How often do you use a telephone book to search for a business of interest? Phonebook? What’s a phonebook, right? How often do you search in the online yellow pages for a particular business? Probably anytime you want to know how to contact a company of interest. And how often do you find that the business of interest does not have a website? How often do members of the business community hand you a business card with an email address @yahoo.com or the like? In today’s business world it is amazing to see just how many businesses still do not have a web presence.
Do you have a website for your business? If not, what are you waiting for? While on vacation in Laguna Beach, California, we visited the Sawdust Festival. It was a wonderful time, with many excellent local artists. I was amazed that some didn’t have a website. How is that possible today? A website is a fairly inexpensive business tool that serves a purpose for both you and your clients. For you, it is a fairly inexpensive way to advertise. Obtaining an appropriate domain name for your business does not cost very much any more. In fact, you can obtain a .com domain name from GoDaddy.com for as little as $11.99 per year. Do I sound like a GoDaddy commercial, or what?
Once you have the domain name it can be yours forever, as long as you keep your registration current, but in order to build your website, you will need to choose a webhosting provider. We have had some good experiences and bad experiences over the years with webhosting providers, having been with EarthLink, Yahoo and iPower to name a few. We presently use Glow Host and we have been quite happy with them for several years; they are quite responsive whenever we have a question or concern, so we recommend them highly. While we have our own managed server with Glow Host, like other web hosting companies they have plans starting as low as $3.96 per month. GoDaddy.com also offers Web hosting for as little as $3.74 per month depending upon the amount of space you need and the duration of the contract you sign. You can find other web hosting companies online, but make sure you check customer satisfaction by conducting a thorough search engine search for customer reviews.
Having an active website serves multiple purposes and can have multiple functions for both you and your potential clients. For you, having a website can save you money with regard to your traditional marketing materials. Once you have a website you can list your website address in your email signature, on your business cards, flyers and pamphlets, bulletin boards and even the company sign that you have hanging on the side of your building. How this saves you money is you do not need to have such elaborate print marketing materials, because you can send potential clients and even investors to your website to learn more about you, your products and your services.
For example, you can feature an electronic version of your catalog on your website, with no limit on size and color. You can describe all of your products and services in greater detail because space on your website is significantly less expensive then full color traditional print marketing materials. If you decide to update your logo, need to make a changes in price, choose to delete or add products or services, want to let others know about your new blog or social media profiles or you wish to edit the information you share about you, your products and/or services, with a website, you have the ability to make the necessary changes at a far less cost than reprinting all of your marketing materials.
In addition, if you are new business, small business, or are looking to expand, having a website is key if you are trying to secure investors. With the website, your investors can learn more about your company and can get to know you better by the information you share on your website. If you’re website has been active for a while, having website statistics can enhance your chances of securing funding.
Even if you prefer to have print materials, having a current website in conjunction with your print materials will also result in less missed opportunities. If you decide you would rather use all of your current print materials first before paying to print all new ones, you can make those changes rather quickly on your website. When you hand out your print material, you can then tell your potential customers that there is more information on your website. Traditional print marketing materials should become a supplement to your website.
For your clients, they will have the convenience of reading about your company and the services and products you offer on their own time. When we meet potential clients we are often quick to wanting to seal the deal. However, in today’s world, people lead very busy lives when you consider the commitment of their careers and family. By having a current and well presented website, you lend yourself to the convenience of your clients. They can come to you when they want to. Every website should feature a “Contact Us” link on their websites. This allows your customers to contact you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, when they have the time to really delve into the information you provide. You can drive traffic to your site to learn all about your company and what you have to offer. Your clients can get a much better idea about your business because you can feature multiple pages on your site with greater details about the different aspects of your company, products and services. You can even provide directions to your place of business, making it easier for customers to find you.
By having a website, you expand your market significantly. Rather than the limited market audience you can reach in your local geographical area, you make yourself available to people in other time zones across the US and even throughout the globe. And at a fraction of the cost! With a website there is less need to purchase often unreliable mail lists or to spend the funds on mailing out marketing materials that will likely be filed under “Trash” without ever being looked at.
In addition, Internet advertising is more targeted to a specific audience. The clients who visit your website are there because they have a specific interest in your company’s product or service, which you can use to your advantage. You can allow customers or potential customers to sign up for a newsletter or sales flyer, which you can send to them via e-mail. By collecting e-mail addresses from willing visitors to your website you can stay in contact with them without having to pay for printing or postage. A good resource to use for email lists is GraphicMail.com and Constant Contact. We use GraphicMail.com personally to help us maintain our e-mail subscription list and to send our daily newsletters. GraphicMail.com is less expensive, but they do not offer the number of features that Constant Contact does. Another advantage of Constant Contact is they offer a free trial. If you are a computer novice, then Constant Contact is likely be a better choice because it is an all in one solution.
The morale of the story is this – whether you are a small business owner, inventor, entrepreneur, attorney, law firm, photographer, artist, author, musician or band (you get the picture…), you need a website. In the technology driven world that we live in, increasingly people are turning to the Internet to find information. If you don’t have a presence on the Internet you will not only be making it more difficult for people to find you and missing out on many potential business opportunities, but you will be sending the wrong message.