One of the most common questions SilkLink used to be asked that is still asked today – do I need a website?
Actually, the question was phrased more like, ‘why do I need a website?’ We would then engage with the sales pitch and list out all of the benefits to be had from a business website.
We catered for small businesses like shops, decorators, builders, gardeners. The businesses that, according to successive governments, make up the back-bone of the country.
Let’s take an example or two. A Great British fish & chip shop. We have thousands of them up and down the land and just about every town has at least one. Why would a fish & chip shop need a website? Think about it for a while…
It’s often difficult to sum up the benefits for some businesses. Especially when many of them owe their income to word of mouth advertising. Also, most fish & chip shops and food outlets offer a fairly common menu. You would perhaps be surprised if you went into a fish & chip shop that didn’t serve sausages or chicken or even mushy peas. So customers know what to expect.
As the fish & chip shop owner, what about the food that you have on your menu that customers never seem to request? Maybe it’s a bit of a speciality and customers who have asked for it continue to return for it. We could be talking about a differentiator or unique selling point (USP). How do you promote this?
Now, at this point, there is FaceBook or Instagram or whatever. The trouble with this is, and we’ve all seen it and maybe responded, the business owner promotes their pride and joy only for it to be shot down in no time with negative comments. It ruins brands and reputation in no time.
This is where a website does great things for a business where social media can often fail it. This is not to say that we should drop social media – it has its place. However, businesses should use social media to entice people to visit their website. Why? Because the website is the place to display goods and services at their best.
A website can set a business apart from its competitors. This is especially important for local small businesses. Maybe you need a builder. You can go to sites like Check-a-Trade and others, but you want to see what builders have done, right? In the old days – that’s last century in the 1990s – we would ask builders for references – places where we could go and visit and see the extension that they built. Today, the discerning builder will have a great website where you can see the build of a number of projects with great quality photos and descriptions of the client’s requirements and what was provided.
Businesses can use their website as a communications portal – a means enabling customers to contact the business to make an enquiry, ask a question, get a quote, and so on. A good website will send an immediate response the the customer’s inbox – a reassurance that their enquiry has been acknowledged.
As well as showcasing your goods, services, USPs and more, businesses can save a great deal of time and effort with a website. Imagine an electrician and the many questions potential customers might ask – can you install a power socket, do you do re-wires, can you do commercial buildings, do you do electrical testing ??? All of these questions can be listed as calls to action. For example…
- No service too small. Want an extra power socket? Contact us now.
- We offer complete electrical re-wires in your home or your commercial premises. Contact us now.
…and more. Remember, these responses are there 24 X 7 whether the business owner is around or out for the day with the family. Furthermore, the family is pleased that the constant phone calls with the same old questions have reduced somewhat.
So now, you are thinking that great websites cost a fortune. Your friend got one recently and it’s great, but it cost like three grand! Well, if you get a web developer onto it, maybe it will cost quite a bit. However, nowadays, there are some fantastic web service and hosting providers that can get a great website up and working in no time from the hundreds of templates available. There is also WordPress and thousands of templates from many service suppliers. These solutions will cost around £10 per month.
Regardless of whether you go alone or get a web developer in, the real cost is in continually updating the website with current content. Businesses really need to spend an hour or two, sometimes more, each month updating their website by showcasing all that is current. Think also about having a blog-like section so that, just as we have done here, businesses can write about a topic they know well which, of course, leads the reader right to the Contact Us form.