Why Do I Need A Website?

I Have a Small Business.
Why Do I Need a Website?

When I started my first company, a desktop publishing business, 20 years ago I advertised in the newspaper and put out lots of flyers and business cards. I also relied a LOT on word of mouth advertising. It worked too. Before long I had more customers than I could handle. But one of the reasons it worked was because in those days that’s where customers looked for their vendors. Today they look on the web, so that’s where you need to be.

A website is your giant public bulletin board where people can get information on how to find you, where you are located, what you have to offer, why your service is unique, and what’s new in your company. It also is easily updated and changed frequently and is a communication forum through which your customers can contact you with questions, concerns and feedback on their needs. And best of all, think of all the miles you won’t have to walk putting up your flyers!

If you often wish you could communicate more with a broader range of clients / customers, publicly post answers to frequently asked questions, attract new customers, break into new markets and take business away from your competitors — then a website is a MUST!

What is the cost to build a website?

Having a website involves four basic costs – the development of the site itself, registering the domain name, hosting the site and regular maintenance on the site.

The development of the site is the actual “construction” of the site and includes putting the graphics, text, links and codes all together so you have web pages that look good and are informative when your visitors view the site on your computer.

Development is the largest of the four costs and can range from $300 to $2000 and up for large custom sites. The cost of setting up most websites is generally the same as putting a color ad insert into your local paper once or twice a year. But that ad is seen and then gone. The cost of your website is a one-time investment for a tool you own and can continue to use for communication and marketing indefinitely. It is always up – and always accessible. And best of all, it can always be updated to reflect your current business.

Hosting the site means putting the website files on a large server (high-capacity computer) so the general public can access your site by searching on the Internet. Hosting costs vary but usually average between $10 to $150 per month, based on the services offered and the hosting provider. The ideal host will offer several services bundled together for one affordable price. Look for these services in a hosting package:

1. The space provided for your site on the server should have ample room (bandwidth) for high traffic. When a site doesn’t have enough bandwidth, the web visitor finds the site slow in loading and difficult to access.

2. The hosting package should have at least one email address that can be accessed through the web.

3. The Host should have a reliable track record of high dependability. Otherwise, when your server goes down, your web site and associated email is unavailable to your customers.

4. Registering a domain name is reserving a unique web address where users will find your web site (www.yourcompany.com). This is done through a public registry service and the cost is typically $10 to $15 per year.

In short, your domain is like the address of your house and the host is like the ground on which your house sits.

Additional Costs Might Include:

  • Email service with multiple email accounts.
  • Internet marketing services — researching how best to promote your site and get the maximum visibility, drawing more visitors to your site.
  • Maintenance services — updating the site, making changes, adding pages, delivering web statistic reports, and more.

I already have a web page on someone else’s website. Why do I need two?

If you have a web page with your Chamber of Commerce or with a listing service in your industry or parent company (e.g. realtor.com, Teleflora, bbonline, etc.), that is a GOOD thing! However, that is not a web site. It more than likely only offers contact information and a brief description of what you offer. It lumps you into a wide category that generally includes your competitors, and in many cases, it doesn’t offer the interaction with the public that your own website would offer. Finally — you don’t own the site or have any control over it.

Your website brands you as unique and reveals your identity. The good news is that having that page with the Chamber or other listing service will enhance and empower your new website. It will drive more traffic to your site and put you another step ahead.

If a visitor is looking for a florist on Teleflora and finds five listings close to home — and one of the listings has a link to its own website — that visitor is going to go “one click further” and click on that florist’s website. When scanning a list, people always want to know more. Your link gives them that opportunity.

I don’t sell merchandise online. Why do I need a web site?

You may not sell merchandise online, but you do sell something special and there are people looking for your product or service.  For example, if you sell something that is a brand name, people will search online to see who sells that brand locally. Will you be in the search results? Will your competitor be?

If you offer something that people are looking for (and if you’re not, why are you in business?), a large proportion of people (perhaps a market unknown to you thus far) will search the Internet because it’s fast, it’s easy, it’s global and it’s private. A web site will put you in the running with others on the Internet.

I don’t even use a computer. I can’t maintain a web site.

That’s okay. With my web hosting services you will need to be able to check your email but that’s about it. (And if you don’t know how to do that, I will teach you.) I take care of all the technical details of putting your site online and maintaining it once it goes live.

Our customers like the personal touch and don’t use computers.

Your current customers may not use the computer much — that is possible.

But your real concern should be about the potential customers that do use the computer and CAN’T FIND YOU.

Another thing to think about – 100 years ago, the American population felt that the telephone was an expensive luxury and not crucial to business growth. That sentiment continued for 30 years. As social communication trends changed and expenses decreased — businesses changed to ensure profitability. Use of the Internet will only increase in the next ten years.

I have a cousin who can make web sites. I’ve already promised him that he can do ours.

Is your cousin a qualified web developer? If so, you’re the lucky one. Be sure to give him a sense of urgency in getting the site completed. If he or she makes websites as a hobby, you’ll want to consider the following:

1. A website is like different types of transportation. You could ride a bicycle or drive a Mercedes — either way you can get around town, but one is more efficient, will take your farther faster, and will be a more comfortable ride.

2. The flashy graphics and catchy text you see on websites is only about 20% of what goes into developing the site. Behind all those pretty pages are codes and tags, specifically written to get a higher place in search engines, make the pages load faster and be more user friendly. Most beginners and hobbyists lack knowledge in the proper use of codes, scripts, tags and search engine optimization. If you have a pretty web site, but no one can find it, you lose out.

We’ve already spent our advertising budget.

It is important to realize that a website is NOT an advertising investment. It compliments and empowers your advertising efforts. Ads are the property of the advertising vendor and are a revolving cost to a company. You buy an ad for a specific amount of time — and then the ad is gone.

A website is a marketing and communication tool that belongs to you. You control it and you can use it continually. It is a company asset similar to a telephone or copy machine. You buy it once and then only pay for the service to use it. Websites reach a growing customer base that up until now has remained hidden to you. It also serves your existing customer base, giving them more ways to reach you.

Once you have a website, you can include your web address on all of your advertising, offering potential customers and clients an opportunity to get more information. In today’s world, a website is also a stamp of credibility to the public that hasn’t met you yet.

I wouldn’t know what to do with a web site if I had one.

In addition to the information above, understand that Internet users find you — you don’t find them. They will either search for you because they’ve heard your name or search for a product you’re selling. If your business is not listed, it doesn’t exist to the Internet user.

In addition, your web developer is a trained professional that will assist with maintaining and handling the website.

A website is a marketing tool that costs you ONE TIME and continues to pay you back. It expands your customer base, enhances your advertising and marketing efforts and gives your business a mark of credibility.

A website at its basic level tells millions of Internet users:

  • Who you are, how you began, successes you’ve had, your reputation in the community
  • What your company has to offer — products and services
  • How to find your location
  • The different ways to contact you (phone #’s, FAX, email, physical address)
  • Special offers and upcoming promotions, new additions to products and services
  • The Latest NEWS about your company
  • What others are saying about you — Client / Customer testimonials.

When you consider the continuing growth in the number of Internet users and companies that are on the Internet, some of whom may be your competitors, it could cost you NOT to have a web site.

That said, it’s not enough that you just have a website. It must be a professional looking site if you want to be taken seriously. Since many consumers now search for information online prior to making a purchase even if you have a physical location, your site may be the first chance you have to make a good impression on a potential buyer. If your site looks like it was designed by a committee, your chance at making a good first impression will be lost.

One of the best things about the Internet is that it has leveled the playing field when it comes to competing with the big guys. With a well-designed site, your business can project the image and professionalism of a much larger company. The inverse is also true. I’ve seen many big company websites that were so badly designed and hard to navigate that they completely lacked professionalism and credibility.

Your website is an important part of your business. Make sure you treat it as such.

Go to Order Your Website to get started on your website today.