Should you have a small business Website? That depends. On the one hand it depends on your typical customer, and on the other hand it depends on the potential returns.
First, consider the customer:
Who is your typical customer? Is it someone from the lower income bracket, who probably does not have internet access? Or is it someone from a middle class (or higher) environment?
If you run a fast food joint on the corner, catering for people looking for a cheap meal, then the answer is NO. Besides the fact that your typical customer does not have much money to spend, it is unlikely that he or she will ever see your website – no matter how well it is marketed.
However, if you are (for instance) selling toys to middle or upper class clients, you could do well by announcing new items, and the availability of new items, on your website.
Let’s say you install kitchen cupboards – what better (and cheaper) way to display your handiwork than on a website? Even if the only promotion you do for your website is to put it on your business cards, the prospect will be able to see what he or she can expect.
Selling services? Just having a website will have you found. But if you had to add a blog, and offer some general advice from time to time, you will be able to build credibility – since visitors to your site will immediately see that you know what you are doing…
Lastly, how likely is the customer to be searching for you online? Once again, that depends on what you are selling. It is unlikely that someone looking for some firewood will go searching online for it – but someone looking for an automotive workshop, or a house painter, or extra mathematics classes may very well do so.
In a nutshell, consider who the typical client is, and how he or she would go about doing things.
Next, consider the potential returns:
Have you ever calculated the potential lifetime value of a client? You should. How long does the average customer stay with you, and how much does he or she spend in that time?
NOTE: The internet offers you the tools to vastly improve the lifetime value of any customer – cost-effectively.
If you are selling (only) cigarette lighters, you do not have much of a potential return. The customer buys a good lighter once, and you may not see him or her for a few years afterwards. Unless your website will be attracting a load of visitors, it is unlikely to be worth its money.
However, if you run a restaurant, and the quality of your food keeps your customers returning (and even bringing their friends along), you stand to make a good amount of money from any new client – so even if you only get one new customer every two months from your website, it will still be worth its money.
On the other hand, you may be selling high priced items – like furniture or second hand cars – so even if the customer buys from you only once, it is still a reasonable amount of money.
Keep in mind that most websites do not receive loads of visitors – so the ones that do visit have to be turned into customers, and they have to be worth money to you.
At the end of the day, it comes down to this:
1. Who is your typical customer?
2. How likely is he or she to search for your product or service online? (don’t underestimate – ask)
3. How much do you stand to make from any transaction?
For some people the decision is simple – for some it is more complex than it seems.