Actually Do you need a website?

Not everyone does. My mom doesn't. I'm pretty sure that my cats don't need one. (They can just start their own blogs.)

But, if you own/run/operate your own business, then you probably do need a web site.  Today, more and more people use the web daily to check information, shop for products, and find out how to contact people.

A website is a 24 hour marketing tool. It allows you to sell, inform and educate anyone at anytime. It is a company sales brochure that can be quickly updated as your company grows.

But, what is a website REALLY good for, anyway?

Advertising

You know who you are and what you do, but the rest of us have no clue! A website allows potential clients the ability to research your products and services in their own time and in the comfort of their own homes.

Obviously, advertising is extremely important to any business. If no one knows that you have a business, you're pretty much out of luck. Word of Mouth is good, but it's sloooow! Newspaper ads, flyers, and brochures don't always reach the people that need your product or service. Let's face it - most of them end up in recycling bins!

People ignore TV commercials. Unless you're willing to spend a HUGE amount of money, a lovingly crafted commercial is more likely to make your business seem like a Three Stooges comedy.

And think of the costs!

A website is like having a staff that doesn't sleep, is always available, and rarely grumbles about when they have to take lunch!

Today, before I buy a new product, eat at a new restaurant, or go to an event I always check out the website. A website helps people find you and find out all about you. It promotes your company 24 hours a day all over the world. The cost of maintaining a website is probably the most cost effective advertising you'll can do.

Because Everyone Else has One 

OK. I know that sounds really silly, but the truth of the matter is that if your competitors all have a website and you don't - it makes you look like a dinosaur.

People used to use the Yellow Pages for their information needs. (Who can make heads or tails out of their categories, anyway?!) Today they type a phrase into a search engine, come up a large list of businesses that can meet their need, and can click on each web address to "shop" for the perfect company. If you're not on that list, if you don't have a website -- you will lose that sale.

Don't put yourself at a disadvantage by being the Invisible Man when your competitors are wearing neon signs around their necks!

Communication

Website visitors can contact you by email or a contact form without having to deal with pushy salesmen! You can respond to their questions whenever it is convenient for you.

It's also a great way to keep your customers or share holders up to date about your company. They get to know your company on a (more or less)personal level by reading more about it! If they like you, they just may buy more!

You have an opportunity to tell them all about your new products, or different ventures that the company is undertaking, and you can also use this as a way of getting customers to upgrade or by new products.

Here's a Thought -- Communicate with Your Own People 

If you have a large company it becomes difficult to get the same information out to everyone. Non-public areas of your website can be created to store useful and educational information to better support your staff, your sales force, and management.

Add your policies, procedures, news, internal career opportunities, employee directory, training, and promotions. Your employees will appreciate it!

Improve Customer Service 

How many times a day does your staff answer the same questions and give the exact same information, over and over again? It's enough to drive your Customer Service people crazy! Websites can provide instant answers to those most asked questions and save you and your employees a lot of time.

You can provide your clients with immediate answers to their questions by answering them IN ADVANCE on your website. Store hours, directions to your office, telephone and fax numbers. You can provide manuals and worksheets for clients to download. All of this information can free up your staff to work on and answer the really tough questions and free up your time to sell.

Not only is this information great for your clients, but it can provide your customer service staff with an up to date reference tool!

Add Credibility to Your Company 

Your website is your face to the world. It may be the first impression that a new customer has of your business. How do you want to present yourself? What do you want your clients to think about you? Cool? Professional? Fun? Hardworking? Lazy? Shady?

The beauty of a good website is that it can make smaller businesses look bigger. Just because you're smaller doesn't mean that you can't compete with the bigger guys! People see a professional website and see that you are serious, interested in growing your business, and not just some freaky fly-by-night operation.

Saves You Money 

Yes, Virginia you can save money! (I'll have to get back to you on that Santa Claus thing.)

A website lowers your printing costs. You will no longer need as many printed letters and brochures. The printing that you do need can be focused more specifically on your target audience. You can even ask your website visitors if they would like to receive them. (They're already interested in you - they've visited your website!) Hey! Even better! Don't pay for printing by adding your brochure to your website - let your clients print it!

A website lowers your postage costs. Less printed material means less postage. You can also step things up by using email to distribute your information, newsletters, etc.

A web site can lower your advertising costs. Pages on your web site last longer, can include much more information and produces greater results than regular ads.

A web site can lower salary costs by freeing up your staff to do more important things. Your web site becomes that extra staff person you've always wanted.