"Do You Need A Website?"
Using the Internet as a marketing tool is a wise business decision no
matter the size of your company. Here is something to ponder if you are
sitting on the fence about getting your business online.
Consider what kind of information a potential customer gets when he enters
your office (showroom, restaurant or store). Perhaps your customer can...
- Read the sign stating the hours of operation (or holiday hours)
- Pick up a business card with your full business name, mailing address,
fax and phone numbers
- Read a brochure about your company's history, products/services, mission
- Look at photos of the owners/employees at promotional and staff events
- Read notices on a bulletin board
- Get Information about affiliates, partners or suppliers
- Admire award plaques, trophies, team photos, and "Thank You"
- See how staff interacts with customers
- Learn methods of payment
- Pick up a catalogue, schedule an appointment, ask questions, meet
- Feel the spirit and energy of your company
A website provides the experience of visiting your business in person.
You need a website for the potential customer who...
- Doesn't or can't drop by
- Wants to know if you are open on Sundays
- Doesn't know your location(s), phone number(s)
- Needs to know about parking/public transit/handicapped accessibility
- Wants to gain product/service information before making a decision
- Wants to comparison shop before making a commitment
- Has time to browse now: at midnight on the Sunday of a long weekend
or after the kids have gone to bed
- Wants the assurance your firm is professional, up-to-date, credible
and is interested in catering to his/her needs at his/her convenience
The above article, with a few revisions by Sue Studios,
was written by Lynda
Benefits of a Website
More and more people and businesses use the Internet to find information,
it is convenient and saves time. Having a website is becoming so mainstream
that customers and the general public almost expect a company to have
a website. If people want information on a product or service, they are
now saying, "I think they have a website, I'll check that out
Below are just some of the benefits you can expect from a website:
Increases awareness of products/services
A website provides the opportunity to publish the who, what, where,
when and why of your business in a powerful and effective manner.
How many potential customers might be swayed if they could learn
a little more about you, your company, your products, etc., without
having to phone or taking the time to meet with you in person? A website
makes it easy for customers to learn more about your business at their
Expands market place
A website can expand your reach to a market that may have been difficult
or expensive to reach through traditional advertising. Increasingly,
people search the Web rather than the Yellow Pages when looking for
a service or product. You'd be amazed how much shopping occurs on
the World Wide Web overnight! With an e-commerce site you can even
make sales when your offices are closed. Currently over 75% of the
people in the US access the Internet, up from over 40% at the end
Increases hours of operation
Not only will your website be there 24 hours a day, 365 days a year
with the possibility of reaching millions of people every day, but
now your customers are able to contact you outside of your normal
business hours. Your website is still working for you while you are
at leisure or asleep, and is not dependent on your having a PC or
leaving your PC switched on.
Marketing tool - replace or complement existing sales and marketing
It's a very low-cost method of promoting your business. By advertising
your website, in addition to your product or services, you give potential
customers the opportunity to learn far more about your product or
services than you could ever place in an ad.
Advertising experts agree the Internet will become an increasingly
popular advertising medium, with anticipated spending eclipsing $15
billion and have an 8% increased share of all advertising spending
Reduce costs / Improve efficiency
Reduce publishing costs
One of the largest expenses a business can incur is designing, printing,
and delivering marketing materials. Websites are quicker, easier and
more cost-effective to update than print based media. You can keep
your website more current, more affordably than any other media can.
With a website, you can instantly publish that same information:
new product announcements, employment opportunities, contact information,
coupons, almost anything, without material or delivery costs. People
can learn about it instantly just by visiting your website.
Imagine how much it would cost to produce a catalog for 200 different
products, and keep it in consumers' hands for an entire year. You
can accomplish this with a website very easily, with low development
cost and almost no distribution cost.
Reduce marketing costs
Buying advertising space, whether it's a newspaper ad, billboard
or radio spots, can be expensive. In addition is the burden of the
hours spent trying to figure out the perfect words to say in a limited
space. A website is an unlimited number of full-page ads that you
can change at will!
Reduce communication costs
A website can do far more than sell products. You can have pictures,
details and prices of your products/services, the very latest company
information, hours of operation and maps indicating the location of
your company's outlets on your website. It can supply your staff,
suppliers and business partners with important and timely information.
Just about any printed matter can be converted to a web page and distributed
by email at far less cost and time than by fax, mail or courier.
Build brand awareness by having your website URL on all other marketing
material you use. Having your brochures, website, business cards,
ads, posters, etc... have the same look and feel increases your brand
Enhance your image / Reflect your spirit
A website can help you to establish a credible, professional image,
instilling a level of trust with your customer and their purchasing
confidence will follow suit. Your website can (and should) reflect
the spirit and vision of you and your company.
The Internet also offers the opportunity for a small-business to
portray itself as a big business. (Or, for a big business, to fall
flat by having a website that poorly represents its true stature.)
How will your business be perceived on the web?
Improve customer service / Reduce costs
Does your staff spend a lot of time on the phone answering customer
requests for information on a product or service? Do they keep answering
the same questions and sending out the same material? Do they spend
a lot of time on the phone with customer support?
A website can help reduce long distance phone bills, postage costs,
printing costs and labour costs (and frees them up to perform other
tasks) by having that information on your website.
Your website can also take orders while you sleep as people can place
orders on a website at any time, day or night. You would be surprised
how many extra sales you could have by developing an on-line brochure
or virtual store.
A website lets you publish support information with up to the minute
accuracy. Some companies only offer support through their website.
If the website doesn't offer the answer an online feedback form is
provided. This is perhaps the most underrated usage for business websites.
Email can improve efficiency of your operation - for your customers
and your employees. Customers who use email don't have to deal with
many problems of everyday business: pushy salesmen, remembering to
call during business hours, having to battle crowds to get to your
stores, spending time waiting on voice mail or getting the wrong information.
It's convenient, easy, and safe for the customer. Email is also convenient
for you. You can respond to all your customer inquiries at the same
time, and do it when you have a free moment - not in the middle of
rush hour when someone calls up to ask for product information or
directions to your location.
Even without an online store, people can look to your site for driving
directions or a map to find your store. Tourists can look up your
small shop and stop there on their next trip to your area.
Many people use the Internet to find information. You can use your
website to educate and inform the populace. This can be done in various
ways: publish an online newsletter, have an advise column, offer message
boards, or simply have a place where people can submit their names
and email addresses to join your mailing list for more information.
This is another way to gain public awareness of your business or organization.
It also allows you to grow your customer base for direct marketing.
Create a competitive edge
If your customers can't find you online, they will find your competitors.
With more and more companies making a web presence, the companies
that lose business to their competitors will most likely be those
who fail to represent themselves on the Internet. If a potential customer
can leisurely browse your company information online but cannot find
your competitors' information, your company now has an additional
Open new channels of communication with staff, partners and suppliers
Intranet websites (websites that are generally closed to the Internet
users and are accessible to organization members only) are an easy
way to provide your employees with a way to reach the information
they need to perform their duties in one centralized location. You
can post benefits information, changes in staff, kudos for hard work,
a place for their schedules, and much more. You can put as much or
as little information as you want on your site and make them supply
a password to access the information that needs to be kept private.