(And Four Bad Reasons Too)
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
- 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.
- 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. We put this
last, because closing sales should not be your number-one priority. Internet sales
should be considered incidental, the gravy on your meatloaf, so to speak. You're
never going to get rich selling product directly to the consumer over their Internet.
Someday maybe, but not today. Then again, you won't sell a lot of big-ticket items
over the telephone either, but would you think of conducting business without
And a Few WRONG Reasons to Build a Web site:
Because Everyone Else is Doing It
Because You Want to Get Rich Overnight
Because It's the "Right" Thing to Do
Because Your Employees Want You To