In 2011, I wrote why your small business needs a website.
Back then I circled the topic in a broad manner that any business owner, savvy or not, could understand. Almost three years later, if you’re not savvy about how to do business online, you’re pretty much out of the game.
However, there are some businesses that don’t need to be online. Some might challenge me on this but I can vouch for businesses in my area that get plenty of traffic without a website, social media, or even using email. Or worse yet, they’ve got email but never answer messages. Ugh!
These companies have a strong customer base that doesn’t look for them on the web.
If you’re one of these businesses, you’re doing a great job with offline marketing. For now, this system works.
Where the Future Is
In the future, I think it’s fair to say that without an online presence, these companies won’t stand a chance against strong brands that grew up online or were smart enough to make the switch along the way.
With mobile marketing and everyone glued to their smartphones, each day your company doesn’t carve its place on the web, you’re losing time.
Would I recommend that your company have a website and/or blog? Heck, yeah! What are you waiting for?
Where Reality Is
Just because your current customers aren’t looking for your online presence doesn’t mean that prospects aren’t and new customers won’t. When Big Grey Horse Media travels, we live by our smartphones’ browsers and Google Maps. How else can you find where you’re going? More so, if I’m looking for you and can locate your business:
- It’s great to see reviews (positive and negative) that your customers left on various review sites. Because of the high prevalence of companies paying for favorable reviews, I learn more from mixed, neutral, and negative reviews than positive ones. Writers are paid to write those coveted, 5-star reviews. Think I’ve never been approached to do one? And no, I don’t do them.
- I want to visit your website. Don’t have one? I’m passing you by. How do I “get” your message if you have nothing to say?
- If you’re plugged into social media, it’s easy for me to send a tweet or post on your Facebook page if I need immediate attention.
This is just one perspective from a company that travels. Take it for what it’s worth – and realize there are thousands of other people out there wanting, needing, and craving your online presence. Those thousands, perhaps millions, of people have their perspectives, too.
To expand this, my mindset is that the world travels with me. I’ve had the pleasure of writing for and consulting with individuals and businesses from around the world. That’s the beauty of online business – it is available 24/7, 365 days a year.
The Down & Dirty
My prior post said that setting up a website was inexpensive and not too time-consuming. Bottom line, you can get a free website (not recommended – EVER) and start writing immediately. DO NOT DO THIS. I got Big Grey Horse Media set up and running for around $100 (domain and one year’s hosting). That’s extremely cheap in the world of online business. Course, I knew WordPress from using the back end of clients’ sites. Grabbing a free theme was easy, too. So in this respect, if you know basic HTML or WordPress and have $100, you, too, can get your business up and running in a few hours.
And you have to know the basics of keeping your site’s back end running through your host and the regular administrative tasks that keep your site healthy. Some people can’t do this, either, whether it’s due to not having the time or the expertise.
I got tired of my simple, free WordPress theme and changed it as quickly as I could buy a professional theme. Again, you’re playing with the world and major brands, so free hosting and cheap websites never make a good impression. I had my eye on StudioPress’ Pro Plus Package, and that’s what we’ve been using ever since. I bought the entire package so I could have access to all the themes, and it’s been a super investment.
When you purchase themes, you’ll get a fair price but it’s never cheap. I don’t consider paying several hundred dollars for a theme package to be expensive considering all the perks that come with it.
Beware the “bottom dollar” marketer when you’re building a website for your small business. If it sounds too good to be true, RUN. Remember that building a site, especially an ecommerce site, should cost tens of thousands of dollars to be designed, built, and properly maintained.
You always get exactly what you pay for. If you pay next to nothing but expect the world, don’t cry when your site doesn’t work or you feel ripped off.
In a Nutshell
My time online has taught me two things. The web is the place to 1) build your brand and 2) make money. You can do one or the other or both. In the end, whether we like it or not, the world’s living in the unreal yet real world of the ‘net. You could say more people are becoming enchanted and trapped by that net every minute.
So if you’ve got the money, time, and courage to make your online business work, I say go for it.
If you don’t have the money, time, or courage, find another way to make money. It takes bawls to the walls 24/7, 365 days a year to be smart about teh wayz of teh interwebz.
It’s not easy to serve clients and serve your site. I’ve run into that problem many, many times and it’s not pretty. If you’re a good businessperson, you’ll find your way. Online business isn’t that different from the offline world. There are tricks of the trade and a vastly different, unique, and very cool culture in the online world, but most people can learn to adapt.
The best thing about being online is the wealth of information. Whatever you need answered, you’ll find. 24/7, 365 days a year. And if you can’t find it yourself, there’s plenty of people to assist if you hire them.
We offer several products, but one of our favs is content marketing. Ask me how Big Grey Horse Media can build content for you.