Five years ago, you may be forgiven in thinking that you don’t really need a website for your business. This is especially true for small businesses that cater to a specific community. Much of your business is word-of-mouth, anyway, so who needs to be “searchable.” Besides, maintaining a website is expensive and a lot of trouble.
Today, however, you have to face up to reality. Times are changing, and so are the buying habits of much of the population. Do you think you have a captive audience in your local community? Think again. Here are five facts that show how important a website is for your business.
People expect it
A business without a website is like a teenager without a mobile phone. People expect teenagers to have a mobile phone because that is what teenagers do. In the same way, people expect a business to have an online presence because it is what businesses do. They expect even small business to “get with the program” and respond constructively to market demands. It is not a deal breaker, but it does give your customers the impression that your business is not likely to be responsive to their needs, which includes…
People need it…now
Yes, people want instant gratification. They want access whenever they need it, wherever they are. While your business may be closed for the day, a website is always accessible (unless your domain expires, that is) where they can look up your address, check out your products, get prices, note promos, and read comments. It is customer service by remote, in other words, and you don’t even need to have a live presence to give it to them.
People use it
Lucky are the business owners that have more customers than they can handle! Most businesses, however, don’t have that kind of luck, so they need to reach more customers. The easiest way to do that is with a website. You can use your website post sales and promos where your customers can browse and buy at their convenience. You can also encourage existing customers to bring in new ones by offering discounts or rewards in a referral program. It is that much harder if you don’t have a website where your customers can go. While lacking a website will not chase your existing customers away, you will not get any new ones either.
People look for it
You also have to consider that you are at a distinct disadvantage if your closest competitors are already fulfilling customer expectations, providing 24/7 access, and expanding their reach by simply putting up a website. It is highly likely that the majority of your target market use the Internet to search for products and services. While you may already have a loyal customer base, any new business coming in will go to your competitors. This is not because they offer better products and services, but because they are more “searchable.” It seems a shame that you lose business simply because you have no online presence.
People dictate business success. Refusing to recognize the way the wind is blowing can spell the difference between success and failure. With an increasingly online market, all businesses need a website. Putting up a website today is so simple and inexpensive that even the smallest business has no excuse for not having one. Compared to what you have to do otherwise to increase your sales and drum up new business, the choice is truly a no-brainer.