12 Good Reasons to Build a Website

by Bob Langdon

When you start thinking of your Web site as an electronic Yellow Pages ad, you’re doomed to failure. You might as well flush your money right down the toilet, because your customers aren’t going to log onto the Internet to find out who their local widget dealer is, they’re going to look in the Yellow Pages.

So why bother with a Web site? There are many good reasons—here are twelve to get you started:

To Enhance Your Image
Having a presence on the World Wide Web sends a message to your customers and prospects. It says, “Hey, we’re with it, we’re up to date, we’re technologically sophisticated.” This is especially important if you sell high-tech products.

To Disseminate Business Information
What are your hours? What lines do you stock? What lines can you order? Do you offer financing? What about rentals? Do you accept American Express? Where is your store anyhow? When is your next sale? Why should anyone do business with you? What are your interest rates? Do you have any special deals/rebates going on? Do you ever get any used stuff in? Do you take trades?

To extend your business hours
Even when your store is closed, your web site is working for you. It’s like being open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And you don’t have to pay any employees or worry about how they’re answering your phones when you’re not there.

To Save Money
If you’ve ever published a customer newsletter, you know how effective it can be. You also know how expensive it can be. It seems like the price of printing has doubled in the last five years. You know the cost of postage has gone up, and it’s a pretty safe bet that it isn’t going to go down any time soon. Now you can post your customer newsletter on the Internet and notify your customers by postcard when each new issue comes out. Better yet, have them sign up for your electronic mailing list online and e-mail them when the next issue comes out. Your total cost to publish and distribute your new electronic customer newsletter—$00.00.

To Reach a Niche Market
If you sell niche products—those items that might have a strong market in a large metro area, but make eking out a living in East Cowpoke, USA a real challenge—then you really need a Web site. With the World Wide Web, the world is your market.

To Reach the Affluent Buyer
Think about the type of people most likely to visit your Web site—college educated and with enough disposable income to buy a personal computer. In other words, just the kind of people you’re looking for.

To Provide Superior Customer Service
Think of all the unique ways you can make your customers’ lives easier. How about taking online loan applications, or helping customers find rare or hard-to-find items? All they have to do is type in their names, addresses, and phone numbers, and you can call or e-mail them back with the answers.

Just the FAQs, Ma’am
If you’ve been in business for awhile, you probably hear the same old questions over and over again. Answer these questions before they’re even asked by posting the answers on your Web site. You’ll save your customers and your sales staff valuable time.

To Look Bigger Than You Really Are
One of the nice things about the World Wide Web is that there is no black or white, male or female, young or old, big or small. On the WWW, you’re judged by your deeds. You can be bigger than your biggest competitor. All you have to do is act the part. After all, professional is as professional does.

To Gather Low-Cost Market Research
Did you ever wish you knew what your customers were thinking? Online surveys can be a great source of low-cost market research information. Find out once and for all, what your customers like/dislike about doing business with you. Which of your competitors do they buy from? Why? What do you do that really bugs them? What don’t you do that they wish you would? What don’t you sell that they wish you did? In short—what the heck do they want from you? You can find out the answers to these questions and more with your Web site And it’s cheaper than a Doring Study.

To Keep Your Name Out There
Have you ever made a really big, unexpected sale as the result of a business card you handed out somewhere? Imagine what might happen if you handed out 87,000,000 business cards! At last count, that’s how many computers had access to the Internet. Of course, you couldn’t afford to have 87,000,000 business cards printed. You can, on the other hand, afford a Web site.

To Close Direct Sales
Last, but not least, you can make direct sales over the Internet. Having a webiste that works for you 24 hours a day can greatly expand your business.