Why all Businesses Need an Online Presence
Several of my own service providers do not have any kind of online presence: this is common with attorneys, CPAs, hair dressers, dry cleaners and even manufacturing firms. Business-to-Consumer companies typically understand the value of a website and a digital presence, but businesses that acquire their customers through referrals often believe that they don’t need this. Here’s why they do:
- a website or other online presence allows a prospect to verify the information they received from the referral. Yes, their friend or associate is happy with you, but will you be a good fit for them?
- a digital presence shows that you understand the role of technology in your business. Companies that think a Yellow Pages listing is all they need sends a particular message to prospects. (That message is: I’m stuck in the 80’s; I’m hope you still have a fax machine….)
- so people can find you. The internet is the first place people search now – and the majority search from their mobile device. If you do not have an online presence, you are unlikely to show up in a Google or other search for your type of business. (Even people who already know you are likely to search for your number or address online.)
- so people understand what you do. Do you offer more than one type of service? Do you have different (and better!) capabilities than your competitors? Your website is the place to show this and tell “what else” you do.
Do I Really Need a Website?
Yes. At a minimum, you need a website, but know that all websites are not created equal. A very basic one-page site may be sufficient for your needs. Start with what you want to accomplish and how you expect people to use your site and then back into the options. If your url is registered at GoDaddy, they offer a number of templates that may be just fine for what you need. WordPress also offers easy templates. A do-it-yourself site like a WIX may make sense for you (make sure you understand their “free” pricing…the design is free, the hosting is not). Or, you can hire a professional web designer who can help you determine the best route and will provide both the website template that has all of the functionality you need as well as content written from a marketing perspective.
Who’s Got Time to Keep Up with Social Media?
If you are Business-to-Business, you might consider a Linkedin company page – it’s easy to set up and one more place for search engines to find you. If you are not a consumer-facing business, Facebook may not make sense for you at all. Speak with a professional about your business goals and get some advice as to which social platforms will benefit you. Or, survey your customers to find out whether they use social media personally and where they spend their time. You can start small and take baby steps, or you can hire someone to manage social media for you.
What’s all this “Content” that People are Talking About?
Sharing meaningful content with your customers and prospects helps to convey your capabilities and values and establishes you as the expert in your field. It’s easier than ever to share content today via blogs, eNewsletters, Linkedin publishing and your other social media channels. You can write our own content or you can simply share content from others – as long as it isn’t ‘selling”, you give credit to the author and it adds value to the relationship with your customer, it’s all good.
Whether you hire a professional or do it yourself, make sure you have a place where people can find information on you and your company. Even companies that depend on referral business need a place where people can verify what they’ve heard.