A web site is like any other business tool. Get one if you need it, don't if not. It should serve a valid business purpose and be an investment that yields a return, not an expense that "you just have to do."
What are good reasons to have a web site? Try these on for size:
- Be an online brochure. It can support your existing sales process just as a paper brochure would. You would point people at it with other forms of marketing such as your business card, bill boards, you name it. Online brochures can hold a wealth of information that would be hard to fit into a paper version. Many web sites perform this function well and if that is why you want a web site, that's okay.
- Attract new business. This is different from the first reason in that it brings you prospects that may not have seen your other marketing efforts. This kind of web site is a more active tool in your collection than the brochure site, but it's also more difficult to do. It requires work to both attract prospects and then convert them into contact. All without you being there. You need to show up in search engines and then persuade visitors to become leads. At this level, a web site is more about marketing than sales. The prior reason was more sales oriented. This is often the type of web site my prospects ultimately end up wanting.
- Sell products. This is where the web site takes things yet another step forward--it actually makes the sale you. All you have to do is deliver the product and if it's an electronic product--not even that. These sorts of web sties are called ecommerce sites and are actually online businesses. This is the modern day equivalent of catalog sales.
- Customer service. This is another valid reason to have website. Your existing clients need information from you. If you can anticipate the questions, you can put the answers on line for them. I was talking to a restaurant that puts it lunch special on their web site. That way the phone calls asking about it are reduced and they can focus on the customers in the restaurant and still help out the ones that are thinking about coming if the special is appealing.