The Importance of Web Presence
Web presence is a vital part in today's competitive market. Web presence isn't just about having a website. It is being listed in every conceivable place people might be looking for information about you. There are plenty of places you can be found. Google maps, Yellow Pages, social networks like Merchant Circle, Facebook and Yelp all strive to have comprehensive listings of local businesses. Many of these listings will include location, hours and even pictures and descriptions. Each of these companies have their own look and feel. People tend to favor one over the others because they know where to find things.
It is very common for these social sites to list your business without you, and hope that eventually you will come along and claim it. When this happens, they try to be as accurate as possible, but quite often they get information wrong. They may list an incorrect phone number or list your business in a category that is inaccurate. Now, say you go through the trouble of registering with all these social sites and make use of all that free advertising. Why do you still need a website?
Websites are the new business card, only a million times better. All other advertising is directed to your site where you have unlimited space to express yourself, your business, your expertise, and basically brag unrestricted. This is important because there, YOU control your image.
In every other form of paid advertising, you see limits: time constraints, size restrictions, color restrictions...Websites give teeth to limited advertising. By putting a web address on your business card, you get to hand your contacts all of your information, not just your name and number. You can tell your customers exactly what services you offer. You can tell about your business's key selling points, why you excel over your competitors, give information about how you started and where your business is headed in the future. But it is not just information that you control. Much of your image is also pictures, typography and formatting. With websites, you can even publish videos.
In addition to the opportunity to present your business with out limits, having a website has come to indicate competency. Consumers are looking for businesses that are smart and professional. Web presence communicates that your business is up-to-date, stylish and keeping pace with society. It shows an attempt to accommodate your customers with the information they need when they need it. It is the difference in wearing a three piece baby blue polyester suit versus an exec suit from Jos. A Banks. If you are wondering what is wrong with the blue poly, you definitely need a web site (and a trip to the mall)!
Web presence also allows your business to take advantage of consumer compulsion. Almost every decision to buy is spontaneous. Smart phones make these spur-of-the-moment decisions easy. When your customers what to know your hours, location, or whether you perform specific services, the first place they will turn is the internet, whether it is on a computer or more likely, their phones. If you are nowhere to be found, you may lose them to your competitor.
Finally, there is the factor of price. Dollar for dollar, no form of advertising gives you more for your dollar than a website. An ad in the phone book (a very tiny ad) will cost around $1500 per year. Then your ad might sit in that book on the front porch for several days. The cheapest newspaper ad will run you $35 and upwards and only lasts for days or weeks. Not to mention the high cost of signs, flyers, brochures, business cards and on and on. For all the money spent on advertising, not only does a website purchase lay at the lower end of those costs when comparing information and time, it lies at the upper end of the spectrum when comparing reach.
Think of web presence as the pulse of your business. Making sure your website is living up to its potential, being connected to your customers through social networks, and expanding the usefulness of your traditional advertising venues by including your web address will send a message that your business is alive and well.
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