I’ve heard the excuses a million times:
“I’m just a tiny business… Why would I need to build a website?”
“Designing a website sounds like so much work… Would it be worth it?”
“Why bother? My customers probably won’t even look at it.”
The truth is, many small businesses should have a website.
This isn’t to say that you need a long, complicated website with tons of functionality or fancy animation. Some businesses do just fine with a simple informational website that’s between 3 and 5 pages long. That length covers all the basics: a home page, some information about your company, a page about your services, contact information, and perhaps information about the types of clients you serve or testimonials from happy clients.
With just a few pages, you can have a website that gives your business tangible benefits such as:
1. Giving new contacts an easy way to learn more about you. When you go out networking and meet a new prospect, how can they get more information about you? Calling to follow up—along with leaving voice mails and playing phone tag—is certainly more work for many new contacts than just jumping online. Visiting your website may help a new prospect to learn more about you, easily, on their terms. And that may help you convert more leads to sales.
2. Making updates easier and less expensive than printed materials. Instead of updating text, redesigning a marketing piece, trying to make new copy fit the new layout, and then printing (and paying for) new material, all you have to do is rewrite your copy and integrate it into your website.
You may even be able to update your own website. (I recommend Adobe Contribute as a way to easily update most HTML-based websites). This takes the need for a designer to update your site out of the equation. Updating your site yourself makes it easy and inexpensive to ensure that your website is always accurate and you never have to apologize for it being outdated.
3. Providing a place for all the information you need to answer prospects’ questions. Printed materials limit the amount of space that you can devote to text, product photos, or informational graphics. A web page can include more content than would fit on a letter-sized piece of paper, especially because readers can scroll down if you have more to say. It doesn’t take a significantly larger investment to add two pages, rather than one, to a website. This is not to say that your website should go on forever, but you can take the real estate you need without worrying about the cost involved in printing a larger format document or more pages.
4. Making your company look professional and established, while extending your brand. A website can help your business make a full and positive first impression. Instead of prospects who are disappointed that it’s difficult to find out more about your business, you’ll have happy potential customers who can easily get their questions answered. And if they get those answers from an attractive, well-written, easy-to-use website, they are more likely to form a good opinion of your company. That good opinion can go a long way toward making a new prospect feel comfortable about your expertise and credibility and want to hire you.
5. Helping you find and connect with new clients. Creating a website can extend your marketing reach beyond your city—and sometimes outside of your own country. If you have a product or service that you can deliver over the phone, online, or even by mail, you can open up new territories that you’d otherwise have to reach by direct mail. Just think of all the new clients who could become available to you.
And through search engine optimization, your website can be there when your prospect is actually looking for the product or service you offer. It’s easier to make a sale to a prospect that wants or needs what you offer rather than trying to convince them that they need what you have.
6. Enabling you to hit the business goal you’re reaching for. For example, your website can also help you sell products and services with an online shopping cart, grow your contact list through a newsletter sign-up, answer journalists’ questions through a press room, or educate potential clients through an articles section. There are many other things that a website can do for you—so talk to your designer about your specific business goals and creating a website that will get you there.
These are just a few of the benefits your business can gain from a website. Of course, it takes an investment of time and money to get a website designed, coded, hosted, and occasionally maintained. But when you think of the project in terms of the payback you’ll get, you can see that creating a simple website is well worth the effort.