As an SME getting seen in the marketplace. A small budget doesn’t help. When you do get seen, there is no guarantee the customer will pursue a relationship especially with so many larger competitors vying for their attention. Some of this is within your control while some of it isn’t. I want to talk about what is within your control. I want to talk about how you can create a website allowing you to wrestle back some influence in the often delicate customer relationship.
We are firmly in the midst of a digital revolution. Gone are the days of brick and mortar stores being the sole outlet for the customer experience. Now one click of a button can change everything. Despite the changing times, many SME’s still refuse to embrace reality and engage the future. They do not establish a strong online presence. When they do, what usually follows is an irregularly updated Facebook page. This is not good enough. Where’s the website?! It’s these traditionalists whose ears I would like to reach with this blog.
Why get a website?
So, why is there a shortage of SME’s online? Let’s not circumvent the truth, the answer most give is that it’s too costly to set up and maintain. This is an antiquated belief. The cost of acquiring and maintaining a website is relatively low. One can host a website for as little as €5 a month. Professional designers can design a simple and practical website for €500. Let’s be honest these figures aren’t pocket breakers by any stretch of the imagination.
Another frequent answer I hear is “but my business doesn’t need a website”. To be clear, EVERY BUSINESS NEEDS A WEBSITE. Everybody uses the internet, it doesn’t matter whether you are a B2B or B2C business. At the other end is a human being who has a need they are searching to fill on the internet or problem to solve. This person could be a purchases’ manager looking for a delivery service on behalf of the business they work for. This person could also be a stay at home mom just looking for some sunglasses for her upcoming holiday. The industry is irrelevant, people use the internet for everything nowadays.
How a website helps with marketing
Just the act of having a website creates many perceptions in the consumer’s mind. It is the sign of a professional, innovative and successful company. These are associations all of our businesses would like to have whether B2B or B2C. This minimizes risk for consumers as the perception is that if the company can afford a website then it must be doing well. A company that is doing well has the resources to create the best products. Consequently, the company presents less risk to the end user.
A website also allows people to get to know your business establishing trust and minimizing fear of purchase. The number of pages or information you can provide is unlimited with a website in comparison to social media. It also allows them to connect with you in a way that suits them and is time friendly. A quick type of a keyboard and the customer interaction begins. A website provides a vehicle for communication with the customer building the relationship. This communication can be two-way similar to social media or just 1 way where they are just reading and learning about the company through the website information submitted. Communication builds loyalty.
How to create a website
Before I traumatize you with the thought of building your own website, outsourcing the design process can be fairly cheap. Web design is no longer a niche skillset. It is, in fact, a facet of many young graduates’ skill sets across the country after leaving college. Perhaps one of these graduates could build you a low-cost site to get you started. In return, the experience could be used on their portfolio in the future to help them gain employment in the sector. A win, win situation. There are also many seasoned, professional web design companies out as it is a very competitive arena these days.
SME’s are notoriously frugal with money. And let’s face it, we have to be. We do not have a large budget for spending on anything that isn’t a near-guaranteed return on our investment. So the prospect of spending half a grand to professionally design a website which nobody might use, may not be very appetizing for some. There is another solution.
Build your own website
I know, I know but hear me out. I thought the same thing. I’m not really a computers guy either. I never had any web design experience. I didn’t even know how to go about it… Yet I build my own website! It’s actually quite easy. Perhaps the prospect of coding and HTML sounds nauseating and pain inducing, there are other options.
Many free pre-built layouts and code free website platforms exist on the web today. I built my website on WordPress with plug-ins. I watched and soaked in as much information as possible from videos online. Then I began creating my own. Granted it was a little time consuming, overall it probably took me 24 working hours to get it right. While I acknowledge it’s no masterpiece, its good enough for the current stage of my business start-up. It’s simple, easy to read and navigate while also making a strong impression on the user.
Other quicker and simpler options exist also. Drag and drop mediums like Squarespace and Wix make it so easy a toddler could build the website (I exaggerate). An e-commerce site costs €30 a month providing you with the option of completing transactions online. So don’t use the “It’s too hard to set up a website” on me.
There is no time like the present to begin your online journey. I found it a wonderful experience in acquiring new knowledge and building added grit and determination. It also gave me greater control to create the website the way I wanted (or as close as my skills allowed me). Don’t worry about the number of users or SEO, just get started. The rest comes with time and experience.
So just do it. Embrace the future. Create a website.