It’s recently come to 3thought’s attention that a some businesses don’t have a website. I know, we were just as shocked to learn this as you may be. We’ve also noticed a few of you do actually have a website and quite frankly, it’s terrible. But that’s a discussion we’ll save for a another day. Today, we’re concerned with businesses who don’t have a website yet, and we’re going to shed some light (actually 3 thoughts) on why this needs to change.
- Discoverability: Hands down and with a doubt the number one reason to get online is “discoverability”. We’re not ever positive discoverability is technically a word and if it isn’t, it should be. 3thought defines discoverability as: The ability of one to be discovered. And, since we’re feeling feisty, we’re going to make a declaration today. We declare, from this day forth, your business no longer exists without a website. Sure, you may be thinking: “I hand out business cards to everyone I meet; I run ads in the paper; I attend networking events. Most of my business comes from word of mouth and referrals. I’ve had my business for 30 years and I’ve never needed a website before.” Yes, we’ve heard all those excuses before. Those things are all great things to do, but they’re no longer enough. The world has changed and business has evolved. Business will continue to evolve to the point where you may be so far behind, you may never be able to catch up again. Need an example? Drive to your local “big box” electronics store (if it’s even still in business). Go in, look at the prices of any item. Then check that price against someone selling it online. In most cases, you’re going to find that exact same product is cheaper online. We refer to places like Walmart and Best Buy as “the showroom for Amazon.” Like it or not, the world has changed with the invention of the internet, and we can all stand still, or we can be active participants in that evolution. Every day your business goes without a website, is a day where you’re missing a huge opportunity to find new and connect with existing customers. The same people you handed your business card still matter, but even they are probably going to try to check out your website before following up with you. Unless your product is so unique and so much better than everyone else’s, you’re going to lose out. Having a website is a no-brainer for keeping the odds of being found in your favor. On the internet there may be 100’s – 1000’s of people looking for what you have to offer. If you’re not there to be discovered they’re probably discovering your competition.
- Competition: That’s right, your potential customers are most likely looking at your competitor’s website. You’ve heard the phrase “Keeping up with the Jones,” well it’s just as true on the internet as it is in the real world. If you competition is putting an ad in the yellow dinosaur (yellow pages), you may want to consider having a presence as well. And online, if you competition has a website you probably want one too. You might even want to consider jumping on the Google, Facebook and Twitter bandwagons, too. Just saying. Here’s a wake up call for you: Go to Google and search for what you do in the town you do it. Does your business come up in the search results? How many of your competitors do? Who’s ranked higher in the results? Now do that same search in your region and state and see how many businesses do exactly what you do and how easily your potential clients/customers are finding your competition. How did you find a business 30 years ago? You probably looked it up using one of those yellow dinosaurs. Now people find business listings on the internet with their computers and increasingly on their smart phones. Listings on online directories aren’t enough either. People decide who they trust and who they want to be associated with by looking at your website.
- Opportunity: Our last thought is about opportunity. Besides being found, there’s so much potential to sell your goods and services online. Even if you don’t physically sell anything online, you can still sell yourself and your business to your potential customers. The internet is like one big shopping mall with lots of different stores inside. Having a website is like having a storefront for people to browse and walk past. The internet, although virtual, has physical world value. Here’s a real world example that will hopefully demonstrate just how valuable an opportunity a website can provide. Recently a potential vendor, who was very talented and sold a service that we could use, reached out to us via a cold call. Cold calling is a legitimate and long standing method of drumming up new business, and we don’t mind especially if it a resource we can actually benefit from. But it takes a lot of time and the success rate is not too high. After we spoke for awhile, we asked if this person could direct us to their website so we could learn more about their services and see examples. They simply said, “I don’t have a website.”. So we asked, “well, how do we find you if we need your service?” And they responded, “I’ll email you all my information.” Again, this takes effort, and we have a pretty high chance of loosing it in our bottomless pit of an in-box. This person was investing a significant amount of time in a pretty chancy operation. Not the kind of business model we’d feel comfortable with. An hour or two later, the person’s email showed up and it had everything you’d ever need to put in a website right there. Everything you’d need to know to be able to hire this person was right there in this email. The content you’d need to have a website was already created, but the opportunity to share this information was limited to the list of people this person had a rapport with on the phone. The opportunity this person was missing out on was the ability to effectively sell themselves to us. The opportunity to build trust and reputation. The opportunity to be found by someone seeking their services anywhere in the world, 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. The opportunity for us to share their website with other people who might be looking for that service. This is just scratching the surface of the opportunity having a website can offer your business.
So what have we missed? We’d love to hear other people’s takes, for or against having a website for their business. If you have a real world example we’d love to hear that too.