The modern smartphone operates not just as a phone, but also as a calendar, to-do list, calculator, music player and, perhaps most importantly so far as many of us are concerned,, as a gateway to the internet. Big businesses and corporations understand the importance of having a robust online presence, and yet many small concerns and sole traders seem to be resisting the trend, believing that a website is an unnecessary expense
No Need for Online Advertising?
According to an article in the online small business journal, Inc., over 50% of small-business owners believe they can function perfectly well without any online presence. The article cites an American sausage maker who works out of a small farm and makes the point that he simply couldn’t cope with any increase in demand as he is already working to capacity.
This seems to be a favourite excuse for small-business owners, particularly those who operate in a small local area offering a service such as gardening, cleaning or ironing. The people offering these services believe that advertising themselves online could lead to a flood of enquiries that they would be unable to fulfil.
However, to view a website as merely a way of drumming up new business is to miss a trick. The internet has changed the way we all interact with each other on a basic level – just consider the popularity of social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. In today’s world we think nothing of having dozens of ‘friends’, many of whom we will never meet in real life. Social boundaries are being broken down, and we expect to be able to find out about the people we do business with through some sort of online profile.
A Website Can Promote Customer Loyalty
Many small-business owners cite the fact that they rely on word-of-mouth marketing from satisfied customers. However, The Guardian’s Small Business Network makes the point that an appropriate website can help to reinforce your status as a local business person, which promotes customer loyalty and forges links with other local businesses, fostering a better sense of community.
Expense is another reason put forward by the small-business owner to explain the lack of an online presence. And indeed, back in the early days of web design, many customers found themselves tied into expensive contracts, discovering that they had to pay money every time they wanted a photograph or paragraph of text changing. But times have changed, and so has the world of web design. For example, one Oxford website design company, datrim.co.uk, offers a tiered pricing structure so that you can equip yourself with a great-looking website for a fixed fee – and you can even take care of the updates yourself if you choose.
When you consider the expense of listing your phone number in the phone book (which seems a very old-fashioned idea these days) and the cost of advertising your services in local media and through leaflets and business cards, the cost involved in putting together a professional website is very small in comparison. And yet it puts your business firmly on the map.