Forget the obvious. Everyone who wasn’t born before 1900 knows that if you want to get your name under the nose of a potential client, that you need some kind of web presence. What separates the successful business website from the fire-and-forget websites is having a GOAL in mind for your website!
To that end, I present some ideas for why you should consider a website for your small business:
This one is particularly important to service providers. Often, the fruits of your labor are invisible, or at best, somewhat ethereal. In order to establish yourself as a credible and valuable service provider, you have to be able to give your potential clients something tangible. Nothing seems more fly-by-night than a craigslist ad pointing to a free gmail address. For about the cost of a couple of days’ work, you can add a great deal of gravitas to your business name, by simply adding a decent quality website to your business.
This one can be a double-edged sword, though. If you are a penny-pincher, you might end up with a really sub-par website. In many ways that can be worse than having none at all. Imagine how a lawyer’s potential clients would feel if they went to his website, and saw what looked like a grade-school student”s first website, complete with misspellings, broken links, and no way to get in touch with the lawyer!
Spread the Word
I”m not just talking about advertising. I”m talking about becoming a subject matter expert. Chances are good that you went into your business by choice. It’s probably because you are pretty good at whatever it is you do. Well, TELL THEM. Starting up a small blog on your website doesn’t take much more effort for a website developer than building a website in the first place, and it offers you a great place to have your voice heard. Disagree with the latest legislation regarding your profession? Start a grass-roots campaign to overthrow it, and show your knowledge of the issues at the same time. Discovered a huge shortcoming in a product design? Share it with your clients and distributors. The squeaky wheel gets the oil!
Save $ on Frequently Asked Questions
Some companies spend a lot of money on handling incoming telephone calls to answer the same questions, over and over again. Don’t be those guys. That’s not a good use of your money. How awesome do you think your customers will believe your business is, when the word gets around that your website actually has real answers to the questions that everyone is asking? This feeds right back into the first item, in making you more credible, because it shows that you have thought about the same questions that your customers have, and you’ve addressed them (hopefully to the satisfaction of your customers!).
Let’s face it. Many small business websites are just “shingles,” hanging out in the Internet breeze. If you are a specialist, then you need a way to not only (Warning: Business Jargon Alert!) differentiate yourself from your competitors, but to target your business at the people who need your specific skills or products. This takes a website with particular emphasis on search engine optimization, but should be well within the capabilities of any decent web developer. The resulting focus on getting the right customers for your business is priceless.