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Why Small Businesses Need a Web Site

Small businesses and organizations need to utilize multiple methods to better serve their clients and customers and to get the word out about their products and services. This has been well known for a long time. Yet most small businesses and organizations overlook a very powerful, yet cost effective, tool that will allow them to reach out to potential customers and service their existing customers better, the Internet Web Site. Whether it is a “brick and mortar” retailer, a home-based service business, or a non-profit civic or charitable organization, it can benefit by establishing a presence on the World Wide Web.

History

In the early days of the World Wide Web (WWW) only large businesses and organizations could have an Internet presence. Very few people were actually using Internet technologies, so the cost of a web site was not justifiable for the small to medium sized ones. At the end of the twentieth century this began to change, increases in Internet usage brought on by decreases in the cost of computers and Internet services led to a huge surge in businesses utilizing the Web.

Today

Internet usage has continued to grow, computers have continued to get less expensive and the “kids” who grew up with the Internet are now adults who use the WWW as their primary source of information. This new generation expects to be able to find what they are looking for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They find it easier to “Google” a business than to pick up the Yellow Pages phone book. They use the Internet to research companies and products before spending their money. If a business or organization doesn’t have a web site, it is often considered “old fashioned” and they won’t give it their business.

Why Don't Small Business Have Web Sites?

Many small businesses and organizations don’t leverage this not-so-new technology because of misconceptions.

Belief:
Web sites are expensive and do not provide an appreciable return on their investment (ROI).

Facts:
Professionally designed web sites have never been less expensive, often requiring only a very small percentage of the organization’s advertising budget.

Web sites are quicker and much less expensive to change than printed collaterals like brochures and catalogs.

Web sites can provide a return on investment in both “tangible” and “intangible” ways, including:

    Bringing new customers

    Better serving existing customers by providing information around the clock

    Gathering information on potential clients

    Establishing trust and a positive image

    Information, like Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), posted on a Web site can decrease the time staff spends answering these questions in person

    Allowing customers to place orders, even outside of business hours
Web sites can decrease the cost of existing advertising campaigns by replacing some of the ad’s content with a suggestion that the customer get more information from the Web site.

Belief:
Local businesses can’t benefit from a Web site, since they provide their products or services only locally.

Facts:
Due the nature of Internet Search Engines (i.e. Google, Yahoo, MSN) it is actually easier to promote a local business than it is a national or global one. When a customer adds their city or state’s name to the search terms for which they are looking, the search engine orders the results to place Web sites with that location higher in the list.

Local businesses and organizations establish trust and a positive business image when the have a Web presence.

Local businesses can reach customers outside their traditional area.

Belief:
The business does not use computers or the Internet, so it does not need/cannot have a Web site.

Facts:
Customers do use computers and the Internet. Today’s customers expect a business or organization to have a Web site where they can get information, even basic information like a phone number or address.

Small business Web sites are seldom run from that business’ computers, they are “hosted” with a company that has the necessary hardware, software and Internet connection.

Belief:
The business is doing well, there is no time for more customers.

Facts:
If a business is doing that well without a Web site, then it needs a Web site designed to better serve its existing customers. By posting answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), additional information about products and services, and useful tips and tricks, on the Web site the staff will have more time to do things like getting more business.

Belief:
The staff does not have the time or skills to create a Web site.

Facts:
Small businesses and organizations most often do NOT have the time or the skills to create, promote, and maintain a Web site. That is why a professionally designed, promoted and maintained Web site is recommended.


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