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“I don’t have time to talk. We’ll have to make this quick. I need a website, but I don’t have time for it.”
The first three sentences set the stage for the rest of the very brief conversation.
This wasn’t a cold call; the printing company owner had requested the conversation. He has a website, but doesn’t like it. He’s using one of the turnkey printer platforms and the boilerplate content hasn’t been changed since he originally took the website live a few years ago.
What the printer would like is to magically create a consumer-oriented e-commerce site that will bring in lots of sales. He needs it to be created cheap, because he doesn’t have a budget for a new website, and he doesn’t really want to be involved in the process.
Fast forward a couple of days. One of my online friends sent me a very interesting article that was full of small business statistics. Here are a few excerpts:
- Between 50% and 55% of small business owners don’t have a website.
- 26% have a social media presence.
- 49% of sites fail to comply with basic usability principles, and 50% of online sales are lost because visitors can’t find content.
- 93.3% of small business websites aren’t responsive/mobile compatible.
- 8 of 10 entrepreneurs fail with their first business venture within one year.
Another fast forward. Last week, I took a straw poll at a workshop for startups. Of the 12 people present, only 3 had an active website. Only one of the three stated that they were actively updating the site and using it successfully to generate leads and new business.
You’ve heard this week’s idea before, but it’s important:
Your website is the center of your marketing universe.
If you don’t have a working website, for all practical terms, your business is invisible. According to Forrester Research, 74% of business buyers conduct more than half of their research online before making an offline purchase. Other studies show that 60% or more of the “buyer journey” takes place online, before a call is placed to a company. If you’re not providing the information buyers need to make a decision online, it’s likely that the call will go to a competitor who is.
A working website is a mandatory investment
Most small business owners understand that marketing doesn’t happen magically. An investment is required. Time and money are the constraints, and there is a trade off between the two. You can certainly hire someone to develop and update your website and even to maintain a social media presence, but ultimately you’re also going to have to spend some time on the content. A working website is a mandatory investment. Without it, you’re invisible.
What is the definition of a working website? Here’s a short checklist of the minimum criteria for success:
- Easy navigation and responsive design for mobile.
- Answers to typical buyer questions.
- Fresh content and frequent information updates.
- Links to social media for active engagement.
- Multiple content formats (text, images, video, etc.).
- Contact information everywhere.
- Landing pages with offers and calls to action.
- Response forms and functionality that visitors can use to get in touch and request information (and that you can use to generate leads).
The conversation with the printing company owner was short, and he didn’t want to hear that his imaginary website wouldn’t be a cheap, one-time expense. It’s possible that he may find someone who will promise to magically provide him with the e-commerce site of his dreams, but it’s also completely predictable that it will fail without his active involvement.
How about you? Do you have a working website that meets the basic requirements for success? Are you using it? If you’re not actively engaging with visitors online and using your website to generate leads and develop clients, you’re losing business.
If you’re feeling a little uncomfortable now, I can help. I work with printers and small businesses to develop websites and marketing programs that generate leads and develop ongoing business. Call me and let’s get started.