Wrote an article for another site of mine that I thought I’d share here. Sometimes a small business owner will think, even in 2006, that he or she does not need a website - at all. Here are ten very good reasons why that is never the case - assuming the goal of the business is to prosper and succeed.

“Nowadays a company without a Web site is in loser territory-out of touch.” - John C. Dvorak, PC Magazine columnist, June 5, 2006.

1. Competitive Pressure: Your competition has websites. While this alone may not drive every business decision, knowing what your competition is doing is a healthy part of self-evaluation. Do they know something you don’t? Have they or are they experiencing something you might not yet have realized?

2. Forever Fresh: A website is the only form of advertising that works for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and doesn’t have peaks and valleys like print advertising. When you buy an ad in a newspaper (or even the yellow pages), there is a cyclical effect. A six-week run in the paper, or a six-month run in the local five-and-dime, all eventually end as the paper becomes stale and people move on with their lives. The website is always fresh, always inviting, and always ready to serve.

3. Two Words Say Everything: A website is the most in-depth information that you can give the public, usually in a word or two. By promoting your website, on the front door (when you are closed), on your business cards, on the telephone to someone looking for your location, in your radio advertisements, on your yellow pages ad, everywhere - you can essentially “tell” everything about your operation with that simple word: MyBusiness.com.

4. No More Yellow Pages: People don’t use the yellow pages as much as you think. Almost every employee in the country that gets paid more than $30,000/year has a computer at their desk. Few have a copy of the yellow pages nearby. Habitually, they will type in “gift shops Melbourne” in Google — long before they hunt down the one copy of the yellow pages that was left in the breakroom.

5. Time is Money: How much time do you spend on the phone giving out trivial information? Directions, what you carry, what you don’t carry, what hours you are open, directions again, the price of some service, how one of your services “works”, directions once again, and yes you’ll be open until 6pm tomorrow night. If you could hire someone for just a few hundred dollars a year to take an increasing number of those calls for you - so that you could concentrate on running and growing your business (what you do best) - wouldn’t you do it? You’d be surprised how much your website will take off your shoulders while simultaneously driving business to you.

6. Repeat Customers: Your repeat business is your whole business. I’ll say it again. Your repeat business is your whole business. If you can’t keep people coming back to you once you’ve finally acquired that customer, you might as well lock your doors today. When your customers are reminded of you more frequently, they’ll be in to see you more frequently. They don’t get reminded by any other advertising method you use - those are all to acquire new customers. They get reminded when you invite them to sign up for your monthly specials at the checkout counter. Did you want to mail those specials (at considerable time and cost to you), or did you want to email those specials to them (at no cost and little time to you)? Most of your clients (even seniors!) will prefer an email - you will be surprised if you haven’t been doing it. Don’t let those clients discover somebody new. Keep them coming back to you!

7. The New Word of Mouth: Some business owners say, “Most of our business comes from word of mouth”. Isn’t that great? Of course, the business has little choice to grow any other way if the owners aren’t pro-actively soliciting new clients. Word of mouth is the only way anyone will find out about it. But the New Word of Mouth is email and the internet. So even though your business reputation carries on the wings of a dove, the wings of an eagle is a website. When people can look at their receipt, their bag, your business card, and shoot an email to 35 of their friends at once and say, “I just love the service at XYZ, Inc” and point to your website - that is Word of Mouth that goes much further than you could buy.

8. Existence is Everything: Without a website, you simply don’t exist. Now before you look back at all your success and dismiss this idea, consider this simple exercise. It’s 3:00pm, Friday afternoon. I have to get my hair done this weekend. (Or find a kennel for the dog, or an auto transmission shop, etc…) I type in my favorite search engine at work: “Palm Bay hair salon”. The first three links all look promising. I look at their hours, their locations, read a little about the owner of one (Wow - she’s been doing this for 23 years!) and pick up the phone and make an appointment. But guess what I didn’t know. I didn’t know that you run a hair salon six blocks from where I’ll be having lunch tomorrow. I didn’t know that - because your website didn’t come up. For me, you didn’t even exist.

9. The Future is Automation: Even though you aren’t selling things online, you can highly automate some parts of your business online - even today. You could give your customers the option to pay for their storage unit online. You can automate furniture deliveries to them. You can post your craft class schedules online and have them close registration automatically once filled. You can allow them to book appointments with your salon online - or make restaurant registrations. You can give customers the option to be notified that their dry cleaning is ready for pickup. And it is only getting easier and more convenient for customers to shop at places that serve them around their lifestyle.

10. Inexpensive and Almost Risk Free: All the above benefits are great. In the past, these benefits would have been costly. But while every other advertising medium has increased in price over the past decade, website development and hosting has decreased significantly. For a few hundred dollars a year, you can obtain all the benefits above. There is virtually “no risk”. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars and wonder if you should have bought a bigger yellow pages ad. You can guarantee a new beginning for your business today for a very small investment in yourself and your future.

Technorati : business, internet, productivity, websites

Posted in: Website Design & Small Business