It’s easy to build a Web site. Anyone can do it for little or no money. What is not easy is building a successful business with it. So how do you do it?
Start by asking yourself: “Why do I need a web site? What will it accomplish for my business?”
The biggest mistake you can make is to build a Web site that doesn’t do anything for you. This may seem obvious, but too many companies build Web sites simply because they believe it would be neat, or because their competitors have one. Without a real purpose, a Web site is just a complete waste of time.
By the way, there is always a good purpose for starting a web site – you just have to discover it. Just look at all the great things that will happen to you when you start your own web site:
– Your business will be open 24 hours a day. This means you won’t have to stay open on Thanksgiving or Christmas day. If you live on the East Coast, people from California will still be able to shop in your store after you close. Any time someone wants to know your hours, location, directions, or any other details about your company, they can get it without disturbing you.
– Low staffing costs. When you have a web site, you can offer your products and services without hiring any extra employees. You won’t have to spend any resources on compensating or insuring your new staff members and still be able to maintain the same level of sales and customer service.
– Gain thousands new customers. Because anyone in the world can see your web site, you will gain customers from other states and countries while you are putting in the same amount of effort and money.
– Create an image of a well established company. The Internet is a great medium through which you can create any image of yourself you want. It is all in your hands: design a professional web site, add helpful content, and your company will immediately take a step up in the image it represents. No matter how small your business is, with the right tools and a great desire you can make it look like a corporation on the Web!
– Save on postage and printing costs. Think of how many cards you mail out to let customers know about your sale. All of that can be eliminated by putting the sale information on your web site and inviting your customers to visit it. You can collect your customers’ E-Mail addresses and keep in touch with them about special events in your store via E-Mail.
– Unlimited advertisement. If you ever advertised in a local newspaper, you know the costs. You are being charged per line, per inch, and per color. On the Web, there is no limit to how much you can put. You can add pictures, articles, newsletters, rates, product images and so much more! With just one web site, you can have almost unlimited advertisement for the same low monthly cost (under $25 a month!)
– Improve communications. If you have employees or suppliers, your web site is the best way to communicate between you and them. Changes take effect as soon as you post them on the Web, and everyone can see updated information without having to wait for a new database of products, and without contacting you directly.
– Impeccable customer service. This is a dream of any entrepreneur: “buy my product and leave me alone”. By this I mean that business owners do not like to spend time explaining to customers how to use the product, how to install it, troubleshoot it, clean it, move it, turn it, and whatever else can be done to a purchased item.
– A web site will become your best friend in meeting the needs of your customers. It will answer all their questions. Simply create a page of “Frequently Asked Questions” and include its address on every receipt. This way, before they come to you for help, they will come to your web site for answers.
– Online presence – in step with your competitors. You must think of the Internet as a gigantic the Yellow Pages book. More and more people use the Web to shop for information, services and products. If you are not there – your competitors are! Can you imagine not being in Yellow Pages and try to reach local market?
– Unless you spend a lot of money on newspaper ads and other local promotions – no one will know your business exists. The same thing with the Internet. If people can’t find your company on the Web, you might as well not exist.
– Get those cranky customers, too. Many people do not like to shop in the stores, malls and any other noisy places (I am first!). They are afraid of long walks, pressure from sales people, sneezing customers and bumping shopping carts. Once they discover online shopping – they will never go back to the stores unless absolutely necessary. By putting your products online, you satisfy the needs of such customers and therefore succeed in one more niche.
– Showcase your work. Whether you are a real estate agent, construction business owner or a beauty salon specialist – you can put your work on display when you have a web site. Anytime a potential client wants to see your past work and projects, simply refer him or her to your site. No need to scan and mail pictures, or bring your client to a finished building project.
– Promotional Costs are very low. When I interviewed the manager of NY State Nissan dealership, he shared with me the costs of running an online ad compared to a newspaper or any other printed advertisement. He said, “We can run a whole month of advertisements online for the same amount of money we pay for one newspaper ad!” That’s right, on an online promotion you can spend $97 a month, while paying 10 times that much for a one-time large ad in a magazine!
– Beat your competition to the top. Competition online is huge today! There are over 3,000,000 sites on the Web and this number is growing. Still, I see at least 5 businesses a month who are not online and getting a web site is not in their near future plans.
Why am I telling you this? Because if THEY don’t get a web site – YOU have a better chance at succeeding. Insurance, home improvement, gift shops and other companies are among those I see dragging their feet in putting their businesses online. This means if you do it now, before EVERY company is online, you will be among the pioneers!
Yep, that’s right – Internet is still in its babyhood, no matter how many web sites there are out there. It has been less than a decade since companies decided to use web sites as part of their marketing strategies. Can you imagine what it will be like in 20-30 years??
I could go on and on, but I hope you are convinced: YOUR BUSINESS ABSOLUTELY NEEDS A WEB SITE!
Even if you are not planning to sell directly online, people will find your web site and contact you about the services you offer. You can place your web site address in your newspaper ads and any other promotional materials to make people aware of your web site.
Milana Nastetskaya is a full time web developer and the author of the “65 Instant Web Design Answers”. http://www.instantwebanswers.com