The real reason your business needs a website
It’s been crazy over the last few weeks. Proper non-stop, no time to think, bashing out calls and emails left right and centre kind of crazy. But this didn’t stop me from putting some time aside yesterday to meet up with my favourite banter buddy, Gordon Lundie, for a catch-up.
I like Gordon because he’s one of the very few designers that I’ve met who is both extremely talented and pleasant to work with. I cannot say this of a lot of the designers that I’ve had the misfortune to work with in the past, many of whom have a devastating combination of unshakeable arrogance and a complete inability to admit fault when things go wrong. Tip: if someone puts the fear of god into you, you probably shouldn’t be working with them!
Anyway all the glowing adulation and bitching aside, Gordon is also a good source of inspiration and life tips. He’s my ‘go to guy’ for all my little creative issues and business musings and as such provides a pretty good sounding board. So it was no surprise that he managed to lay bare a problem that I’ve recently been struggling with: how do you convince people that websites are actually worth paying for?
This may sound like an odd question for a marketing person, who’s been living and breathing the old ‘how to turn features into benefits’ since at least 1965 (for the purposes of exaggeration it is ok to use a date that precedes your birth). But sometimes you just need reminding.
Gordon trotted out a quick anecdote about a man he’d met at a networking event, who’d asked him what he did. When Gordon said ‘I’m a designer’ the man’s response was ‘No, you’re a person who helps people to make more money’.
A bit crude maybe, but there it is. Web design (if it’s done well) is about helping people to make money.
Now I’ve spent a lot of time writing copy that talks about how wonderful our service is, how cost-effective, how professional, how stress-free, but maybe I haven’t been focusing enough on exactly how a website can make a difference to your business. Maybe I’ve assumed a bit too much about people’s knowledge of websites and lost my way a bit. So there it is, my little confession. I’m meant to be a marketer but now and then, well, I suck.
So a website will help you make more money
Yes. Websites do help you to bring in more cash to your business. Think of it like all those other things you buy for your business. Most of the time when you’re buying in parts, sourcing a delivery firm, or updating your shop signage, you’re doing something that will make your product or service more attractive, and encourage people to buy from you.
A website is exactly like that. It will do a number of things to add value to your business.
1) It will make you seem more professional
If I’ve spoken to or heard of someone, but I can’t find them online it makes me seriously question their viability as a business. I’m also not alone in thinking like this. We live in a digital age and we expect people to have a website at the absolute barest minimum, in the same way that we once expected a brochure or a calling card.
If you can’t be found on the web then chances are you’re turning away a lot of business. And that’s just from people who already know about you.
2) You can bring in business that you wouldn’t find elsewhere
If you work hard to ‘optimise’ your website, so that it’s found on Google, then you should be able to attract enquiries from people who wouldn't have found you otherwise. There will always be web surfers who wouldn't stumble across you at a networking event or during rounds and rounds of telemarketing. That’s just a fact.
3) It will save you money on directory listings
Enhanced directory listings can be extremely expensive for small businesses and often with poor return. Many people are now turning to Google and other search engines to search for a service, reducing the value of directory giants like yell.com. So if you optimise your website well, then it stands to reason that you can save on shelling out for needless directory listings and other forms of advertising.
I’m not saying you should give up on advertising completely, but with a really good website, you can start to become a bit more discerning.
And that’s just for starters. Use your website as part of a well-planned marketing strategy (think Twitter and Facebook, direct marketing campaigns, events) and some pretty special things will start happening to your business.
It’s not a money-back guarantee, but it’s as good as.
About the author - Rosie Heptonstall
Rosie is Clever Business Websites' marketing manager. She also drinks a lot of coffee and will do anything for a decaff skinny latte (in case you're buying).