Let’s face it, the grassroots approach to garnering a significant buzz for your business in today’s market is going to leave you eating the dust of all of your competitors. While word of mouth and passing out flyers may drum up some business for you, these methods are becoming less and less effective. Think about it, what is your first thought or action to take when you’re approached by a business owner handing you a pamphlet about their business while you are heading into another to get your shopping done? I’ll tell you.
You want to wait until the person is out of sight so you can throw the flyer in the trash without even looking at what the offer is or what the business is about. You hear just enough to wait for your cue to give your most polite, “No thank you” without breaking stride. So business owners, if you won’t hesitate to discard print material for anyone’s startup business and listen only for the empty space in the conversation for the opportunity to decline, how do you think your business will fare using the same methods?
Here’s a harsh reality. Even if the answer to, “Where’d you get that?” is your business followed by all the compliments to your service, quality and pricing, if the recipient of said information is not looking to purchase in maybe the next day or so, they will forget your business ever existed. When they go online a week later to find the business they were told such great things about and fail to find it, guess who will be waiting in the wings to show them the product you can’t? And now, you’ve just lost a customer.
Here’s why. Essentially all businesses or products are researched thoroughly online before setting a foot in a physical store or making a purchase online. Here is another fact that may be shocking but is also very true. Majority of potential customers now trust online consumer reviews just as much as word of mouth. With that being said, and the fact that more and more purchases are being made online, you can assume your most sale-generating buzz is going to come from the web.
By now, you can guess the theme I’m getting at with this post. Here are a few points explaining the purpose of having a website for your small business.
You Come Across More Legitimate
Having a small business website that you own provides no better way to show potential consumers that your business is legitimate. Legitimacy gives your business value as well. Owning your own website lends the opportunity to boast about your business and tell your customers why it is valuable and why they need your product as opposed to any other competition. It will give the consumer an idea of what the mission of your business is among all the other information that a site visitor may want to know to instill confidence in their decision to make a purchase.
Legitimacy builds trust. If you are selling online, your potential customers will be less wary about providing sensitive information such as credit card numbers in exchange for your product. Your site will show that you’ve taken the proper measures to secure your site and ensure that your product or service is exactly what the customer expects when they check out at the end of their visit.
Your Business is in the Results
Have you ever been on vacation and wanted to know where the best local eatery is? Have you experienced inclement weather away from home and need to find the closest business the find a jacket or umbrella? Of course, you have. If you have a small business website and your business serves the purpose of the search, chances are your product will show up in the results. Tourists will always search for local businesses to enhance and ensure their authentic tourist experience away from home. You will want to optimize your website to show up in “near me” google search results.
Setting up a simple site with a homepage, a page to feature your products, online store (if applicable), and additional pages that highlight your mission is all you need to attract new customers. If you don’t have a website, needless to say, you will miss out on a large portion of potential business and will be swallowed by the larger or chain businesses.
The reason for that is that larger businesses are near impossible to beat and will more than likely show up as the number one result in online searches. However, if you can show up in the top 5 or 10 (shoot for the top 3) links in the results page, you have a higher probability that your site will be visited. To be blunt, if you don’t have a site, you’ve got no dog in the race and this is a huge market you’ll be sorry you missed.
You Can Interact Directly with your Customers
Most small business websites will feature some sort of form to fill out so that the consumers can let you know they what their interests are. You can use this information to learn about your returning customers and potential consumers. Gathering information will help you in your marketing strategy to figure out what it is that your consumers want.
The information provided can let you know how well you are meeting your customers’ needs. You can cater your customers’ online interactions to their preferences. You can also gather email addresses and directly offer specials to your most loyal customers as well as inform them about new arrivals.
Visitors to your small business website may also want a newsletter, should you provide one to stay informed of the goings on with your business. Without your own small business website, you won’t have the chance to do this. Needless to say, you will always be guessing and will never know what improvements can be made to keep new customers and bring in new ones.
Here’s Where you lay your Groundwork for Digital Marketing
Utilizing social media platforms is a great way to gain a following. However, you cannot fully control the narrative. Instead of relying on social media to market your business for you, you will be able to more easily control the visibility of your business. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that your social media page will always be top featured and reaching the masses.
There are literally thousands of businesses vying for that position at any given time. Not to mention, marketing for these platforms only reaches those actively looking for the product or service you provide. To keep pace with the market, you will constantly need to stay abreast of third-party algorithms to maintain your business’ visibility rather than creating a social media page and linking it back to your website.
The algorithms can and will change. In addition to that, putting all of your eggs in the social media basket puts your business at the mercy of the platform(s) you choose. At any given time, whichever platform you choose can elect to remove your page for any reason. That can be a violation of terms, a change in the agreement, a shutdown of the site, and the list goes on.
Also, there is less opportunity to extend your reach in the manner you would like. The platform you choose decides where and how many users are reached should you pay for ad boosts and so on. If you decide to use your social media platforms to link back to your website, you’ve just increased the number of methods potential customers can access and view and purchase your product or service from your site.
Sounds much better than creating and wishing and hoping, right?
Only Place you have Total Control of how you Showcase your Product or Service
The last section leads directly to this one. More consumers are buying online in this day in age. In fact, a large majority of your potential business actually prefers the convenience of shopping from home. I can’t count how many times I’ve had my heart set on something, go out to get it and it’s out of stock, not what I wanted or expected, or any number of other letdowns or deterrents to purchasing you can think of.
Not only have you wasted gas and time for the trip, but you also come back empty handed. That is the worst feeling. This is where your small business website comes into play.
If you can make your site a one-stop shop, you will have a leg up on the competition without a website. Customers will find what they are looking for on your site and purchase it instantly or will find your products, like what they see and wander into your store. If you do not have a physical store, you can use your site and control the look and description of said products and services to not only attract customers but also convert traffic into sales.
If you have a new product or service or want to present a new, updated look to better cater to your market, you can do that right away. You don’t have to resubmit images, verbiage or any forms to change the look and feel of your site or how your products look online. Typically, if you want to run a new campaign and you rely on third-party sources to do it for you, you will need to wait until your current ad campaign is over.
If the current campaign is not generating business but you know this revamped and updated one will, you will miss out on the sales you could have made had you been able to control your own small business website.
Let’s Wrap it up with an Additional bit of Helpful Information
Don’t fret of the costs of creating your own website for your business. The investment is very small. Most websites can be created and designed for less than $500 per year if you want to have a web design/hosting company do the work for you. You can also accomplish creating and launching your website through other services without any coding experience required. Rebolt Web Services is a great place to get started.