A Business Website…MORE Important Than Brick & Mortar?
To some of you who read this, it may seem like a forgone conclusion that the business websites are indeed critical in today’s corporate landscape. I am often amazed at how I am STILL met with a somewhat lackadaisical or even an outright defiant state of mind when it comes to the importance of a business website.
I am blessed to have been a member of “media” that dates back to “pre-internet” and “pre-digital”. This has allowed me an increasingly important advantage over those who do not understand what it was like BEFORE internet and relate to the changes that have re-formed how we do business today.
I recall as national sales manager in broadcast media, the conversation I had with a senior level executive at a large and well respected advertising agency in Tulsa Oklahoma, in 1998. My group of radio stations were on the forefront of the internet. We were one of the first to proactively embrace the power of advertising online. I tried to explain how this form of “digital advertising” could greatly benefit the group of car dealers in the Tulsa market as this agency represented several large dealerships and multiple brands. I was immediately met with, and I quote, “We will never allow our clients advertising dollars to be spent on the internet. Inside our agency, we have investigated online advertising and concluded that there is not, nor will there ever be a real advantage of online advertising for the automotive industry over traditional Radio, TV and newspaper. Online advertising just does not lend itself well to the automotive industry.”
(As it turns out, this was one of the biggest professional missteps I personally witnessed in my career. Coming in a close 2nd only to the time our program director told Garth Brooks that he had no talent and that he should give up the dream before he wastes his life in pursuit of a fruitless endeavor. Yes, to this day that program director will admit that he was not wrong often but when he was…he was REALLY wrong!).
Believe it or not, there are STILL people today who do not fully grasp the depth and importance of a professionally designed website in today’s business plan. Let’s look at just a few reasons we often hear AGAINST investing in a quality company website.
“My company’s target customer does not look to the internet to buy our product”. Are there still a few people who do NOT reach to the internet prior to a purchase? YES! My mother and father are two of them, both over 78 years old. BUT 100% of every $100+ purchase is accompanied by a phone call from them to get my advice…and I go to the internet and let them know what to do. Keep in mind that a customer may not DIRECLTY purchase your product from your website but they WILL check out your company website to get a little history about your company. It’s called a FIRST IMPRESSION. Today, a potential customer doesn’t have to reach out and actually talk to you to create a first impression. They can take the “safe” route and look you up online, read about your company and make an impression based on how professional your company appears on the web. No website OR a website that looks amateur? Your company just became “amateur” regardless of your real level of expertise.
“My company has a loyal base of customers. We don’t need a website”. (AKA, we don’t sell anything “on the web”) A loyal customer base is great…but temporary. According to a recent US Census Bureau report, on average 12% of any average population moves out of an area each year. You can see that in short order, your “loyal customer base” will soon be but a small trickle. When those people move away, new people move in the area. Being a stranger to the community, where do they go to get info on, local banks, accountants, restaurants, entertainment, plumbers, electricians…Yellow Pages?? (Ha! sorry, I could not resist!) They do a Google search for what they want! Unless you have a quality website they just Googled your competitor. Do you have a plan to replace natural attrition?
There are still business owners who will spend a fortune in constructing a building or leasing business space and TOTALLY neglect the MOST critical marketing element…their website! According to Adweek magazine, over 81% of consumers browse a company’s website before they commit to going to the physical location. If your website does not pass muster, they’ll never see your beautiful business digs!
To put it into perspective, spending hard earned money on your business in a physical location AND in countless hours of planning and hard work and NOT investing in a professionally developed website that accurately portrays your company’s products and abilities…it’s like throwing a big expensive party and not sending out a single invitation.
So is your business website MORE important than your brick and mortar location? Ponder this…we currently experience that maintaining a brick and mortar location WITHOUT a significant internet presence is an uphill battle at best. It can be argued that a business WITHOUT a properly designed website is flirting with a death-spiral. Conversely, it is entirely possible and even proven to be a highly successful venture to completely forgo a physical location and operate a business 100% online…enter Amazon.com. Think about that.
Eric Smith is a 30-year media professional. If you have a specific question you’d like to have answered, please reach out and request a topic!