by Jeff Schuman
More than 80% of Americans search for business information online, so a local business organization can no longer go without a website. Existing customers and potential customers are looking to find necessary and detailed information on a company’s site.
In fact, the website URL needs to be splashed everywhere- business cards, flyers, ads, and even on the sign out front! Since many of your future customers will come to you because of the internet you have to ensure that they can find you.
A step of major importance in the business plan process is the development of a professional website. It’s actually not a bad idea to even start out with just a website- to act as your store- to give you a chance to test the waters and get some business going before making a big investment in a traditional brick and mortar location.
The website doesn’t have to be a big, fancy and expensive site, but does need to be well-designed and easy for visitors to navigate. It does you no good if they can’t easily find what they’re looking for.
It does need to have a professional look to it (first impressions are important here, too) and attention must be given to details. Misspelled words or poor grammar can turn away potential customers.
It’s also important for a local business organization to gain the confidence of visitors to the site. This can be done by giving the business owner’s background and credentials and an explanation of the company’s USP.
Your Unique Selling Proposition- what differentiates you from others in your local niche- may be the difference between customers choosing you instead of your competition.
The great thing about a website is that it’s always open for business. Websites can be visited 24 hours per day, every day, so you should go make it as interactive as possible. You can host a blog to share your thoughts and offer a forum for customers to be able to ask questions and exchange ideas.
You can obtain personal information from your website’s visitors, such as names and email addresses. By getting this information, you are now in a position to communicate with them via email on a timely and consistent basis.
Customer information can be obtained by setting up some kind of opt-in subscription form on your site offering your customers something in return for their information. You then can reply to them utilizing an auto-responder which will allow you to do so without spending much time.
It’s not uncommon these days to be able to get a nice website set up and an auto-responder in place without having to spend a small fortune. There are many services that offer turnkey website templates that allow you to be up and running quickly.
Summary: A website, especially for a local business organization, just can’t be an option anymore. You can have an expert set it up for you and even utilize experts to assist in driving traffic to your site, so no more excuses!