Online Business

Does my offline business need a website?

Yes, it does. Wasn’t that easy? But there’s more to it than that…

All part of your online presence

To understand why you need a website for your business—even if the services you provide are entirely offline—you may first need to modify your view regarding what the Internet is. Among other things, you can think of the Internet as a reflection of the real world rather than a separate and distinct entity. It is a network after all, a way of connecting and communicating. It’s intuitive to think of a business as being offline. After all, you’re not an “Internet company”. If you serve coffee rather than fix websites, why do you need a website? The answer is, of course, online presence. Increasingly (and with no end in sight) the Internet is how people find you, learn about you, receive updates about your services, and engage with you. An online presence is arguably becoming more essential than a phone even for many offline businesses. Having a website gives you a “hub” online where you can present the image of your business as you would like it to be seen. It’s a centralized point that can point to social media, related websites, and other resources; all of these will affect your business.

No one is “off the grid”

Let’s face it, it’s virtually impossible for you or your business to not have some kind of online presence. Your “fingerprints” are everywhere. To put things in perspective, bear in mind that the marketing group, Vertical Response, lists their Top 20 places your business needs to be listed online. Now, these are just some of the places you want to make sure you’re listed. After all, if you don’t talk about your business online, someone else will. The vacuum left by your business’ absent website (or other aspect of online presence) can easily be filled in by someone else that will likely have less friendly intentions. For example, there’s no way of stopping others from making mention of your business on their blogs, social media, and review sites. You can’t avoid the Internet, so you may as well use it to benefit your business

What sort of website?

The nature and style of your website will vary based on your industry and tastes, but there’s no shortage of professional website developers who will create a high-quality website to showcase your business to existing and prospective. You might also consider do-it-yourself website builders like SquareSpace or Wix, among many others. You also want to make sure you use a website monitoring service like Soliciti. This will make it easier for you to understand how your website is performing at any given moment without needing to check it constantly yourself. When it comes to overall website design, it’s best to start by focusing on simplicity unless you have a specific inclination otherwise. A simple website is not only easier to maintain but also lends itself to an elegance that is highly desirable by most users in recent years. This doesn’t mean to avoid pages or sections of site that you think are important. Don’t jettison your idea for an attached blog you would otherwise right for the sake of simplicity.

Extras are not alternatives

Social media is important, but it’s not a replacement to your business’s own bona fide website. As tempting as it can be to rely on the relatively standardized platforms like Facebook or Tumblr, venues like these should be maintained in addition to your website but not instead. If you have business, whether its operations are online or offline, now is the time to have a website developed if you haven’t already begun.

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