FACT: 40+ percent of small business owners still are not using social media because they don’t feel it was important to their business.
The question many contractors have is should I invest in social media to whether they even need a website or an internet presence at all.
Social media is another topic altogether, so for this blog post, we will stick to websites and how they are important to your business.
Everyone is on the web, via mobile,tablet, laptop or desktop.
You probably know some businesses who are doing really good without a website. I do, too. I wonder though, how much better they would be with a website. And when I say “website,” I don’t mean an electronic brochure. I mean a legitimate, well-thought-out site that informs, engages and converts the audience.
Here are a few benefits that come along with creating a usable website for your contracting business.
You stop being invisible.
You stop being invisible to the people trying to find you online. More and more studies are telling us about the ROBO effect where customers are learning to research online before buying offline. They’re typing their problems or needs into the search engine and are researching the companies that appear. If you don’t have a web presence, there’s no chance of you showing up and you never have a chance.
You create another sales tool.
A website is a powerful sales tool and one that allows you to address your customers’ concerns, giving information and creating calls to action. You can keep placing ads on Craigslist and hope that word-of-mouth generates on its own…BUZZ. Your website is your home where people can go seek out trusted information about your company and engage with you on a more personal level. Use it to build confidence in you and to give customers important buying information/incentives.
You build authority.
The Web has been around for a while, it’s true that you didn’t need a website to find your audience. It was a lot easier to market via direct mailings, yards signs, Yellow page ads and local word-of-mouth. However, today your website and your social presence are the factors that customers are looking for when they research a contractor. They want to know that you’re stable enough to have a dedicated Web presence. That you’ll be around tomorrow should something go wrong. That they can get ahold of you when they need to. By creating a website, you set up shop on the Internet and show customers that this is where they can come to find information about you, to read articles that you’ve written and to learn more about your company. All of these things build authority. Without a website, you’re at a huge disadvantage as a contractor trying to speak to your customers.
You build an email list.
Even if you don’t have a website, you still have an email. You most likely even collect emails from your customers by hand. Having a website allows you to do that better because it makes it easier and faster. Create a site that users can trust and then use it to build your email list. Along with your website, social media, your email list just may end up being one of your strongest sales tools.
Many contractors, especially new contractors, run a lean operation. They focus on only spending money when they need to. So, it’s easy to see why some contractors might think a website is a luxury item they can afford to live without.
They might even believe a Facebook page is enough for an online presence, or that a sign with their phone number will generate calls, or that a door hanger/flyer will help them. But the truth is, the only way to start promoting a business is by building a professional website.
An effective website is the cornerstone of your company — it houses important information, and your customers expect you to have one.
If you’re a contractor, you need to realize that a website isn’t an expensive luxury or a dumb endeavor — it’s an affordable, fundamental tool that every company needs.
A website is the anchor for your marketing.
- Before you print a business card or spend a penny on advertising, you need to start marketing by building a website.
- A website will act as an anchor for all of your advertising efforts. All business details, product information and promotions should live on your website first. Then, you can create marketing materials that fall in line with your domain name, which will drive customers to your website for additional information.
- A website sells your services online, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. It never sleeps. That is a powerful salesman. When do you research things you want? When do your customers? Mid night when you can’t sleep? Six in the morning while drinking your coffee? A website is there when your customers want it.
- Your website does acts as a digital brochure (I like to make them more of a catalog). You share up-to-date information about your business. A benefit of a website is that you can change information in minutes. No waiting or paying for new print materials.
- Guide potential buyers to the products and services they need by creating an effective website. It provides answers to frequently asked questions. This can free up your valuable time, with phone calls asking the same questions.
- A website helps you connect with new customers. While you might already have an established customer base, a website is a surefire way to connect with new customers who might be unfamiliar with your business.
- More often than not, people turn to the internet when they have a problem. Searching for solutions is easy, but is your business a potential problem solver? With a professional website, you position your business as a solution for your customers’ needs. Plus, you can optimize your site with search terms related to your industry. This will expose your business to new customers on the prowl.
- A website has big benefits for local businesses. Websites are just as, if not more beneficial for small businesses. In fact, they are a great way to connect with locals.
“70 percent of U.S. households now use the Internet when shopping locally for products and services.”
Plus, search engines often rank results according to location. In other words, if you’re looking for “shoe stores near me,” Google won’t offer you a name-brand result in New York (unless of course you live in New York).
It’s pretty clear, an online presence has big benefits, even for small businesses who deal locally. No matter where you are located, you can get started with an efficient website that draws in customers.
A website builds credibility. Nothing is more important than the ability to be found. If you don’t have an established online identity, then customers can’t find you. Not showing up in the search engines (or on the Internet at all for that matter) is one of the fastest ways to lose credibility as a business. It makes you and your company look dated, out of touch and untrustworthy.
Even if you’re fantastic at word-of-mouth marketing, you could be missing out on a ton of referrals. Happy customers are quick to share what they think about your business, but what about their friends who haven’t experienced your services yet? They’ll take to the Internet. And when they come up empty handed, you’ll have missed your chance for brand new customers.
A website helps you control your online destiny. If you think having a Facebook page or an online directory listing (like Yellow Pages) is enough to promote your business, you’re wrong. Building your online presence through social platforms (while important) is not enough.
When you publish through, or rely on, a third-party platform, you’re at their mercy. If the platform decides to close your account, change their policies or revise their programming, you might lose the ability to connect with your audience. Yet, when you run your own website, you’re in control of both the content you produce and the platform you maintain.
The high and low cost of having a website
Websites are simple and affordable to set up. Many small business owners rely on using third-party platforms or avoid setting up their own website because they think it’s complicated or expensive.
But building and maintaining a website is easier and cheaper than ever before. Even if you aren’t tech-savvy or creative, you can now use simple web publishing tools to build a website in a couple of hours. And the fees for hosting a website start at less than $10 per month, probably one of the cheapest marketing costs out there.
Take my advice, contractors there are no more excuses. If you’re putting off building a website, you’re hurting your business. It’s time to get started. Research demonstrates that smaller businesses, by and large, are not maximizing the benefit of their Internet presence. This may be surprising to hear, and even disappointing to some, but it should be pointed out that those taking advantage of it, are really experiencing significant gains.
So why are so many still missing the boat?
Small businesses can often be charged with the harsh reality of just keeping gas in the truck. Computer and communications technology is complex and even somewhat obscure to the general public. Not everybody wants to spend their weekend figuring out how to optimize a deployment, and others, well, they’re just not necessarily built for it.
But the research, conducted by San Mateo, CA-based Merrill Research, demonstrates that smaller businesses can leverage their position.
A recent study called Benefits and Barriers Of Bringing a Small Business Online: Perspectives From Global Small Businesses, helped to shed some light. The study was conducted and measured the responses of 1,050 businesses with 1 to 49 employees. All of the respondents were from the commercial sector (i.e., not educational, governmental, military, or non-profit) and they had to have an online presence of some sort (either a website, social media account, e-commerce site, local review site, or blog).
What was ultimately discovered was of considerable interest. It turned out to be pretty interesting. While most understood the importance of an appealing website, many simply opted for social media instead.
The insight was that small businesses, most of which don’t have IT people on staff, think that using a social medium to host a Web presence is easier than doing it themselves. Why? Primarily because these sites offer a simple template that simply has to be populated. And, among those who were involved in e-commerce (selling things over the Internet) sites like Amazon.com, Etsy, Shopify, or eBay seemed to most as good a place as any to set up shop online.
Unfortunately, those who choose such direction may be missing out on the true value of having one’s own, well-defined space on the Web.
The value of a domain for a small business is far more significant than many realize. Not only does it provide the foundation for one’s home page, but it can also be used to point to one’s Facebook or other social media site. It may even be used for branded email – a hallmark for “real” businesses.
It turns out that before many respondents created their websites, a slight majority have thought that their greatest inhibitor would be a lack of technical knowledge. Some other perceived obstacles mentioned included cost, support, investment of time and security. Upon project completion, concerns turned to Web maintenance and content sources.
It seems most don’t realize how many affordable and effective solutions exist in today’s market.
We build and maintain websites starting at $699 or $99 per month. Call today to get your business seen online. Call 800-771-9671
Here are a few takeaways:
- A great way to differentiate yourself is to find ways to continue great relationships and support with online customers. Let them know you care and that they are appreciated.
- You are the expert of your service. Preference will be given to local business. Don’t miss the opportunity to remind people how available you really are.
- Make sure your online presence is all that it can be. Again, there are cost-effective ways to look like you really know what you are doing. Looking established will set you apart right from the start.
- If you take your online presence seriously, there is no better way to compete with bigger or more established contractors. In fact, it is entirely possible to take a bite out of larger competitors’ volume