Potential Website Benefits
"I'm not sure I even NEED a website."
Only a self-centered designer would say that EVERY business NEEDS a website. But practically, most businesses CAN benefit from one.
It is ignorant to make a blanket statement, and the value of a website can ONLY be determined on a case by case basis. Even between two businesses that are substantially similar, there are critical differences which could radically affect the resulting value to the owner, of owning a website as well.
Many small business owners or prospective site owners don't have a clear concept of exactly what a site can do, and how valuable it will be to them. They don't know how to assess their business for potential monetary return from a website.
Your website can serve a range of purposes:
- As a receptionist. It can answer questions, receive mail, give feedback, hand out brochures, track customers, and even do more complex tasks than these which a receptionist can do.
- As a sales rep. It can provide persuasive product information, show off the details, offer pictures, and generally provide the information to encourage sales.
- As a customer service rep. It can take orders, receive payment, verify the payment, and send order confirmation to the buyer. It can provide information about various product options, and help a customer make choices.
- As tech support. It cannot completely substitute for a real person, but it can answer questions about frequently encountered problems, provide troubleshooting instructions, and collect trouble tickets for review by a real person.
- As a library. It can organize information, make it readily accessible to a visitor, allow searches, contributions, and other informational tasks.
If you hired someone to do the things that a website can do for you, you'd be paying much more than you'd pay for a website.
Value comes from two sources: It can save you on routine expenses by providing a more cost effective method of accomplishing certain repetitive tasks, and it can provide additional revenue streams which would not be present without the website.
A site can provide the following value:
- It reduces the cost to you for hiring support help that it replaces.
- It reduces your cost of publishing promotional literature. It costs far less to publish online, and once an item is uploaded it can be replicated an infinite number of times.
- It saves you the time it would take to answer repetitive questions. That leaves you the time to do more profitable tasks.
- If marketed properly, it can potentially gain new customers for your business, and bring you income that you would not have without it. Done right, it can potentially earn you thousands upon thousands of dollars.
- Done right, a website can be the primary sales and marketing vehicle for a sound and stable business.
- Done wrong, all these benefits fizzle in a sea of unmet expectations.
If you have goals for using your site, and an exciting and solid online business concept that you wish to put into effect, then your website becomes the critical element in making it happen. With a website, you have a business. Without it, you have no ability to conduct business effectively.
If you have an offline business that is in a highly competitive area, or which functions in an area for which the ability to get info off your site instead of having to visit a store is an asset, then a website can help you.
It becomes very important then, that you either learn to do it right, or that you hire someone who will do it right. You don't have to learn everything, and your site designer doesn't have to know everything. But there is a set of minimum standards for functionality and usability that must be met. And those are things you must learn, or your site will not achieve its potential.
I believe that a business owner should not spend money on things that do not benefit their business financially. I believe that if someone cannot tell you how it will improve your income, then you should not buy. The purpose of a website, in business, is to make money.
A website has the potential to earn you substantial amounts. It can pay for itself over and over, and then go on making money for years. It will require maintenance and updating, just as a storefront would. It will require that features be updated as technology advances, just as you'd add new elements to a store downtown. But once it is started, it will become increasingly more cost effective as time goes on, if it is managed wisely and as a real business, and not as a hobby.
If you'd like to explore ways in which a website can benefit your business, or if you just want an honest assessment of whether a website WOULD benefit your business, please contact us and ask. We promise we'll be honest, and that if we say a website is to your advantage, we'll show you exactly how it will benefit you.