I live in a town where personal contact means everything. People want to hear someone´s voice instead of receive an email; see someone in person rather than through instant messenger. I remember the day when I said I would NEVER have a cell phone and it drove me insane to listen to peoples personal conversations while standing in line at the grocery store"?¦"?¦my how times have changed! Technology is such a wonderful tool, especially if you are in a tiny town. Why? Let me count the ways!
As I was preparing to write this article, I was thinking about the number one reason I go online. What do I usually look for on the internet? I would have to say the majority of the time I am looking up telephone numbers or directions. This is something you would find on someone´s business card; however, if you do not have a card in front of you, the next best thing is the internet.
As a business, when someone visits your office, usually they are able to pick up a business card or a brochure with contact information and see the sign on your door showing your hours of operation. However, people who live in small towns that do not have access to businesses, are now using the internet for this very reason. It is much more convenient than driving hours to make a small purchase. Consumers are able to comparison shop before making decisions. A website provides the experience of visiting your business in person.
More and more people are using the Internet to find information because it is convenient and time-saving. Websites are almost expected by the general public these days that when you don´t find one on a particular business, you look for someone else who is online. A potential customer might be persuaded if they could learn a little more about you, your company, and your products without having to call or taking the time to meet with you in person. A website makes it easy for customers to learn more about your business during their own time.
Increasingly, people search the internet over the yellow pages when looking for products and services. With a website you can make sales when your offices are closed. Not only will your website be available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year with the possibility of reaching millions of people on a daily basis, but now your customers are able to contact you outside of your normal business hours. Your website can also take orders while you sleep as people can place orders on a website at any time, day or night. You would be surprised how many extra sales you could have by developing an on-line brochure or virtual store.
Traditional advertising doesn´t reach as many potential customers as does the internet. Designing, printing and delivering marketing materials is a huge expense for small businesses. The internet is a very low-cost method of promoting your business. By advertising your website, in addition to your product or services, you give potential customers the opportunity to learn far more about your product or services than you could ever place in an ad. Not only that, but websites provide quicker, easier and more cost-effective advertising than print media. You can keep your website more current, more affordably than any other media can. With a website, you can instantly publish that same information: new product announcements, employment opportunities, contact information, and coupons without material or delivery costs. Buying advertising space, whether it’s a newspaper ad, billboard or radio spots, can be very expensive. A website is an unlimited number of full-page ads that can be easily changed!
Another huge expense for businesses is the cost of space. With a web-based business, there will be no cost of monthly rent or utilities. Much of the information people would be asking you on a daily basis, over and over again, will be available for them to read on your website so there would be no need to hire someone to answer the telephone.
So what are you waiting for! Get on the internet and start browsing around. Gather as much information as you can from sites that appeal to you. You can obtain many ideas through looking at the millions of sites online. Once you have brainstormed and written some information about your company, you will be ready to move forward. In later topics, we will be discussing the how-to of finding a good website designer.
"Do not dwell in the past; do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment." ~ Buddha