very busy owner of a small landscaping business, fully booked for the
next year, tells me he's not interested in hiring employees and growing
into a multi-person company. He just wants enough work to earn a good
living, and he has plenty of work. His business grows by word-of-mouth.
Customers don't need to find his office; he works at their homes. If
ever there was a business that didn't need a web site, this is it.
heard many small-business owners say they think they "should"
get a web site. They're not quite sure what they will do with it, but
they've been told they "should" have one.
most cases, they're right. A web site can be an important marketing
tool for almost every small business, but there are a few exceptions.
you have as many customers as your business can handle and you have
no desire to grow larger, as with our landscaper, then there's no point
in marketing on the Web.
if you are really certain that potential customers won't use the Internet
to find your product or service, then you can
safely skip the Web. One example might be a convenience store, where
drive-by awareness literally drives all customer traffic. For most businesses,
though, that assumption is getting tougher to make, at least in the
United States, where 158 million people
have Internet access. Usually, the answer to the question, "Does
my business need a web site?" is a big "YES".
no question that a web site is more mission-critical for some businesses
than others. Companies such as hotels or tourist attractions, trying
to reach customers in different locations or who have products like
flowers, handmade dolls, telephones, etc., that can be shipped to customers
far away obviously need to have an online Internet presence.
local businesses like dry cleaners or shoe repair shops, for example,
also can benefit from a web site that shows their location, lists their
services and offers their special promotions.
woe to those who think they don't need a compelling web site because
they serve other businesses rather than retail consumers. Many businesses
search for new suppliers online - and order from them that way too.
short, if you want more customers, you should be online regardless of
Online Marketing Tool
most small businesses, a web site is rapidly becoming a basic requirement
in their marketing plan. A web site can help you reach one or more of
the following goals:
- Help customers find you in the
offline world - your office, your storefront, your phone number.
- Persuade customers that you have
the right service or product for them.
- Sell products online, even across
different marketplaces, to retail customers or other businesses.
- Share relevant business information
and special offers with customers.
don't need to be in a consumer or retail business to reap the benefits
of a web site. Your customer could be another business looking to the
Web for products and services.
club, organization or community service group can all benefit from a
presence on the Web. Clubs use their web site to list their meetings,
speakers and special events. Organizations list their services, recruit
volunteers and solicit donations. Community service groups announce
special events and fund raisers.
on for some tips on how your web site can reach those goals and for
a look at some small-business Web Sites that really work.
Simple Site Helps Customers Find You
simplest possible Web presence is a one-page site that tells people
how to find your business in the "real" world. It should include:
- A good Web address that relates
to your company name.
- Your business address, complete
with directions and a good map.
- Your business phone number along
with your fax number if relevant.
- Your email address for easy access
- A clear and enticing description
of what your business offers to customers.
simple Web presence is most appropriate for businesses that serve local
customers, a video rental shop, doctor's office or plumber, for example.
Better Marketing, Create an Expansive Site
you're interested in active marketing for your business, you can expand
your web site to make it a more robust online marketing tool.
this scenario, the web site 's job is to convince
customers to take that next step: Buy the product online, call you to
place an order, set up an appointment, or drive to your office or storefront.
Your site is essentially your online marketing brochure, one that's
more effective than a printed marketing piece, and in most cases, less
expensive. Web sites enable customers to dig deep into the information
they care about, without overwhelming them with the stuff they don't
want or need to know. That's hard to pull off in a paper brochure.
can approach crafting the web site as you would any other marketing
brochure. Use color, graphics, photos and words to get across four key
things about your business:
- What you provide for customers.
- What kind of customers you focus
on and can serve best.
- How your business is unique from
others who provide the same product or service so customers can decide
if your solution is the right one for them.
- The personality or brand essence
of your business - what your company stands for.
A Site That Draws Customers
Technicians at http://www.corvettetech.com
a look at the web site we designed for Corvette Technicians. The site
does a great job of conveying what you need to know about the business:
The front page tells you what the business does (classic Corvette repairs and
restoration) and which customers it focuses on (owners of vintage and classic Corvettes).
It also tells you what is unique about the practice: It specializes
in Corvettes built from 1953 through 1982. The design of the site itself
is vibrant, with lots of hot colors and a continuous theme. The front
page tells you how satisfied their customers are and about the great
reviews they get from Corvette publications. Paul Lutz, the owner, says,
"Because we are so specialized, we rely a lot on "Word of
Mouth"," so the web site is designed to let everyone know
how pleased their current customers are.
you tour the site, you see not only a listing of all the services they
offer, but letters from their customers. The site also includes a map
showing how to find their shop, information about shop hours, shipping
and payment plans. It does a great job of creating a compelling view
of the kind of business it is.
Real Country Life is proud to announce that Corvette Technicians holds a NUMBER ONE ranking in ALL of the major search engines as of February 2005. Open your favorite search engine (Google, MSN, Yahoo, Alexa, Netscape, AOL) and see for yourself.
Yes, For Good Reasons
you have all the customers, patients, members and volunteers you can
handle, a web site can be a good marketing investment. Find a domain
name that's appropriate for your business and beef up your marketing
arsenal with a compelling web site.
Country Life can help. Call or write to us today for a free consultation!