Websites are great. They can accomplish so many different tasks for you and your customers. Businesses big and small are all expected to have one, right?
When business owners ask me whether they should get a website, competition research is often my first step. I search for similar businesses in the same geographic region, and check out the competition.
This process does more than show you a list of businesses active in your area. Viewing their websites can also tell you who they believe is their ideal client, and which marketing strategies they think will work in your field.
However, before you jump on the band-wagon, you need to take a step back and re-evaluate your own business.
As a business owner, you shouldn’t build a website without expecting some financial return from the project. It shouldn’t be an expense - it should be an investment.
So how do you figure out what kind of website will work for your business RIGHT NOW?
Each business has unique website needs. Some businesses have an established brand and client base. They can support a larger web development project because the impact of the website will pay for the project in a short time.
Smaller businesses or start-ups usually need to make strategic decisions based on realistic projections. They need to target a specific area of growth in their business, and estimate how much a website will impact that growth.
Either way, your website should provide VALUE to your business, so that the initial cost is covered by the income generated by new and ongoing business it helps to generate. Your website is an investment - not an expense.
Your website is not always your customer’s first introduction to your brand. They may come across your product or service during their day, and make a note to look you up later.
They may hear about you from a colleague or friend, or receive a referral to your business.
If you aren’t online, your client’s online search will provide them with a list of your competition. You may be losing customers to your competition without even realizing it!
Online viewers are seeking help in a specific area. When they find your website, they have specific questions, problems, or needs that you can answer.
For example, if your business provides financial services, people will only go to your site when they are already in the market for a new investment or financial advice. If they find you through an online search, they will have been using keywords like “business investment” or “financial planning” in your local area.
Give these customers exactly what they are looking for by anticipating their questions and providing additional resources to help them make good decisions.
You have to rely on the potential client’s DESIRE to continue hearing from you. Your website should provide valuable information on subjects related to your business so that your potential client wants to remember your website, and your business, as a resource.
You can provide this kind of value through your online resources, in the form of:
You should invest in a website when you can project a financial return from the project. If a website will give your potential client confidence in your business, you need one. If a website will help you compete in your geographic area, you need one. If a website will help you land one new client - you need one!