When I’m talking with potential clients, I’m
often asked “Why should I have a website”. This is a very
good question. Today, having a website is a cost of doing business,
just like business cards, a phone line and credit card acceptance. A
well planned and designed website can be a boost to almost every business.
In this article, I will give you some information on the “Why”.
Why do you need a web site?
A website can be a key ingredient of a businesses marketing attack.
It is a lead generator, it helps retain clients, and save on costs.
In today’s business environment, if you don’t have one,
your competition most likely does. Customers are increasingly net-savvy
and are doing more and more research online before calling a company.
With 63% of American adults and 75% of American children connected to
the Internet, not having a website puts a major hole in your marketing
ability. In the past, people would open the yellow pages. Today, more
and more people are using the internet to search for information, and
finding not just a phone number or address, but full catalogs and price
lists, directions, color photos of products and more, all without leaving
The Lead Generator
Many people today look at the existence of a website as a ‘validation
of legitimacy’, much as we often look for the acceptance of credit
cards. People who are reluctant to call can at their leisure visit your
site and see what you offer. This means if its 3am on a Sunday, they
can get some information. A well designed website will have an easy
means of them contacting you, perhaps a sign up form they can fill out
to schedule a visit or request additional information. A website can
also be used by existing clients to generate referrals. A website is
a tireless 24 hour a day salesperson that works to turn suspects into
prospects, and prospects into clients. Being able to learn more about
your business will often turn a browser into someone who makes that
phone call, or stops in to visit. Having a website puts you ahead of
the competition. There’s no delay in customers getting information
on your products or services. Imagine if your competitor has information
online, and the best you can do is send a brochure overnight.
A day is a long time for that potential customer to form an opinion.
Client retention is often tied directly to customer service. A well
designed website will have the important information on your business
easily viewable. Hours of operation, contact information, upcoming events,
and directions at the very least should be obvious. Many other parts
are industry specific. A supermarket could have their weekly ad on line,
a hardware store could have home repair tips, and the martial arts school
could have training materials and class schedules. Special offers can
also be run, as well as an organizational newsletter to keep clients
and prospects up to date on your business.
How many of us have printed flyers for an event, only to end up throwing
out hundreds of dollars in over printing or errors? Using your website
as an information distribution point can significantly reduce your printing
and postage costs. By putting items like student handbooks, employee
guides, and flyers online, you can save an enormous amount of money.
Combine this with a web-friendly email-marketing program and you can
save thousands of dollars each year. You can also improve on the quality
of your handouts and flyers by using full color and photographs, rather
than the black and white clip art we often see.
Now, it is important to do your email marketing in a friendly manner.
E-Mail marketing is covered in my “E-Mail Marketing Tips”
Now, two additional areas you can use your website
are “UpSells” and Retail.
UpSells and Upgrades
Also known as Upgrades, Upsells are a great product to promote on your
website. Internal programs like Buyers Clubs, Access to expert advice,
special web-only content, discussion forums, newsletters and more. We
will use the example of a karate school. They want to increase student
retention so they add a signup form on their website for new students.
An option on this form could be for the “Black Belt Club”
which gives the student special services and access to a special area
of the website, for an added cost of course. A music store could have
a “Music Appreciation Club” which offers members only discounts
and other premiums.
Retail sales are an additional way to generate both profit and potential.
Without having to maintain a large physical inventory, pay utilities
or worry about shrinkage, you can often run an online store at a higher
profit margin than a traditional store. Without the physical limitations,
you can carry more merchandise. This allows a 1-person operation to
look just as impressive as the super centers. Care must be taken in
the setup of an online store to avoid fraud. Successful online retailing
is covered in my “Online Selling with Success” article.
Having a website is an excellent way to generate new
business, keep and grow existing clientele, save money and improve your
bottom line. It is available rain or shine, night or day, helping you
to grow your business. It also levels the playing field, allowing you
to compete equally with much larger businesses. With more and more people
each year using the Internet, a website has become a requirement of
business, much as a phone and credit card acceptance did in the past.
Remember, the Internet is one of the first places someone familiar with
computers is likely to look for information.
Bob Hubbard is an administrator
of the popular martial arts portal site MartialTalk.com and president
of SilverStar WebDesigns inc., a web site design and hosting company
specializing in affordable solutions for martial artists. A student
of all the arts, he is currently studying Modern Arnis.
Bob can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
February 2004 – MartialTalk Magazine
Copyright ©2004 Bob Hubbard
- All Rights Reserved