A Website – Do I really need one?

A Website – Do I really need one?

Is the Internet right for your business? What can it do to grow a local retail business? What if you have a convenience store or a printing shop? What if you have an accounting, law, or a medical practice, or a personal service like hair salon or massage therapy? Surely you cannot deliver your service products on-line or even place orders online. If this conversation sounds familiar to ones you have had with your family, staff and business associates, let’s explore some of the advantages of having a website.

1. Your website allows people to be able to find your business.

People use the Internet to research your business even if they learned about you through a referral, a street sign, a newspaper ad, or a flyer. They probably have two or three businesses in mind and now they will use the Internet to learn what your company is all about. Having a website is not only a value in itself, but it also increases the return on investment from all your other advertising. Will they find your website, or just your competitors’ websites? If you are not there and your competitors are, there’s a good chance that your competitors are getting a chunk of your business.

2. Your website builds your reputation.

Once potential customers find your professionally designed website, you get an instant reputation. This is compared with companies that cannot be found on the Internet. Your business presents the image of professionalism, respect and reaching out to its customers. Imagine, say 30 years ago, how someone would feel about dealing with a business that could not be found in the Yellow Pages, or did not even have a sign on the building. You would guess that they were not serious about being in business, and would not be in business for long. Today, for not much more than the cost of a sign, a website can achieve far greater results for your business.

3. Your website opens up your business 24/7.

A website instantly makes a portion or your entire business available at all times. You may be sleeping at night, vacationing abroad, or enjoying your Sunday off with your family. In the meantime, people can still learn about your business, its products and services, or simply find out your location and opening hours. In our fast-paced world, people today want instant information and they are used to getting it on their Blackberries and iphones. If they can’t find you on the internet, many have already moved on and have made a buying decision elsewhere.

4. Your website engages your clients.

A website can do so much more for your business than just being an electronic brochure. Your visitors can view other customer testimonials, read product reviews, provide feedback, refer your business to their friends with the click of a button, and so much more. Every visitor to your website and every minute spent there increases the website’s value and ranking. Through the magic of the Internet search engines, this organically helps to elevate your company towards the top of the search results.

So the answer to the question:  Yes you need a website!  There are a few simple and inexpensive steps you can take to gain that presence on the web. Contact the Collingwood BIA to gain free exposure on the CBIA website promoting business in Collingwood (www.shopcollingwood.ca). Contact Tom, of Vanguard Image, for a list of his free tips on Steps to Take to Secure a Web Presence for Your Business ([email protected]). And, if you think that it costs a lot, think again. It can be less than what you would pay for a Yellow Pages ad, and more effective!

You might be thinking there are higher priorities you need to attend to at the moment and building a web presence will need to wait just a little bit longer. Someone once said “operating a business without marketing is like winking in the dark … you know what you are doing, but no one else does!” How long can you afford to wait?

Diana Gray is the co-author of The Complete Canadian Small Business Guide and Home Inc.: The Canadian Home-Based Business Guide, both published by McGraw-Hill Ryerson.  She owns and manages Central Park Business Centre, a full-service business centre that provides full- and part-time office rental, virtual offices and telephone answering support to small and home-based businesses in Collingwood (www.executivesuite.ca).