Although the computer revolution that started thirty years ago is still not mature, the novelty has worn off. The Internet is a part of everyday life for nearly everyone, from tiny children to grey-haired grannies. The dust from the upheaval of the last thirty years is settling and everyone can see the competitive landscape more clearly.
Regardless of what the techies or web gurus say, as a small business your website probably isn’t going to bring you vast hoards of customers from around the world, let you compete with the “big boys” in your industry, or make you rich.
It’s just not true.
What your website can and should do, however, is be a powerful tool to attract your hottest local prospects and activate your existing customers.
More and more customers are going to go on-line to get your telephone number, see if you’re open on Sunday, find out if you carry a brand of products they are looking for, see what’s new at the store this month, or get directions to your store.
Many of your hottest prospects are comparison shopping on-line before they decide which store to visit in person. They are “checking you out” and if what they find on-line doesn’t match up to your competitor’s you could be out of the running.
For example, let’s say I wanted to buy a new mountain bike. One of the things I’d probably do is search on-line for local for bike shops. I’d browse around on their sites (just like I might if I was actually in their stores) to see what bikes they had to offer, check out how knowledgeable they were, how professional they seemed, what kind of post-sale service they provided.
Just based on that web experience alone I might make a decision about where I was going to buy my bike. At the minimum, I would rule out any places that looked like they couldn’t give me a good buying experience.
This scenario takes place thousands, maybe millions, of times a day in your selling area for a huge variety of goods and services. That’s why every single store should have website with a minimum of 3-7 pages about their business and possibly many more.
This type of website is basically an e-brochure. It’s the high-tech version of the print brochure you give to promote your business to customers. It’s also becoming the high-tech version of your yellow pages ad.
So is it worth the cost of a website just to have an electronic brochure? Absolutely. How much would you pay for a magical print brochure that just showed up whenever your customer was wondering about your store or thinking about buying what you sell? Remember, websites don’t have to be expensive to be good.