Does Your Business Really Need A Web Site?

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Does Your Business Really Need A Web Site?

Not every small business needs a web site.

The very busy owner of a small landscaping business, fully booked for the next year, tells me he's not interested in hiring employees and growing into a multi-person company. He just wants enough work to earn a good living, and he has plenty of work. His business grows by word-of-mouth. Customers don't need to find his office; he works at their homes. If ever there was a business that didn't need a web site, this is it.

I've heard many small-business owners say they think they "should" get a web site. They're not quite sure what they will do with it, but they've been told they "should" have one.

In most cases, they're right. A web site can be an important marketing tool for almost every small business, but there are a few exceptions.

If you have as many customers as your business can handle and you have no desire to grow larger, as with our landscaper, then there's no point in marketing on the Web.

AND, if you are really certain that potential customers won't use the Internet to find your product or service, then you can safely skip the Web. One example might be a convenience store, where drive-by awareness literally drives all customer traffic. For most businesses, though, that assumption is getting tougher to make, at least in the United States, where 158 million people have Internet access. Usually, the answer to the question, "Does my business need a web site?" is a big "YES".

There's no question that a web site is more mission-critical for some businesses than others. Companies such as hotels or tourist attractions, trying to reach customers in different locations or who have products like flowers, handmade dolls, telephones, etc., that can be shipped to customers far away obviously need to have an online Internet presence.

BUT, local businesses like dry cleaners or shoe repair shops, for example, also can benefit from a web site that shows their location, lists their services and offers their special promotions.

And woe to those who think they don't need a compelling web site because they serve other businesses rather than retail consumers. Many businesses search for new suppliers online - and order from them that way too.

In short, if you want more customers, you should be online regardless of your industry. 

Your Online Marketing Tool

For most small businesses, a web site is rapidly becoming a basic requirement in their marketing plan. A web site can help you reach one or more of the following goals:

  • Help customers find you in the offline world - your office, your storefront, your phone number.
  • Persuade customers that you have the right service or product for them.
  • Sell products online, even across different marketplaces, to retail customers or other businesses.
  • Share relevant business information and special offers with customers.

You don't need to be in a consumer or retail business to reap the benefits of a web site. Your customer could be another business looking to the Web for products and services.

Your club, organization or community service group can all benefit from a presence on the Web. Clubs use their web site to list their meetings, speakers and special events. Organizations list their services, recruit volunteers and solicit donations. Community service groups announce special events and fund raisers.

Read on for some tips on how your web site can reach those goals and for a look at some small-business Web Sites that really work.

A Simple Site Helps Customers Find You

The simplest possible Web presence is a one-page site that tells people how to find your business in the "real" world. It should include:

  • A good Web address that relates to your company name.
  • Your business address, complete with directions and a good map.
  • Your business phone number along with your fax number if relevant.
  • Hours of operation.
  • Your email address for easy access to you.
  • A clear and enticing description of what your business offers to customers.

This simple Web presence is most appropriate for businesses that serve local customers, a video rental shop, doctor's office or plumber, for example.

For Better Marketing, Create an Expansive Site

If you're interested in active marketing for your business, you can expand your web site to make it a more robust online marketing tool.

In this scenario, the web site 's job is to convince customers to take that next step: Buy the product online, call you to place an order, set up an appointment, or drive to your office or storefront. Your site is essentially your online marketing brochure, one that's more effective than a printed marketing piece, and in most cases, less expensive. Web sites enable customers to dig deep into the information they care about, without overwhelming them with the stuff they don't want or need to know. That's hard to pull off in a paper brochure.

You can approach crafting the web site as you would any other marketing brochure. Use color, graphics, photos and words to get across four key things about your business:

  • What you provide for customers.
  • What kind of customers you focus on and can serve best.
  • How your business is unique from others who provide the same product or service so customers can decide if your solution is the right one for them.
  • The personality or brand essence of your business - what your company stands for. 

A Site That Draws Customers

Corvette Technicians at

Take a look at the web site we designed for Corvette Technicians. The site does a great job of conveying what you need to know about the business: The front page tells you what the business does (classic Corvette repairs and restoration) and which customers it focuses on (owners of vintage and classic Corvettes). It also tells you what is unique about the practice: It specializes in Corvettes built from 1953 through 1982. The design of the site itself is vibrant, with lots of hot colors and a continuous theme. The front page tells you how satisfied their customers are and about the great reviews they get from Corvette publications. Paul Lutz, the owner, says, "Because we are so specialized, we rely a lot on "Word of Mouth"," so the web site is designed to let everyone know how pleased their current customers are.

As you tour the site, you see not only a listing of all the services they offer, but letters from their customers. The site also includes a map showing how to find their shop, information about shop hours, shipping and payment plans. It does a great job of creating a compelling view of the kind of business it is.

Real Country Life is proud to announce that Corvette Technicians holds a NUMBER ONE ranking in ALL of the major search engines as of February 2005. Open your favorite search engine (Google, MSN, Yahoo, Alexa, Netscape, AOL) and see for yourself.

So Yes, For Good Reasons

Unless you have all the customers, patients, members and volunteers you can handle, a web site can be a good marketing investment. Find a domain name that's appropriate for your business and beef up your marketing arsenal with a compelling web site.

Real Country Life can help. Call or write to us today for a free consultation!

Pamela Murphy, Proprietor
1138 Buchanan Road
White, PA 15490
24 Hour Emergency Service - 724-333-2041

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