Meet Jack and Jill
Jack is a small business person working from his farm outside of Edmonton, Alberta. It's a one-man show; just him and his bobcat; very like dozens of small operators in the capital region. He does snow removal in the winter and dirt work in the summer. His entire marketing thrust is a phone number in the Yellow Pages. Jack's been in business forever and doesn't feel he has ever needed anything more than a phone book listing to keep him busy. Now, however, he just doesn't get as many phone calls as he used to. He would lay off his secretary if he had one. He knows he needs to expand his customer base to other nearby centers such as Leduc, Wetaskiwin and Camrose, but has no idea how. Jack really needs a well-designed website badly but thinks it too expensive and that he is not cut out for all this Internet stuff. He still owns a flip phone., for crying out loud.
Jill also owns her own business, too. She makes hand-painted pottery at her home and does pretty well at craft sales and farmers markets in the central Alberta region. Like Jack, she could use more customers but isn't sure the best way to attract them. Ads in the paper are so expensive and she feels they don't seem to help all that much, having experimented with them on a limited basis. Jill obviously needs to develop a web-based marketing plan, too.
In fact, anyone who has a product to sell, a service to perform or a message to deliver to the community or the world, needs a website. Instead of you spending time looking for new customers, a website allows your customers to easily look for you. Skillfully developed web pages are a much better approach to enlarging your clientele than any other method for the small marketer for a number of reasons. Here are the major ones.
With a website, you are available to your customers, 24/7.
Not everyone has the same work schedule as you and you want your products and services in people's faces when they want to view them, not when you have time to display them. Yellow Pages listings, while also available around the clock, are not in a medium people spend hours in pleasurable "surfing". Their entries are short and often contain as much information about your competitors as it does you. Most people, other than Jack, of course, no longer "let their fingers do the walking". Removing limitations for your customers to reach you is vital and a careful built website takes away the time boundaries a retail operation would impose.
A website puts you in a global marketplace.
Having a website provides far greater geographic coverage compared to hardcopy newspaper advertisements. Since websites have a reach that spans the globe, Jill can realize greater profits if she views the entire planet as her market, instead of the people in the newspaper's circulation region or the ladies filing past her at a craft sale.
Even Jack, bound by the nature of his business to a comparatively limited geographical area, can benefit greatly from a website. Everyone around town knows Jack, but that oil executive sitting in his Calgary office looking for someone to clear an oil lease, has no idea who he is. When the oilman searches for a local service provider, he'll probably ignore a company with no website, if he can find him at all. It is the modern watermark of professionalism.
Websites help the web aware find you even if you're computer illiterate.
Jack doesn't realize he need not be a computer programmer to have a website. Being 'old school' he is unaware the website can be designed to list all of his services and provide his contact information; including his 'snail-mail' address and flip-phone number. This means customers can still contact him in the manner he has been used to for decades. Nothing really changes for Jack, other than having to answer his phone more often to book his equipment.
A website flattens the playing field between different-sized companies.
No large company would be caught dead without having a website, nowadays. These big operations know how effective a cyber-presence is for engaging clients. Having your own website puts your company in the big leagues, to those looking for your products or expertise. A well designed website can give Jack's company the same polish bigger contractors have on display on their websites. Also, when young, net-savvy customers are looking for bobcat operators, they're not looking through a phone book. That's so last millennium. They will only consider a vendor who is professional enough to have a website.
Additionally, having a website will help Jack's Google positioning. He will get those calls that once went to his competitors by default, thanks to his previous lack of a website.
A website marketing model is far cheaper than any retail operation can be.
Jill's virtual store is never closed. People can browse her wares at their leisure anytime day or night and it costs Jill next to nothing, compared to having a retail outlet with staff. Another advantage of the website for Jill is she can provide images of her range of products without having to invest in a lot of inventory. Maintaining a large stock of products costs a great deal of money and will negatively impact a company's bottom line.
A website sharpens your focus as to who your customers are.
With careful use of keywords and other standard SEO strategies, both Jill and Jack can attract customers who are looking for the exact items and services they are promoting. The people engaging with their companies over the web will be precisely the people targeted with the content, Jill can even bolster traffic with a blog that can be updated to "maintain freshness". Jack probably won't blog but he needs a website just the same to attract his target market, too.
In comparison to every mass-media advertising platform such as TV, radio or hardcopy newspaper advertisements, having a website is the most inexpensive way to inform old customers, attract new customers and engage with your clientelle, your industry partners and the world. It's not that you can't afford a website; it's that you can't afford not to have one.
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