If you have a company that sells goods all over the country, the answer is rather obvious. What if you run a service company? or only sell your goods locally? How about manufacturing? This article will break all three of these down and let you know what to consider.
There's nothing quite like the local service industry. I love using my local electricians, plumbers, mechanics, carpenters, etc. etc. Service with a smile, first name basis, relying on the old fashioned Word-of-Mouth advertising, I know all about service industry, because I am one myself. While it was easy for me to decide to go digital, seeing as I am a site designer, repair technician, etc, but what about you? Have you considered having a web presence for your company? Here's how I look at it, not only is a web site a great advertising method, but I try to make a website try to make at least one facet of your business more automated.
Let's say your business has you on constant service calls. You're out working with a customer and your cell phone rings. You stop and answer the phone only to have the caller ask for your hours, your rates, what you do, some examples of your work, etc. Quite annoying isn't it? Now imagine you have a basic 5 page website with a home page, FAQs, Contact, testimonials, and portfolio. Instead of getting these little calls, they could instead go to your site and get this information.
A website also opens you up to local searches. Here's a test go to Google and search for your industry in your area. How many companies come up? How many of them have web sites? Are you on that list? Where are you on that list? All of these questions really impact your visibility as more and more people are looking for local businesses online as opposed to traditional means, i.e. phone book, 411.
Your company makes the best widgets you've ever seen. You're proud of your widgets and know they are a hit. They will make the world so much easier and help make whatchacallits run so much smoother and last longer. All of this may be true, but with no website, how will you get the word out about your widgets? I often tell people in every line of business not having a website today is like not having a phone in the 60's. It's the way business is done now.
I maintain a website for a small, local manufacturing company. I knew when we started his product was so specific, that he wouldn't get more than 50 hits per month. So instead I streamlined his ordering and payment process to make it easier for him and his customers. His existing customers love the convenience and as an added bonus, he has entered the market in China, Russia, Brazil, and Canada.
A website also gives you contact information, pricing information, as well as a showcase for your products.
If you own a shop that sells items locally, you may not think that you need a website. Once again, I offer you the phone reference in the above section. Also, what makes a website so great for your business is that it is a great advertising method. Think of it this way; I pay around $60 a month for a business card sized ad in our local paper. Our paper comes out once per week. So I pay $60 for an ad that someone will see once, turn the page and won't see again until next week. The best I can do is hope they have PC problems right then, or that it sets a small seed in their memory for a PC problem in the near future. A website, on the other hand costs a small monthly maintenance fee, (my fee is $40 for a list of services) that keeps your "ad" visible 24/7/365 that also doubles as a catalog. Pretty neat, huh?
A website helps you keep your business on patrons minds. You can spend a few hundred dollars every month to send out a monthly newsletter, or use your website to send out one per week if needed. An e-newsletter costs usually a few dollars per month (the maintenance fee covers one from me) and you can keep your customers up-to-date on sales, coupons, new products, etc.
A website also opens your business up for social networking. No one can deny the power of social networking, but it isn't fully customizable. If you have a website and a social networking page, you can link the two and keep many customers up to date with your company. Anytime you update on your networking site, place a link to your website, esp. the specific page. If you have a sale on product A, update your page to say "Great sale on Product A", then place the link to Product A's page. Place a link to where they can join your network on your website in key locations, so that they can easily join and follow you. A social network also allows you to connect with your customers on a more personal level, which I love about small local shops. If they ask you about a product on your network, go ahead and set it aside for them so that when they get there it's ready to go, it shows you care and listen to your patrons.
This article is only scratching the surface of this important decision for your business. A lot will go into your thought process, as my next few articles will touch on. I open this up for questions or comments and you may use my contact information if you would like to ask questions for a more personal answer.
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