Most small businesses are only just beginning to make forays into the Internet environment. It is still shrouded in mystery and misinformation. Following the bursting of the dot-com bubble in the late nineties, many companies withdrew from investing in the Internet, thinking it was high risk. Nobody had a clear idea how to use the Internet to make money, though it was clear that great potential existed. As in a gold rush, those who made most of the money were those selling shovels.
The companies which survived the dot-com bust were those who had clear, well thought out plans about how to use the Internet as a resource to get their message out to to the masses. How to use the Internet to connect to their clients.
Once you get past the superficial hype surrounding e-business your begin to see that there is plenty of room in the slower lanes on the information superhighway.
Web sites are an extension of your business
One of the first things you need is to understand is that a web site is an extension of your business. It is not a separate entity that exists on its own outside of your business. Your phone system is part of your business, as is your computer, shop front and warehouse. These are all integral parts of your operation.
Many people believe that a web site sits on a lonely server, unloved, until someone ambles past, has a quick peek in to see what's there, and then disappears without trace. This seems pointless. Why should anyone spends time and money developing such a useless thing ? The answer is because people never randomly drop in for a visit; they were invariably searching for information which they found on a search engine elsewhere or on another site which pointed to your site. Or they came looking for information because they had one of your business cards and wanted to know more.
Web sites are a direct point of call, and represent an opportunity for questions to be answered pre-emptively, allowing confidence to be instilled in your clients regarding your products, and business to be conducted day or night by selling online using e-commerce.
Some things a web site can do for your business:
- Increase exposure of your company to a larger pool clients
- Answer clients questions without needing to speak with you directly
- Sell products online 24 hours a day
- Offer you an excellent ROI (return on investment)
Once you start thinking of your web site as part of your business you'll begin treating it as such. It will become easier to use it to improve your business and to think of ideas and uses for it.
A web site is a global advertisement
A web site is an extension of your business into the realm of the Internet. It's a doorway for Internet clients from all over the world to access your business. A properly constructed web site, with high-quality content will attract clients from all over the world. They may just be looking for information, if so give it to them. If they are looking for contact numbers or alternative means of communicating with you then supply these means.
Perhaps they just want some kind of verification that you are who you say you are. Others might want to browse your latest prices, or keep up-to-date with the latest gizmos which you sell. If you can think from your client's perspective and supply them with that which they seek, your web site will be very popular and will encourage return visits.
A web site is a global shop front
Unlike your shop front, your web site is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. With an e-commerce web site you can sell your products even when you're asleep !
Because web sites are accessible to anyone in the world with an Internet connection your business can be a global player. Your little corner bookshop can suddenly sell books to anyone on Earth. The family owned pet store can suddenly sell pet supplies to clients on the other side of the planet. For the cost of a new notebook computer you can project your business to the ends of the earth.
A web site can save you time, money and stress
Another often overlooked aspect of a web site is its ability to answer time wasting inquiries. Sales personnel are often faced with an endless stream of repetitive or obvious questions from clients. Every phone call costs you time. Every phone call costs you stress. Every phone call costs you money. The vast majority of phone calls can easily be answered by a web site, simply by posting the answer pre-emptively in an FAQ section.
All you need to do is, every time a client asks you a question, you post the question onto the web site, along with a clear answer. Many people go to the web site first and if they can't find the answer there, they will then call you or e-mail you to get more information.
We recently built a web site for a client who was bombarded by telephone calls asking the same questions. After identifying the main questions being asked and posting the answers on his site, the phone calls stopped. They simply stopped. He told me afterwards that this alone was worth the investment he made in the web site. He now spends most of his time doing transactions and little or no time answering needless phone calls.
Web sites are marvellous for delivering information. Take advantage of this simple fact. Educate your clients, give them as much information as you can before they arrive on your doorstep. You can sell them your company, your product and your services without the need to see them. This benefits your clients by keeping them as informed as they can be regarding your business and what it has to offer, and it benefits you by saving you enormous amounts of time, money and stress.
Web sites are inexpensive
Internet web sites do not require expensive lighting, air-conditioning, tables, chairs, registers, nor exorbitant rents in order to operate. They are extraordinarily efficient to run when compared with a conventional shop front.
They are also many times cheaper to establish. A supermarket store probably represents an investment of many millions of dollars. The same thing in electronic, web site format would probably cost $100,000.
Finally, web sites do not require staff and all the associated issues that are connected with hiring personnel to perform a task. Automated web sites never steal and don't need work cover. They don't get sick or go on strike. They operate soundlessly in parallel with your existing business and have the potential to generate many times their investment value each and every year that they are in operation.
If someone came to you and said, "if you give me $5,000 I'll promote your business in every corner of the world and have clients contact you, e-mail you with inquiries, and orders", you would have to give it serious consideration. Wouldn't you?
We look forward to discussing your needs further. You may contact us here to learn more or arrange a face to face meeting.