A web site is a good way to provide information to people far away or to a large audience.
A web site can get people interested in your business and encourage them to choose you.
A web site might save time/money if it reduces your need for mailings.
Decide if it's right for you. Don't build a site just because "everyone else has one."
Don't expect a web site to do all your marketing by itself; you'll need to promote the site.
Most people assume every business has a web site. Does this mean you should have one? Before you invest the time and/or money to build a good web site, think about your reasons for wanting one.
Why Companies Want a Web Site
A web site makes sense for many companies and business professionals. It’s a tool to help them accomplish their business or marketing goals. Here are some of the main reasons companies decide to build a web site.
- You want people to learn about your business so they will hire you or buy your product.
- You want to make information available about your business—maybe a hotel—to a faraway audience.
- There’s a demand for information about your company, service, product or organization. A web site gives people easy access to this information.
- You want to provide information about an organization or event to a large group of people.
- You want to market or sell a specialized product or service that appeals to buyers over a large area.
- You want to give access to information 24/7.
Less Obvious Reasons to Consider a Web Site
Simplify Your Life
A carefully designed web site might actually reduce your workload. Here’s an example. A local child-care center spent a lot of time taking calls about their program, then sending out brochures and applications. After they put this information on a web site, the center now saves time and money since they’ve greatly reduced the time spent on the phone and the amount of paperwork they mail out.
Enhance Your Credibility
People often check out your web site to see if you’re “for real” before doing business with you…sort of a pre-qualification process. Make sure the site gives your address and phone number to reinforce your credibility.
Encourage People to Take the Next Step
A good site will build confidence in your company, and will encourage customers to take the next step. A sloppy or out-of-date site, however, can turn people off or leave them feeling uncertain about your company. “Under Construction” sites are a BIG turn off.
Distinguish Yourself from Competitors
You might decide to have a site because your competitor has one. You can make your company seem more appealing by creating a site that better meets the needs of your clients or customers by anticipating and answering their questions.
Help People Compare
Before making a choice about a product or service, people like to use the web to compare the contenders. They may visit several web sites to see which company best matches their needs before making a final decision. If you don’t have a site, you’re out of the running.
Why Not Have a Web Site?
A web site is not necessarily right for every company or business person. Here are some reasons you might not need or want to have a web site.
Business is Always Brisk
If you consistently have all the business you can handle, good for you. You might need a web site only if it would save you time that you could be spending on work.
Small Target Market
If your target market consists primarily of people within a small area where you are already well known, a web site probably won’t generate a lot of new business. If you have a lot of competition, however, a good web site might help convince people to choose you.
It Takes Time (or Money)
Web sites do require time (or money for a consultant’s time). A web site should be updated regularly to keep it “fresh.” At the very least, it’s critical that the information be accurate. If you don’t have the time or money to keep it updated, a web site might not be right for you.
Alas, A Web Site Isn’t Magic
This is the biggest reason to think carefully before building a web site. People sometimes believe that once they’ve put up a web site, new business will start pouring in. They’re disappointed when they realize it doesn’t usually happen this way.
It’s important to have realistic goals, and to understand that a web site on its own cannot accomplish your marketing for you. As with a brochure, you’ll have to do some work to get the information into the hands (or web browsers) of the right audience. Once people find your site it can help generate interest and confidence in your company and help bring in new business.