You know when you do a search for a business on Google and they don’t show up? You can access many businesses that are similar, but the one you are looking for doesn’t show in Google search results. It seems really odd, or it could be just me, but when I run into this situation my first thought is, “how good can this business be if they aren’t online?” Then I wonder if it means that they can’t be bothered because they’re redundant and maybe going out of business? Or could it be that they aren’t established yet? Or maybe it’s an old company that just doesn’t believe in the internet and social media?
Basically, I am wary. Is that weird, or is it a sign of the times? I think it is a sign of the times. People want to deal with businesses that are forward thinking and with the times. Hip and savvy are important too. We want to know that any work they do for us is going to be contemporary and current. If they aren’t online and I am, could we be on the same wavelength?
Benefits You Can Count On By Having A Website?
You might be offline, but your customers are online. Your customers only notice you when they walk down the street or happen to drive by — otherwise, you are very much invisible. As people spend more and more time online, it is only online businesses that get visibility resulting in products or services being sold.
Communicate Regularly with Customers
Your website is your vehicle for communication, including a venue for collecting email addresses. Most people still check their email regularly, so instead of spending money on print advertising, you could send customers special offers and discounts via email, making your advertising costs much less. At the same time, email can be used to build relationships with your customers by offering other tips and advice via newsletters.
Build Brand Awareness
Your website is completely under your control, giving you the ability to create and promote your brand image. Everything from the design of your site to the content and interaction that happens there builds the image that you want the world to see. Think of it as your dynamic billboard with which you communicate and interact with the rest of the world.
Demonstrate Social Proof
A website is one very important component in demonstrating social proof AKA as proving your integrity. People make purchasing decisions based to a large degree on recommendations. Including testimonials from customers shows prospective buyers that you are here for the long run and can back up your products. Ratings and reviews are also a way to help people make purchasing decisions; think Yelp and similar sites. By the way, your customers can leave reviews on Yelp about your business and being online gives you the opportunity to comment, give thanks, or refute a bad review.
As a local (offline) business, your ability to prospect and increase your customer base is very limited. Once your business goes online, the potential for sales is only limited by the logistics of shipping. In fact, some websites like Etsy have made it possible for even the smallest business to give the whole world access to their products.
While it’s possible to survive as an offline local business, the potential to grow and prosper is much better when you have a website. You have to be visible to customers and prospects where they are, and that is online.