“My business is too small to make it worth the cost,” is your usual answer when asked why on earth you’re still just on earth and not also online.
This might have been fair-enough reasoning five years ago. (The danger of putting down a date-sensitive figure is that we’ll all cringe when next we read it … like, say a week from now. ‘Cos that’s how fast business rolls on the digital side of things.) Of course, when your money is made and spent in the “real” world, you can easily go on saying it for the next ten.
Except that all you need to do is look up from where you are right this minute (if you’re hiding out in a dungeon, you might have to venture up to the surface first) and do some quick mental math. How many people do you see? And how many of them are focusing the intensity of their next breath based on the performance of the technological device they happen to be hooked up to? If that doesn’t convince you (you might be at the Annual Amish Aloha, after all), then think about the last time you were at a restaurant. Have you seen how people can sit around the same table yet spend an entire meal on their phones? I bet you’re not entirely blameless on that front, either…
So your business isn’t big enough to warrant a Fortune 100 citation. That’s not whom the internet was exclusively made for, by the way. Wherever you happen to be on your business journey, there is almost never (ever) any reason whatsoever to not be online in one form or another. A business directory listing is a step up from seeing the good ol’ Yellow Pages (hard copy, of course) as your best friend. But let’s get real. A business needs a website like its physical premises needs a door.
Before you chase the next well-meant suggestion to grab hold of your own domain name and create a website under a professional web hosting service out the door with a pitchfork, listen up. Not doing these very things can cost you immeasurable losses you may not even realise.
Let’s us take a look at 10 compelling reasons why today should go down in history as the day you finally got why a well-positioned web presence in this, the digital age, is the very next step your business should take.
1. The world – the ENTIRE world – can become your market.
In fact, whatever audience you’re catering to right now would fall pale in comparison to the global market that the internet can open up for you. Imagine taking potential orders from people, unbounded by geographic borders and restrictive economic systems. The Internet makes laissez-faire look like child’s play!
2. Your products can be exposed to over 3 billion people.
Studies show that there are more than 3 billion people who are active users of the internet. All of these people are, theoretically, your potential customers, and all of them can possibly get to know about your products. Well, except if you’re selling snow-wear bikinis or strawberry-scented adult diapers. Those are more of a niche market. All 3 billion might not all clamour to break down your web server in excitement, then. And you’re more likely than not to never get even close to near to .1% of that figure (which is still 3 million strong). But who knows how many of Google’s 1.2 trillion searches a year will see your business in the search results? Not an awful lot, if you’re not online and thus not searchable!
3. Increase your sales.
Since you’ll be catering to more prospects, the chances of bagging a sale or a deal will skyrocket. It’s a number’s game, and you’ll be turning things into your favour. Like Fortuna, except that your lucky deity’s name is WWW.
4. Market your goods or services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Your website can become your digital store that’ll operate on auto-pilot. You could log off the internet, and your website will still promote your products and/or services, process payments, instantly deliver items, and even take care of some post-sales concerns. No need to hire human assistants whom you have to pay overtime and night-shift differential salaries. This is the closest you’ll get to being master over a worker race of robot minions. Savour it.
5. Add to the professional reputation of your business.
Establishing a web presence, especially with a sleek, easily navigable, and professional-looking website, would greatly help build your brand and increase customer confidence. And as any bride would tell ya, the wedding’s only as good as how the wedding photos come out afterwards!
6. Delivery is no longer a problem.
The advent of the internet has totally revolutionised the way mail delivery services conduct their business. Nowadays, they can deliver items to the farthest corners of the earth. They can even do it by drone. You won’t have to worry about the location of your customers. Anything, and I do mean anything, can now be delivered right in front of their doorsteps. Ok, if you have an overactive imagination like I do, scrap the ‘anything’.
7. Convenient payment processing options.
You don’t have to settle for checks or money orders that take time to mature, though they can always remain as options in your physical business. There are a lot of merchant accounts available that allows you to process credit card payments instantly. Presently, PayPal and Stripe are the two biggest companies in the world, and the funds you’ll receive can be transferred to your bank account. In South Africa, PayFast is the most popular payment gateway available to businesses.
8. Security is no longer a major concern.
With SSL (Secure Socket Layer) encoding, you could protect your transaction pages against unwanted intrusions. And you don’t need to kidnap a coder. Your hosting company could set it up for you at the drop of a hat. Internationally, Arvixe is my go-to hosting provider, while in South Africa, HostKing has no better equivalent.
9. A lot of marketing tactics can be bootstrapped online.
Strategies like viral marketing, article marketing, content marketing, forum marketing, membership marketing and the likes often require no financial investment, or at the very least, a minimal amount to get you started. The results they promise, however, are quite amazing. Digital marketing offers the best ROI at the lowest possible investment – and then some.
10. Correspondence with your prospects as well as your existing customers can be ridiculously easy.
Digital delivery of messages is instantaneous, you’ll receive them the moment that they are sent! We might not be able to time travel (yet), but our communication channels can…and that’s what I call awesome.
Sometimes change, like some holidays, can bring about a lot of uncertainties and be downright scary. But don’t let naivety or a lack of knowledge or understanding about supplementing your business presence digitally make you dismiss what is fast becoming THE future of doing business. Establishing a web presence, regardless of the size of your business, can only offer a world of benefits for your business, your industry, and heck, the economy as a whole.
Bring that homepage on!