Taking Your Business Online: Is it really that hard? Part 1
Over the past 18 years I have had the pleasure of designing and developing web sites for hundreds of businesses both small and large. And yet on a daily basis, I still run into a number of business owners reluctant to invest in a website or even take their business online. In this two part article, I want to address some of the concerns I have heard and then address many of them. As always, if you read something that catches your attention, don’t hesitate to comment or email me.
Many of the objections I hear vary but here are some examples followed by my response:
I don’t have time to update the web site – I hear this a lot and thankfully there are loads of solutions. The first one that comes to mind of course is hiring a web developer to help you update. Even a short update every 2 weeks shouldn’t take more than 15-30 minutes including adding photos. If you want to keep costs to a bare minimum, consider a website that you can edit yourself and add articles. Known as content management systems or CMS’s, they allow you to login and create articles that can be published simply by clicking on a button. Remember, even a small update is better than no update. Regular updates and addition of content can generate 200-300% returns of your investment!
I am nervous about selling online…is it safe? – This is a question I get daily as well. But before I delve into the security and privacy of a website, I like to make it clear to potential clients that you really don’t have to sell products online. Many of my clients simply go online to provide better customer service. Or to provide maps on how to get to their business and to announce new products that have arrived in their store. This past week I assisted a business go online to announce their Facebook and Twitter pages. We also added the hours of operation and how to book an appointment. All without selling a thing!
I don’t want my phone to ring off the wall! – This is a common comment and as odd as it sounds, many small businesses are nervous about the getting too busy. Can this happen? Yes. But in most cases, its normally not that crazy. And besides, if those calls are generating more sales, then the store owner and decide how much he wants to sell or simply bring on a answering service. They can then prequalify the calls for orders only. Or support only. Few businesses are worried about getting too busy. But if you anticipate this happening, simply spend some time scaling up your operation or hire some part-time staff to help you with the online sales or extra calls.
I don’t want people to quit coming to the store – Again, it’s highly unlikely that customers would abandon your storefront. That said, if they want to order over the phone or know want products they want, that not a bad problem to have. In many cases, my clients use their websites to draw traffic to the store, where the client can look and feel the product, ask you questions face to face. The store owner can then sell face to face or even upsell a better product. Rarely do you see a huge drop in foot traffic unless you are selling to people outside your area or region.
I really don’t want to spend a lot! – Fair enough, you only spend what you are comfortable spending. But consider in many cases, acquiring a customer online is much cheaper than using traditional forms of advertising. And the old adage “You Get What You Pay For” is still very true. But look at it from a different perspective: You decide you want to earn an extra $50,000 a year in business. What is that worth? Many Canadians are not willing to risk more than $1000-$2000 to earn that much. That’s a small price to pay. Running newspaper ads, Television commercials, print magazine ads can easily cost $20,000 – $30,000. The key is to manage your expectations. If you want to make an extra $1000, then maybe your $500 website will work. But there will be limitations. If you are serious about growing your business online and making some serious income (many of my clients do this daily) then consider developing a plan (slowly) to roll out a multi-stage approach. If we can show you how to make $50,000 a year cheaper than through traditional advertising, it might be something worth following up on!
In my next post (Taking Your Business Online: Is it really that hard? Part 2), I will address some more examples and how we can provide you with solid reasons to make this month, the month you move online. I guarantee you, you and your business will not regret it!
Gordon Currie is president of Eldoren Consulting Inc, a web development company specializing in online marketing, web design, graphic design and Search Engine Optimization. Gordon is also a recognized futurist, trend watcher and active online 24/7. You can visit Gordon’s site at www.eldoren.com or monitor him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/eldorenconsulting. Watch for him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/eldoren