If you want to attract new customers, the answer is easy.
Websites may be the most overlooked vehicle of advertising for local, small office, home office businesses. We believe every business, no matter how big or small needs a website. Every dentist, lawyer, accountant, and church needs one. Every café, restaurant, coffee shop and nightclub needs one. Every wholesale supply or landscaping company needs one.
We’re not suggesting that all businesses need to transact business online, we’re only saying that everyone listed in yesterday’s yellow pages needs to also be available on the Internet today. Why? Because your customers expect it. That’s where they are looking first and foremost.
If you’re thinking you might not be able to afford putting up a website, think again. Roy H. Williams of Entrepreneur Magazine said that, “For a simple website, a budget of $2,000 to $5,000 for construction and $100 to $400 for monthly maintenance and updates should cover it. Robust sites with streaming video, opt-in subscriber functions and other, more complicated features can run between $12,000 and $20,000 for construction and $500 to $2,000 for monthly maintenance and updates.”
A properly constructed website allows your prospects to gather the information they need from the privacy of their Internet connection. Ask yourself what questions your sales team gets every day? Then ask yourself how would your best sales team member phrase their responses on his or her best day? This is the type of information that needs to be available 24/7 on your website.
Think of your website as a relationship strengthener, a kind of halfway point between your regular advertising and your front office. Do you think it’s easier to convince customers to visit your website or to convince them to get in their vehicle, drive to your establishment, park, get out, and walk in your door?
The Internet has allowed the introverted half of our population to explore in ways they never would have otherwise. Introverts strongly prefer to gather information anonymously and are unlikely to dial your phone number, except as a last resort. Even more unlikely is that they’ll choose to walk into your store and engage a salesperson. Introverts aren’t necessarily shy–they simply like to gather all the facts before they put themselves in a position where they’ll likely be asked to answer questions. Half of all your customers strongly prefer to know what they’re coming in to buy before they walk in your door. And even the other half of your target market, the extroverts, will appreciate an informative website that functions as an expert salesperson during all those hours you’re not open for business.
Don’t think for a moment that your customers aren’t already on the Internet looking around at your competition. When several hundred people were recently asked, “How many of you have used a search engine within the past seven days to research a product or service that you were considering purchasing?”, 85 to 90 percent of the crowd raised their hand, according to Williams. He goes on to tell the story that occured during a trade show in Las Vegas, he was the keynote speaker for a trade
organization whose 1,600 delegates had been gathered from around the world. He was there to deliver a speech on the keys to more effective advertising. The trade organization published a full-color magazine for their members, and prior to this conference, the executive council had been complaining to him privately about the high cost of publishing and shipping that magazine. He was waiting offstage and while the emcee was introducing him, the chairman leaned over and whispered to him, “Almost all our membership is over 55 years of age, so you probably don’t want to mention the Internet.” Once again, Roy asked this roomful of oldsters, “How many of you have used a search engine within the past seven days to research a product or service that you were considering purchasing?”. The answer? Roughly 95 percent.
Does your local business need a website?