I meet lots of small business owners, and it amazes me that so many don't have a website for their business. I've heard lots of reasons why they don't - "people know me", "I've been in business a
long time", "I don't get business from the internet", etc. Without a website your business lacks credibility. A well developed website can help you establish and build relationships with
prospects, and help you grow your business.
Why every small business needs a website
Even if you rely on networking or direct sales for customer acquisition, you need a website. Look at it from a prospect's perspective. Perhaps they were referred to you by someone they know. Or, you've talked to them on the phone or in person, but they have never dealt with you before. Regardless of how they became a prospect, they will want to know more about you and your company before they become a customer.
What a website can do for you if it is done correctly
A well thought out and relevant website will raise a prospect's comfort level in doing business with you. It makes you and your company more credible. It establishes trust between you and your prospect. They feel more knowledgeable, and feel they are making a more informed business decision.
The right way to build a website
Most people will "get" a website first and then worry about the content later. Too often the website is never completed or it is poorly organized. You have to consider the structure and the content first, and when that is completed, you can plug it into whatever platform that is best suited for what you are trying to achieve. As you develop the content, you can adjust the structure. The structure and content together will help you determine which platform is best for you- a custom built site, an online website builder, etc.
The best way to present information about your company on your website
- Make it about your potential clients and the challenges they have that you can address, what value do they get from your company, what problems will you be able to solve for them as your client. When you include product and service information on your site, present it as what the significance is to your prospects, not just 'what you do'.
Organize it in a manner that is easy to read and users can find pertinent
information readily. Avoid long paragraphs and multiple topics in one section
- Include headings and subheadings
- Use bullets, short paragraphs, "more" for longer paragraphs
- Keep the words clear and concise and drop any unnecessary adjectives and other descriptive words.
- Make it personal. Your website can help you build relationships if you include information about you and your staff, the history of the company, etc. Pictures personalize even further. This includes email addresses as well. Don't use anonymous email addresses like info@ or sales@. People don't do business with companies, they do business with people.
Features you want to include to appeal to potential clients
- Case studies - Illustrate the special ways have you helped your clients. You want your prospects to relate to situations you have handled for customers.
- Image gallery - If you can show the value of your product or service in pictures, do it. Pictures are worth a thousand words.
- Testimonials - There is nothing like first-hand stories that recount how your business helped one of your clients.
- Articles or Blog - This will keep your content fresh, allow people to interact with you and establish you as an expert in your field.
- Response forms - this is the opportunity to gather contact information from visitors to your website. Use downloadable material such as case studies and testimonials to capture their basic contact information.
Don't get overwhelmed
There's no need to build the "perfect" website from the get-go. The great thing about websites is that they are not, and should not be, static. Begin with a few steps that enable you to have a valuable website that you can build upon.
- Scope out what you want your website to ultimately do and what needs to be in it to do that.
- Choose a website vendor that is appropriate.
- Start with a website that is valuable and respectable. A good framework includes: what you can do for your customers, products and/or services, who you are, history, contact, etc.
- Add more functionality over time such as image gallery, blog, case studies, etc.
Having a website for a small business is important and setting one up need not be a daunting task. If done correctly, your website will provide credibility and engage potential clients.