to make that first impression a good one.
Don’t forget: your website is also business tool
Having a website is one thing; having a website that works for your business is another. Before you build, you need a plan, a strategy.
That’s our speciality. We’ve been helping small businesses formulate sound business and marketing plans for more than 20 years. Talk to saso.creative today about your business needs and how a well-planned website might help you achieve those goals.
Professional, unbiased, free advice. Talk to us.